Pope Francis: We must avoid becoming Christian 'service stations'


Source: Vatican Media

During his Angelus address to pilgrims in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel in which a scribe asks Jesus "What is the first of all the commandments?"

Jesus responds by quoting the profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day and which begins: "Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord." It is from this source, that the double commandment is derived for us: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbour as yourself."

By choosing these two words addressed by God to his people and putting them together, Pope Francis said: "Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for one's neighbour are inseparable; indeed, more than that, they support one another. Even if placed in sequence, they are the two faces of a single coin: lived together they are the true strength of the believer! To love God is to live by Him and for Him, for what He is and for what He does. It means, "to invest one's energies every day to be his collaborators in serving our neighbour without reserve, in trying to forgive without limits and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity." Pope Francis pointed out that Mark the Evangelist, "does not bother to specify who the neighbour is…" as it is "not a question of pre-selecting my neighbour, but of having eyes to see him and a heart to love him."

Today's Gospel he said, calls us all to be focussed not just on the practical needs of our poorest brothers and sisters, but above all to be attentive to their need for "fraternal closeness and tenderness." This is a challenge - to avoid being communities with "many initiatives but with few relationships" .. mere "service stations" but with little company, in the full and Christian sense of the term." The Pope stressed: "God, who is love, created us out of love, so that we can love others while remaining united to Him. The two dimensions of love, for God and for our neighbour, in their unity, characterise the disciple of Christ."

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis expresses his sorrow at the terrorist attack on two buses in Egypt on Friday in which seven Coptic Christian pilgrims were killed and a number of others injured on their way to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya.

"They were killed merely for being Christians." he said. This was the latest in a series of attacks by extremists on this Christian minority in the country. In May of last year, gunmen fired at a bus carrying Christians to the same monastery, killing at least 28 people. Pope Francis recited the Hail Mary and asked Mary Most Holy to console the families and the entire community in the wake of this latest terrorist attack.

During his address the Pope also remembered Mother Clelia Merloni, Foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who was beatified on Saturday in Rome's Basilica of St John Lateran. She was a woman "who fully abandoned herself to the will of God, who was zealous in charity, patient in adversity and heroic in forgiveness." Let us give thanks, to God the Pope said, "for the luminous evangelical witness of this new Blessed and let us follow her example of goodness and mercy."


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