During his Regina Caeli address Sunday, Pope Francis spoke on what it means to be guided by the Holy Spirit, stressing that “when we let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit, He brings us to harmony, to unity and to respect for different gifts and talents.”
Before reciting the midday prayer, the Holy Father reflected on the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, which spoke of the tensions and dissent that also existed in the primitive Church.
Bringing the discussion to current times, Francis continued, “There are conflicts in life and the problem is how to deal with them.”
“Confronting each other, debating, praying – it is in this way that conflicts are resolved in the Church. [Certainly] gossip, envy, jealousy never lead to concord, to harmony or to peace,” Francis said. “Have you truly understood this? No gossip, no envy, no jealousy! Do you understand?”
The Holy Father used the reading to show that from a state of disagreement and inequality, a solution was achieved. For this, Francis credited the Holy Spirit who “was there too, crowning this agreement” and who, when we allow him to lead us, gives us peace.
The Pope gave a history lesson that illustrated that until the time when the reading took place, the unity of the Christian community was strengthened by the fact that it was the same ethnic group, the same culture – that they were all Jews.
“But when Christianity – which by Jesus’ will is destined for all people – opens up to Greek culture, this homogeneity disappears and the first difficulties occur,” Francis said, showing the cause for the shift.
The Pontiff stated that, “At that moment malcontent spreads, there are complaints, rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment circulate,” adding this takes place not only in the primitive Church.
“This happens in our parishes too! The community’s assistance of needy people – widows, orphans and poor people generally – seems to privilege the Christians of Jewish extraction over others.”
He told the faithful what to do in the face of conflict.
Using the example of the Apostles, he said they “took the situation in hand: they call a meeting that is includes disciples too, they discuss the issue together. Everyone.”
“Problems do not go away by pretending that they do not exist!” he added. “And this frank confrontation between pastors and faithful is beautiful.”
He explained what makes it beautiful, namely the establishing of a subdivision of tasks and the proposal the Apostles made, which was accepted by everyone. The proposal said, the Apostles “will dedicate themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word, while 7 men, the deacons, honest men with good reputations, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, installed in their service by the imposition of the hands of the Apostles will provide service at meals and to the poor.”
The Holy Father called on Mary to “help us to be docile to the Holy Spirit, so that we know how to respect each other and be ever more united in faith and charity, keeping our hearts open to the needs of brothers.”
After recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer, Pope Francis greeted various groups and delegations present.
Drawing everyone’s attention to the terrible floods that have devastated large parts of the Balkans, especially in Serbia and Bosnia, Francis entrusted the victims of this calamity to the Lord, expressed his personal closeness to those experiencing “anxiety” and “tribulation,” and invited faithful gathered to say a Hail Mary.
Recalling that Saturday in Iaşi, Romania Bishop Anton Durcovici, a martyr for the faith, was beatified, the Pope reminded those gathered that Durcovici “was a zealous and courageous pastor and was persecuted by the Romanian communist regime. He died in prison of hunger and thirst in 1951. Together with the faithful of Iaşi and of all Romania let us thank God for this!”
The Pope also addressed associations of volunteers who had come for the Day of Cancer Victims, saying he encourages and prays for them, the sick, and the families.
Pope Francis also gave a special greeting to the Catholic school children gathered from various nations. (D.C.L.)
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