.- Pope Benedict XVI’s Nov. 4 Angelus address reflected on the Sunday Mass reading from St. Mark’s Gospel about the “greatest of all commandments,” giving special attention to the commandment to love God and neighbor.
“Jesus did not invent one nor the other, but revealed that they are, after all, a single commandment,” the Holy Father said with outstretched arms as he stood at his study window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
St. Peter’s Square was unusually packed with pilgrims and visitors—extraordinary both because of the sheer number of people, estimated to be as many as 50,000, and because of the dismal weather. Mist turned into rain as the Pope’s address ended with pealing bells and the blast of a particularly boisterous pilgrim’s air horn.
The Pope reflected on the nature of love, saying one must love with words and witness. He said that love begins not as a command but a gift from God. This gift allows people to see God as he does—with unconditional love—and this in turn should encourage everyone to view one another the same way.
“If the love of God has planted deep roots in a person, then he is able to love even those who do not deserve it, as does God toward us,” Pope Benedict said.
He likened God’s love to the unconditional love parents show their children, however undeserved.
Even if love is undeserved and rejected, it does not go unrewarded, the Pope explained. Love builds upon love and brings one ever closer to the source of love, God. Opening one’s heart toward others also means opening oneself to knowing God, “to feel that he is there and is good.”
Pope Benedict said that having loving eyes allows one to see God ever clearer so that one wants only what is good, never bad.
The Pope ended the formal part of his Angelus address by discussing the power of the Eucharist. He said this sacrament works miracles through helping people to accept the gift of love and to realize the blessings of the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor.
He said the Eucharist is the embodiment of this greatest commandment.
In the Eucharist, he said, Jesus “gifts us this twofold love, gifting himself, because, nourished by this bread, we love one another as he has loved us.”
After the Pope’s Angelus remarks, he recognized several groups of pilgrims from different countries in their native tongues. The pilgrims responded with varying levels of expression reflecting their cultures. Pilgrims from Latin countries tended to wave large banners and respond with jubilant exultation. Polish pilgrims, who are always well represented at the Angelus address, waved a banner and cheered with the gusto of a people whose faith and patriotic identity are so inseparable.
But happy applause and a few polite cheers came from the country last to be recognized.
“It’s representative of English restraint,” said Charles Cole, the assistant director of music at London’s Brompton Oratory, who is preparing an EWTN special for next year about achieving beauty through music. He was in Rome in his capacity as director of music at St. Philip’s School in London.
The boys were “very excited hearing our name mentioned,” said the school’s headmaster Harry Briggs-Davison. “We didn’t expect that.”
Every three years his school takes a Rome pilgrimage. One of the highlights of their three-day trip was yesterday’s audience with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, who held a question-and-answer with the 40 boys dressed in their school’s sky-blue blazers.
“I asked him what the best part was about being a cardinal,” James Garadnon, a smiling blond-haired 11-year-old said with a gentle voice. “He paused, thought a moment, and said it was serving the Holy Father.”