The Most Beautiful Image Of The Church

We can live in union with God only through the Church. As a matter of fact, our union with God assumes our union with the Church. The Church is a pilgrim people in the desert; but at the same time, the Church is a people who, in a mysterious way, have already reached the destination.

The phrase "already and not yet," describes well the situation of the Christian pilgrim. You live in the Church; the Church shows you the way. She leads you by the hand and along the way she nurtures and guides you; nevertheless, in the Church you are already in union with God. The Holy Spirit already lives in you and through the Holy Spirit grace has been poured out into your hearts. You are already a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. You are already a brother and friend of Jesus.

My dear brothers and sisters, we can never insist enough on the importance of being devoted to the Church and thankful to God for having given the Church to us. It is only through the Church that we are granted both a sure knowledge of God and the possibility of reaching Him. How full of anxiety would a man be if his only end were God and he had to reach God in a journey unknown to him, a journey that cannot be successful if one is travelling alone.

Even if we believed in the Incarnation, what assurance could we have that we are really in a relationship with Christ after the glorious Ascension? Indeed, after the Ascension, Christ became invisible and it was no longer possible to enter a relationship with Him that was fully human. Yet, the Church makes Him present to me now. Moreover, it is in the Church that Christ's word remains alive even today and is intentionally addressed to each person. It is through the Church that the Incarnation isn't simply a past event which becomes ever more remote to us with the passage of time, but one that is always present and in which we are involved. Indeed, the Church is the new world into which God has brought us so that we may live a life of deep intimacy and true loving communion with Him.

We should be grateful to God for having brought us into this Paradise from the day of our birth [Baptism]; it is a Paradise that is no longer shut and guarded by the flaming swords of angels [Gen 3:23-24]; on the contrary, the angels are now our companions. The angels now praise the Lord with us and celebrate with us the same feast with pure joy, a joy that will never end. Indeed, we are still part of this world, too, and we may experience suffering and the limits of time; we may have difficulty communicating with one another, but we may overcome all these things if we live with a faith awareness that we belong to the Church. Indeed, the Church is the Kingdom of God in the making.

We must love the Church. How can we distinguish the Church from Christ? How can we love Jesus [without the Church] given the fact that it is the Church alone that gives Him to us, given the fact that the Church is the very Body of Christ, a living Body. Certainly, we could make a distinction between the Church and Christ.

The Church is not only the Mystical Body of Christ; it is also the Bride of Christ. However, it is precisely in light of the latter that each of us must somehow be one with the Church and thus the Bride of Christ. If we are one with the Church, then it necessarily follows that we can have the most perfect, the fullest, purest, and most living spousal love with Christ.

In Christian life, love is primary; however, the greatest form of love is the one in which a person is completely ordered to his spouse, and vice-versa. Such is the love that Jesus asks of us. May the Church as the Bride of Christ live in each one of us!

The Father
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