Pope Francis dedicated his catechesis on June 19 to the expression “of the body” that the Second Vatican Council used to indicate the nature of the Church: the Church is the body of Christ. The Pope recalled the text of the conversion of Saul, who became Paul, in order to explain how the Apostle, with that experience, tells us how profound the union between Christians and Christ is.
“The image of the body helps us to understand this deep bond between Church and Christ, which St. Paul particularly developed,” the Pope said. “The Church … is a living body … and this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, nourishes, and sustains it. … [But], the same way that in a body it is important that the lifeblood courses for it to live, so must we allow Jesus to work in us, so that his Word might guide us, his Eucharistic presence might nourish and inspire us, and so that his love might give strength to our love for our neighbor.”
“In the Church, therefore,” the pontiff continued, “there is a variety, a diversity of tasks and functions. There is no dull uniformity but the richness of the gifts that the Holy Spirit distributes. There is communion and unity: all are in relation to one another and all combine to form a single vital body, profoundly connected to Christ. Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from him the divine life that makes us to live as Christians. It means remaining united to the Pope and bishops who are instruments of unity and communion and it also means learning to overcome selfishness and divisions, to understand one another better, and to harmonize the variety and richness of each one. In a word, loving God and the persons around us, in our families, parishes, and associations, better. Body and limbs must be united in order to live!”
Speaking extemporaneously, the Holy Father added: “Unity is always greater than conflict. Conflicts, if they aren’t resolved well, separate us from one another, separate us from God. Conflict can help us grow but it can also divide us. Let’s not take the path of division and struggle between one another. All united, all united with our differences but always united: this is Jesus’ path.”
“How much damage is caused to the Church by divisions among Christians, by being apart, by narrow interests! The divisions among us,” he continued, “but also the divisions between the communities: evangelical Christians, Orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, why are we divided? We must try to bring unity. … We must pray together as Catholics and also with other Christians, must pray that the Lord grant us unity, unity between us. But how will we have unity among Christians if we aren’t capable of having it among us Catholics? Of having it in our family? How many families fight and are divided! Seek unity, the unity that makes the Church. Unity comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to create unity.”