All Are Called to Build the Church, Exhorts Pope

Calls Believers the "Living Stones"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- No one is excluded from building with Christ the living temple of his Church, God's dwelling with people, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope, speaking in preparation for Christmas, was heard by about 40,000 people who gathered today in St. Peter's Square to recite the midday Angelus.

"During these days the liturgy reminds us constantly that 'God comes' to visit his people, to dwell among men and establish with them a communion of love and life, that is, a family," the Holy Father observed.

In fact, "does not the building of a church in a village or city neighborhood evoke perhaps this great gift and mystery?" he asked.

The Pontiff asked the question shortly after dedicating a parish church in Rome to Holy Mary Star of Evangelization.

The dedication gave him the opportunity to explain that "the church-building is a concrete sign of the church-community, made up of 'living stones' which are the believers."

The cornerstone of this spiritual temple is Christ, Benedict XVI added. "United to him and very compact, we are also called to take part in the building of this living temple."

"Of course it is God who takes the initiative of coming to dwell among men, and he is always the main author of this project, but he does not will to carry it out without our active collaboration," he clarified.

All included

Hence, "to prepare for Christmas means to commit oneself to build 'God's dwelling with men,'" a task from which "no one is excluded," the Pope said. "Every one can and must contribute so that this house of communion is more spacious and beautiful."

"At the end of time, it will be complete and will be the 'heavenly Jerusalem,' … ultimate end of our earthly pilgrimage" and the goal toward which the season of Advent invites us to direct our gaze, the Holy Father said.

This liturgical time before Christmas exhorts us at the same time "to be committed to prayer, conversion and good works, to welcome Jesus in our lives, to build with him the spiritual edifice," he emphasized.

In the middle of the crowded St. Peter's Square could be seen the structure on which the Nativity scene will rest.

The traditional Christmas tree is expected to arrive this Wednesday. The 35-meter (115-foot) tree will be a gift from the Italian region of Calabria.