Do I have to belong to a church?
Friday of week 7 in Ordinary Time, May 25, 2018
“Do you have to belong to a church to be a Christian?” That's like asking, “Do you have to have a body to
be a human?”
God the Son only became “the Christ” by taking a body. We only become Christians by becoming members of that body. There is no disembodied Christianity, any more than there is a disembodied Christ.
Bodies are visible. No human body has invisible limbs. The body of Christ has no invisible members—except, temporarily, souls in heaven who are awaiting reunification with their bodies at the resurrection of the dead.
There are “anonymous Christians” who are visible, and visibly Christian, in the measure they are manifestly “living by the Spirit” (Romans 8:9). They have received grace (divine life) “non-sacramentally,” that is, without human interaction with the Church. They have “become Christ,” and members of his Body, through “baptism of desire,” even though they are not aware of it. For example, Mahatma Gandhi. But we do not say they are fully “Christians,” or “in the Church”—ekklesia, “assembly”—unless they assemble with other Christians as one body.
They are like uncoordinated limbs of the body, partly paralyzed through faulty communication and a lack of connection with the head and other members. That is also true of the baptized who no longer assemble with believers. We say they have “left the Church.” They no longer function in coordination with the body. That's everyone’s loss.
ACTION: Be Church. Assemble.
PRAYER: Lord, let me never be separated from you or from your Body.