In our polarized world, people surround themselves with like-minded people to avoid having to confront different ideas, Pope Francis told the faithful at Pentecost Mass on Sunday.
“In our world today disharmonies have become true divisions. There are those who have too much and there are those who have nothing; there are those who try to live a hundred years and those who cannot be born,” Francis said in his homily.
In the virtual reality of a digital age, people also have little direct contact with others, the pope said, which leads to further isolation.
“In the computer age, people live at a distance. There is more ‘social media’ but less social living,” he said, which inevitably leads to sectarianism and partisanship.
“There is always the temptation to build ‘nests,’ to surround oneself with a group according to one’s own preferences, with those who are like us, wary of any contamination,” he said. “And it’s a small step from the nest to the sect, even within the Church.”
It is far too common in our world to define our identifies not by what we are for, but what — or whom — we are against, he said.
In today’s world, it is “fashionable” to resort to insults, the pope lamented. “We can say that we live a culture of the adjective that forgets the substance of things and also in a culture of insult, which is the first response to an opinion that I do not share.”
Insults, however, do damage, he continued, “to those who are insulted but also to those who insult” since “returning evil for evil, and moving from being victims to executioners,” no one lives a happy life.
The remedy, Francis proposed, is the Holy Spirit, whose coming fifty days after Easter Sunday is commemorated by Christians on Pentecost Sunday.
“We need the Spirit of unity, which will regenerate us as a Church, as the People of God, and as the whole of humanity,” he said.
The Holy Spirit “connects those who are distant, unites those who are far away, brings back those who are scattered,” he continued. “He blends different shades into a single harmony, because he sees good first of all, he sees the person before his mistakes, people before their actions.”
“The Spirit fashions the Church and fashions the world as a place for sons and daughters, brothers and sisters,” he said.
The action of the Holy Spirit transforms people into a new creation, he said, who continue his work in the world.
Whoever lives according to the Spirit “brings peace where there is discord, harmony where there is conflict,” he said.
“Spiritual people render good for evil, respond to arrogance with meekness, malice with goodness, noise with silence, chatter with prayer, defeatism with a smile,” he said.