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Monday, October 27, 2014

Angelus: love is the measure of faith

Vatican City, 26 October 2014 (VIS) – More than eighty thousand people prayed the Angelus with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square this Sunday. Before the Marian prayer the Holy Father commented on today's Gospel reading, in which he reiterated that all of the divine Law may be summarised in love for God and neighbour: two sides of the same coin.

Pope Francis explained that according to the evangelist Matthew, some Pharisees agreed to put Jesus to the test by asking him which commandment was the most important in the Law. Jesus, citing the book of Deuteronomy, answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment”. “He could have stopped there”, said the bishop of Rome. “Instead, Jesus adds something else that was not asked by the expert of the Law. Indeed, he said: 'And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself'. Even this second commandment is not invented by Jesus, but rather taken from the Book of Leviticus. Its newness consists precisely in putting together these two commandments - the love for God and love for one's neighbour - revealing that they are inseparable and complementary, they are two sides of the same coin. You cannot love God without loving your neighbour and you can’t love your neighbour without loving God”.

Indeed, “the visible sign that a Christian can show to give witness to the world … of the love of God is the love of his brethren. The commandment of love for God and one's neighbour is the first not because it is the first in the list of commandment. Jesus does not place it at the top, but rather at the centre since it is the heart from which everything must begin and to which everything must return and refer to. … In the light of Jesus' words, love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love. We can never separate religious life from the service of the brothers and sisters, to those real brethren we meet. We can never divide prayer, the encounter with God in the Sacraments, from listening to others, from closeness to their lives and especially to their wounds”.

“In the midst of the dense forest of precepts and prescriptions – the legalisms of yesterday and today – Jesus opens up a gap through which we can glimpse two faces: the face of the Father and that of the brother. He does not give us two rules or two precepts: he gives us two faces. Or rather, it is one face: that of God that is reflected in the faces of so many, because in the face of every brother and sister, especially the least, the fragile, the helpless and the needy, the very image of God is present”.

“In this way, Jesus offers every man and woman the fundamental criteria on which to base their lives”, concluded Francis. “But above all, He gives us the Holy Spirit, which enables us to love God and our neighbour like Him, with a free and generous heart. Through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, let us open ourselves to receive this gift of love, always to follow the path of this law, of the two faces that are one face, the law of love”.

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father commented that on Saturday in Sao Paulo in Brazil, Mother Assunta Marchetti was proclaimed Blessed. Born in Italy, she was the co-founder of the Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo (the “Scalabrini”). “She was a nun who was exemplary in the service of orphans of Italian immigrants. She saw Jesus in the poor, in orphans, in the sick, in migrants. Let us give thanks to the Lord for this woman, a model of tireless missionary spirit and courageous dedication in the service of charity”.

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