Francis urges us to find community, with willingness to give both money and time
A girl with special needs stole the show at the pope’s general audience today, approaching the Holy Father and the Swiss Guards and watching herself on the big screens. Francis took it in stride, telling her family with a big smile, “Leave her alone. God speaks through children! Leave her,” which brought delighted applause from the crowd.
The girl enjoyed the expanse of the stage for a good part of the catechesis, and shook Francis’ hand during the greetings in various languages.
At the end of the audience, speaking in Italian, with the girl standing right before him, the pope said, “All of us have seen this beautiful girl. So beautiful. Poor dear is the victim of a sickness and she doesn’t realize what she does.” The pope asked the faithful to consider if they responded to the girl from the heart, as he had spoken of during the audience: “Have I prayed for her, asking the Lord to heal and protect her? Have I prayed for her parents and family?” He urged that we always pray for those who are sick and suffering.
For the catechesis, Pope Francis continued with his series on the Acts of the Apostles, asserting that with Christ, there came to the world an entirely new way for people to relate to each other. He described it with the word koinonia, “a Greek word that means ‘to put in communion,’ ‘to put in common,’ ‘to be like a community, not isolated.'”
With Christ, there came to the world an entirely new way for people to relate to each other.
Francis explained that “this koinonia, this community refers first and foremost to participation in the Body and Blood of Christ,” the entering into communion with the Lord through the Eucharist.
From that Communion comes the communion with our brothers and sisters. That latter communion is marked by this pooling of resources, sharing, participating in the needs of the others. The Holy Father said that a true conversion is marked by “reaching your pockets.” If it doesn’t extend that far, it’s not a true conversion.
So, for the first Christians, the Scriptures explain that there were simply “no needy persons among them” since they put their resources at the feet of the Apostles, who distributed it according to the needs of each one.
“And not only money: also time. How many Christians – you, for example, here in Italy – how many Christians volunteer! But this is beautiful! It is communion, sharing time with others, to help those who are in need. Volunteering, works of charity, visits to the sick: One must always share with others, and not seek only one’s own interest,” Francis said.
This koinonia thus became “the new form of relationship between the Lord’s disciples. Christians experience a new way of being among themselves, of behaving.”
This characteristic was so typical of the Christians that the others saw and noted it. “Look how they love one another!”
Being members of the body of Christ makes believers co-responsible to each other. Being believers in Jesus makes us all co-responsible to each other. ‘But look at him, the problem he has: it doesn’t matter to me, it is his problem.’ No, among Christians we cannot say, ‘Poor guy, he has a problem at home, he is going through this family problem.’ But, I must pray, I must take it on board, I am not indifferent.’ This is being a Christian. Therefore the strong support the weak (cf. Rom 15: 1) and no-one experiences the poverty that humiliates and disfigures human dignity, because they live this community: having the heart in common. They love each other. This is the sign: tangible love.