Rome, Italy, Jan 18, 2019 / 12:19 pm
The path to Christian unity takes a willingness to acknowledge and share in the gifts other Christian communities have also received, Pope Francis said at an ecumenical Vespers service Friday.
To take the first step toward unity requires humble recognition of the fact that the blessings Catholics and other Christians have received do not belong to them by “right,” but are a gift meant to be shared with others, he said Jan. 18.
“Then, we must acknowledge the value of the grace granted to other Christian communities,” he continued. “As a result, we will want to partake of the gifts of others. A Christian people renewed and enriched by this exchange of gifts will be a people capable of journeying firmly and confidently on the path that leads to unity.”
Held at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the service marked the beginning of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity.
In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the week’s theme, “Seek to be truly just,” inspired by the line from Deuteronomy which says: “Justice, justice alone shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.”
One of the grave injustices of today, he said, is the vast disparity in wealth which exists in many countries around the world.
“When society is no longer based on the principle of solidarity and the common good, we witness the scandal of people living in utter destitution amid skyscrapers, grand hotels and luxurious shopping centers,” he said. “We have forgotten the wisdom of the Mosaic law: if wealth is not shared, society is divided.”
He pointed out that in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the same idea is applied to the Christian community: “those who are strong must bear with the weak.”