CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 10, 2011 ( Love always respects freedom, Benedict XVI says, and God, too, does not force belief in him, but draws people to himself with truth and goodness.

The Pope said this today when he prayed his first public Angelus of the summer at Castel Gandolfo.

He reflected on today's Gospel on the parable of the sower. The Holy Father recalled how Jesus answered the disciples' question about why he chose to speak in parables.

"Jesus answers by making a distinction between them and the crowd: To the disciples, that is, to those who have already decided for him, he can speak openly of the Kingdom of Heaven; but to others he must speak in parables, precisely to awaken the decision, the conversion of the heart; parables, in fact, by their nature require an effort at interpretation, they engage one's reason but also freedom," he said.

Citing St. John Chrysostom, the Holy Father said that Jesus' parables intend to draw his listeners to him, to call them, "assuring them that if they turn to him, he will heal them."

"Ultimately," the Pontiff said, "the true 'Parable' of God is Jesus himself, his Person who, through the sign of humanity at the same time conceals and reveals the divinity. In this way God does not force us to believe in him, but he draws us to himself with the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son: love, in fact, always respects freedom."

Name day

Benedict XVI also noted that Monday marks the feast of St. Benedict, abbot and patron of Europe.

"In light of this Gospel we look to him as a master of listening to the Word of God, a deep and persevering listening," the Pontiff reflected. 

"We must always learn from the great patriarch of Western monasticism to give God the place that belongs to him, the first place, offering him, with morning and evening prayer, our daily activities," the Pope exhorted. "May the Virgin Mary help us by her example to be 'good soil' where the seed of the word might bear fruit."

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