POPE FRANCIS: LOVE OF ENEMIES, THE KEY AND CHARACTERISTIC POINT OF CHRISTIAN LIFE.


Below you have the ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave February 24, 2019, before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Cf. Luke 6:27-38) relates to a key and characterizing point of the Christian life: love of enemies. Jesus’ words are clear: “I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (vv. 27-28). It’s not optional; it’s a command. It’s not for all but for the disciples, which Jesus calls ”you that hear.” He knows very well that to love enemies goes beyond our possibilities, but because of this, He made Himself man: not to leave us as we are, but to transform us into men and women capable of a greater love, that of His and our Father. This is the love that Jesus gives to one “that hears Him.” And then it becomes possible! With Him, thanks to His love, to His Spirit we can love even one who doesn’t love us, even one who harms us.

Thus Jesus wants the love of God to triumph in every heart over hatred and rancor. The logic of love, which culminates in Christ’s Cross, is the badge of the Christian and it induces us to go to encounter all with the heart of brothers. But how is it possible to overcome the human instinct and the worldly law of retaliation? Jesus gives the answer in the same evangelical page: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (v. 36). One who hears Jesus, who makes an effort even if it costs him, becomes a child of God and begins to really be like the Father who is in Heaven.

We become capable of things that we never thought we could say or do, and that, rather, we would be ashamed of, but that now, instead, give us joy and peace. We no longer have a need to be violent, with words and gestures; we discover ourselves capable of tenderness and goodness, and we feel that all this doesn’t come from us but from Him! And, therefore, we don’t boast, but we are grateful. There is nothing greater or more fecund than love: it confers on a person all his/her dignity, whereas the contrary, hatred, and revenge diminish him/her, marring the beauty of the creature made in the image of God.

This command, to respond to insult and to wrong with love, has generated a new culture in the world: the “culture of mercy — we must learn it well! And practice well this culture of mercy — which gives life to a true revolution” (Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera, 20) It’s the revolution of love, whose protagonists are the martyrs of all times. And Jesus assures us that our conduct, marked by love for all those that harm us, won’t be in vain. He says: “forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you [… .], for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (vv. 37-38). This is beautiful. God will give us a beautiful thing if we are generous, merciful. We must forgive because God has forgiven us and always forgives us. If we don’t forgive totally, we cannot pretend to be forgiven everything. Instead, if our hearts open to mercy, if forgiveness is sealed with a fraternal embrace and the bond of communion are tightened, we proclaim before the world that it’s possible to overcome evil with good. Sometimes it’s easier for us to remember wrongs that have been done to us and evils that have been done to us and not the good things; to the point that there are people that have this habit, and which becomes a sickness. They are “collectors of injustices”: we only remember the bad things they have done. And this isn’t the way. We must do the contrary, says Jesus. Remember the good things, and when someone comes with gossip and speaks badly of another, say: “But yes, perhaps . . . but he/she has this that is good . . . “ Reverse the speech. This is the revolution of mercy.

May the Virgin Mary help us to let our heart be touched by this holy word of Jesus, burning like fire, which transforms us and makes us capable of doing good without return, to do good without return, witnessing everywhere the victory of love.

[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vaticana

TEXT SOURCE: https://zenit.org/articles/angelus-address-on-love-of-enemies/

EMPHASIS MINE

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