Pope Francis: ‘The Lord wants a loving relationship with us’

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Aug. 1, 2021 Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Aug. 1, 2021./ Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

Pope Francis said on Sunday that God wants us to move “beyond the logic of interest and calculation” and enter into a loving relationship with Him.

In his Angelus address on Aug. 1, the pope said that Catholics were called to mature in faith, leaving behind self-interest.

“We are not able to do this on our own. But the Lord wants a loving relationship with us: before the things we receive and do, there is Him to love. There is a relationship with Him that goes beyond the logic of interest and calculation,” he said.

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, John 6:24-35, in which a crowd seeks out Jesus following the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves.

He noted that Jesus tells the people that they are looking for him “not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.”

The pope said: “Here then is a first question we can ask ourselves: why do we seek the Lord? Why do we seek the Lord? What are the motivations for my faith, for our faith? We need to discern this because among the many temptations we have in life there is one that we might call idolatrous temptation.”

“It is the one that drives us to seek God for our own use, to solve problems, to have, thanks to Him, what we cannot obtain on our own, out of self-interest.”

Pope Francis gave his live-streamed address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square as he continues to recuperate from colon surgery. The 84-year-old began reading in a strong voice, pausing at one point to cough, then continuing with his reflection.

The pope stressed that people with an “immature faith” prioritized their own needs ahead of their relationship with God.

“It is right to present our needs to God’s heart,” he said, “but the Lord, who acts far beyond our expectations, wishes to live with us first of all in a relationship of love. And true love is disinterested, it is free: one does not love to receive a favor in return.”

The pope recalled that in the Gospel reading the crowd ask Jesus: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” He said that it was as if the people were asking how to move beyond a self-interested faith to one that pleases God.

“And Jesus shows the way: He answers that the work of God is to welcome the One whom the Father has sent, that is, Himself, Jesus,” he said.

“It is not adding religious practices or observing special precepts; it is welcoming Jesus, it is welcoming Him into our lives, living a story of love with Him. It is He who will purify our faith.”

The pope said that this applied not only to God but also to social relations.

“When we seek first and foremost the satisfaction of our needs, we risk using people and exploiting situations for our own ends. How many times have we heard from a person, ‘But this one uses people and then forgets’? Using people for your own profit: that’s bad. And a society that puts interests instead of people at its center is a society that does not generate life,” he commented.

“The Gospel’s invitation is this: rather than being concerned only with the material bread that feeds us, let us welcome Jesus as the bread of life and, starting out from our friendship with Him, learn to love each other. Freely and without calculation. Love given freely without calculation, without using people, with gratuitousness, with generosity, with magnanimity.”

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted groups of young people gathered in the square from different parts of Italy.

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He also acknowledged pilgrims from Peru, noting that the Latin American country had a new president, Pedro Castillo.

“I see some Peruvian flags and I greet you, Peruvians, who have a new president. May the Lord bless your country always,” he said.

Finally, he wished pilgrims a peaceful August, observing that it was currently warm in Rome.

“I wish everyone a good Sunday and a peaceful month of August ... Too hot, but may it be peaceful. Please don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!”

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