VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The presence of the Holy Spirit makes Christian communities places of harmony and sharing where wealth is not accumulated, but put at the service of the needy, Pope Francis said.
A Christian community shows it is filled with the Holy Spirit “when it is a community that seeks harmony” and does not allow internal divisions to fester, “when it seeks poverty” and “not the accumulation of riches for itself because wealth is for service,” he said April 14 at his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
What’s more, he said, a sure sign of the Spirit’s presence is that community members “do not get angry or feel offended as soon as a difficulty arises,” but they are as patient as Jesus was.
According to Vatican Radio, the pope quoted from the day’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:32-37): “No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.”
While the reading begins by saying, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind,” Pope Francis noted that the problems they faced began rather quickly.
The next chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, he said, describes how a married couple — Ananias and Sapphira — try to fool the community by pretending they are giving all the proceeds from the sale of their property, when they kept some for themselves.
“These are like the patrons or benefactors who approach the church, enter to help, but use the church for their own ends, aren’t they?” he said.
But even bigger troubles are looming, he said. The persecution of Christians begins soon after the Resurrection, just as Jesus foretold.
The clearest sign of the Spirit’s presence among the early Christians, the pope said, was their “patience in enduring: enduring the problems, enduring the difficulties, enduring the malicious gossip and slander, enduring sickness and enduring pain,” especially regarding the death of their loved ones.
As the Easter season continues and Christians prepare to celebrate Pentecost, Pope Francis said “it would do us good to think about our communities — whether they are dioceses, parishes, families or something else — and ask for the grace of harmony, which is more than unity — it’s a harmonious unity.”
Christians also should ask for “the grace of poverty,” which is the ability to manage money and material things with generosity for the common good, and for “the grace of patience,” the pope said.
The Bible makes clear that the Holy Spirit gives those gifts not just to individuals, he said, but also to communities.