Pope Francis: A Christian Without the Church Is an ‘Absurd Dichotomy’
Pope Francis preached that the three pillars for a Christian’s ‘belonging’ to the Church are humility, fidelity and prayer.
VATICAN CITY — In his daily Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis reflected on the intrinsic relationship between the Church and the people of God, stating that Christians need to be humble and obedient to her teachings in order to be faithful.
“It is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ, but not the Church; to be with Christ at the margins of the Church,” he said. “One cannot do this. It is an absurd dichotomy.”
Pope Francis began his Jan. 30 homily, offered to those present for Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, by turning again to the figure of King David in the day’s first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel.
By the way in which David prays, as a son who speaks with his Father and receives even the answer of “No” to his demands with joy, it is apparent that he had “a strong feeling of belonging to the people of God,” the Pope said.
This example makes Christians wonder about their own sense of belonging to the Church, said the Holy Father, stating that “the Christian is not baptized to receive baptism and then go on his way.”
“The first fruit of baptism is that you belong to the Church, to the people of God. One cannot understand a Christian without the Church,” he explained, recalling the words of Pope Paul VI, when he stated that “it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church.”
“We receive in the Church the message of the Gospel, and we become holy in the Church, our path in the Church,” he said. “The other is a fantasy or, like he would say, an absurd dichotomy.”
Pope Francis then went on to describe how there are “three pillars” within this “belonging” and this “feeling” with the Church. The first, he said, is humility, with the awareness that being placed in a community is “a great grace.”
“A person who is not humble cannot hear along with the Church. He hears only what she likes, what he likes,” noted the Pope, adding that this humility can be seen in David’s prayer, when he says: “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house?”
“With this consciousness,” Christians are aware “that our story of salvation has begun and will not end when I die. No, it is a whole story of salvation,” said the Holy Father. “The Lord takes you, makes you go ahead and then calls you, and the story continues.”
The Pope then added that “the Church first began before us and will continue after us,” and this realization helps Christians to recognize with humility that “we are a small part of a great people that walks on the path of the Lord.”
Referring to the second pillar of a Christian’s “belonging” to the Church, Pope Francis said that it is a fidelity which “is connected to obedience.”
“[It is] faithfulness to the Church; faithfulness to her teaching: fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, guarding this doctrine,” he explained, repeating, “humility and fidelity.”
Paul VI also reminds Christians “that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift, and we should transmit it as a gift,” explained the Pope, “but not like our thing: It is a gift received that we give, and in this transmission, we should be faithful.”
He went on to say that “because we have received” this gift, “we should give a Gospel that is not ours, but that is from Jesus, and we should not become owners of the Gospel, owners of the doctrine received, to use it as we please.”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis explained that the third pillar of our belonging to and with the Church is the special service “to pray” for her.
“How is our prayer for the Church? Do we pray for the Church?” he asked, stating that Christians do pray for the Church “in the Mass every day,” but what about “at our house, No? When we make our prayers?”
Urging those present to pray for the whole Church in every part of the world, the Pope asked that the Lord “help us to go down this path of deepening our belonging to the Church and our feeling with the Church.”