Last weekend, I preached homilies about the dangers of gossip in our parish community. In response, one of our fellow parishioners shared the following excerpt from remarks by Pope Francis at a General Audience (6-19-13). In this address, the Holy Father warns against the damage caused by gossip and division in the Church.
“Let us remember this well: being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians. It means being united to the pope and the bishops, who are instruments of unity and communion. It also means overcoming personal interests and divisions, in order to understand each other better, to harmonize the variety and richness of each member. In a word, it means to love God and the people who are next to us in our families, parishes, and all other associations.
In order to live, a body and its limbs must be united! Unity is beyond all conflict. Always! Conflicts, when they don’t end well, separate us from each other and they separate us from God. Conflict can help us grow, but it can also divide us. We must not travel the path of conflict and division. We must be united, even with our differences, but united because that is the only path to Jesus!
Unity is beyond all conflict. Unity is a grace that we must ask of the Lord so that he may save us from the temptations of division, from internal struggles, selfishness, and gossip. Gossip does so much damage! Never gossip about others! Never! Gossip, partisanship, and narrow interests damage and divide the Church! There are divisions in the Church, but also divisions among other communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, and Catholic Christians. But why are we so divided? We must try to bring about unity.
Recently, I spoke with an evangelical pastor. We prayed together; we sought unity. Likewise, we Catholics must pray together and with other Christians. Pray that the Lord will give us unity! Unity among ourselves! How will we ever have unity among Christians if we are not capable of having it among ourselves as Catholics? Seek unity: the unity that builds the Church and comes from Jesus Christ. He sends us the Holy Spirit to build unity!
Dear brothers and sisters, let us ask God to help us to be members of the Body of the Church, always deeply united to Christ. Help us not to hurt the Body of the Church with our conflicts, our divisions, and our selfishness. Help us to be living members bound to each other by a single power – the power of love – that the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts.”
Let us reflect upon the pope’s wise counsel and let us pray for a spirit of love and unity in our homes, in our parishes, and our world. Thank you, Pope Francis! May God bless you! Peace and blessings to all!