Hot summer temperatures in Rome didn’t stop 50,000 pilgrims from gathering in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ weekly General Audience. The Holy Father focused his homily on the Church as the Body of Christ and the importance of unity among Christians.
“And this body has a head, Jesus, who guides, feeds and supports it. This is a point I want to emphasize: if the head is separated from the rest of the body, the whole person cannot survive. So it is in the Church, we must remain bound ever more deeply to Jesus. But not only that: just as the body needs the lifeblood to keep it alive, so we must allow Jesus to work in us, that His Word guide us, that His presence in the Eucharist nourish us, animate us, that His love gives strength to our love of neighbor. And this always!
“Let us remember this well,” the Pope exhorted the faithful, “being part of the Church means being united to Christ and receiving from Him the divine life that makes us live as Christians; it means remaining united to the Pope and the Bishops who are instruments of unity and communion, and also means overcoming personal interests and divisions, in order to understand each other better, to harmonize the variety and richness of each member; in a word, to love God and the people who are next to us more, in the family, in the parish, in the associations.”
Pope Francis also emphasized the need for unity among all Christian communities, saying that in order for the Body to live, all its limbs must be united. Unity, he exclaimed, “is beyond all conflict.”
The Holy Father also decried the damage that is done by internal struggles, selfishness and gossip. “Never gossip about others, never!,” the Pope exclaimed. “How much damage divisions among Christians, being partisan, narrow interests causes to the Church,! Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity.”