During his morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis today proposed a three-step plan for overcoming conflict and living in fraternal communion with one’s neighbor.
He addressed the question of how we ought to love one another, drawing from the Gospel reading of the day, which recounts the Lord’s conversation with His disciples about brotherly love (Mt 5:20-26).
The Pope first recommended a “criterion of realism: of sane realism.”
“If you have something against another and you cannot fix it, look for a [compromise] solution – at least,” he suggested.
The Pontiff acknowledged that a compromise might not be ideal but is at least a good thing and is “realism.”
In order to save many things, in fact, “one must make a deal – and one takes a step, the other takes another step and at least there is peace: a very [imperfect] peace, but a peace agreement [nevertheless].”
We face many difficult situations in life, and, “while we are on the road, we make compromises … and in this way we put a stop to hate and strife among us,” Francis said.
He proposed a second criterion, coherence, meaning a recognition that “to speak ill of someone is to kill the other, because the act [of insulting] is rooted in hatred all the same.”
It is to “kill” our neighbor in “a different way: with gossip, with calumny, with defamation. Jesus warns us: The one who calls his brother stupid is killing his brother, because the act is rooted in hate,” Francis said. “In our day, we think that ‘not killing our brother’ means simply not actually murdering him – but no – not killing our brother means not [even] insulting him. The insult comes from the same root of the crime: hatred. If you do not hate, and you would not kill your enemy, your brother, then do not insult him either.”
Finally, the Pope said, Jesus offers a third criterion, that of “fraternity rooted in sonship.”
“If we must not kill our brother, it is because he is our brother, that is, because we have the same Father. I cannot go to the Father if I do not have peace with my brother,” the Pontiff reflected.
“Do not talk to the Father if you are not at peace with your brother – if you do not have at least a compromise agreement,” he insisted. “Do not talk to the Father without being at peace with your brother.”
Summarizing, Pope Francis admitted that these three criteria are not easy to fulfill: “Three criteria: a criterion of realism; a criterion of coherence, meaning not to kill and not even to insult, because those who insult kill; and a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.
“One cannot talk to the Father if one cannot even speak to one’s brother – and this means overcoming the holier-than-thou attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees. This program is not easy, is it? Though, it is the way that Jesus tells us to keep going.
“Let us ask Him for the grace to move forward in peace among ourselves, with compromises, and always with coherence and in a spirit of fraternity rooted in sonship.”