May 8, 2015
Pope Francis says discussions within the Church are to seek unity and and it should not be a place where people are always clashing, betraying each other and forming lobbies to win their argument. He said the Holy Spirit helps bring change and moves things forward within the Church but at the same time it creates unity between all its members. This was the core message of his homily on Friday (May 8th) at morning Mass in the Santa Marta residence.
Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit creates movement within the Church which at first sight might appear to be confusion but if this movement or change is welcomed with prayer and a spirit of dialogue it always generates unity between Christians.
‘No forming of lobbies’
Taking his cue from the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope pointed to the example of the outcome from the first Council of Jerusalem where the early Christian community was able, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to resolve differences of opinion and reach an agreement. The Christian community had clashed between the so-called ‘closed in’ Christians who remained very attached to the Jewish laws and who wanted to impose those same laws on the early Christians and Paul of Tarsus who strongly opposed this.
“How do they resolve this problem? They hold a meeting and each person gives his opinion, his views. They discuss this issue but like brothers and sisters and not like enemies. They don’t form external lobbies in order to win, they don’t go to the civil authorities in order to win and they don’t kill in order to triumph. They seek the path of prayer and dialogue. Those who had opposing views have a dialogue with the other side and they reach an agreement. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.”
‘Spirit creates harmonious unity’
Pope Francis stressed that the Holy Spirit moves us towards harmony and that was why the Christians taking part in the Council of Jerusalem were able to agree on a final decision.
“A Church where there are never problems of this type makes me think that the Holy Spirit is not very present within it. And a Church where its people are always arguing and there are lobbies and people are betraying their brothers and sisters, is a Church where there is no Holy Spirit! It’s the Spirit which creates change, which creates the momentum for going ahead, that creates new spaces, that creates that wisdom which Jesus promised: ‘It will teach you!’ This moves things but is also what at the end creates the harmonious unity between everyone.”
‘Church faithful to movements of Holy Spirit’
The Pope concluded his homily by noting the words used at the conclusion of the day’s gospel reading. He said these words reveal the soul of Christian harmony, not a simple act of goodwill but a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
“That’s what this Reading teaches us today, it teaches us about the first ecumenical Council. It appears fine both to the Spirit and to us….this is the formula used when the Spirit makes everybody reach agreement. Let us now continue the Eucharistic celebration and let us ask our Lord Jesus who will be present among us to always send the Holy Spirit to us, to each one of us. May he send it to the Church and may the Church always know how to be faithful to the movement that the Holy Spirit creates.”