By Susy Hodges
Reflecting on the Apostle Paul’s advice for Christians to walk in the Spirit, Pope Francis stressed that “for us Christians walking together is not a ploy to strengthen our own positions” and reminded his listeners that the Lord “begs” us for unity. His words came during an address on Thursday at an ecumenical prayer service held at the headquarters of the World Council of Churches (WCC) during his one-day visit to Geneva to mark the WCC’s 70th anniversary.
“Walking in the Spirit means rejecting worldliness”
The Pope acknowledged it was “challenging” to walk in the Spirit because it means “rejecting worldliness. It means opting for a mindset of service and growing in forgiveness.” He lamented that “the thirst for material things blinds us to our companions along the way and “we become slaves to unbridled consumerism.”
Stressing the need for constant conversion, Pope Francis told his listeners that divisions between Christians have often arisen because at their root, “in the life of communities” a worldly mindset has seeped in.”
“Even some past attempts to end divisions among Christians failed miserably because they were chiefly inspired by a worldly way of thinking,” he said.
Ecumenism: viewed as “operating at a loss”
Pope Francis said the ecumenical movement came about as a grace of the Holy Spirit but said in the eyes of the world, it is often viewed as “operating at a loss” because it means belonging to Christ before belonging to our own group.
The Lord “begs for unity”
Referring to the 70th anniversary of the WCC, the Pope urged his audience to “strengthen” their steps on the path towards Christian unity, by walking, praying and working together.
“The Lord asks us for unity: our world, torn by all too many divisions that affect the most vulnerable, begs us for unity,” he said.
The Pope Francis concluded his address by saying that for us as Christians, “walking together is not a ploy to strengthen our own positions but an act of obedience to the Lord.”