Pope at Mass: The measure of a Christian community
In his homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta Tuesday, Pope Francis focused on “the three characteristics” of this group, capable of full agreement inside the community, to bear witness of Christ to the outside world, to prevent any of its members from suffering and misery: the “three characteristics of a people reborn”. He focused on what the whole week of Easter, the Church brought to light: our “rebirth from on high”, in the Holy Spirit , who gives life to the first group of “new Christians” when “they still didn’t bare that name”.
“‘They had one heart and mind’. Peace. A community in peace. This means that in this community there was no room for gossip, envy, calumnies, defamation. Peace. Forgiveness: ‘Love covered everything’ . To qualify a Christian community on this, we have to ask about the attitude of the Christians. Are they meek, humble? Do they vie for power between each other in that community? Are there envious quarrels? Is there gossip? They are not on the path of Jesus Christ. This feature is so important, so important, because the devil always tries to divide us. He is the father of division”.
Not that problems were lacking in the first community. Pope Francis recalled “the infighting, the doctrinal struggles, power struggles ” which also overtook [the community] later. As an example of this he pointed to the widows who complained of a lack of assistance and the Apostles “had to create deacons”. However, the “high point” of the community’s beginnings forever fixes the essence of a community that is born of the Holy Spirit . A harmonious community and, second, a community of witnesses of faith.
Pope Francis invited today’s community to dwell on this:
“Does this community give witness to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ? Does this parish, this community, this diocese really believe that Jesus Christ is Risen? Or rather: ‘ Yes, He is Risen, but only here’, because they only believer here, in their hearts far removed from this force. By how we bear witness that Jesus is alive, that He is among us: that is how we verify the life of a community”.
The third characteristic from which we can measure the life of a Christian community are “the poor” . And here, Pope Francis distinguished two points of evaluation:
“First, what’s your attitude or the attitude of this community toward the poor? Second, is this community poor? Poor in heart, poor in spirit? Or does it place its trust in riches? In power? Harmony, witness, poverty and care for the poor. This is what Jesus explained to Nicodemus: This comes from above. Because the only one who can do this is the Holy Spirit . This is the work of the Spirit. The Church is built up by the Spirit. The Spirit creates unity. The Spirit leads us to witness. The Spirit makes us poor, because He is our wealth and leads us to care for the poor”.
“May the Holy Spirit – concluded the Pope Francis – help us to walk on this path reborn through the power of Baptism”.