Pope Francis offered advice on Sunday to Catholics who feel that their faith is “tired” and wish to reinvigorate it.
In his Angelus address on Oct. 10, the pope outlined a three-step process for personal renewal.
“Is your faith, my faith, tired, and do you want to reinvigorate it? Look for God’s gaze: sit in adoration, allow yourself to be forgiven in Confession, stand before the Crucified One. In short, let yourself be loved by him,” he said.
“This is the beginning of faith: letting ourselves be loved by Him, who is Father.”
The pope offered the advice while reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 10:17-30, in which Jesus urges a rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”
Giving his live-streamed address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the pope said that everyone could see themselves in the rich young man because he wasn’t named in the Gospel.
He said: “The man begins with a question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Notice the verbs he uses: ‘must do,’ ‘inherit.’ Here is his religiosity: a duty, a doing so as to obtain; ‘I do something to get what I need.’”
“But this is a commercial relationship with God, a quid pro quo. Faith, on the other hand, is not a cold, mechanical ritual, a ‘must-do-obtain.’ It is a question of freedom and love.”
The pope, who earlier celebrated a Mass opening the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality, asked his listeners to consider if their faith was primarily a matter of duty or a “bargaining chip.”
“The first thing to do is to free ourselves of a commercial and mechanical faith, which insinuates the false image of an accounting and controlling God, not a father,” he said.
He continued: “Jesus, in the second step, helps this man by offering him the true face of God. Indeed, the text says, ‘Jesus looking upon him loved him’: this is God!”
“This is where faith is born and reborn: not from a duty, not from something that is to be done or paid for, but from a look of love to be welcomed. In this way, Christian life becomes beautiful, if it is based not on our abilities and our plans, but on God’s gaze.”
The pope said that in the third and final step, Jesus invited the young man to give generously of himself to others.
“It is perhaps what we are missing too. Often, we do the bare minimum, whereas Jesus invites us to do the maximum possible,” he commented.
“How many times are we satisfied with doing our duties -- the precepts, a few prayers, and so on -- whereas God, who gives us life, asks us for the impetus of life!”
The pope noted that in the Gospel reading, Jesus began by listing the Commandments and ended with a “positive proposal.”
He said: “Faith cannot be limited to ‘do not,’ because Christian life is a ‘yes,’ a ‘yes’ of love.”
Concluding his meditation, he said: “A faith without giving, without works of charity, in the end makes us sad: just like that man whose ‘face fell’ and returned home ‘sorrowful,’ even though he had been looked upon with love by Jesus in person.”
“Today we can ask ourselves: At what point is my faith? Do I experience it as something mechanical, like a relationship of duty or interest with God? Do I remember to nourish it by letting myself be looked at and loved by Jesus? ... And, attracted by him, do I respond freely, with generosity, with my whole heart?”
After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis welcomed two beatifications taking place this weekend.
He said: “Yesterday, in Naples, Maria Lorenza Longo, a 16th-century wife and mother of a family, was beatified. A widow, she founded in Naples the Hospital for the Incurables and the Capuchin Poor Clares.”
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“A woman of great faith and intense prayer life, she did all she could for the needs of the poor and the suffering.”
“A zealous pastor and tireless proclaimer of the Gospel, he was an exemplary witness of a priesthood lived in charity and contemplation.”
After asking for a round of applause for the new blesseds, the pope noted that Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day, marked by the Vatican with a message by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
The pope acknowledged those suffering from mental health issues, as well as suicide victims, including young people.
“Let us pray for them and their families, that they will not be left alone or discriminated against, but welcomed and supported,” he said.
As he greeted pilgrims in the square below, he pointed out a large image of Mother Maria Bernardetta of the Immaculate, a professed sister of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, held by visitors from her birthplace of Montella, southern Italy.
She spent time in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and was a friend of the future Pope Francis from 1979 until her death in 2001. The Vatican announced the opening of her cause in 2019.
“Let us pray for her prompt canonization,” the pope said, concluding his Angelus address.
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