By Vatican News
The Holy Spirit helps us to understand “the love of Christ for us” and to prepare our hearts to “allow ourselves to be loved” by the Lord.
Pope Francis made that point during Mass on Thursday, as he reflected on the First Reading (Rm 8:31b-39).
St Paul, he said, could seem to some to be “too proud” or “too sure of himself” when he affirms that “anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword” will succeed in separating us from Christ.
A mother’s love
Pope Francis said St Paul is really showing us that “we conquer overwhelmingly” through the love of Christ. Ever since the Lord called to Paul along the road to Damascus, the Apostle to the Gentiles “sought to understand the mystery of Christ.”
He had “fallen in love with Christ”, said the Pope, caught up in “a strong love” and not in a “soap opera type of story.” St Paul felt the Lord accompany him through all manner of good and bad times.
“He felt this in love. I ask myself: do I love the Lord like him? When hard times come, how often do we feel the desire to say: ‘The Lord has abandoned me. He doesn’t love me anymore’ and then seek to abandon the Lord in turn. But Paul was sure that the Lord would never abandon him. He had understood the love of Christ in his own life. This is the path that Paul shows us: the path of love at all times, through thick and thin, at every moment. This is the greatness of Paul.”
Give our lives for others
Christ’s love, Pope Francis added, “cannot be described”. It is immeasurable.
“It is really He Who was sent by the Father to save us. He did so with love. He gave His life for me: There is no greater love than to give your life for another person. We can think about a mother – the love of a mother, for example – who gives her life for her child, accompanying him or her through life in difficult moments… Jesus’ love is near to us, and is not an abstract love. It is a You-Me/Me-You love – each of us – with our own name and surname.”
Tears for each of us
In Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis focused on “something concrete in Jesus’ love”. Speaking about Jerusalem, Jesus recalls the times He tried to gather her children, “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings”, but was opposed. So he wept.
“The love of Christ drives Him to weep, to weep for each of us. What tenderness we find in this expression. Jesus could have condemned Jerusalem, say horrible things… But he laments that she would not allow herself to be loved like the hen’s chicks. This is the tender love of God in Jesus. Which is exactly what Paul understood. If we cannot feel or understand the tender love of God in Jesus for each of us, then we will never, never, be able to understand the love of Christ. It is a type of love that waits patiently, like the love with which He plays His last card with Judas: ‘Friend’, offering him a way out, even until the end. He loves even the worst sinners with this tenderness, all the way up to the end. I’m not sure we think about Jesus being so tender – Jesus who cries, as He cried before the tomb of Lazarus, as He cried here looking out over Jerusalem.”
Love expressed in tears
Finally, Pope Francis urged us to ask ourselves if Jesus weeps for us, even as we often choose to “take another path”.
The love of God, he concluded, “is expressed in the tender tears of Jesus”, which is why St Paul fell “so in love with Christ that nothing could drag him away.”