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Who Needs the Church? You might as well ask, Who needs Jesus?
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 3/17/2014 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 03/18/2014 2:14:03 AM PDT by markomalley

I was asked to go to a neighboring parish and address some fundamental questions related to the necessity of the Church. Many today question the need for a church or The Church and claim they can have Jesus without the Church. And thus the fundamental question “Who needs the Church?” ought to be addressed.

I propose here a rather more doctrinal answer to the question and hope tomorrow to offer a more personal answer. But, the fundamental answer I offer to “Who needs the Church?” is that everyone does, because the Church is the Body of Christ.

To the related questions “Why do I need to come to Church?” and “How can the Church possibly be relevant to me?” the fundamental answer is because it is in the Church that Jesus is first and foremost to be found.

I. To those who reject that anything special is to be found in the Church that cannot be found elsewhere Jesus says,

  1. Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt 18:20) And thus we see that Jesus is present in the gathering we call the Church in a more perfect way than he is in my private prayer, or on some mountaintop. He says, THERE am I in the MIDST of THEM.
  2. [Jesus said to the disciples] The one who hears you hears me Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me. (Luke 10:16) And thus Jesus speaks and teaches in and through his Church in a personal manner that he does not elsewhere, such that to hear his voice in the proclamation of the Church is to hear him in a more perfect way than “in my heart,” or in creation, or in any other person or place outside the Church
  3. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in you. (Jn 6:53) And thus the liturgy of the Church is an essential source of true life for us since apart from Holy Communion that Jesus offers in the Mass we “have no life” in us.

II. To those who say, “I can have Jesus without the Church,”  I say “no can do.” For the Church is the body of Christ and it pertains to the head of a living Body to be found with his body, not apart from it. That the Church is the Body of Christ is clear in many Scriptures such as

  1. Jesus is the head of the body the Church (Col 1:8)
  2. Now you are the body of Christ, each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:27)
  3. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ (Rom 12:4-6)

Hence, Christ the Head cannot be had or found apart from his Body the Church.

III. To those who say, “I can read my Bible alone,” it must be said that there would be no Bible if it were not for the Church. Jesus didn’t write a book. He founded a community he called “My Church” (Matt 16) and sent them to “Teach all that I have commanded” (Matt 28:20).

Of course it would be silly to have things depend solely on a book in the ancient world when almost no one could read, and even those who could, could scarcely afford books, which all had to be hand-copied prior to the invention of the printing press.

Further, the Bible is a Church book and is meant to be read in the context of Church life. Scripture itself warns: Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). In effect Peter goes on to warn them to read Scripture in conformity with the Church.

IV. To those who say “I can watch Church on TV,”  I say “Yes, but you can’t get Holy Communion on TV!” which as we saw above is essential if we are to have life in us.

Neither can we be in that place “wherever two or three are gathered” and thus be there where Jesus says he is, by sitting at home in front of a TV.

Neither can we have real fellowship, as Scripture admonishes us to do, by watching at home. And let us consider how to spur one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Nor can we fulfill most of the vision of the life of the early Christians, who, as Scripture says, devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers (Acts 2:42)

V. To those who say, “I like Jesus but I can’t stand the Church, with all those hypocrites,” but Jesus was found in strange places, among sinners. So much so that he scandalized the Pharisees. Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners and unsavory characters. Even his best followers, the apostles, had great character defects.

The fact is, if you reject the company of sinners you’re going to have a hard time finding Jesus who is found among sinners, sinners that he loves and calls his brethren, As Scripture says, For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” (Heb 2:11-12)

So Jesus is found in the assembly of sinners and loves them. It is a strange disconnect to say to Jesus, “I love you but I hate the people you love and call your brethren; I just refuse to consort with them.”

Considering too that sinners are joined to Christ as members of his body, think of the strange logic in going to someone and saying, “I love and respect you, but I can’t stand your body. It is ugly and awful. I want to be with you, but I hate your body, I just can’t endure it. I will relate to you, but not your body.” This sort of talk is absurd and disrespectful.

VI. To those who say “It’s the institution of the Church I object to, not the Body of Christ,” sorry, but bodies are not abstractions. They have parts and functions. They require a head with executive functions as well as other parts and members with other functions. Neither is the Body of Christ an abstraction. It must have headship and governance along with other members and parts having various roles and functions.

