By Francesca Merlo
Pope Francis opened his Mass by praying for the ability to listen, as the world faces an “unfamiliar” silence due to the coronavirus pandemic, and on this particularly rainy day in Rome, the weather.
"It's so quiet in this weather. You can even hear the silence. May this silence, which is a bit new to what we are accustomed, teach us how to listen, that we might grow in our ability to listen. Let us pray for this."
In his homily, the Pope commented on Tuesday's Reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 4:32-37). It describes the lives of the members of the first Christian community. They were “of one heart and mind and nobody claimed any possessions as their own". Everything was communal, and no one was in need.
Born from above
The expression, “Being born from above”, taken from the Gospel, means being born with the strength of the Holy Spirit, said Pope Francis. We cannot take the Holy Spirit for ourselves, but we can let Him in and allow Him to “change us, work the transformation in us, this rebirth from above”, he said. An example of this is this first Christian community, continued the Pope. The community “is a model, an ideal, a sign of what the Holy Spirit can do if we are docile”. Pope Francis went on to explain that in this community there was harmony, because the Holy Spirit is the “Master of harmony” and can bring harmony in everything.
However, even in the Christian community there are divisions, said the Pope. The "ideal" presented must be reached, but it is not easy: “There are many things that divide a community, all communities. There are three things, I find, that divide a community”, he said.
“The first is money”, began the Pope. Saint Paul says "for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk" (1 Cor 11:21). We leave them there as if to say to them: "sort yourselves out", said the Pope. Often money is behind doctrinal deviations in the history of the Church, continued Pope Francis. “Money divides the community. For this reason, poverty is the mother of the community. Poverty is the wall that guards the community”, he said. Money divides, the love of money divides the community, divides the Church. Even families are divided by money, said the Pope.
The second thing that divides a community is vanity, said Pope Francis. It is “that desire to feel better than others”, he said. “How often is the celebration of a Sacrament an example of vanity: who goes with the best clothes, who does this, that and the other thing…” Vanity divides, said the Pope, “because vanity leads you to be a peacock and where there is peacock, there is division, always”.
The Pope then said that the third thing that divides a community is gossip. “That thing that the devil puts in us, like a need to talk about others”, he explained. “But the Spirit always comes with His strength to save us from this worldliness of money, vanity and gossip”, said the Pope, because the Spirit can perform these miracles.
Prayer for docility to the Spirit
Finally, the Pope asked that the Lord might grant us the grace of “docility” to the Spirit “so that He may transform” us and transform our communities, so that we may always move forward in "the harmony that Jesus wants for the Christian community".