Pope Francis once again warned the faithful against division and discord during times of difficulties and hardships.
In his weekly catechesis, the pontiff urged Christians to pray for “the gift of unity,” adding that “prayer is even more necessary so that unity might prevail over conflicts.”
The pope said, however, that unity is achieved only with the grace of God. “We are not able to achieve unity with our own strength,” he said.
“Unity is above all a gift, a grace to be requested through prayer,” said the pontiff.
Pope Francis stressed the need to pursue the path of “visible unity” because the world will only believe in Christ if Christians bear witness “to the love that unites us.”
“The world will not believe because we will have convinced it with good arguments, but because we will have borne witness to that love that unites us and draws us near to everyone,” the pope said.
The pope said this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is held from Jan. 18-25, is “dedicated specifically … to ask God for the gift of unity to overcome the scandal of division between believers in Jesus.”
He said prayer for unity involves a spiritual battle both with the divisions within oneself and with the temptation of the devil.
“To pray means to fight for unity,” he said.
“In general, the devil does not tempt us with high theology, but with the weaknesses of our brothers and sisters. He is cunning: he magnifies others’ mistakes and defects, sows discord, provokes criticism and creates factions,” said the pope.
He reminded, however, that “God has another way.”
“He takes us as we are, he loves us so much … he takes us as different, as sinners, and always nudges us towards unity,” he said.
The pontiff encouraged people to “evaluate ourselves and ask ourselves if, in the places in which we live, we nurture conflict or fight for an increase of unity with the tools that God has given us: prayer and love.”
Pope Francis said “unity can only be achieved as a fruit of prayer,” saying that “we are not able to obtain unity with our own strength.”