At Audience, Reflects on the Masterpiece of the Body of Christ
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
VATICAN CITY, October 22, 2014 (Zenit.org) – While speaking on the beauty of the unity of the Church at his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis also used the occasion to remind the faithful to not give into those actions which divide it, such as jealousy and feeling superior.
Posing a question to the thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said, “Today, we wish to ask ourselves: In what sense does the Church form the body? And why is it defined as ‘the body of Christ?’”
He reminded the faithful of the words of St. Paul that, “Just as our body is one, but made up of many members, so it is with Christ and the Church.”
Starting with the Apostle Paul, he said this expression of the body is applied to Church and is recognized as his most profound and beautiful distinctive trait.
The image of the body, he said, is used “when one wants to show how the elements that make up a reality are closely united with one another and form together one thing.”
“The Church,” the Holy Father clarified, “is not only a body built in the Spirit: the Church is the body of Christ! And it is not simply a way of saying: We truly are! It is the great gift that we receive on the day of our Baptisms!”
In the Sacrament of Baptism, the Holy Father continued, “Christ makes us His.”
Jesus, he added, welcomes us into “the heart of the mystery of the Cross, the supreme mystery of his love for us, to make us rise again with Him, as new creatures.”
A Jealous Heart Dismembers the Church
The Holy Father then went on to caution faithful against that which can “shatter” or “divide” the Church.
Speaking on jealousy, he said, “This dismembers, it hurts us! You shouldn’t do it!
“A jealous heart, is a bitter heart, a heart that instead of blood looks like it’s full of vinegar. It is heart that is never happy. It is a heart that dismembers the community.”
Asking then what we should instead do, he responded, “Appreciate, in our community, the gifts, the qualities of others, of our brothers and sisters.”
The 77 year old Pontiff reiterated St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians: Do not esteem anyone as superior to the other.
“This is ugly! Don’t ever do it! And when this thought comes to you, remember your sins, those that no one knows about, shame yourself before God and say, ‘You Lord, you know who is superior. I will shut my mouth,’” he said.
“All these things are not good because,” he added, “instead of building and making the Church grow as the body of Christ, it shatters into many pieces, it dismembers it.”
“Say thank you!” he said. “The heart that knows how to say thank you is a good heart, a noble heart, a heart that is happy.”
Francis invited those present to appreciate others qualities, be close and participate in the sufferings of the last ones and of those most needy, and expresses your gratitude to all.
Remembering Saint John Paul II
In his remarks to the Polish pilgrims, he recalled that today is the liturgical feast of Saint John Paul II. Early this morning, several Masses were celebrated by various pilgrims in St. Peter’s Basilica to commemorate the recently canonized Pontiff.
At 5 p.m. in Krakow, there will be a Mass at the Saint John Paul II Center constructed near the Divine Mercy Sanctuary.
Speaking on his predecessor, Pope Francis reflected that Saint John Paul II “invited everyone to open their doors to Christ; in his first visit in your country has invoked the Holy Spirit to come down to renew the land of Poland; to all the world, he remembered the mystery of the Divine mercy.”
“His spiritual heritage is not forgotten,” he continued, “but he pushes us to reflection and concrete actions for the good of the Church, the family and of society. Praised be Jesus Christ!”