Angelus Address: On Love of God and Love of Neighbor

The Vatican (Sunday, November 4, 2018, Gaudium Press) Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave November 4, 2018, before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.


Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

At the center of this Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. Mark 12:28b-34), is the Commandment of love: love of God and love of neighbor. A scribe asks Jesus: “Which commandment is the first of all?” (v. 28). He responds quoting that profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day and which begins with the words “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). Thus Israel guards its faith in the fundamental reality of the whole of its creed: there is only one Lord and that Lord is “ours,” in the sense that He bound Himself to us with an indissoluble pact; He has loved us, He loves us and He will love us forever. It’s from this source, this love of God that the twofold Commandment stems: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. [. . . ] “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (vv. 30-31).

Choosing these two Words addressed by God to his people and, putting them together, Jesus taught once and for all that love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable, more than that, they sustain one another. Although put in sequence, they are the two faces of a single medal: lived together they are the believer’s true strength! To love God is to live of Him, for Him, for what He is and for what He does. And our God is donation without reservations; He is unlimited forgiveness; He is a relationship that promotes and makes one grow. Therefore, to love God means to invest one’s energies every day to be His collaborators in serving our neighbor without reservations, in seeking to forgive unlimitedly and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.

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The evangelist Mark isn’t concerned with specifying who my neighbor is because my neighbor is the person I meet on the way of my days. It’s not about pre-selecting my neighbor: this isn’t Christian, it’s pagan, but it’s about having eyes to see him and a heart to wish him well. If we exercise ourselves to see with Jesus’ look, we will always listen to, and be at the side of, one in need. One’s neighbor’s needs certainly require effective answers, but before they call for sharing. With an image we can say the hungry person needs not only a plate of soup but also a smile, to be heard and also a prayer, perhaps done together. Today’s Gospel invites us all to be projected not only to the urgencies of our poorest brothers but especially to be attentive to their need of fraternal closeness, the meaning of life and tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it’s about avoiding the risk of being communities that live of many initiatives but few relationships; the risk of being “service station” communities, but of little company, in the full and Christian sense of this term.

God, who is love, created us for love so that we can love others remaining united to Him. It would be illusory to pretend to love our neighbor without loving God, and it would also be illusory to pretend to love God without loving our neighbor. The two dimensions of love, of God and of neighbor, characterize in their unity the disciple of Christ.

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May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome and witness this luminous teaching in our everyday life.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]



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