Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 26 June 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters,Good morning!
Today I would like to mention briefly another image that helps us describe
the mystery of the Church: the temple (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council,
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church,
Lumen Gentium, n. 6).
What does the word “temple” make us think of? It makes us think of a
building, of a construction. More especially the minds of many turn to the
history of the People of Israel recounted in the Old Testament. Solomon’s great
Temple in Jerusalem was the place for the encounter with God in prayer. Inside
the Temple was the Ark of the Covenant, a sign of God’s presence among the
people; and the Ark contained the Tables of the Law, the manna and Aaron’s rod.
This was a reminder that God had always been in the history of his People, that
he had accompanied it on its journey and had guided its steps. The Temple is a
memorial of this history. When we go to the Temple we too must remember this
history, each one of us our own history, how Jesus met me, how Jesus walked
beside me, how Jesus loves and blesses me.
It is this that was prefigured in the ancient Temple and brought about in the
Church by the power of the Holy Spirit: the Church is “God’s house”, the place
of his presence, where we can find and encounter the Lord; the Church is the
Temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells. It is he who gives life to her, who
guides and sustains her. Let us ask ourselves: where can we meet God? Where can
we enter into communion with him through Christ? Where can we find the light of
the Holy Spirit to light up our life? The answer is: in the People of God, among
us who are the Church. It is here that we shall encounter Jesus, the Holy Spirit
and the Father.
The ancient Temple was built by human hands. There was a wish “to give God a
house”, to have a visible sign of his presence among the people. With the
Incarnation of the Son of God, Nathan’s prophecy to King David was fulfilled
(cf. 2 Sam 7:1-29): it is not the king, it is not we who “give God a house”;
rather it is God himself who “builds his house” in order to come and dwell among
us, as St John wrote in his Gospel (cf. 1:14). Christ is the living Temple of
the Father, and Christ himself builds his “spiritual house”: the Church, not
made of material stones but rather of “living stones”, which we are. The Apostle
Paul said to the Christians of Ephesus: you are “built upon the foundation of
the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom
the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;
in whom you also are built... for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (Eph
2:20-22). This is a beautiful thing! We are the living stones of God’s building,
profoundly united to Christ who is the keystone and also the one that sustains
us. What does this mean? It means that we are the temple, we are the living
Church, the living temple, and with us when we are together is also the Holy
Spirit, who helps us to grow as Church. We are not alone, for we are the People
of God: this is the Church!
And it is the Holy Spirit with his gifts who designs the variety. This is
important: what does the Holy Spirit do among us? He designs the variety which
is a wealth in the Church and unites us, each and every one, to constitute a
spiritual temple in which we do not offer material sacrifices but ourselves, our
life (cf. 1 Pt 2:4-5). The Church is not a fabric woven of things and interests;
she is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, the Temple in which God works, the Temple
of the Holy Spirit, the Temple in which God works, the Temple in which, with the
gift of Baptism, each one of us is a living stone. This tells us that no one in
the Church is useless, and if from time to time someone says to someone else:
“go home, you are no good”, this is not true. For no one is no good in the
Church, we are all necessary for building this Temple! No one is secondary. No
one is the most important person in the Church, we are all equal in God’s eyes.
Some of you might say “Listen, Mr Pope, you are not our equal”. Yes, I am like
each one of you, we are all equal, we are brothers and sisters! No one is
anonymous: we all both constitute and build the Church. This also invites us to
reflect on the fact that if the brick of our Christian life goes missing, the
beauty of the Church loses something. Some people say “I have nothing to do with
the Church”; but in this way the brick of a life in this beautiful Temple is
left out. No one can go away, we must all bring the Church our life, our heart,
our love, our thought and our work: all of us together.
I would now like us to ask ourselves: how do we live our being Church? Are we
living stones or are we, as it were, stones that are weary, bored or
indifferent? Have you ever noticed how grim it is to see a tired, bored and
indifferent Christian? A Christian like that is all wrong, the Christian must be
alive, rejoicing in being Christian; he or she must live this beauty of
belonging to the People of God which is the Church. Do we open ourselves to the
action of the Holy Spirit, to be an active part of our communities or do we
withdraw into ourselves, saying; “I have so much to do, it isn’t my job!”?
The Lord gives all of us his grace, his strength, so that we may be
profoundly united to Christ, who is the cornerstone, the pillar and the
foundation of our life and of the whole life of the Church. Let us pray that
enlivened by his Spirit we may always be living stones of his Church.
I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and
visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland,
Wales, South Africa, Indonesia, Canada and the United States. May your stay in
the Eternal City confirm you in love for our Lord and his Church. God bless you
I am pleased to greet Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi and all who are close to
him on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his Ordination to the priesthood
and the 40th anniversary of his episcopal Ordination. Only think! What a
splendid service to the Church: 60 years of priesthood and 40 of the episcopate!
It is a lovely service which he has carried out with a father’s heart, with the
kindness of a father, and with this father’s heart he has done so much good to
the Church. This morning we celebrated Mass and there was a small group of
priests who had been ordained by him. The group was “small”. It consisted of
more than 80! Imagine how many priests he must have ordained: let us thank him
for all that he has done for the Church. I greet the Daughters of the Church and
the Suore delle Poverelle [Sisters of Poor Women], who are celebrating their
I would also like as usual to address my cordial greeting to the young
people, the sick and the newlyweds.
I hope that this meeting will be for each and every one an encouragement to
disseminate enthusiastically the newness of the eternal saving message brought