Vatican City, May 22, 2014 / 11:31 am
Pope Francis has especially encouraged Christians to "remain in the love of God" in a Thursday reflection on the three "key words" of Jesus: peace, love and joy.
"The Christian vocation is this: to remain in the love of God, that is, to breathe, to live of that oxygen, to live of that air," the Pope said May 22 in his homily to those gathered for Thursday Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
Jesus' love, he noted, is "a love that comes from the Father."
"The loving relationship between Him and the Father is also a relationship of love between Him and us. He asks us to remain in this love, which comes from the Father," the Pope said.
He focused on Jesus' exhortation from the Gospel of John, "remain in my love." The sign of remaining in this love is "keeping the commandments."
"When we remain in love," the pontiff said, "the Commandments follow on their own, out of love."
Love "leads us to naturally fulfill the Commandments. The root of love blossoms in the Commandments."
On the topic of peace, Pope Francis noted that Jesus said that he does not give peace "in the same way as the world gives it to us." Rather, he gives it "forever."
The Pope also emphasized that joy is "the sign of the Christian."
"A Christian without joy is either not a Christian or he is sick. There's no other type!" he told the Casa Santa Marta congregation.
"A healthy Christian is a joyful Christian," he said, repeating his previous criticisms of Christians with "faces like pickled peppers" and long faces.
"A Christian without joy is not Christian. Joy is like the seal of a Christian. Even in pain, tribulations, even in persecutions," he added.
He noted the joy of the early martyrs who were said to have gone to their martyrdoms "as if going to a wedding feast."
Pope Francis stressed that the Holy Spirit gives Christians joy. Asking the congregation how many people prayed to the Holy Spirit, he characterized the Third Person of the Trinity as "the great forgotten in our lives."
"He is the gift, the gift that gives us peace, that teaches us to love and fills us with joy."
Pope Francis' homily comes ahead of his trip to the Holy Land, which begins on Saturday.