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POPE-CHURCH May-15-2014 (330 words) xxxi

Being Christian means belonging to the church, pope says

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Being a Christian means belonging to the church, remembering with others all God's saving actions and celebrating the covenant between God and his people by participating in Mass, Pope Francis said.

"A Christian without the church is a pure idea, it is not real," the pope said May 15 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. "It would be like something made in a laboratory, something artificial, something that could not give life."

Commenting on the day's first reading, Acts 13:13-25, in which St. Paul explains that the newly formed Christian community traces its history to the people of Israel, the pope said the idea of one Christian alone, without connection to a community and its history, makes no sense.

Understanding who Jesus was requires recognizing that he, too, was born into the people of Israel and kept alive the memory of what God had done for his people.

"Jesus Christ did not fall from heaven like a hero who comes to save us," the pope said, according to a report by Vatican Radio. "No, Jesus Christ had a history."

As a follower of Jesus, a Christian must be mindful of the community's history, which is the history of all God has done in order to save humanity, the pope said. At the same time, a Christian must remember the blessings God has provided in one's own life.

Christians share God's promise of salvation, and the church is the community in which they move toward the ultimate fulfillment of that promise, the pope said. It also is the community in which one celebrates God's covenant with his people in the Mass; therefore, a Christian must be "a eucharistic woman, a eucharistic man."

Pope Francis encouraged those at his Mass to pray each day for "the grace of memory," "the grace of hope" and "the grace of renewing each day the covenant to which the Lord has called us."


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