Pope at Santa Marta: Unity in diversity
(Vatican Radio) Every Christian is called to work for the unity of the Church, allowing ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit who creates unity in diversity, said Pope Francis at Mass Friday morning at Casa Santa Marta.
Pope Francis based his homily on the First Reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, in which the Apostle – a prisoner for the Lord – urges the community to live in a manner worthy of the call they have received, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit. “Building the unity of the Church – said the Pope – is the work of the Church and of every Christian throughout history”.
Pope Francis noted that when the Apostle Peter “speaks of the Church, he speaks of a temple made of living stones, that is us”. The Pope warned that the opposite to this is “that other temple of pride, which was the Tower of Babel”. The first temple “brings unity”, the second “is the symbol of disunity, lack of understanding, the diversity of languages??”.
“Building the unity of the Church, building the Church, this temple, this unity of the Church: this is the task of every Christian, every one of us. When constructing a temple or a building, the first thing ones does is find suitable land. Then one lays the cornerstone, the Bible says. And the cornerstone of the unity of the Church, or rather the cornerstone of the Church, is Jesus and the cornerstone of the unity of the Church is Jesus’ prayer at the Last Supper: ‘Father, that they may be one!’. And this is its strength!”.
Pope Francis continued that Jesus is “the rock on which we build unity in the Church”, “without this stone, all else is impossible. There is no unity without Jesus Christ at the basis: He is our certainty”. The Pope then asked, who “builds this unity?”: “It is the work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the only one capable of building the unity of the Church. And that is why Jesus sent him: to make the Church grow, to make it strong, to make it one”. The Spirit builds “the unity of the Church” in the “diversity of nations, cultures, and people.”
Again Pope Francis posed a question: How is “this temple built?”. Speaking on this topic, the Apostle Peter said “that we were living stones in this building”. Saint Paul on the other hand “advises us not to be stones, to be weak bricks”. The advice of the Apostle to the Gentiles in building this unity is “weak advice, according to human thought”.
“Humility, gentleness, magnanimity: These are weak things, because the humble person appears good for nothing; gentleness, meekness appear useless; generosity, being open to all, having a big heart … And then he says more: Bearing with one another through love. Bearing with one another through love, having what at heart? Preserving unity. The weaker we are with these virtues of humility, generosity, gentleness, meekness, the stronger we become as stones in this Temple“.
Pope Francis continued this is “the same path as Jesus” who “became weak” to death on the Cross “and then became strong!”. We too, should do as much: “Pride, self-sufficiency are useless”. When you construct a building, “the architect has to draw up plans. And what is the ground plan for the unity of the Church?”.
“The hope to which we have been called: the hope of journeying towards the Lord, the hope of living in a living Church, made of living stones, with the power of the Holy Spirit. Only in the ground plan of hope can we move forward in the unity of the Church. We have been called to a great hope. Let’s go there! But with the strength that Jesus prayer’ for unity gives us; with docility to the Holy Spirit, who is capable of making living stones from bricks; and with the hope of finding the Lord who has called us, to encounter Him in the fullness of time”.