Pope Francis warned, during his words at the Sunday Angelus prayer, about the danger of dividing and scandalizing others: "The Gospel of today's Liturgy tells us of a brief dialogue between Jesus and the Apostle John, who speaks on behalf of the whole group of disciples. They had seen a man casting out demons in the name of the Lord, but they prevented him because he was not part of their group. Jesus, at this point, invites them not to hinder those who work for good, because they contribute to the realization of God's plan (cf. Mk 9:38-41). Then he warns: instead of dividing people into good and bad, we are all called to watch our hearts, so as not to succumb to evil and give scandal to others (cf. vv. 42-45.47-48)".
"The words of Jesus," Francis assures us, "reveal a temptation and offer an exhortation. The temptation is that of closed-mindedness. The disciples wanted to prevent a good work just because the one who was doing it did not belong to their group. They think that they have "the exclusive right over Jesus" and that they are the only ones authorized to work for the Kingdom of God. But in this way they end up feeling favored and consider the others as strangers, to the point of becoming hostile towards them. Every closed-mindedness, in fact, makes us keep at a distance those who do not think as we do. This - as we know - is the root of many great evils in history: of absolutism that has often generated dictatorships and of many forms of violence towards those who are different".
The Holy Father affirmed that "it is necessary to be vigilant about closed-mindedness also in the Church. For the devil, who is the divider - this is the meaning of the word "devil" - always insinuates suspicions in order to divide and exclude. He tempts with cunning, and it can happen as it happened to those disciples, who went so far as to exclude even the one who had expelled the devil himself! Sometimes we too, instead of being a humble and open community, can give the impression of being "at the head of the class" and keep others at a distance; instead of trying to walk with everyone, we can show our "believers' card" to judge and exclude".
"Let us ask for the grace," the Pope continued, "to overcome the temptation to judge and classify, and may God preserve us from the 'nest' mentality, that of jealously guarding ourselves in the small group of those who consider themselves good: the priest with his faithful, the pastoral workers closed among themselves so that no one can infiltrate, the movements and associations in their own particular charism, and so on. All this runs the risk of making Christian communities places of separation and not of communion. The Holy Spirit does not want closures; he wants openness, welcoming communities where there is room for everyone".
Concluding these words, he insisted on the need to cut off when we encounter something that harms the soul: "And then in the Gospel there is the exhortation of Jesus: instead of judging everything and everyone, let us be attentive to ourselves! In fact, the risk is to be inflexible towards others and indulgent towards ourselves. And Jesus exhorts us not to make a pact with evil with images that are shocking: "If there is anything in you that is a source of scandal, cut it off" (cf. vv. 43-48). He does not say: "Think about it, get a little better...". No: "Cut it off! Jesus is radical, demanding, but for our good, like a good doctor. Every cut, every pruning, is to grow better and bear fruit in love. Let us ask ourselves then: what is in me that contrasts with the Gospel? What, concretely, does Jesus want me to cut in my life?"
After the Angelus, in addition to mentioning the Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis remembered to show his support for the island of La Palma, which is suffering from the eruption of a volcano that is causing material devastation. "I express my closeness," Francis said, "and solidarity to those affected by the eruption of the volcano on the island of La Palma, in the Canary Islands. I am thinking especially of those who were forced to abandon their homes".