The universal Church is not just an assembly of congregations that have united in order to achieve greater efficiency or for some other such reasons; she holds the primacy and gives birth to all the others. That is obviously the message Saint Luke wants to convey in his account of Pentecost, where he tells us that even before there were congregations, there was already the Catholic Church, the Church of all peoples…Actually, that is abundantly clear when we consider the inner origin of the Church: Christ is not related to the Church the way the founder of some association or other is bound to the association he has founded. He did not found the Church as an association; he did not found her by a series of separate actions, but by being, himself, the grain of wheat that dies. But that is a very different kind of relationship. Christ is not a founder whose intention one recalls from time to time. In the Eucharist he is the always present origin of the Church. Consequently, the Church is not primarily bound to him by all kinds of legal ordinances, but is supported by him in the community of being. Paul goes so far as to say that there is, in fact, only one elect, but we are all one through our relationship with Christ (Gal 4:15-29). The external origin of the Church gives the same testimony: it is by no means a new creation of Jesus. The people of God have been in the process of formation since Abraham and must always be just one people; through Jesus its boundary posts have simply been extended to the ends of the earth and more deeply rooted – in the trinitarian love of God.
From: Diener eurer Freude, pp. 58-59