(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 29.10.2023).- Some 20,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square at midday on Sunday, October 29, to recite the Marian Angelus prayer with the Pope and to hear his brief Sunday address, which, as usual, focused on Sunday’s Gospel.
Here is the Pontiff’ address, translated from the Italian original into English by the Holy See.
* * *
Today’s Gospel speaks to us about the greatest of the commandments (cf. Matthew 22:34-40). A doctor of the law questions Jesus about this and He responds with the “great commandment of love”: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (…) and (…) your neighbour as yourself” (vv. 37.39). Love of God and neighbour are inseparable from each other. So, let us pause a bit to reflect on this.
The first: the fact that love for the Lord comes first reminds us that God always precedes us, He anticipates us with His infinite tenderness (cf. John 4:19), with His closeness, with His mercy, for He is always near, tender and merciful.A baby learns to love on their mommy’s and daddy’s knees, and we learn it in God’s arms.The Psalm says, “Like a weaned child in the arms of its mother” (cf. 131:2). This is how we should feel in God’s arms. And there, we absorb the Lord’s affection; there, we encounter the love that impels us to give ourselves generously. Saint Paul recalls this when he says that the charity of Christ possesses a power that propels toward loving (cf. 2Corinthians 5:14). And everything originates in Him. You cannot truly love others if you do not have this root, which is love of God, love for Jesus.
And now the second aspect that emerges from the commandment of love. It connects love for God to love for neighbour: it means that by loving our brothers and sisters, we reflect the Father’s love like mirrors. To reflect God’s love, thisis the point — to love Him whom we do not see through the brother/sister whom we do see(cf. 1 John 4:20). One day, Saint Teresa of Calcutta responded to a journalist who asked her if she had illusions about changing the world by which she was doing, “I no, I never thought I could change the world! I only wanted to be a drop of clean water, through which God’s love could shine” (Meeting with journalists after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Rome, 1979). This is how she, who was so little, was able to do so much good — by reflecting God’s love like a drop. And if at times, looking at her and other Saints, we might be moved to think that they are heroes that cannot be imitated, let us think again about that small drop: love is a drop that can change many things. And how can this be done? Taking the first step, always. Sometimes it is not easy to take the first step, to forget things…, to take the first step — let’s do that. This is the drop — to take the first step.
So, dear brothers and sisters, thinking about God’s love that always precedes us, we can ask ourselves: Am I grateful to the Lord that He loves me first? Do I feel God’s love and am I grateful to Him? And do I try to reflect His love? Do I strive to love my brothers and sisters, and take this second step?
May the Virgin Mary help us live the great commandment of love in our daily life: to love and to allow God to love us, and to love our brothers and sisters.