St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 4 November 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
At the heart of the Gospel this Sunday (cf. Mk 12: 28b-34), there is the commandment of love: love of God and love of neighbor. A scribe asks Jesus: "What is the first of all the commandments?" (V. 28). He responds by quoting that profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day and begins with the words "Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord "(Dt 6: 4). In this way, Israel keeps her faith in the fundamental reality of her whole belief: there is only one Lord and that Lord is "ours" in the sense that he is bound to us with an indissoluble pact, he loved us, loves us and will love us forever. It is from this source, this love of God, which derives for us the double commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. [...] You will love your neighbor as yourself "(verses 30-31).
By choosing these two words addressed by God to his people and putting them together, Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for neighbor are inseparable, indeed, more, they support one another . Even if placed in sequence, they are the two sides of a single coin: lived together they are the true strength of the believer! To love God is to live of him and for him, for what he is and for what he does. And our God is donation without reservation, it is forgiveness without limits, it is a relationship that promotes and grows. Therefore, to love God means investing our energies every day to be his collaborators in serving our neighbor without reserve, in seeking to forgive without limits and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.
The evangelist Mark does not bother to specify who is next, because the neighbor is the person I meet on the journey, in my days. It is not a matter of pre-selecting my neighbor: this is not Christian. I think that my neighbor is the one I have preselected: no, this is not Christian, it is pagan; but it is about having eyes to see it and heart to want its good. If we exercise ourselves to see with the gaze of Jesus, we will always listen and listen to those who need it. The needs of the neighbor certainly require effective answers, but first they still ask for sharing. With an image we can say that the hungry needs not only a plate of soup, but also a smile, to be heard and even a prayer, maybe done together. Today's Gospel invites all of us to be projected not only towards the urgencies of the poorest brothers, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for the meaning of life, for tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it is a question of avoiding the risk of being communities that live by many initiatives but with few relationships; the risk of community "service stations" but of little company, in the full and Christian sense of this term.
God, who is love, created us out of love and because we can love others by remaining united to him. It would be an illusion to claim to love our neighbor without loving God; and it would be just as illusory to claim to love God without loving our neighbor. The two dimensions of love, for God and for the neighbor, in their unity characterize the disciple of Christ. May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome and witness this luminous teaching in everyday life.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I express my sorrow for the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt two days ago. I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they are Christians, and I ask Mary Most Holy to console families and the whole community. Let us pray together Our Lady: Ave or Maria ...
Yesterday, in the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, Blessed Mother Clelia Merloni was proclaimed, foundress of the Sisters Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A woman fully abandoned to God's will, zealous in charity, patient in adversity and heroic in forgiveness. Let us give thanks to God for the luminous Gospel witness of the new Blessed and let us follow his example of goodness and mercy. A round of applause for the new Blessed.
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims, especially students from Vienna, the young people of the "Opera Giorgio La Pira" in Florence, the young families of Raldon (Verona), the faithful of Milan, Petosino, Civitanova Marche, of the diocese of Ozieri, the Oratorio di Carugate, the boys of the Cresima of Longare and Modena.
I wish everyone a good Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!