At morning Mass today in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Francis said one way to make a step forward in developing the new life of baptism is by rejecting the temptation to gossip.
The Holy Father’s customary morning Mass today was attended by staff from the Vatican medical services and office staff of the Vatican City Government.
“The first Christian community is a timeless model for the Christian community of today, because they were of one heart and one soul, through the Holy Spirit who had brought them into a ‘new life,'” the Pontiff said, as reported by Vatican Radio.
In his homily Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel passage that recounts the dialogue between Jesus and Nicodemus, who did not immediately grasp how a man can be “born again.” Through the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, we are born into the new life we have received in Baptism. However, he added, this is a life that has to be developed; it does not come automatically.
“We have to do all we can to ensure that our life develops into new life,” the Pope said, acknowledging that this can be “a laborious journey,” but reminding that it depends chiefly on the Holy Spirit, as well as our ability to be “open to his breath.”
And this, the Pope pointed out, is exactly what happened to the early Christians. They had “new life,” which was expressed in their living with one heart and one soul. They had, he said, “that unity, that unanimity, that harmony of feeling of love, mutual love.”
Francis said that this needs to be rediscovered today, observing, for example, that the aspect of “meekness in the community,” is a somewhat forgotten virtue. Meekness is stigmatized, it has “many enemies,” the first of which is gossip.
“When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others — these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me — these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community.”
“These struggles always exist,” the Pope warned, “in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends.” But it is the Spirit who brings us into new life, making us meek and charitable.
The Holy Father then outlined the correct behavior for a Christian.
First, “do not judge anyone” because “the only Judge is the Lord.” Then “keep quiet” and if you have something to say, say it to the people involved, to those “who can remedy the situation,” but “not to the entire neighborhood.”
“If, by the grace of the Holy Spirit,” concluded Pope Francis, “we succeed in never gossiping, it will be a great step forward” and “will do us all good.”