(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that Christians must not hoard their riches, but offer them in service to the needy.
He was speaking on Tuesday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.
Taking his cue from a passage of the Acts of the Apostles that describes life in the first Christian community, Pope Francis said that a community that is renewed in the Spirit seeks harmony and endures suffering with patience.
Referring to the four characteristics that defined the first Christian community of Jerusalem as a place of unity and love, the Pope said the first is harmony; the second is common good:
“A community that is renewed in the Spirit has the grace of unity and harmony. The only one who can give us harmony is the Holy Spirit because he is harmony between the Father and the Son. The second characteristic is common good: ‘no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common, there was no needy person among them’. Yes, there were some rich persons, but their riches were offered in service of the community. These are two characteristics of a community that lives in the Spirit”.
And then, speaking of the gift of patience when one is in difficulty, the Pope referred to a passage from the Acts which tells of Ananias and Sapphira who tried to cheat the community. He said they entered the community pretending to be benefactors but they used the Church for their own affairs.
And staying with the theme of patience, the Pope said: “And then there are the persecutions that had been announced by Jesus as narrated in Matthew’s Beatitudes: ‘pray for those who persecute you, I will be the cause of your persecution…”
In that first Christian community that was reborn in Holy Spirit the Pope said: “there was poverty, there was common good, but there were also problems: outside and inside – like that couple of profiteers inside, and the persecutions outside”.
Quoting from Peter when he tells the community that its faith is being tested and it is “more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire”, Pope Francis said that the community which is reborn in the Holy Spirit is purified ‘through difficulties and amidst persecutions’.
The third characteristic of a renewed community the Pope said: “is the patience to put up with problems, to endure difficulties and pain, to stand up to malicious gossip, to suffer illness and the loss of dear ones”.
A Christian community – the Pope continued – shows that it is renewed in the Holy Spirit “when it is in search of harmony” and not internal division: “when it seeks poverty, and does not hoard riches for itself, because riches are to be put to the service of the needy”, and when “it does not show anger” or offense in the face of difficulties, but is patient like Jesus:
“In this second week of Easter, during which we celebrate the Easter mysteries, it would be a good thing to think of our communities, be they diocesan communities, parish communities, family communities or other, and ask for the grace of harmony” – a gift of the Spirit; “ask for the gift of poverty – not misery, but poverty: the capacity to manage my possessions with generosity and for common good”; to ask for the grace of patience.
May the Lord – Pope Francis concluded – “make us understand that not only have each one of us received the grace of a new birth through Baptism, but so have our communities”.