It is not us that makes the Church holy, but God, in his love, that makes it holy. This was the theme of Pope Francis’ catechesis during his weekly General Audience today. An estimated 45,000 pilgrims from around the world gathered to listen to the Holy Father’s words.
Continuing his catechesis on the Creed, the Pope reflected on the profession of “one, holy […] Church, saying that it has be known as such because of the “certainty that is the action of God, the Holy Spirit that sanctifies the Church.”
“But in what sense is the Church holy if we see that the historical Church, in its path throughout the centuries, has had so many difficulties, problems, dark moments?” the Holy Father asked.
How can a Church be holy that is made up of human beings, of sinners? Sinful men, sinful women, sinful priests, sinful nuns, sinful bishops, sinful cardinals, sinful popes? How can a Church like this be holy?”
<p>Referring to Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, the Holy Father told the faithful, that Christ, in giving his life on the cross, makes it holy. The Church is united with Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit who purifies it, transforms it, and renews it. “It is not holy by our own merits, but because God sanctifies it, it is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and of its gifts,” the Pope said. “It is not us who makes it holy. It is God, in his love that makes it holy.”
While affirming that the Church is comprised of sinners, the Holy Father said that Christians are called to let themselves be transformed, renewed and sanctified by God. Although many believe that the Church is comprised of only people who are pure, Pope Francis stated that such a belief only serves to distance people from the Church.
“This is not true. This is a heresy!” the Holy Father exclaimed. “The Church, which is holy, does not refuse sinners; on the contrary it receives them, it is open even to the most distant, it calls all to let themselves be immersed by mercy, by tenderness and by the forgiveness of the Father, who offers to all the possibility to meet Him, to walk towards sanctity.”
Though many believe that their sins are too great to become part of the Church, Pope Francis stated it is precisely this that the Lord is looking for: one who knows their sins and seeks for their heart to be transformed, like the Prodigal son.
“The Church offers all the possibility to walk along the path of holiness, which is the path of the Christian: it makes us meet Jesus in the Sacraments, especially in Confession, in the Eucharist, it communicates to us the Word of God, it makes us live in charity, in the love of God to all.
Concluding his catechesis, the Holy Father exhorted the faithful to not be afraid of holiness, of letting oneself be loved by God. To be holy, he said, does not require one to do extraordinary things, but in letting God act.
“Let us not lose hope in holiness, let us all walk along this path. Do we want to be saints? All of us? The Lord awaits us with open arms. Let us live our faith with joy and let ourselves be loved by the Lord,” Pope Francis said.