While celebrating Mass for the feast of St. George on Tuesday, Pope Francis preached on Christian identity. He emphasized that to follow Jesus means belonging to the Church, as it is the Church that gives Christians their identity. He said,
“Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these (the apostles) belonged to the Church, the Mother Church, because finding Jesus outside the Church is impossible. … It is the Mother Church who gives us Jesus, gives us the identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging.”
He referenced Pope Paul VI, who said that “it is an absurd dichotomy to want to live with Jesus without the Church, to follow Jesus outside the Church, to love Jesus without the Church.”
In his homily, Pope Francis also spoke about the persecution the early Christian communities experienced. He noted that the persecution did not hinder their faith, but rather compelled them to spread the Gospel message all the more. He said, “Precisely at the moment persecution erupted, the missionary activity of the church erupted as well.”
He noted that this has always been the case in the life of the Church. “This is how the Church moves forward … between the persecution of the world and the consolation of the Lord. The life of the Church is this way.” He likened the life of the church to a path that is always alternating between “persecution and consolation, between the Cross and Resurrection.”
For more on Pope Francis’ homily, see the full article at Catholic News Service.