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Pope at Audience: The Church Visible and Spiritual

© Sabrina Fusco / ALETEIA

Vatican Radio - published on 10/29/14

2. To understand the relationship, in the Church, between her visible and spiritual reality, there is no other way but to look to Christ, whose Body is the Church and from which the Church is generated, in an act of infinite love. Even in Christ, in fact, through the mystery of the Incarnation, we recognize a human nature and a divine nature, united in the same person in a wonderful and indissoluble way. This applies in a similar manner to the Church. Just as in Christ, human nature serves the divine in accordance with the fulfillment of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible reality serve the spiritual reality of the Church. The Church, therefore, is also a mystery, in which what is not seen is more important than what is seen, and can only be recognized with the eyes of faith (cf. Const. Dogmatic Constitution. On the Church Lumen Gentium, 8).

3. In the case of the Church, however, we must ask ourselves: How can the visible reality can be at the service of the spiritual? Again, we can understand it by looking to Christ. [Moving from the prepared text ] But Christ is the model and the Church is His Body, He is the model for all Christians, all of us! Look to Christ, you can’t go wrong.

The Gospel of Luke tells how Jesus came to Nazareth, where he grew up, went into the synagogue and read, referring to himself, the passage from the prophet Isaiah where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free" (4,18-19). Look, how Christ used his humanity — because he was also a man — to announce and carry out God’s plan of Redemption and Salvation, so it must be for the Church. Through its visible reality — everything we see — the Sacraments and testimony — of all of us Christians — it is called every day to draw closer to every person, starting with the poor, those who suffer and those who are marginalized, in order to continue to help all feel the compassionate and merciful gaze of Jesus.

Dear brothers and sisters, often as a Church we experience our fragility and our limitations, all of us, we all have them.  We are all sinners, no one can say I am not a sinner. And this fragility, these limitations, these our sins, it is right that these should provoke in us a profound displeasure, especially when we give bad example and we realize we are becoming a source of scandal. How often have we heard, in our neighborhoods: “That person there is always in Church but gossips about everyone, denigrates others – what a bad example! This is not Christian! This is a bad example.  So people say: "If this is a Christian, I prefer to be an atheist!" Because people go by our witness.

Then, let us ask for the gift of faith, so that we can understand how, despite our smallness and our poverty, the Lord has ​​ really made us  ameans of grace and a visible sign of His love for all mankind. Yes, we can become a source of scandal but we can also be a source of hope through our lives, our witness, just as Jesus wants! Thank you.

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CatholicismPope Francis
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