Pope Francis has given an impassioned address in which he declared that Jesus did not "fall from the sky like a superhero".
Jesus, the Pope said, is rooted in history, and is "the end of the story" towards which we are all heading.
This means that Christians cannot find their identity apart from the Church, Francis insisted: "You cannot understand a Christian outside of the people of God".
He imparted these words during a reflection at Mass in Casa Santa Marta yesterday (May 15), where he underlined his belief that "you cannot understand a Christian alone, just like you cannot understand Jesus Christ alone. Jesus Christ did not fall from the sky like a superhero who comes to save us. No. Jesus Christ has a history".
This bestows upon the Church an incredible significance, the Pontiff continued, as a place of rooted and established Christian identity.
"Our Christian identity is belonging to a people: the Church. Without this, we are not Christians. We entered the Church through baptism: there we are Christians," he said.
"God has a history because he wanted to walk with us. And you cannot understand Jesus Christ without his history. So a Christian without history, without a Christian nation, a Christian without the Church is incomprehensible. It is a thing of the laboratory, an artificial thing, a thing that cannot give life.
"A Christian is not a monad, but belongs to a people: the Church."
The Pope then noted that all Christians are part of the Church's journey "towards the ultimate promise" of eternal life with Jesus, and that the Church as a whole is "a people walking towards fullness; a chosen people which has a promise for the future and walks towards this promise, towards the fulfilment of this promise.
"On we go! [Towards] that which does not disappoint," he declared.
His address also highlighted the importance of asking God for "the grace of hope", which he noted is not simply optimism, but "something else", and concluded with a prayer: "Ask for the grace to renew the covenant with the Lord who has called us every day. May the Lord give us these...graces, which are necessary for Christian identity," the Catholic leader urged.
Underlining these assertions, the Pope – who has over ten million followers between his nine Twitter accounts – tweeted this morning: "Our mission as Christians is to conform ourselves evermore to Jesus as the model of our lives".