Pope Francis says God can only love and not condemn and that love is his weakness and our victory. He said we are so closely bound to God’s love that nothing can sever us from it. That was the message at the heart of the Pope’s homily delivered on Thursday (October 29th) at the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his cue from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Pope Francis’ homily was a reflection on God’s unwavering love for us and how no person, or power or thing can separate us from this love. He said St. Paul explains how Christians are the victors because “if God is for us, who can be against us.” This gift from God, he continued, is being held by Christians in their own hands and it’s almost as if they could say in a triumphalistic manner, “now we are the champions!” But the meaning is another: we are the victors not because we are holding this gift in our hands but for another reason. And that is because “nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“It’s not because we are the victors over our enemies, over sin. No! We are so closely bound to God’s love that no person, no power, nothing can ever separate us from this love. Paul saw beyond the gift, he saw more, who is giving that gift: it is a gift of recreation, it’s a gift of regeneration in Jesus Christ. He saw God’s love. A love that cannot be explained.”
Pope Francis noted that every man, every woman can refuse this gift by preferring their own vanity, pride or sin but despite this God’s gift is always there for us.
“The gift is God’s love, a God who can’t sever himself from us. That is the impotence of God. We say: ‘God is all powerful, He can do everything!’ Except for one thing: Sever Himself from us! In the gospel, that image of Jesus who weeps over Jerusalem, helps us understand something about that love. Jesus wept! He wept over Jerusalem and that weeping is all about God’s impotence: his inability to not love (us) and not sever himself from us.”
The Pope goes on to explain how Jesus’ weeping over Jerusalem that kills its prophets and those that announce its salvation is an image of God’s love and tenderness. He admonishes Jerusalem and all of us saying: “How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings and you refused!” He said that is why St. Paul understands and can say: “I am certain of this: neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nothing already in existence and nothing still to come, nor any power, nor the heights nor the depths, nor any created thing whatever will be able to come between us and the love of God.”
“It’s impossible for God to not love us! And this is our safeguard. I can refuse that love, I can refuse just like the Good Thief did, until the end of his life. But that love was waiting for him there. The most wicked and the most blasphemous person is loved by God with the tenderness of a father. And just as Paul said, as the Gospel said, as Jesus said: ‘Like a hen with her brood.’ And God the all-powerful, the Creator can do everything: God weeps! All of God’s love is contained in this weeping by Jesus over Jerusalem and in those tears. God weeps for me when I move away from him: God weeps for each one of us: God weeps for the evil people who do so many bad things, cause so much harm to mankind… He is waiting, he is not condemning (us) and he is weeping. Why? Because he loves (us)!”