.- In his daily homily, Pope Francis spoke of the necessity of God’s love in order to be faithful, and encouraged those present to make love the center of their lives.
“Without the love of Christ, without living this love, without recognizing it, without nurturing this love, you cannot be Christian,” the Pope reflected during his Oct. 31 homily.
The Pope celebrated his Mass this morning in the St. Sebastian Chapel near the tomb of Bl. John Paul II inside St. Peter’s Basilica, where a group of Polish faithful gather to celebrate the Eucharist every Thursday.
Saint Paul’s words to the Romans from the day’s first reading when he tells them that “no one can separate me from the love of Christ” formed the basis for the Pope’s reflections.
Having lived through many difficulties, including persecution, illness and betrayal, the pontiff noted that at the center of Paul’s life was a specific reference; “the love of Christ,” and that without recognizing and allowing that love to grow in us, we cannot be true Christians.
“The Christian is one who feels loved by the Lord,” he stressed, “with that beautiful gaze, loved by the Lord and loved until the end. The Christian feels that his life has been saved by the Blood of Christ.”
“And this is what love is: a relationship of love.”
Pope Francis went on to contrast this attitude with the image of the “sorrow Jesus when he looks to Jerusalem,” who did not understand his love, which is like that of a mother hen who wants to gather her chicks under her wings.
“It didn't understand the tenderness of God,” he said, noting that this is the opposite of how Paul felt when encountered with the love of God.
“Yes, God loves me, God loves us, but in an abstract way, it is something that does not touch my heart, and I organize life the way I want. There is no fidelity there.”
The cry in Jesus’ heart, stressed the Pope was “’Jerusalem, you are not faithful, you have not allowed yourself to love, and you have entrusted yourself to many idols that promised you everything, they said that they'd give you everything, and after they have abandoned you.’”
At the heart of the suffering love of Jesus, he pressed, was “a love that was not accepted, was not received.”
Before us, urged the Pope, we have the image of Saint Paul, who remains faithful to the love of Christ until the end, and who, even when faced with his weakness and sinfulness, “has strength in the love of God, in that meeting he had with Jesus Christ.”
On the other hand, noted the pontiff, we have the Jerusalem, who is unfaithful and who “does not accept the love of Jesus, or even worse, eh? But this love that lives in half: a bit 'yes,’ a little 'no,’ according to their convenience.”
In the face of these two images, “What can we do?” the Pope asked, challenging those present to ask themselves “am I more like Paul or Jerusalem? Is my love for God as strong as that of Paul, or is my heart tepid, like that of Jerusalem?”
“May the Love, through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, help us to answer this question,” he concluded, “So be it!”