Pope Francis says that only if we allow our hearts to be opened by God’s love, faith blossoms.
Speaking to the thousands of faithful gathered this morning in a hot St. Peter’s Square during his Angelus address, the Holy Father made this point while reflecting on today’s reading from the Gospel of John. In the reading, Jesus tells the crowd, ‘No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me.’
Highlighting that Jesus’ words introduce the ‘dynamics’ of faith, Francis stressed, “It’s not enough to meet Jesus to believe in Him, it’s not enough to read the Bible, the Gospel, it’s not even enough to witness a miracle.” Many people, Francis lamented, who were in close contact with Jesus “still did not believe in him” and even “despised and condemned him.”
This happened because “their hearts were closed to the work of the Holy Spirit,” the 78-year-old Pontiff noted.
“If you keep your heart closed, the faith doesn’t enter! We open or close our hearts,” Francis said off the cuff. “But instead the faith, which is like a seed deep in the heart, blossoms when we allow ourselves to be “drawn” from the Father to Jesus, and “go to Him” with an open mind, without prejudices; then we recognize in His face the face of God, and in his words, the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit has made us enter into the relationship of love and of life between Jesus and God, the Father. So we receive the gift of the faith.”
“Therefore, with this attitude of faith, we can understand the meaning of “Bread of Life” that Jesus gives us,” Francis said, reminding the faithful whoever is drawn by this love of God goes towards Jesus with faith and receives eternal life.
Before reciting the midday prayer, Francis said the person who lived through this experience “in an exemplary fashion” was Mary, the Virgin of Nazareth. Saying she believed in God by welcoming the flesh of Jesus, he prayed, “Let us learn from her example.”
Following the midday prayer, the Pope recalled the 70th anniversary of the “terrible” atomic bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even so many years after, he said, this tragic event “still arouses horror and repulsion.”
This event, he noted, “has become the symbol of mankind’s enormous destructive power when it makes a distorted use of scientific and technical progress and serves as a lasting warning to humanity so that it rejects forever war and bans nuclear weapons and all arms of mass destruction. This sad anniversary calls us above all to pray and work towards peace, to spread the ethic of brotherhood and a climate of peaceful coexistence among peoples worldwide. From every land, one voice should rise: no to war and to violence and yes to dialogue and peace! With war, one always loses. The only way to win a war is never to wage it!”
The Argentine Pontiff also noted that he is following the news coming from El Salvador with great concern, as its people suffer from famine, the economic crisis, social clashes and growing violence. “I encourage the beloved people of El Salvador to persevere united in hope and urge everybody to pray in order that justice and peace can flourish again in the land of the Blessed Oscar Romero,” he said.