Homily Thoughts...You can't follow Jesus without the Church

Pope Francis has some good one-liners. One of my favorites: "You can't follow Jesus without the Church." Some may take exception to that. There are many Catholics for example who feel they do not need to come to Mass every week in order to be considered a Christian or a good Catholic. They ask, "Why can't I just pray to God at home or when taking a walk in the woods?" My answer: You can! But when did you last do that? When did you last stay at home on a Sunday & take even 5 minutes out of your day to pray to God?

Faith is not about belonging to an organized religion. It is about having a personal relationship with God through Christ. Jesus speaks to this personal relationship in the gospel today: "If you love me, my Father will love you and we will come to you and make our dwelling within you." But the scriptures today also speak of the importance of a faith that has a communal dimension as well. The early Christians argued about how Gentiles could become followers of Christ. Did they have to become Jewish first? They called together a council with the leaders of the Church and with the help of the Holy Spirit, answered that question (Gentiles do not have to become Jewish first). But they realized that their faith was a communal one, not just a private relationship. 

Can I, as a Christian, stay at home and pray? Yes. And we all should develop our personal relationship with God. But we also need to pray together, as a community, for God calls us to be one with each other as he desires to be one with each of us personally. As Pope Francis says, you cannot be a follower of Jesus without the Church.