ROME – Pope Francis said Monday that to division and scandal the answer should be silence and prayer; and asked the Lord for the grace to discern when it is better to speak or to remain quiet.
“With people who do not have good will, with people who seek only scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within families,” the answer is “silence. And prayer.”
“May the Lord give us the grace to discern when we must speak and when we must be silent. And [to do] in all of life: in work, at home, in society…” to become more closely imitators of Jesus Christ, he said during Mass at the Vatican’s Sanctae Marthae guest house Sept. 3.
In his homily, Francis reflected on Jesus’ response to the people who, St. Luke recounts, were “filled with fury” at Jesus’ words in the synagogue.
As it says in the day’s Gospel, the people “rose up, drove [Jesus] out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill… to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.”
Those who drove Jesus out of the city were not people, but “a pack of wild dogs,” Francis said. They shouted instead of using reason, and the face of this, Jesus’ response was to remain silent.
The pope likened this episode to Christ’s response on Good Friday, when the people shouted for him to be crucified, because the devil had sown lies in their hearts.
Jesus’ response in the face of the people’s anger was not easy, but it was the dignified silence of a Christian anchored in the power of God, the pope said, explaining that Jesus’ answer teaches Christians they should respond to a refusal to see the truth with quiet.
Francis noted that when families have disagreements, often about things like politics, sports or money, division is the devil’s goal. “As the father of lies, the accuser, the devil, acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people,” he said.
The response should be to say your piece and then to keep quiet, he said, because “the truth is mild, the truth is silent, the truth is not noisy.”