Faith in the Church
Jesus told the Pharisees a story about a man with two sons. The younger son took his inheritance, traveled to a foreign country, and spent all the money he had. Full of sorrow, the son returned. And his father welcomed him with a party.
When the older son heard about the party, he got angry and complained to his father.
"'My son,' the father said to the older son, 'you're always with me. Everything I have is yours. But, we must celebrate. Your brother was dead. Now he lives. He was lost. Now he's found.'"
Based on Luke 15:31-32
Jesus told a story about a family: a father who had two sons. The father welcomed the younger son home, because he wanted his family to be together again.
Like the family in the story, God has a family. It doesn't matter if the person was faithful to God like the older brother. Or, if the person was selfish, like the younger brother. God wants everyone to be part of that family. We call God's family the "Church."
Those Gathered Together Who Look Up And Believe
Nicodemus the Pharisee went to Jesus at night, so he could question the Lord about his teachings. Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"Just as Moses lifted up a snake image made from bronze in the desert, the Son of Man needs to be lifted up, so that everyone who places their trust in him will live forever in him."
Based on John 3:14-15
The Church are all the people who look up to Jesus on the cross and believe in him. They are the people God gives eternal life The people who worship God with Jesus now will do so forever in heaven.
The word Church means "those gathered together." As Church, we gather together to worship God at Mass on Sunday. Afterwards, we go to serve others throughout the week. The Church has come together to pray and help others ever since Jesus called the first disciples to follow him.
The Four Marks of the Church
There are four adjectives (called "marks") that define the Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
The Church is "One." As members of the Church, we are united in faith. We share the same Lord, the same Baptism, the same Holy Spirit, and the same hope in the future.
The Church is "Holy." As members of the Church, God the Father gave us his Son to save us. He gave us his Spirit and called us together to follow Jesus. He gave us the sacraments as a way to worship and experience him.
The Church is "Catholic." The word "catholic" can mean "for everyone at every time." The Church serves every kind of people all over the world. The word "catholic" can also mean "complete, total." The Church has the complete faith; it has everything God wanted us to know and believe.
The Church is "Apostolic." The faith we have came through Peter (the first Pope) and the Apostles. Today, the Pope and the bishops united with him teach the same faith and govern the Church with the same power Jesus gave the Apostles.
Three Images of the Church
Based upon these four adjectives, there are three images that describe the Church.
The Church is the "People of God." God calls his people together, so they can work together for the same goal: to help others believe in Jesus.
The Church is the "Body of Christ." As believers, we have a relationship with Jesus. We call him "Lord." So Jesus is like the head of his body. As parts of his body, we all have different jobs, but we all have the same dignity. We are all God's children.
The Church is also the "Temple of the Holy Spirit." As the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the power of God. We believers are like the stones that build a temple. But the temple would be dead without someone living in it. That "someone" is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit brings the Church alive with special gifts that bring people to Jesus.
There are many ways to define and describe the Church. But there is one thing that binds us together as a Church: trust in Jesus.
Jesus cured a blind beggar. But the religious leaders questioned the man and threw him out of the community.
Jesus heard what happened to the beggar. When Jesus found the man, he asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
"Point him out, so I can believe in him," the beggar responded.
"You've already seen him," Jesus said. "That person is talking to you right now."
"I trust you, Lord!" the man said. Then, he bowed and worshiped Jesus.
Based on John 9:35-38