The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles' Creed we pray: “I believe in God, the Father… in Jesus Christ, his only Son, in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” We must believe in the Church! The Apostles’ Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.
Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us…
Our faith in God who sent his Son to become God-with-us and who, with his Son, sent his Spirit to become God-within-us cannot be real without our faith in the Church. The Church is that unlikely body of people through whom God chooses to reveal God’s love for us. Just as it seems unlikely to us that God chose to become human in a young girl living in a small, not very respected town in the Middle East nearly two thousand years ago, it seems unlikely that God chose to continue his work of salvation in a community of people constantly torn apart by arguments, prejudices, authority conflicts, and power games.
Still, believing in Jesus and believing in the Church are two sides of one faith. It is unlikely but divine!
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
If this is true, then we as Franciscans have an enormous responsibility given us by our founder, to whom Christ spoke from the crucifix at San Damiano, saying, “Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin.” We are called to such gentleness and concern, such compassion and longing, for the broken body of Christ, the Church (Colossians 1:24) as was shown by Joseph, Nicodemus, Mary Magdalene and the others (Luke 23:55; John 19:38ff) to Christ’s own body broken on the Cross. Only through such love and self-giving as theirs, and as Francis’ and Clare’s, will we at last see all things made new in Jesus (Revelation 21:5).