Pope: Love of God and neighbour is heart of everything

At the closing Mass of the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis speaks of the “conversation of the Spirit,” experienced in "the loving presence of the Lord" and discovered in "the beauty of fraternity."

By Vatican News

Highlighting the “conversation of the Spirit” experienced at the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis presided over the closing Mass of the month-long gathering. In his homily he recalled how the Synod participants “experienced the loving presence of the Lord and discovered the beauty of fraternity.”

The Sunday morning celebration on 29 October in Saint Peter’s Basilica marked the culmination of this first session of the Synod on Synodality looking at communion, participation, and mission. The next session will take place in October 2024.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading when a doctor of the Law tests Jesus by asking him which commandment in the law is greatest, the Pope said this important and enduring question can arise in our own hearts and the life of the Church. The Lord’s answer that we should love God with our whole life and love our neighbour as ourselves points to “the heart of everything” and how everything can begin anew, he explained.

To love is to adore

Love invites adoration, the Pope observed, as a response to “God’s gratuitous and astonishing love.” 

“To adore God means to acknowledge in faith that he alone is Lord and that our individual lives, the Church’s pilgrim way and the ultimate outcome of history all depend on the tenderness of his love.”

By worshiping God, “we rediscover that we are free,” the Pope explained, which is why the Scriptures often warn against every form of idolatory since idols, whatever they may be, enslave us. This warning is every present today as well, the Pope went on to say, when we are tempted with worldly idols of selfishness and greed, but also some disguised as spirituality, such us my own religious ideas or pastoral skills. He emphasized vigilance and always putting the Lord back at the center of our lives.

“May the Church adore: in every diocese, in every parish, in every community, let us adore the Lord!”

To love is to serve

The second great commandment “binds God and neighbour together so that they will never be disconnected,” said the Pope. And authentic religious experiences requires that we hear the cry of those who suffering, the cry of the world and the need to show care and concern for our neighbour. 

“We may have plenty of good ideas on how to reform the Church, but let us remember: to adore God and to love our brothers and sisters with his love, that is the great and perennial reform.”

A “worshiping Church and a Church of service” calls on us to wash the feet of “wounded humanity” the Pope stressed and accompany those who are “frail, weak and cast aside, going out lovingly to encounter the poor.” He recalled the victims of the atrocities of war; the suffering of migrants, those living alone and in poverty and those crushed by the burdens of life.

“As disciples of Jesus, we desire to bring to the world a different type of leaven, that of the Gospel. To put God in first place and, together with him, those whom he especially loves: the poor and the weak.”

The Pope added that we are called to “dream” as a Church in serving the least of our brothers and sisters.  

“A Church that never demands an attestation of 'good behaviour,' but welcomes, serves, loves, forgives. A Church with open doors that is a haven of mercy.”

Conversation of the Spirit

In conclusion, the Pope recalled how the Synod allowed for a renewed experience of the Lord’s loving presence and the discovery of “the beauty of fraternity.” By listening to each other and learning from the rich variety of backgrounds and concerns, “we have listened to the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, and “with farsightedness” we can look to the horizon opening up and fruits of this experience. 

“The Lord will guide us and help us to be a more synodal and missionary Church, a Church that adores God and serves the women and men of our time, going forth to bring to everyone the consoling joy of the Gospel.”

The Pope then thanked all those taking part in the Synod for their contribution of listening and dialogue in a journey of fraternity together.

“May we grow in our worship of God and in our service to our neighbour...May the Lord accompany us. Let us go forward with joy!”

Full video of Closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops

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29 October 2023, 11:43