Pope Francis said God does not love us with words but through closeness and tenderness during his morning Mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
“He does not love us with words, he comes close and gives us his love with tenderness,” the Pope said.
“Closeness and tenderness!” he stressed on June 7 at the chapel in Saint Martha’s House.
God loves us by “drawing near” and “giving all his love,” he preached, adding that he does so “even in the smallest things, with tenderness.”
Pope Francis made his comments based on Ezekiel 34, in which God shows his love by caring for the lost, wounded and sick sheep.
He referred to the feast as “the feast of love” of a “heart that loved so much.”
The pontiff then dwelt in greater depth on how Jesus loved with his deeds and life.
“This is a powerful love, because closeness and tenderness reveal the strength of God’s love,” said Pope Francis.
“The Lord loves us tenderly, the Lord knows that beautiful science of caresses, the tenderness of God.”
Besides God’s love being given through acts, the Holy Father underscored that God loves more by giving than receiving.
“These two criteria are like the pillars of true love, and the Good Shepherd above all else represents the love of God,” said Pope Francis.
“He knows his sheep by name because his is not an abstract or general love, it is love towards everyone,” he remarked.
He described God as “drawing near out of love,” “walking with his people” and that “this walk comes to an unimaginable point.”
How can we return all this love to God? Pope Francis asked the congregation.
“By loving, by being closer to him, by being tender with him, but this alone is not enough,” he said.
“It is more difficult to let God love us, than to love him!” he exclaimed.
According to the Pope, the best way to love him in return is to “open our hearts and let him love us.”
“Let Him draw close to us and feel Him close to us,” he said.
“This is really, very difficult, letting ourselves be loved by him and that is perhaps what we need to ask today in the Mass,” the Pope said.
The archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, and the prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Monsignor Sergio Pagano, concelebrated the Mass with him.
Employees of the Vatican’s Secret Archives were also invited to attend.