Pope Francis addresses nearly 20,000 faithful at his Sunday Angelus address on Oct. 29, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media
Vatican City, Oct 29, 2023 / 12:05 pm (CNA).
During his Sunday Angelus message, Pope Francis expressed that the love of God and the love of neighbor are inextricably bound together.
“Love of God and neighbor are inseparable from each other,” the pope said Oct. 29 in front of nearly 20,000 faithful, according to an official estimate of the Vatican Gendarmerie.
Reflecting on today’s Gospel (Mt 22:34-40), the Holy Father stressed that in it we find the “greatest of the commandments”: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … and … your neighbor as yourself.’”
This commandment is constructed upon two central pillars. Love, the pope explained, stems first and foremost from God.
“The fact that love for the Lord comes first reminds us that God always precedes us, he anticipates us with his infinite tenderness, with his closeness, with his mercy, for he is always near, tender, and merciful,” the pope said.
The capacity to love God is the starting point and underscores all of our other relations and actions, he said.
“Everything originates in him. You cannot truly love others if you do not have this root, which is love of God, love for Jesus,” the pope explained.
Pilgrims cheer during Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus on Oct. 29, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
The Holy Father also said this love for God is the source for charity and a font of mercy. He also said we should feel in God’s arms the way children feel in their parents’ arms.
“There [in God’s arms], we absorb the Lord’s affection; there, we encounter the love that impels us to give ourselves generously,” the pope said.
The second component of this commandment of love is fraternal love.
“It means that by loving our brothers and sisters, we reflect the Father’s love like mirrors. To reflect God’s love, this is the point — to love him whom we do not see through the brother[s]/sisters whom we do see,” Pope Francis said.
At the end of the Angelus the Holy Father took a moment to thank those who observed the international day of prayer and fasting on Friday, Oct. 27, for peace in the Israel-Hamas war.
“I thank all those who — in so many places and in various ways — united themselves to the day of fasting, prayer, and penance that we lived last Friday, imploring peace for the world,” he said. “Let us not stop.”
The pope called for continued prayers for Ukraine and placed a special emphasis on the humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding in Gaza over the past three weeks.
“Particularly, in Gaza, may space be opened to guarantee humanitarian aid, and may the hostages be released right away. Let no one abandon the possibility that the weapons might be silenced — let there be a cease-fire,” the pope said.
Pilgrims hold a banner that reads “Peace” at Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address on Oct. 29, 2023. Credit: Vatican Media
The pope then quoted Father Ibrahim Faltas, an Egyptian Franciscan priest who in 2022 was elected custodian of the Holy Land, whom the pope heard on a recent television program. “‘Let the arms cease! Let the arms cease!’” the pope implored.
“War is always a defeat, always!” the pope said in his often-repeated refrain.
The pope concluded his appeal with a special prayer intention for those affected by Hurricane Otis in Acapulco, Mexico.
“I am praying for the victims, for their families, and for those who have suffered serious harm. May the Virgin of Guadalupe sustain her children in this hardship.”
Hurricane Otis made landfall in the southwestern region of Guerrero on Wednesday evening as a category 5 hurricane. Currently, efforts are underway to deliver immediate emergency relief to the area. The government deployed some 17,000 soldiers and police to combat widespread looting in the city of Apulcuao, the BBC reported.