A Christian without the Church is not understood, Pope Francis said during his homily at Casa Santa Marta this morning.

In a reflection on the importance of belonging to the Church, the Holy Father drew on the image of David in the first reading of the day, focussing on his relationship with God, which he compared to a father and a son. This relationship calls on us to reflect on our relationship with God and the Church.

“The Christian is not a baptized person that receives Baptism and then goes along his own way,” he said.

“The first fruit of Baptism is to make yourself belong to the Church, to the people of God. A Christian without a Church is not understood. And for this reason, the great Paul VI said that it is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to be with Christ at the edge of the Church. It can’t be done. It is an absurd dichotomy.”

Continuing on this sense of ecclesial belonging, the Pope highlighted three pillars, the first being humility. This humility is exemplified in the person of David.

“A person who is not humble, cannot hear the Church, they will hear what she likes, what he likes," the Pope continued. "And this humility is seen in David: ‘Who am I, Lord GOD, and who are the members of my house?’ - that realization that the history of salvation has not begun with me and will not finish when I die. No, it is all a history of salvation: I am coming, the Lord takes you, He makes you go forward and then calls you and the history continues. The history of the Church first began with us and will continue after us. Humility: we are a small part of a great people, that is going on the path of the Lord.”

The second pillar the Pope highlighted was faithfulness, which he noted is “connected with obedience.”

“Faithfulness to the Church: faithfulness to its teachings; faithfulness to the Creed; faithfulness to the doctrine, to guard this doctrine. Humility and faithfulness,” he said.

“Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we should transmit it as a gift, but not as something of our own: it is a received gift that we give. And in this transmission to be faithful. Because we have received and we should give a Gospel that is not ours, it is of Jesus, and we should - as He says - become masters of the Gospels, masters of the doctrine received, to use it to our liking.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis told the faithful that the third pillar, prayer for the Church is an important service that unites us to the universal Church.

“May the Lord help us to go on this path to deepen our belonging to the Church,” he said.