Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Christian love is to be expressed with concrete acts, and he pointed out that words are not enough.
Speaking during his homily on Thursday morning during Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope said that God leads the way with love, and that it is through love that we get to know God.
Reflecting on what he called the “key word” in the liturgy during this time of the year, Pope Francis said Jesus ‘manifests’ himself at the Epiphany, at the Baptism, at the Wedding of Cana, but he asked: “how can we know God?” Francis explained that this truth is explained less by the intellect than by the heart.
WE GET TO KNOW GOD ON THE PATH OF LOVE
“God is love! It is only on the path of love that you can know God. ‘Reasonable love,' ‘love accompanied by reason.’ But love! And how can we love what we do not know? Love your neighbors.” This, the Pope said, is the doctrine of two Commandments: the most important is ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' And he pointed out that “to get to the first we must ascend the steps of the second: that means that through our love for our neighbor we can get to know God, who is love. Only through loving can we reach love.”
That’s why, Pope Francis said, we have to love each other, because love comes from God and whoever loves has been generated by God:
GOD’S LOVE IS NOT A SOAP OPERA
“He who loves knows God; he who does not love has no knowledge of God because God is love.” But, Francis stressed: “it’s not the love of a ‘soap opera.’ No, it is solid, strong and eternal. “It ‘manifests’ itself in the Son, in the Son of God who has come to save us. It is a concrete love made of works and not of words. To know God we must walk through life in love, love for our neighbor, love for those who hate us, love for all.”
GOD’S LOVE IS LIKE AN ALMOND BLOSSOM
Pointing out that God sent us his only Son to free us from sin, Pope Francis said that in the person of Jesus we can contemplate the love of God, and following His example, we can climb the steps, one by one, to God’s love, to the knowledge of God who is love. Recalling the words of the prophet Jeremiah, the Pope said that God's love precedes everything … He precedes us. “The prophet Jeremiah said that God was like the flower of the almond-tree, as it is the first tree that flowers in spring, meaning that God always flowers before us. When we arrive, He is already there waiting for us. … He is always there before us.”
GOD’S LOVE ALWAYS WAITS FOR US
Turning his attention to the Gospel reading of the day that tells of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, The Pope said the Lord had compassion for the many people who had flocked to listen to Jesus “because they were like sheep without a shepherd, they had no orientation,” today – Francis said – so many people have no orientation, but God precedes just as he preceded the disciples who hadn’t understood what was going on.
“God’s love always awaits us; it always takes us by surprise. Our Father who loves us so much is always ready to forgive us. Always! Not once, always!”
Pope Francis concluded asking the Lord to give us the grace to be acquainted and to get to know God on the path of love.
This homily originally appeared at Vatican Radio.