In his homily, as reported by Vatican radio, Thursday he had this to say:
Reflecting on what he called the “key word” in the liturgy during this time of the year, Pope Francis said Jesus ‘manifests’ himself at the Epiphany, at the Baptism, at the Wedding of Cana, but he asked: “how can we know God?” Francis explained that this truth is explained less by the intellect than by the heart.
“God is love! It is only on the path of love that you can know God. ‘Reasonable love’, ‘love accompanied by reason’. But love! And how can we love what we do not know? Love your neighbors”. This, the Pope said, is the doctrine of two Commandments: the most important is ‘You
shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself’. And he pointed out that “to get to the first we must ascend the steps of the second: that means that through our love for our neighbor we can get to know God, who is love. Only through loving can we reach love”.
That’s why, Pope Francis said, we have to love each other, because love comes from God and whoever loves has been generated by God:
“He who loves knows God; he who does not love has no knowledge of God because God is love”. But, Francis stressed: “it’s not the love of a ‘soap opera’. No, it is solid, strong and eternal. “It ‘manifests’ itself in the Son, in the Son of God who has come to save us. It is a concrete love made of works and not of words. To know God we must walk through life in love, love for our neighbor, love for those who hate us, love for all”.
|Flower of the Almond Tree|
Turning his attention to the Gospel reading of the day that tells of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, The Pope said the Lord had compassion for the many people who had flocked to listen to Jesus “because they were like sheep without a shepherd, they had no orientation”, today – Francis said – so many people have no orientation, but God precedes just as he preceded the disciples who hadn’t understood what was going on.
“God’s love always awaits us; it always takes us by surprise. Our Father who loves us so much is always ready to forgive us. Always! Not once, always!”
Pope Francis concluded asking the Lord to give us the grace to be acquainted and to get to know God on the path of love."
The following day, Friday, he again returned to this theme of the heart:
Pope Francis said a person’s heart can be made of stone for many reasons, such as, for example, a painful experience in one’s life. But as he went on to point out, another reason for hardened hearts is because people are closed in on themselves.
“Creating a world within one self, all closed in. Closed within oneself, in one’s community or parish, but always closed in. And this closure can revolve around so many things. But let’s think about pride, self-sufficiency, thinking I am better than others, and vanity too, right? There are ‘mirror-men and women’ (who are wedded to their own image in the mirror), who are closed in on themselves and are constantly looking at themselves, right? These religious narcissists, right? But they have a hardened heart because they are closed in on themselves, they are not open. And they seek to defend themselves with these walls that they have created around themselves.”
The Pope said these hardened hearts in people can also arise from a problem of insecurity, such as those who barricade themselves behind the laws and rules, as though inside a prison, to feel safer and follow these rules to the letter,
“When a heart becomes hardened, it’s not free and if it’s not free it’s because that person isn't capable of love, that was the fate of the Apostle John in the first Reading. A love that’s perfect banishes fear: in love there’s no fear, because fear is expecting a punishment and a person who's afraid doesn’t have a perfect love. He or she is not free. They are constantly afraid that something painful or sad will occur, that will cause their life to go badly or will endanger their eternal salvation… What an (over-active) imagination, because he or she can’t love. A person who isn't capable of loving is not free. And their heart was hardened because they hadn’t learnt how to love.”
The Spirit makes us free and docile not yoga or zen courses
Pope Francis concluded his homily by stressing that only the Holy Spirit can teach us how to love and free us from our hardened hearts.
“You can follow a thousand catechism courses, a thousand spirituality courses, a thousand yoga or zen courses and all these things. But none of this will be able to give you the freedom as a child (of God). Only the Holy Spirit can prompt your heart to say ‘Father.’ Only the Holy Spirit is capable of banishing, of breaking that hardness of heart and making it … soft? No, I don’t like that word, … ‘docile’. Docile towards the Lord. Docile when it comes to the freedom to love.”
Iesu, mitis et humilis Corde, Fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart , make our hearts like unto Thine.