The Church We Affirm Belief In

Continuing on yesterday’s theme, which focused on the part of the Creed that affirms our belief in “one holy, catholic and apostolic church,” a few more words about the “church” that we affirm belief in.

I spent time in prayer yesterday with the homily Oscar Romero delivered at the Funeral Mass of Father Rutilio Grande, who was assassinated along with two compesinos in 1977. Describing Grande’s profession of faith, Romero spoke of his belief “in the Church that is a sign of the presence of God’s love in the world where men and women extend their hands and encounter one another as sisters and brothers” and of his belief in the Church that enlightens “a faith that speaks to us about eternal life…[and about] liberation which culminates with happiness with God; liberation which brings about a repentance for sin, liberation based on Christ.”

As I sat with those words I thought: this is a definition of Church I can affirm belief in with confidence and enthusiasm. Whatever else it is, first and foremost, the Church must be “a sign of the presence of God’s love in the world,” it must be men and women encountering “one another [encountering every other] as sisters and brothers.” If it is not that, then it is nothing worth preserving, nothing worth standing behind.

Equally, the love of which Romero is more than what we sometimes label as love. Rather, the love he speaks of is a love that is tied to God’s love, a love that points toward and leads us to union with God.

We can say a lot of other things about Church (and put an awful lot of focus on some of those things), but at some level they all seem to me to be small potatoes. The Church is the sign of the presence of God’s love in the world. And if “we are the Church” (words we often hear) then we must be that sign and symbol in everything we do, with everyone we encounter.