Further, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles all talk a LOT about “institutional aspects” such as offices and structures:

1. There are offices like apostles, bishops, priests, deacons, catechists, administrators, etc.
2. There are Councils that issue binding documents and interpretations considered authoritative (e.g., the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15).
3. There is an insistence by the apostles as to their authority on numerous occasions.
4. Each local Church is overseen by a priest or bishop (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).
5. There are disciplinary functions such as excommunication, disciplining of the clergy and faithful, etc. (1 Cor 5; Matt 18:17).
6. There are sacraments being celebrated and certain norms associated with them (e.g., 1 Cor 11).
7. There are liturgical norms being promulgated (e.g., 1 Cor 14).

All of these “institutional” aspects are necessary and biblical. They are not some medieval addition, or “tradition of men.” They are right there at the beginning as the Scriptures attest.

VII. To those who say that the Church is irrelevant, outdated, and arrogant because it does not reflect the modern age or most of its members, it must be pointed out that the Church does not exist to reflect the views of its members, but to articulate the views and truths of her head and founder, Jesus Christ. Her mandate from Jesus is to make disciples from all the nations teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Mat 28:20).

And the Holy Spirit admonishes every Bishop through St. Paul: I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (2 Tim 4:1-5)

Therefore the Catholic Church is the enduring, visible presence of Jesus Christ in the World. It is the Body of Christ who still walks this earth preaching, teaching, healing, forgiving, feeding, admonishing sinners, consoling the repentant, being loved but also hated, being appreciated but also persecuted. The Church is not an institution; it is the Body of Christ, and also his Beautiful Bride; for in marriage the two become one. You cannot have Christ without the Church.  You cannot have the groom without his Bride. You cannot have the head without his Body. You cannot love the one and despise or be indifferent to the other. Jesus is first and foremost to be found with his Body, the Church.

Yes, the Church is the enduring, visible yet spiritual, structured yet Spirit-led, human yet divine presence of Jesus Christ in the World today. To the scoffers who set up false dichotomies Jesus says, “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me?!”

Who needs the Church? You might as well ask, “Who needs Jesus?”


TOPICS: Catholic; Theology
KEYWORDS: catholicchurch; church; msgrcharlespope; thecatholicchurch; thechurch; whoneedsthechurch
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1 posted on 03/18/2014 2:14:03 AM PDT by markomalley
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To: Biggirl; ConorMacNessa; Heart-Rest; Mercat; Mrs. Don-o; Nervous Tick; Rich21IE; RoadGumby; ...

Msgr Pope ping


2 posted on 03/18/2014 2:14:23 AM PDT by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Ping!


3 posted on 03/18/2014 3:46:23 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: markomalley

I need Jesus; however, I don’t need the corrupt institution that the church has become.


4 posted on 03/18/2014 4:58:34 AM PDT by Arm_Bears (Shoot cops that shoot dogs.)
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To: markomalley

You don’t need to join the fan club to love the music.


5 posted on 03/18/2014 5:03:16 AM PDT by muir_redwoods (When I first read it, " Atlas Shrugged" was fiction)
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To: Arm_Bears
I don’t need the corrupt institution

You read the article, right?

V. To those who say, “I like Jesus but I can’t stand the Church, with all those hypocrites,” but Jesus was found in strange places, among sinners. So much so that he scandalized the Pharisees. Jesus ate with tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners and unsavory characters. Even his best followers, the apostles, had great character defects.

The fact is, if you reject the company of sinners you’re going to have a hard time finding Jesus who is found among sinners, sinners that he loves and calls his brethren, As Scripture says, For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.” (Heb 2:11-12)

So Jesus is found in the assembly of sinners and loves them. It is a strange disconnect to say to Jesus, “I love you but I hate the people you love and call your brethren; I just refuse to consort with them.”

Considering too that sinners are joined to Christ as members of his body, think of the strange logic in going to someone and saying, “I love and respect you, but I can’t stand your body. It is ugly and awful. I want to be with you, but I hate your body, I just can’t endure it. I will relate to you, but not your body.” This sort of talk is absurd and disrespectful.


6 posted on 03/18/2014 5:31:32 AM PDT by annalex (fear them not)
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To: muir_redwoods

That might be true about music, especially the kind with fan clubs.


