VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beware of the devil, who wants a jealous, power-hungry and divided church, Pope Francis said.
Be open to the Holy Spirit, who brings unity and harmony, and who pushes people to focus fully on Christ, the pope said April 29 during his homily at Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives.
The pope’s morning homily reflected on the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:32-37), which describes the early Christian community as being made up of believers who were “of one heart and mind,” who “bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,” and who distributed their assets “to each according to need.”
Pope Francis said the passage describes what every Christian community — including parishes and dioceses — should model and aspire to: “peace, witness, poverty and taking care of the poor.”
A community of peace, forgiveness and harmony means “there’s no place for gossip, jealousy, back-stabbing and slander,” he said, according to a report by Vatican Radio.
To see how a community measures up to what Christ wants, look at how its members behave, he said. “Are they meek, humble? Are there battles among them over power? Jealous arguments? Is there gossip? They are not on the road of Jesus Christ,” he said.
A peaceful, harmonious community is “very, very important,” he said, “because the devil is always trying to divide us. He is the father of division.”
The second important characteristic of a Christian community is its dedication to giving witness to the risen Christ, he said.
“Does this parish, this community, this diocese really believe that Jesus Christ is risen?” or do people only believe it with their head and not their heart? he asked. “To give witness that Jesus is living, he is among us — this is the way you can verify how a community is doing.”
The third aspect of a Christian community is its members’ “poverty of spirit” — that they put their trust in God and not riches and power, he said.
This is what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus that “you must be born from above” and born of the Holy Spirit, the pope said.
When it comes to peace, witness and a concern for the poor, “the only one who can do this is the Spirit. This is the work of the Spirit,” he said.
The Holy Spirit creates unity, “the Spirit pushes us to give witness,” the pope said. “The Spirit makes you poor because he is the richness and he makes it so you care for the poor.”