(Vatican Radio) When we don't allow the Holy Spirit to work, divisions in the Church
grow. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily Thursday morning concelebrated
with Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, the Archbishop of Colombo Sri Lanka,
and staff from the Vatican Museums. Emer McCarthy reports:
Pope Francis focused on the first reading from Acts which recounts the first steps of the Church which, after Pentecost, went out to the "outskirts of faith" to proclaim the Gospel. The Pope noted that the Holy Spirit did two things: "first it pushed" and created "problems" and then "fostered harmony within the Church." In Jerusalem, there were many opinions among the first disciples on whether to welcome Gentiles into the Church. There were those who said "no" to any agreement, and instead those who were open:
"There was a ‘No’ Church that said, 'you cannot; no, no, you must not' and a ‘Yes’ Church that said, ‘but ... let’s think about it, let’s be open to this, the Spirit is opening the door to us '. The Holy Spirit had yet to perform his second task: to foster harmony among these positions, the harmony of the Church, among them in Jerusalem, and between them and the pagans. He always does a nice job, the Holy Spirit, throughout history. And when we do not let Him work, the divisions in the Church begin, the sects, all of these things ... because we are closed to the truth of the Spirit. "
But what then is the key word in this dispute in the early Church? Pope Francis recalled the inspired words of James, Bishop of Jerusalem, who emphasized that we should not impose a yoke on the neck of the disciples that the same fathers were not able to carry:
"When the service of the Lord becomes so a heavy yoke, the doors of the Christian communities are closed: no one wants to come to the Lord. Instead, we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus we are saved. First this joy of the charism of proclaiming the grace, then let us see what we can do. This word, yoke, comes to my heart, comes to mind”.
The Pope then reflected on what it means to carry a yoke today in the Church. Jesus asks all of us to remain in his love. It is from this very love that the observance of his commandments is born. This, he reiterated, is "the Christian community that says yes". This love, said the Pope, leads us to be faithful to the Lord" ... "I will not do this or that because I love the Lord”:
"A community of' yes' and 'no' are a result of this' yes'. We ask the Lord that the Holy Spirit help us always to become a community of love, of love for Jesus who loved us so much. A community of this 'yes'. And from this 'yes' the commandments are fulfilled. A community of open doors. And it defends us from the temptation to become perhaps Puritans, in the etymological sense of the word, to seek a para-evangelical purity, from being a community of 'no'. Because Jesus ask us first for love, love for Him, and to remain in His love. "
Pope Francis concluded: this is "when a Christian community lives in love, confesses its sins, worships the Lord, forgives offenses, is charitable towards others and manifests love" and thus "feels the obligation of fidelity to the Lord to observe the commandments."