By Jim Fair

Pope Francis warned that “false unity” can divide and it is important to seek the true unity, “to be one with Jesus and the Father.”

His remarks came during his May 17, 2018, morning homily at Casa Santa Marta in the Vatican.

The false unity he cites is described in the first reading of the day, Act 23: 6-11, where the Sadducees and Pharisees and united in their opposition to Paul. From their version of unity comes division, as the Holy Father describes:

“The exploitation of the people [which] is also contempt for the people because it converts them into an anonymous mob. It is an element which often repeats itself. Let’s think about this. On Palm Sunday everyone acclaims him: ‘Blessed are you, who comes in the name of the Lord.’ The Friday after, the same people cry out ‘Crucify him.’ What happened? They brainwashed them, and they changed everything. They became an anonymous mob which destroys.”

Pope Francis explains that this sort of divisiveness can creep into everyday life, even in parishes: “…when two or three begin to criticize another and begin to talk behind the person’s back… They create a false unity to condemn. They feel safe and condemn. They condemn mentally, then they act it out; then they end in accusing each other because they are divided. In this way gossip is a behavior that kills because it destroys people, it destroys their reputation.”

True unity, the Pope concluded, is described in the gospel for the day, John 17:20-26, where Jesus looks to heaven and prays: “I pray not only for these but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.”

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