VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The stability of the church requires that it be built on Jesus, but its beauty and strength also rely on the contributions of each and every Christian, Pope Francis said.
“If someone tells you, ‘Go home, you’re not needed,’ that’s not true,” the pope told an estimated 50,000 people at his weekly general audience June 26. “No one is useless in the church. We are all needed to build this temple.”
“We are all equal in the eyes of God — everyone,” he said. “One of you may say, ‘But listen, pope sir, we are not your equals.’ But, yes, I’m like all of you, all of us are equal. All of us. We are brothers and sisters…. We all form and build the church.”
During the audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis continued his series of talks about the mystery of the church as explained by the Second Vatican Council.
The council’s description of the church as the temple of God naturally reminds people of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, the place where people of Israel encountered God in prayer and remembered all he had done for them, he said.
In the same way, the pope said, when Catholics go into a church, “we should remember our history, my history. Each of us should remember how Jesus met me, how Jesus has walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.”
But the church as the temple of God is more than a building, he said, it is Christ’s living body and is built not with material stones, but with the living stones of each of the baptized.
“If one asks, ‘Where can we encounter God? Where can we enter into communion with him through Christ? Where can we find the light of the Holy Spirit to illuminate our lives?’ the answer is: In the people of God, we are the church,” Pope Francis said.
“With the gift of baptism,” he said, “each of us is a living stone.”
When Christ is the cornerstone, the church is strong and grows well, because the Holy Spirit is present and ensures there is a place for everyone and that all contribute to its beauty, the pope said. “If one of the bricks is missing, something is missing from the beauty of the church.”
Pope Francis said he knows some Catholics today believe the church isn’t important in their lives and they aren’t important in the church’s life. “But then the brick of your life is missing from this beautiful temple. No one should leave. We all need to contribute to the church our lives, our hearts, our love, our thoughts, our work — all of us need to do this.”
At the same time, he said, people need to reflect on the quality of their contribution to building up the church. “Are we living stones? Or are we tired, bored, indifferent? You know how sad tired, bored, indifferent Christians are? It’s ugly, isn’t it? A Christian must be alive and joyful.”