Vatican City, Sep 11, 2014 / 09:12 am
During his homily at daily Mass on Thursday Pope Francis focused on authentic Christian love, stressing that it's not selfish, but freely and mercifully gives itself to others.
The Pope drew from the day's Gospel reading from Luke chapter six, where Jesus tells his disciples to love their enemies and "do good" to those who hate them.
"Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Only with a merciful heart can we do all that, which the Lord counsels us to do – all the way," Pope Francis said at Saint Martha's residence on Sept. 11.
"The Christian life is not a navel-gazing one. It is a life in which one gets out of oneself in order to give oneself to others. It is a gift, it is love – and love does not turn in on itself, it is not selfish, but self-giving."
On Jesus' call for Christians to be merciful, the Pope revisited a common theme of urging the faithful to be vigilant against gossiping and to refrain from making judgments of people.
"It seems that we have been named judges of others: engaging in gossip, talking behind people's backs, we judge everyone."
But God urges us not to condemn, "and you will not be condemned" yourself, Pope Francis said, noting that forgiveness is what we should strive for instead.
"We say it every day in the Our Father," he continued, "forgive us as we forgive others – and if I do not forgive, how can I ask the Father to forgive me?"
Pope Francis then went on to describe how the way in which the Lord teaches us is the way of generosity, magnanimity and of giving of oneself without counting the cost.
"It was for this that Jesus came into the world," he noted. He came not to deal out judgment or participate in idle gossip, not to pass judgments on anyone, but to give and forgive.
Pointing to how "Being Christian isn't easy," the Pope explained that we are only capable of become Christians through the grace of God, rather than our own strength.
"Here then arises the problem that we all must face daily: 'Lord, give me the grace to become a good Christian, because I cannot do it on my own.'"
This, the pontiff observed, "is something quite frightening at first glance – quite frightening, indeed."
Pope Francis concluded his reflections by encouraging attendees to "take the Gospel" and "read the 6th chapter of St. Luke – and reread it and reread it and reread it."
"And let us do so," he said, "and let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand what it is to be a Christian, to understand the grace He gives to us Christians, as well, because we cannot do it on our own."