When the early Christians struggled to care for the growing community, “the apostles took the situation in hand - they called a large meeting also with the disciples, discussing the question together,” he said on May 18.
“Seeking advice, discussing, and praying--this is how problems in the Church are resolved, with the certainty that gossip, envy, (and) jealousy can never lead us to concord, harmony or peace,” Pope Francis explained to the crowds filling St. Peter’s Square and spilling out to the street.
Sunday’s scripture passage from the Acts of the Apostles recounts how even in the early church “the first tensions and disagreements emerged.”
There are always problems in life, acknowledged the Pope. “The problem is how one confronts (them).”
“Problems are never, in fact, solved by pretending that they do not exist!” he stressed.
The apostles faced a situation in which the presence of ethnic differences between Hebrews and Greeks in the Christian community led to “complaints, rumors of favoritism and unequal treatment.”
“This happens also in our parishes!” said Pope Francis, comparing the situation to modern life in the Church.
He reflected that the “frank discussion” between the apostles and the other disciples helped them to arrive at a “division of labor.”
“The apostles make a proposal that is accepted by all: they will devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word, while seven men, deacons, will provide service at the tables for the poor.”
The men who were chosen as deacons were not necessarily “experts,” but were “honest men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom; and constituted in their service through the laying on of hands by the apostles.”
The Holy Spirit was also there “to crown this agreement,” added the Pope. “this tells us that when we allow the Holy Spirit to guide, he leads us to harmony, to unity and respect for different gifts and talents. Do you understand? No small talk, no envy, no jealousy! Get it?” he emphasized.
The pontiff then led those present in the traditional Marian prayer of the Easter season, the Regina Coeli.
He took a moment to pray in a special way for those affected by severe flooding in the Balkans and Serbia, where more than 20 have died and thousands are being evacuated as the worst floods in more than 100 years continue to threaten cities throughout the regions.
“As I entrust to the Lord the victims of this disaster, I express my personal closeness to those and tribulation. Let us pray together the Our Lady for these brothers and sisters, who are many difficulties,” he said as he immediately led the crowds in a Hail Mary.
Pope Francis made note of the May 17 beatification of Romanian bishop Anton Durcovici, who was martyred for the faith under the Communist regime in 1951. “Together with the faithful of (the city of) Iasi and the whole of Romania, we thank God for this example!” he exclaimed.
The Holy Father closed his address by greeting the various pilgrim groups present and wishing everyone a good Sunday and a good lunch.
In his Sunday Regina Coeli message, Pope Francis reflected on the apostles’ method of solving problems as an example for the whole Church.
Angelus, Pope Francis, Regina Caeli