Angelus: The fundamental law of love
(Vatican Radio) As in parishes throughout the world, the Gospel of Mark that reccounts Christ’s teaching on the “greatest of all commandments”, the commandment to love , was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI ‘s Angelus reflections this Sunday, the Thirty-first in Ordinary Time. Despite severe weather warnings there was an unusually large crowd of pilgrims gathered below the Holy Fathers study window at midday with estimates speaking of as many as 50 thousand.
Greeting them all with outreached arms, Pope Benedict began to speak about the nature of love. God’s love for us and our love for each other, he said, “is one inseparable commandment”, to be done with words and witness. He also added that “before being a command, love is a gift”, a reality that “God allows us to know and experience”, teaching us to “always and only want the good, never the bad”, to “see others with His eyes”, with unconditional love.
This, noted Pope Benedict, is because when we are filled with God’s love, we can love even those who don’t deserve it, just as God loves us.
Jesus, he concluded, through his Word and witness teaches us this, moreover; “the person of Jesus and all His Mystery embody the unity of love of God and neighbour, like the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal. In the Eucharist He gifts us this twofold love, gifting Himself, because, nourished by this bread, we love one another as He has loved us”.
Below please find a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus address:
Dear brothers and sisters!
This Sunday’s Gospel (MK 12.28 -34) offers us the teaching of Jesus about the greatest commandment, the commandment of love, which is twofold: love God and love neighbour. The Saints, whom we have recently celebrated, all together in a single solemn Feast, are precisely those who, trusting in God’s grace, try to live according to this fundamental law. In fact, those who live a profound relationship with God, just as the child becomes capable of loving from a good relationship with his mother and father, may put the commandment of love fully into practice. Saint John of Avila, who I recently proclaimed a doctor of the Church, writes at the beginning of his treatise on the love of God: «the cause that mostly pushes our hearts to love of God is considering deeply the love that He had for us … This, beyond any benefit, pushes the heart to love; because he who gives something of benefit to another, gives him something he possesses; but he who loves, gives himself with everything he has, until he has nothing left to give”(No. 1). Before being a command, love is a gift, a reality that God allows us to know and experience, so that, like a seed, it can also germinate within us and develop throughout our life.
If the love of God has planted deep roots in a person, then he is able to love even those who do not deserve it, as does God toward us. The father and mother do not love their children only when they deserve love: they love them always, though of course, they make them understand when they are wrong. From God we learn to want only the good and never the bad. We learn to look at each other not only with our eyes, but with the eyes of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. A gaze that starts from the heart and does not stop at the surface, that goes beyond appearances and manages to capture the deepest desires of the other: to be heard, caring attention; in a word: love. But there is also the reverse: that by opening myself to the other person, just as he or she is, by reaching out, by making myself available, I am also opening myself up to know God, to feel that He is there and is good. Love of God and love of neighbour are inseparable and are in mutual relationship. Jesus did not invent one nor the other, but revealed that they are, after all, a single commandment, and did so not just by Word, but especially with his testimony: the person of Jesus and all His Mystery embody the unity of love of God and neighbour, like the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal. In the Eucharist He gifts us this twofold love, gifting Himself, because, nourished by this bread, we love one another as He has loved us.
Dear friends, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we pray that every Christian knows how to show his faith in the one true God with a clear witness to love of neighbour.
I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from the London Oratory School, from Holy Rosary Parish in Billingham-on-Tees, and from Saint Philip’s School, London. Jesus teaches us that those who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength are not far from the Kingdom. Let us love the Lord in this way, and our neighbour as ourselves. May God bless all of you!