At the end of the Angelus address, Pope Francis also asked people not to forget to pray for the “martyred Ukraine” that the Lord may “open paths of peace and give those in charge the courage to walk them.”
The pope said that he was “grieved” by the news coming from Nicaragua after the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega sentenced Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lago of Matagalpa to 26 years in prison on Feb. 10.
“We also ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, to open the hearts of political leaders and all citizens to the sincere search for peace, which is born of truth, justice, freedom, and love and is achieved through the patient exercise of dialogue,” he said.
In his reflection on the Gospel, Pope Francis encouraged Christians not to settle for doing “the bare minimum” of formal religious observance, but to be like God who loves “to the maximum.”
“True love is never up to a certain point, and is never satisfied; love goes beyond,” he said.
“The Lord showed us this by giving his life on the cross and forgiving his murderers (cf. Lk 23:34). And he entrusted to us the commandment most dear to him: that we love each other like he loved us (cf. Jn 15:12). This is the love that gives fulfillment to the Law, fulfillment to faith, fulfillment to life.”
Pope Francis encouraged people to reflect on whether they are “keeping up a facade” or truly trying to grow in love for God and love for others.
“And every now and then, do I check myself on Jesus’ great commandment? Do I ask myself if I love my neighbor as he loves me? Because perhaps we are inflexible in judging others and forget to be merciful, as God is with us,” he said.
“May Mary, who observed the Word of God perfectly, help us to give fulfillment to our faith and our charity.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.