Vatican City, 26 June 2013 (VIS) – The image of the temple, to illustrate the mystery of the Church, was the theme chosen by Pope Francis for his catechesis in today’s general audience.

The word “temple,” said the Holy Father, “makes us think of a building, of a construction. Most people’s thoughts go, particularly, to the … great Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, the place to encounter God in prayer. Within the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant , the sign of God’s presence among the people. Within the Ark were the Tablets of the Law, manna, and Aaron’s rod, a reminder that God had always been in the history of his people, that He had always accompanied their journey, that He had guided their steps. The Temple recalls this story and when we go to the temple we must remember this story—the story of each of us [individually]—as Jesus has met me, as Jesus has walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.”

“What was prefigured in the ancient Temple is carried out, by the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Church. The Church is the ‘house of God’, the place of his presence.” The pontiff emphasized that the Temple of Solomon was built by the hands of men “to give God a ‘home’, to have a visible sign of his presence among his people. With the incarnation of the Son of God … it is God himself who ‘builds his house’ to come dwell among us … Christ is the living Temple of the Father and Christ himself builds his ‘spiritual house’ the Church, not out of material stones but of the ‘living stones’ that are we [ourselves]. … This is beautiful! We are the living stones of the building of God, profoundly united to Christ who is the supporting stone—and also our support between one another. … This means that we are the living Church, the living Temple, and, when we are together, the Holy Spirit is also there among us, helping us to grow as Church. We are not isolated but are the people of God: this is the Church!”

“It is the Holy Spirit, with his gifts, who … designs the variety that is the Church’s wealth and that joins everything and everyone … The Church isn’t a mixture of things and interests but is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Temple in which God works, the Temple in which each of us, with the gift of Baptism, is a living stone. This tells us that no one is useless in the Church … we are all necessary to building this Temple! No one is secondary. No one is more important in the Church. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Some of you might say, ‘Look, Mr. Pope. You aren’t the same as us.’ Yes, I am like each one of you. We are all equal, we are brothers and sisters. No one is anonymous. We all form and build up the Church. But this also invites us to reflect on the fact that, if the brick of our Christian life is missing, something is missing in the beauty of the Church.”

“How do we live our being as Church? Are we living stones or are we, so to speak, tired, bored, and indifferent stones? Have you seen how ugly it is to see a tired, bored, and indifferent Christian? Such a Christian isn’t good. A Christian must be alive, joyful to be Christian. [A Christian] must live this beauty of being part of the people of God, which is the Church. Are we open to the Holy Spirit’s action, to being an active part in our communities, or are we wrapped up in ourselves saying: ‘I have so many things to do. That’s not my job.’?” Pope Francis asked. He concluded his catechesis by asking the Lord to “give us all his grace and his strength so that we may be profoundly united to Christ, the cornerstone, the pillar, the rock of support in our lives and in the life of the Church. Let us pray that, encouraged by his Spirit, we may always be the living stones of his Church.”