7 posted on 03/18/2014 5:34:52 AM PDT by annalex (fear them not)
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To: markomalley

Where two are gathered is called a marriage and when three or more are gathered is called a family, not a church, and Jesus is there in there midst.

Jesus said, “Abide in me, and I in you.”

It is all about the Spirit of Christ abiding in you, and has nothing to with rules, dogma, sacraments, buildings, fonts, holy water, altars, pews, priests, confessionals, catechisms, statues and statutes, rosary beads, crosses, incense, and chalices. That is all noise and distraction.

People would well to just humbly seek the Holy Spirit everyday and avoid all other gobbledeegook.


8 posted on 03/18/2014 5:41:53 AM PDT by Boanarges
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To: Boanarges

The Church is the body of Christ. End of story.


9 posted on 03/18/2014 5:42:47 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: markomalley

God Bless Msgr. Pope!


10 posted on 03/18/2014 5:43:41 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Arm_Bears

To those that are holy and pure, we may need you to inspire the rest of us sinners to follow Christ by being part of the Church and the Body of Christ..

II. To those who say, “I can have Jesus without the Church,” I say “no can do.” For the Church is the body of Christ and it pertains to the head of a living Body to be found with his body, not apart from it. That the Church is the Body of Christ is clear in many Scriptures such as

1.Jesus is the head of the body the Church (Col 1:8)
2.Now you are the body of Christ, each one of you is a part of it. (1 Cor 12:27)
3.For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ (Rom 12:4-6)


11 posted on 03/18/2014 5:53:30 AM PDT by ADSUM
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To: Boanarges

Family is indeed a model of the church, called Church Domestic. Matthew 18:20 does not necessarily refer to a family, rather, it speaks of any three Christians, and by extension of any number of Christians. The Church as an institution originally consisted of a small circle of apostles and disciples not related by family, and it established dogmas and had sacraments. That a certain Catholic culture, with statues and rosary beads grew out of it merely shows that Christ founded a living Church where the Holy Spirit abides, not a dead one.


12 posted on 03/18/2014 5:55:07 AM PDT by annalex (fear them not)
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To: Biggirl

Amen. Christ is the head, and the Church (made of people, NOT a building) is the body.


13 posted on 03/18/2014 5:55:15 AM PDT by Boanarges
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To: markomalley

**To those who say, “I can have Jesus without the Church,” I say “no can do.” **

Full of great one liners.


14 posted on 03/18/2014 6:53:52 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: markomalley

The story of C.S. Lewis comes to mind whenever I hear this question. Lewis was always questioning everything, and at some point in his questioning (as described in his book “Surprised by Joy”) he came to the knowledge of the existence of God. And - given that there is a God - He was worthy of our worship. He therefore went to church simply to worship God - but he really did not like it. It took about a year, but eventually he found (was found by) Jesus and the rest - as they say - is history.

If you believe in God - then He is worthy of our worship. Period!


15 posted on 03/18/2014 6:54:28 AM PDT by impactplayer
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To: Arm_Bears

**Hence, Christ the Head cannot be had or found apart from his Body the Church.**


16 posted on 03/18/2014 6:54:46 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Boanarges
**1.Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt 18:20) And thus we see that Jesus is present in the gathering we call the Church in a more perfect way than he is in my private prayer, or on some mountaintop. He says, THERE am I in the MIDST of THEM.**

Are you saying that you don't believe the Bible?

17 posted on 03/18/2014 6:56:58 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Arm_Bears; Alex Murphy; bkaycee; blue-duncan; boatbums; caww; count-your-change; CynicalBear; ...

The body of Christ is an organism, not an organization.

Believers become part of the body of Christ when they are born again. That is the assembly of called out ones that someone, somewhere mislabeled with the English word *church*.

Denominations are not THE church and especially not The One True Church. No denomination can lay claim to it because salvation is by grace through faith in Christ and not membership or adherence or baptism into a denomination.

Denominations do not save. Jesus does.


18 posted on 03/18/2014 7:25:54 AM PDT by metmom (...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith....)
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To: Salvation

AMEN to that!


19 posted on 03/18/2014 7:36:37 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: metmom

You go girl


20 posted on 03/18/2014 7:45:04 AM PDT by Dutchboy88
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