Father Stefan reflects on Pope Francis ‘Joy of the Gospel’ No to warring among oursleves

Pope Francis writes, “How many wars take place within the people of God and in our different communities! In our neighborhoods and in the workplace! In our neighborhoods and in the workplace, how many wars are caused by envy and jealousy, even among Christians! Spiritual worldliness leads some Christians to war with other Christians who stand in the way of their quest for power, prestige, pleasure and economic security. Some are even no longer content to live as part of the greater Church community but stoke a spirit of exclusivity, creating an ‘inner circle.’ Instead of belonging to the whole Church in all its rich variety, they belong to this or that group which thinks itself different or special…. Let everyone admire how you care for one another, and how you encourage and accompany one another: ‘By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another’ (Jn 13:35) This was Jesus’ heartfelt prayer to the Father: ‘That they may be one…in us…so that the world many believe.’ (Jn 17:21) Beware of the temptation of jealousy! We are all in the same boat and headed to the same port! Let us ask for the grace to rejoice in the gifts of each, which belong to all.” St Augustine wrote, “If you love, you do not have nothing; for if you love unity, whoever in has has anything has it also for you. Take away envy, and what I have is yours; let me take away envy, and what you have is mine.”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Unity. Before Pentecost the disciples asked Jesus who is the greatest? We read in Mark, “And James and John the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him, and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us, whatever we ask of you.’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand, and the other at your left hand.'”(Mark 10:35-36) At Pentecost we read, “And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Phillip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these were in one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with the brethren.” (Acts 1:12-14) We are all in the same boat.

Cyril of Jerusalem says it this way, “Since we have received one and the same Holy Spirit, we are all, in a certain specific way, united, both to one another and with God. In fact, even if taken separately, we are many and in each one of us Christ makes dwell the Spirit of the Father, nevertheless, the Spirit is one and indivisible. By means of his presence and his actions he reunites in unity spirits that among themselves are distinct and separate. he makes of all, in himself, one and the same thing.” 

What are some ways that we can sin against unity. The Catechism says, “Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and world likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty of: of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral faults of a neighbor; of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s fault and failing to persons who do not know them; of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harm the reputation of others and give occasion for false judgments concerning them…..Detraction and calumny destroy the reputation and honor of one’s neighbor. Honor is the social witness given to human dignity, and everyone enjoys a natural right to the honor of his name and reputation and to respect. Thus, detraction and calumny offend against the virtues of justice and charity.” Pope Francis summed this all up in one line from a recent homily, “Gossip destroys lives and community.” We are all in the same boat. If we desire the Holy Spirit we must love unity.

Pope Francis writes, “There indeed we find true healing, since the way to relate to others which truly heals instead of debilitating us, is a mystical fraternity, a contemplative fraternity. It is a fraternal love capable of seeing the sacred grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common by clinging to the love of God, of opening the hearts to divine love and seeking the happiness of others just as the heavenly father does…The lord’s disciples are called to live as a community which is the salt of the earth and the light of the world.(Mt 5:13-16) We are called to bear witness to a constantly new way of living together in fidelity to the Gospel. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of community.”

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