VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Only people who love, and love in concrete ways — not just with words — can know God because God is love, Pope Francis said.
“Whoever loves, knows God; whoever does not love has not known God because God is love, but not soap opera love. No, no. Solid, strong love, eternal love, a love-made manifest,” he said Jan. 8 at his morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pope celebrated the Mass for the victims of a deadly terrorist attack by masked gunmen on the offices of a satirical weekly newspaper in Paris. At least 12 people were killed and another 11 wounded in the Jan. 7 attack. Before delivering his homily, the pope said the attack made one see how much cruelty the human being is capable of, and he asked for prayers for the victims and for the perpetrators so that the Lord would “change their hearts,” the pope said, according to Vatican Radio.
The pope’s homily focused on the day’s reading from the First Book of John (4:19-5:4), which speaks of God loving humanity first and the necessity of loving others in order to love God.
How are people able to come to know God? the pope asked. Reason and intellect are not enough, he said; it takes love, accompanied by reason, but by loving most of all.
“God is love. And it is only on the path of love that you can know God,” he said.
The path is gradual and begins with loving others concretely, demonstrating love with “works of love and not words. It takes your whole life to know God, a journey of love, of familiarity, of love for the other, of love for those who hate us, of love for everyone,” he said.
God’s love for his children always comes before their love for him, somewhat like the almond tree flower, he said, which is the first to bloom before the coming spring.
“We will always have this surprise,” he said, that of finding out that God’s love has come first and that he has been waiting for and loving humanity all along.
“When we get close to God through acts of charity, prayer, in Communion, in the Word of God,” he said, “we find that he is there, ahead of us, waiting for us — that is how he loves us.”
God is there ready to teach and guide all people who have lost their way, Pope Francis said. “He is our father who loves us so much, who is always ready to forgive us. Always. Not once but 70 times seven. Always.”
“To know this God, who is love, we have to go up these steps of love for the other, of works of charity and of works of mercy that the Lord has taught us,” the pope said.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103