Pope Francis, in his address during the Ecumenical Vespers held in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, emphasized the significance of prayer as the foundation for the Christian journey towards unity.
The service marked the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and was attended by heads and representatives of various Churches.
Pope Francis, accompanied by Archbishop Justin Welby, the leader of the Anglican Communion, dispatched pairs of Catholic and Anglican Bishops as a symbolic gesture of Christian unity.
In his homily, Pope Francis stressed the importance of selfless service and the love exemplified by Jesus as the means to bring separated Christians closer.
“Only a love that becomes gratuitous service, only the love that Jesus taught and embodied, will bring separated Christians closer to one another,” said the pontiff.
Reflecting on the Gospel of Luke, where a scholar of the law questions Jesus about inheriting eternal life, Pope Francis highlighted the divisive nature of such inquiries. He referenced the parable of the Good Samaritan to underscore the need for a love that places others before one’s own religious structures.
“We must ask ourselves, ‘Do I act like a neighbor?’” Pope Francis said. He urged Christians to evaluate whether their spirituality is rooted in self-interest or in human fraternity within the Body of Christ.
Pope Francis urged Christians to follow the path of St. Paul, turning away from personal ideas and allowing God to initiate the conversion of their hearts.
The pontiff advocated for a journey toward Christian unity through joint efforts and service, prioritizing prayer. “For when Christians grow in the service of God and neighbor, we also grow in reciprocal understanding,” he said.
He urged Christians to remember those suffering from wars, specifically mentioning Ukraine and the Holy Land and encouraged a renewed commitment to the journey of faith.