On God's Love

"Let us Love the Lord in this way, and Our Neighbor as Ourselves"

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VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 12:28-34) re-proposes Jesus teaching about the great commandment: the commandment of love, which is twofold: we must love God and love our neighbor. The saints, all of whom we celebrated a few days ago in a solemn feast, are precisely those who, trusting in God’s grace, seek to live according to this fundamental law.

The commandment of love can be put fully into practice by those who live in a deep relationship with God, precisely in the way that a child becomes capable of living through a good relationship to his mother and father. St. Juan of Avila, who a short time ago I proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, writes at the beginning of this “Treatise on the Love of God”: “That which most moves our heart to love God is the profound consideration of the love he had for us ... This, more than the benefits we receive from him, moves the heart to love; because he who gives some good to another gives him something that he has; but he who loves, gives himself with everything he has, so that he has nothing else to give.” Before being a commandment, love is a gift, a reality that God makes us know and experience in such a way that like a seed, it can germinate within us and develop in our life.

If God’s love has sunk deep roots in a person, he is able to love even those who do not merit this love, just as God loves us. Fathers and mothers do not love their children only when they merit it: they love them always, even if, of course, they make them understand when they have made mistakes. From God we learn to will always and only the good and never evil. We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes but with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. It is a look that comes from the heart and does not stop at the surface; it goes beyond appearances and succeeds in grasping the expectations of the other: of being listened to, of being gratuitously attended to; in a word, of being loved. But there is also the inverse path: opening myself to the other as he is, reaching out to him, making myself available, I open myself also to knowing God, to knowing that he exists and that he is good. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable and reciprocally related. Jesus did not invent either of them, but he revealed that they are, at bottom, a single commandment, and he did this not only with words, but above all with his witness: the very Person of Jesus and his whole mystery incarnate the unity of the love of God and neighbor, like the 2 lines of the cross, the vertical and the horizontal. In the Eucharist he grants us a twofold love, giving us himself, so that, nourished by this Bread, we love each other as he loved us.

Dear friends, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, let us pray that every Christian know how to show his faith in the one true God with a clear witness of love of neighbor.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

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!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Thanks for your attention. Have a good Sunday!

[Translation by Joseph Trabbic]