I’m pleased to tell you about our newest book by Pope Francis. Walking with Jesus: A Way Forward for the Church, like the previous The Church of Mercy, is a collection of Pope Francis’s addresses and writings. These focus on how the Church—the community of faith—helps us walk with Jesus, learning more every day about what it means to follow him. I will let Pope Francis speak to you directly now.
The image of a body does not imply that the believer is simply one part of an anonymous whole, a mere cog in a great machine; rather, it brings out the vital union of Christ with believers and of believers among themselves (cf. Rom. 12:4-5). Christians are “one” (cf. Gal. 3:28) but in a way that does not make them lose their individuality; in service to others, they come into their own in the highest degree. This explains why, apart from this body, outside this unity of the Church in Christ . . . faith loses its “measure”; it no longer finds its equilibrium, the space needed to sustain itself.
Faith is necessarily ecclesial; it is professed from within the Body of Christ as a concrete communion of believers. It is against this ecclesial backdrop that faith opens the individual Christian toward all others. Christ’s word, once heard, by virtue of its inner power at work in the heart of the Christian, becomes a response, a spoken word, a profession of faith. As St. Paul puts it, “one believes with the heart . . . and confesses with the lips” (Rom. 10:10).
Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed. For “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Faith becomes operative in the Christian on the basis of the gift received, the love that attracts our hearts to Christ (cf. Gal. 5:6) and enables us to become part of the Church’s great pilgrimage through history until the end of the world. For those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, and faith becomes light for their eyes.
- How have you experienced your faith as a result of community?
- When has community helped your faith? When has it made faith difficult?
- What advice would you give leaders in the Church about helping the community nurture the faith of individuals?