Pope: 'Without the Church, Jesus Becomes an Idea' at Mercy of Moods, Imagination

In New Year’s Homily, Pope Reminds How Mary Gave a Human Face to Christ, So We Can Contemplate Him

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

“Without the Church, Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.”

Pope Francis made this strong statement during his homily given Jan. 1, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica, when warning faithful of what happens when one undermines the beautiful relationship and inseparability between Jesus, Mary, and the Church.

The mission of the people of God, the Pope stressed in the homily, is «to spread to all peoples God’s blessing made flesh in Jesus Christ.» He pointed out that Mary «is the one who opens the way to the Church’s motherhood and constantly sustains her maternal mission to all mankind.»

The Pope further reflected on Mary, as «the first and most perfect disciple of Jesus, the model of the pilgrim Church,» and discussed what her acceptance of God’s will has accomplished.

“No other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary,” Francis said. “She gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him.”

In addition to contemplating God’s face, the Holy Father invited those gathered to praise and glorify him, “like the shepherds who came away from Bethlehem with a song of thanksgiving after seeing the Child and his young mother.” 

Francis stressed how closely united Mary is to Jesus and how Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother.


«Likewise inseparable,» the Pope continued, «are Christ and the Church.» He noted the salvation accomplished by Jesus cannot be understood without appreciating the motherhood of the Church.

“For the Church is herself God’s great family, which brings Christ to us. Our faith is not an abstract doctrine or philosophy, but a vital and full relationship with a person: Jesus Christ … Where can we encounter him? We encounter him in the Church.»

Saying the Church’s activity and mission are expressions of her motherhood, the Pontiff said the Church resembles a mother “who tenderly holds Jesus and gives him to everyone with joy and generosity.”

“No manifestation of Christ, even the most mystical, can ever be detached from the flesh and blood of the Church, from the historical concreteness of the Body of Christ.»

“Without the Church,  he continued, “Jesus Christ ends up as an idea, a moral teaching, a feeling. Without the Church, our relationship with Christ would be at the mercy of our imagination, our interpretations, our moods.”


Noting Jesus Christ is the blessing for all of humanity, the Pope said that the Church, in giving us Jesus, offers us the fullness of the Lord’s blessing.

«May this gentle and loving Mother obtain for us the Lord’s blessing upon the entire human family,» Pope Francis prayed, adding that on this World Day of Peace, «We especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in our day; peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among the nations.»


On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-homily-on-solemnity-of-mary-the-mother-of-god

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation