During the morning Mass at St. Martha’s House, Pope Francis commented on the Gospel passage in which Jesus prays for Christian unity and coins a new term, mentioning the “zizzanieri“, literally ‘discorders’, those who destroy the community, bringing about division with their tongues.
“The unity of the Christian community and that of the Christian families are bear witness – the Pope says -, testifies the fact that the Father sent Jesus. And, perhaps, reach unity (in a Christian community, in a parish, a bishopric, a Christian institution or in a Christian family) is one of the hardest things to do. Our history, the history of the Church, makes us feel ashamed so many times: we made wars against our Christian brothers! Just think of one of them, the Thirty Years War.”
There is no witnessing – the Pope has said – where “Christians are at war with each other”. We must ask forgiveness from the Lord so many times for this history! Often a history of divisions, but not only in the past… today too! Today too! And the world can see that we are divided and says: ‘They should first find an agreement between themselves, then we will see… How is it possible that Jesus is Risen and is alive, and those people – his disciples – cannot reach an agreement?’ Once, a Catholic Christian asked another Christian of the East – who was a Catholic too: ‘My Christ resurrects the day after tomorrow. When does your resurrect?’ Not even in Easter we are united! And this happens in the whole world. And the world does not believe.”
“The envy of the devil brought sin into the world – Bergoglio explains – so, even in Christian communities it is almost habitual” to see selfishness, jealousy, envy, divisions, “and this makes people bad-mouth each other. People bad-mouth so much! “. In Argentina, “these people are called ‘discorders’: they sow discord, they divide. Divisions begin from people’s tongue there. Envy, jealousy, and even narrow-mindedness! ‘No! That is not the doctrine!”
Tongues – the Pope notes – “are capable of destroying a family, a community, a society, and of sowing hatred and wars.” Instead of looking for confrontation and clarification, “it is easier to gossip” and destroy “the other’s reputation.” The Pope quotes St. Philip Blacks’ well-known anecdote: to punish a woman who had bad-mouthed, he told her to pluck a chicken, shatter the feathers around the neighborhood, then pick them up. “It is not possible!”, the woman exclaimed.
“That is how bad-mouthing works: you dirty the other – Francis explains -. The one who bad-mouths, dirties! Destroys! Destroys the reputation, destroys life and he often does so for no reason, against the truth. Jesus prayed for us, for all of us who are here and for our communities, for our parishes, for our diocese: ‘So they can be one’. Let us pray the Lord to give us His grace, because the power of the devil and of sin, which leads us to disunity, is great. Always! May he give us His grace, may He give us this gift: and which gift brings unity? The Holy Spirit! May He give us this gift that brings harmony, because He is harmony, the glory in our communities. May He give us peace, but with unity. Let us ask for the grace of unity for all Christians, the great grace and the little every-day grace for our communities, our families; and the grace of reining in our tongues.”