Continuing his catechesis on the Creed, Pope Francis spoke on the Church as the temple of the Holy Spirit during his weekly General Audience held in St. Peter’s Square today.
The image of the temple, he said, conjured images of the great Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem which enshrined the Ark of the Covenant.
“Within the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God’s presence among the people, and inside the Ark were the Tablets of the Law, the manna and the rod of Aaron, a reminder that God had always been in the history of his people, had always been with them on their journey, always directed their stride – and the Temple recalls this story,” the Holy Father said.
“We, too, when we go to the temple, must remember this story – my story – the story of each one of us – of how Jesus encountered me, of how he walked with me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.”
Pope Francis said that this image of the ancient Temple is realized in the Church today by the power of the Holy Spirit, where we can meet with God and enter into communion with Christ. While stating that the ancient temple was built to give a house to God, the Pope said that instead it was God who built his house and dwelled among us.
“Christ is the living Temple of the Father, and Christ himself builds His ‘spiritual home’, the Church, made not of stone materials, but of ‘living stones’ – of us, our very selves,” the Pope said. “The Apostle Paul says to the Christians of Ephesus: you are ‘Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: in whom all the building, being framed together, groweth up into an holy temple in the Lord.’ How beautiful this is!”
“We are the living stones of God,” the Holy Father continued, “profoundly united to Christ, who is the rock of support, and among ourselves. What then, does this mean? It means that we are the Temple – the Church, but, us, living – we are Church, we are [the] living temple, and within us, when we are together, there is the Holy Spirit, who helps us grow as Church. We are not isolated, we are People of God – and this is the Church: People of God.”
The Holy Father went onto say that the gifts of the Holy Spirit contributes a variety and a richness to everyone that makes the Church not a “weave of things and interests” but rather a collection of “living stones” in the Temple of the Holy Spirit. This, he exclaimed “tells us that no one is useless in the Church – no one is useless in the Church! – and should anyone chance to say, some one of you, ‘Get home with you, you’re useless!’ that is not true.” Upon saying this, the Holy Father’s words were met with thunderous applause from the faithful gathered in the Square.
“No one is useless in the Church. We are all needed in order to build this temple. No one is secondary: “Ah, I am the most important one in the Church!” No! We are all equal in the eyes of God. But, one of you might say, “Mr. Pope, sir, you are not equal to us.” But I am just like each of you. We are all equal. We are all brothers and sisters. No one is anonymous: all form and build the Church. Nevertheless, it also invites us to reflect on the fact that the Temple wants the brick of our Christian life, that something is wanting in the beauty of the Church.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called on the faithful to be joyful, lively Christians so as to be united with Christ, who is “the cornerstone, the stone of support for all of our lives and the life of the Church.”