(Vatican Radio) Divisions destroy the Church, and the devil seeks to attack the root of unity: the celebration of the Eucharist. That was the message of Pope Francis on Monday morning at the daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, on the feast of the Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Commenting on the reading from the First Letter to the Corinthians — where St Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their contentiousness — Pope Francis said, “The devil has two very powerful weapons to destroy the Church: divisions and money.” And this has happened from the beginning: “ideological, theological divisions that lacerate the Church. The devil sows jealousy, ambitions, ideas, but to divide! Or greed.” And, as happens after a war, “everything is destroyed. And the devil is pleased. And we, naïve as we are, are his game.” “It is a dirty war, that of divisions,” he repeated. “It’s like terrorism,” the war of gossiping in the community, that of language that kills”:
“And the divisions in the Church do not allow the Kingdom to grow; they do not allow the Lord to be seen as He is. Divisions make you see this part, this one against the other. Always against! There is no oil of unity, the balsam of unity. But the devil goes elsewhere, not only in the Christian community, he goes right to the root of Christian unity. And this happens here, in the city of Corinth, to the Corinthians. Paul rebukes them precisely because divisions arise, right at the heart of unity, that is, in the Eucharistic celebration.”
In the case of Corinth, riches make divisions between the rich and the poor precisely during the Eucharist. Jesus, the Pope said, “prayed to the Father for unity. But the devil seeks to destroy it” even there:
“I ask you to do everything possible to not destroy the Church with divisions; they are ideological, they come from greed and ambition, they come from jealousy. And above all to pray, and to keep the founts, the very roots of the unity of the Church, which is the Body of Christ; which we, every day, celebrate [in] His sacrifice in the Eucharist.”
Saint Paul speaks about the divisions among the Corinthians, two thousand years ago:
“Paul could say this to all of us today, to the Church of today. ‘Brothers, in this I cannot praise you, because you are gathered together not for the better, but for the worse!’ But the Church gathers everyone together — for the worse, for divisions: for the worse! To soil the Body of Christ in the Eucharistic celebration! And the same Paul tells us, in another passage: ‘He who eats and drinks the Body and the Blood of Christ unworthily, eats and drinks his own condemnation.’ Let us ask the Lord for the unity of the Church, that there may not be divisions. And for unity also in the root of the Church, which is precisely the sacrifice of Christ, which we celebrate every day.”
Among those present at the day’s Mass was Archbishop Arturo Antonio Szymanski Ramírez, the Archbishop emeritus of San Luis Potosí in Mexico, who turned 95 in January. Pope Francis noted his presence at the beginning of his homily, recalling that the Archbishop had taken part in the Second Vatican Council, and that he still helps in a parish. The Holy Father had received Archbishop Szymanski in an audience on Friday.