The church we love
This weekend’s gospel gives us an opportunity to talk about the church. I believe that knowledge is the key to love. I am certain that if we know more deeply about our church, we will never leave her, not only that we will come to love her in the same way we love the church. Chapter 16 of Matthew gives us a beautiful inside respect of the nature of the church.
Let start with the name: The word “Church” (Latin ecclesia, from the Greek ek-kalein, to “call out of”) means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. (cf. Acts 19:39) Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before
God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people (cf. Ex 19). By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly. In the Church, God is “calling together” His people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means “what belongs to the Lord.” (Cf. CCC # 351-352).
In Christian usage, the word “church” designates the liturgical assembly, (cf. 1Cor 11:18) but also the local community (cf. 1Cor 1:2) or the whole universal community of believers (cf. 1Cor 15:9). These three meanings are inseparable. “The Church” is the People that God gathers in the whole world. She exists in local communities and is made real as a liturgical, above all a Eucharistic, assembly. She draws her life from the word and the Body of Christ and so herself becomes Christ’s Body. (Cf CCC #752).
We can see that just in the very name “church” is the idea of a community, the understanding of people who are “Called” to gather together united with Christ. And we know Jesus built the church. It is clear in the gospel, and as a consequence cannot be an institution of human origins, neither a people’s invention. Jesus not only built the church on the rock, who is Peters faith, but promised that he would sustain her through the times, but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.. (Lk 22:32).
Believing in Jesus means to believe in the church that He found in Peter. This statement is valid for all those who believe the Bible is the Word of God. To believe that the Church is “holy” and “catholic,” and that she is “one” and “apostolic” Twenty—First Sunday in Ordinary Time August 27, 2017 (as the Nicene Creed adds), is inseparable from belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (CCC #750)
We may not like some people in the church, but they are not the church herself. They are just people in the church. The church is more than a person or specific minister or specific community. With all the differences, the church is like a family, in which each in which each member or some of them could make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that the family is not important or that we can live without our family. It is important because in the family as well as in the church, we have and we create relationships. In the family and in the church we learn things that isolate it and would be impossible for us to learn. Because of the voice of God, His teachings resound in the constant teachings of the church, as the voice of reason resounds in our parents voices when we grow up.
As baptized, we are part of the church, but also, I encourage you to find your place in the church. As Thérèse of Lisieux express: “O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its direction.”