(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday stressed that Christian love is a concrete reality and warned believers against ideologies and intellectual theories on this love, saying these strip away the Flesh of the Church and ruin it. He was speaking during his Mass celebrated on Friday morning at the Santa Marta residence.
Taking his cue from the day’s gospel reading coming from the second Letter of St. John, the Pope’s homily was a reflection on the nature of Christian love and how the word ‘love’ is used nowadays to describe many different things. He stressed that the true criterion of Christian love is the Incarnation of the Word, saying whoever denies or does not recognize this is “the antichrist.”
“A love that does not recognize that Jesus came in the Flesh is not the love that God is asking of us.This is a worldly love, a philosophical love, an abstract love, a love that has flagged, a ‘soft’ or weak love. No! The criterion of Christian love is the Incarnation of the Word. Whoever says that Christian love is something else is the antichrist! Who does not recognize that the Word became Flesh. This is our truth: God sent his Son, who became flesh and who lived like us. To love as Jesus loved (us), to love as Jesus taught us, to love by following the example of Jesus; to love, journeying along the path of Jesus. It is the path of Jesus that gives life.”
Pope Francis went on to explain how the only way to love in the way Jesus loved us is to cast aside our own selfishness and go out to help others because Christian love is a concrete love, one with acts of mercy.
“Going beyond is a mystery: coming out from the Mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, of the Mystery of the Church. Because the Church is the community around the presence of Christ and it goes beyond this. That is a really strong word, isn’t it? ….proagon, whoever walks beyond. And it’s from this that all the ideologies spring: the ideologies on love, the ideologies on the Church, the ideologies that strip the Flesh of Christ from the Church. These ideologies strip away the Flesh of the Church! ‘Yes, I’m a Catholic, yes I’m a Christian, I love the whole world with a universal love’… But this is so ethereal. Love is always interior, concrete and does not go beyond the doctrine of the Incarnation of the Word.”
The Pope wrapped up his homily by stressing that whoever does not love in the same selfless way as Christ did, loves in an ideological manner. He also warned against those who put forward theories on love or intellectualize it, saying they ruin the Church and lead to a situation where we have a God without Christ, a Christ without the Church and a Church without people.
“Let us pray to the Lord so that our walk in love never ever becomes for us an abstract love. May our love be concrete with works of mercy whereby we touch the Flesh of Christ, the Incarnate Christ. It is for this reason that the deacon Lawrence said ‘The poor are the treasure of the Church!’ Why? Because they are the suffering flesh of Christ! Let us ask for this grace to not go beyond and not enter into this process, that possibly seduces so many people, of intellectualizing and ideologizing this love, stripping away the Flesh of the Church, stripping away Christian love. And let’s not arrive at the sad spectacle of a God without Christ, of a Christ without the Church and a Church without its people.”