Pope: Christian solidarity is not social welfare, but "an indispensable expression of the nature of the Church"
At the general audience in the Paul VI hall, Pope Francis highlights the practice of sharing and helping the poor, typical of the first Christian communities. The positive example of Barnabas; the negative example of Ananias and Sapphira, marked by hypocrisy. "A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes inner death". The little girl who played in front of the pontiff.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Christian solidarity is not "social welfare", but "an inalienable expression of the nature of the Church, the tender mother for all, especially the poorest". Thus, Pope Francis concluded his catechesis today in the Paul VI hall, dedicated to the theme "They shared everything that they had", referring to the passage from the Acts of the Apostles 4, 32. 34- 35. The pontiff stressed how spiritual communion among Christians it expresses itself in "sharing" goods and in helping the poor. He often interrupted the prepared text by adding phrases like "our conversion is true if it reaches our pockets"; "When conversion affects one's own interest, then it is true conversion."
"The Eucharistic life, the prayers, the preaching of the Apostles and the experience of communion (see Acts 2:42) - the Pope explained - make believers a multitude of people who have "one heart and one soul" and that they do not consider them their property, but share everything (see Acts 4:32). For this reason "nobody [...] among them was needy, because those who owned fields or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold and placed it at the feet of the apostles; then it was distributed to each according to his need "(Acts 4,34-35) ... This practice is aimed at keeping away the plague of poverty, which is a commitment of the Church of yesterday and of all times".
Francis cites the decision of the Council of Jerusalem, in which Paul and Barnabas are given the mandate to evangelize the pagans and "ask [them] only to remember the poor (see Gal 2: 9-10). Paul obeys and takes care to realize through the famous collection a contest of solidarity between the communities (see 1 Cor 16.1; 2 Cor 8–9) ”.
The Pope cites the positive example of Barnabas, quoted in the book of Acts, wh "possesses a field and sells it to deliver the proceeds to the Apostles (see Acts 4: 36-37)". But there is also a "negative example": "Ananias and his wife Sapphira, having sold a piece of land, decide to hand over only one part to the Apostles and to hold the other for themselves (see Acts 5: 1-2). This cheating interrupts the chain of free, peaceful and disinterested sharing and the consequences are tragic, fatal (Acts 5: 5.10) ".
"This attitude - which John Chrysostom defines a real" sacrilege "(Homily on the Acts of the Apostles, 12) - gives them both death. To fail in the sincerity of sharing, in fact, means cultivating hypocrisy, moving away from the truth, becoming selfish, extinguishing the fire of communion and turning to the cold of inner death. Those who behave in this way pass through the Church like a tourist who stays in a hotel, they do not experience it as their home and family. A life set only on profiting and taking advantage of situations at the expense of others inevitably causes inner death. A branch detached from the trunk and other branches, in fact, dries up and dies (see Jn 15: 6) ".
"The Lord - he concluded - poured out on us his Spirit of tenderness, which overcomes all hypocrisy and puts into circulation that truth which nourishes Christian solidarity, which, far from being activity of social assistance, is the indispensable expression of the nature of the Church, the tender mother of all, especially the poorest ".
Among the pilgrims who filled the Paul VI hall, there were faithful from Japan and from Lebanon, Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries.
At the end of the audience, the Pope pointed to a little girl who during the catechesis continued to walk back and forth in the front of stage even lying down on the steps. The pontiff said - "she is sick and does not know what she is doing". And he asked those present if, seeing her, they would "pray for her".