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VATICAN CITY — True love isn’t a soap opera, and it doesn’t remain to itself. Real love communicates and is expressed in deeds. These “two criteria of true love” were the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at morning Mass on Thursday, May 7, in the Chapel of Santa Marta.
True love is true and constant
In the Gospel reading, from the Gospel according to St. John (15:9-11), Our Lord asks us to abide in His love. “There are two criteria,” said Pope Francis, “which will help us to distinguish the true love, from that which is not true.” The first criterion is that love is, “more in deeds than in words.” It is not “a soap opera” or “a fantasy,” stories that “make our hearts beat a little faster, but nothing more.” True love is found “in hard facts.” In fact, Jesus warned his disciples “‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven.”
“In other words, true love is real, it is in the works it does, it is a constant love. It is not a mere enthusiasm.
Also, many times, love is a painful thing: the love we think of Jesus carrying the Cross. But the works of love are what Jesus teaches us in the passage from chapter 25 of St. Matthew. He, who loves, does these things — the things for which we shall be judged: I was hungry, and you gave me to eat, and so on. Concreteness: even the Beatitudes, which are Jesus ‘pastoral plan’, are concrete.”
Pope Francis went on to note that one of the first heresies in Christianity was that of Gnosticism, which spoke of a “distant God” to whom there was no substance. The love of God the Father, on the other hand, “was concrete: He sent His incarnate Son to save us.”
Monks and nuns communicate … a lot.
The second criterion of love is that it communicates. True love does not remain isolated. Love gives itself and receives, it is the communication between the Father and the Son, a communication that ‘is’ the Holy Spirit.”
“There is no love without communicating, there is no isolated love. Some of you may wonder, though: ‘But Father, monks and nuns are secluded.’ But they communicate … and they do a lot of it: with the Lord, even with those who go to find a word of God … True love cannot isolate itself. If it is isolated, it is not love. To abide closed in on oneself is a spiritualist form of selfishness, of seeking its own profit … it is selfishness.’
Love is simple, but it’s not easy
“To abide in the love of Jesus means doing things,” the Pope said. It involves “an ability to communicate, to dialogue, both with the Lord and with our brothers and sisters.”
“It’s as simple as that: but it’s not easy. Because selfishness, self-interest, attracts us, and draws us to do nothing, draws us to not communicate. What does the Lord say of those who will abide in his love? ‘I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.’ The Lord who abides in the love of the Father is joyful, ‘and if you abide in my love, your joy shall be full’ — a joy that often comes along with the Cross. But that joy — Jesus himself told us — no one may take from you.”
The Pope concluded his homily with this prayer: “That the Lord might give us the grace of joy, that joy which the world cannot give.”