Even an insult is killing your brother, Pope Francis says

Pope Francis greets the faithful at St. Stanislaus parish in Rome on May 4, 2014. Credit: Lauren Cater/CNA.

In his daily homily, Pope Francis reflected on true brotherly love, explaining that if we really want to love one another we need to be realistic and willing to compromise for the sake of keeping peace.

“In our day we think that ‘not killing our brother’ means simply not actually murdering him – but no – not killing our brother means not (even) insulting him,” the Pope stated in his June 12 daily Mass, adding that “The insult comes from the same root of the crime: hatred.”

Taking his cue from the day’s Gospel passage in Matthew during which Jesus states that one must reconcile with their brother before leaving their gift at the altar, Pope Francis recalled how Jesus said we must love our neighbor, but not in the way of the Pharisees, “because they were ideologues.”

Explaining how their attitude “was not love” but rather “indifference toward one’s neighbor,” the Roman Pontiff observed that Jesus “gives us three criteria” on how to truly love.

“First, a criterion of realism: of sane realism. If you have something against another and you cannot fix, look for a (compromise) solution at least,” and try to find a way “to get along with your adversary while you’re on the road,” the Pope encouraged.

“It will not be ideal, but a compromise agreement is a good thing. It is realism.”

Reaching an agreement is a good thing, the Bishop of Rome continued, explaining that “one must make a deal – and one takes a step, the other takes another step and at least there is peace: a very (imperfect) peace, but a peace agreement” nonetheless.

Jesus, he said, also tells us this and praises “the ability to make agreements between ourselves and overcome the ‘holier-than-thou attitude’ of the Pharisees,” adding that when we make compromises, “we put a stop to hate and strife among us.”

Speaking of the importance of having coherence with others, the Pope warned that “to speak ill of someone is to kill the other, because the act is rooted in hatred all the same.”

Noting how often today many think that to kill one’s brother means to kill him only in the physical sense, Pope Francis explained that even the person who gossips and “who calls his brother stupid is killing his brother, because the act is rooted in hate.”

“If you do not hate, and you would not kill your enemy, your brother, then do not insult him either.”

Observing how it is “a common habit among us is to seek out things to find insulting,” the Roman Pontiff described how there are some “who, in their hatred, express their hate through insults with great flourish – and that hurts.”

“Let us be realistic: the criterion of realism; the criterion of coherence. Do not kill, do not insult.”

Moving on to his final point, the Pope explained that the third criterion Jesus gives us to love “is a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.”

If we are not allowed to kill our brother, it is because we have the same father he pointed out, saying that “I cannot go to the Father if I do not have peace with my brother.”

“Do not talk to the Father if you are not at peace with your brother – if you do not have at least a compromise agreement,” the Bishop of Rome went on, reiterating how there are three criteria: “a criterion of realism; a criterion of coherence, meaning not to kill and not even to insult, because those who insult kill; and a criterion of fraternity rooted in sonship.”

“One cannot talk to the Father if one cannot even speak to one’s brother,” he said, “and this means overcoming the holier-than-thou attitude of the scribes and the Pharisees.”

“This program is not easy, is it? Though, it is the way that Jesus tells us to keep going.”

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis asked for the grace “to move forward in peace among ourselves, with compromises, and always with coherence and in a spirit of fraternity rooted in sonship.”


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September 21, 2014

  • Sunday, September 21

    “Paths to Just Peace: Interfaith Celebration of International Peace Day,” cosponsored by Pax Christi Southern California and Campaign Nonviolence, 12:30-5 p.m., Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino. (818) 784-4515

    “Meet & Greet,” Mass and reception with Bishop Oscar Solis, hosted by Simbang Gabi ministry, 10 a.m., Immaculate Conception Church, 740 S. Shamrock ave., Monrovia. (626) 233-7313.

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