Vatican City, Jun 22, 2014 / 06:22 am
In his Sunday Angelus today Pope Francis stressed the limitless nature of God's love that transforms the heart and life of every Christian.
"One cannot measure the love of God: it is without measure. And so we become capable of loving even those who don't love us: and this is not easy," the Pope said to the crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square on June 22.
His reflections followed Sunday's reading from the gospel of John in which Jesus proclaims himself to be the "living bread sent from heaven."
The Christian community's union with Jesus in the Eucharist, underscored Pope Francis, "obliges us, his disciples, to imitate him, making our existence with our attitudes, bread broken for others, as the Master has broken the bread that is truly his flesh."
"Jesus underlines that he has not come into the world to give something, but to give himself, his life, as nourishment for those who have faith in Him," Pope Francis explained.
Christ's gift of himself in the Eucharist is a not only a model for the Christian life, but acts to transform us interiorly, the Holy Father noted.
"Every time that we participate in Holy Mass and we are nourished by the body of Christ, the presence of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit acts in us, shaping our hearts, communicating interior attitudes to us that translate into behaviors according to the gospel."
"Thanks to Jesus and to his Spirit, even our life becomes 'broken bread' for our brothers," he said.
Pope Francis acknowledged that Christian attitudes and actions can be difficult to practice. "To love someone who doesn't love us… It's not easy! Because if we know that a person doesn't wish us well, then we also carry ill-will."
Nevertheless, "we must love even someone who doesn't love us! Opposing evil with good, with pardon, with sharing, with welcome."
Christians gain a type of "maturity" in following Christ by receiving the Eucharist, including "docility to the word of God, then fraternity amongst ourselves, the courage of Christian witness, the creativity of charity, the capacity to give hope to the disheartened, to welcome the excluded."
Just as Jesus' life was a total gift of himself, so too, his followers are called to make their lives a gift for others.
"Our life, with the love of Jesus received in the Eucharist, is made a gift - as was the life of Jesus," he explained. This self-offering brings "true joy" in "reciprocating the great gift that we have first received, without our own merit."
The Pontiff reflected that Jesus "was made flesh thanks to the faith of most holy Mary," who not only gave birth to him, but "followed him faithfully unto the cross and at the resurrection."
"Let us ask the Madonna to help us rediscover the beauty of the Eucharist, to make it the center of our lives, especially in Sunday mass and in adoration," he said, leading the crowds in the Angelus prayer.
Following the prayer, Pope Francis noted that June 26 is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. "In this circumstance I reiterate the firm condemnation of every form of torture and I invite Christians to oblige themselves to work together for its abolition and to support victims and their families."
"Torturing people is a mortal sin!" he exclaimed. "It is a very serious sin!"
The Pope closed his Angelus remarks by greeting the pilgrim groups who had traveled to the Vatican, and wishing everyone a "good Sunday and a good lunch."
"Pray for me!" he added.