Pope at Angelus: Let us learn from God’s love for us

Speaking before his weekly recitation of the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis reflects on Jesus’ great commandment, suggesting that “We become truly capable of loving only by encountering God, surrendering to his love.”

By Joseph Tulloch

In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the “great commandment”, which forms the centrepiece of the day’s Gospel reading (Mt 22:34-40).  

Asked which of the commandments is the greatest, Jesus responds: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (…) and (…) your neighbour as yourself”.

In his address, Pope Francis focused on two elements from this passage: firstly, the fact that love for God is mentioned first, and, secondly, the implied connection between love for God and love for neighbour.

Learning to love

“The fact that love for the Lord comes first”, Pope Francis stressed, “reminds us that God always precedes us, he anticipates us with his infinite tenderness.”

Thus, he said, just as children learn to love through the love that their parents have for them, so we too can learn to love through God’s love for us.

This, the Pope said, is what Saint Paul means when he writes that “the charity of Christ possesses a power that propels toward loving.”

“We become truly capable of loving,” Pope Francis suggested, “only by encountering him, surrendering to his love. So, let us not resist: let us open our hearts to the Lord each day. “

Reflecting God's love

The second aspect of the commandment Pope Francis reflected on was the connection between love for God and love for neighbour.

“By loving our brothers and sisters,” he said, “we reflect the Father’s love like mirrors. To reflect God’s love, this is the point – to love Him whom we do not see through the brother/sisters whom we do see.”

How can we love like this? By, the Pope suggested, “taking the first step”, as God does with us. “Sometimes,”, he said, “it is not easy to take the first step, to forget things, but let us do it.”


Drawing his address to a close, Pope Francis left his listeners with a few questions for personal meditiation.

“Let us ask ourselves”, he said, “am I grateful to the Lord for loving me first? Do I feel God’s love, am I grateful to him? Do I try to reflect His love? Do I strive to love my brothers and sisters?”

“May the Virgin Mary,” the Pope concluded, “help us live the great commandment of love in our daily life: to love, and to let ourselves be loved by God.”

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29 October 2023, 12:10

The Angelus is a special prayer recited by Catholics three times a day, at 6am, noon, and 6pm and is accompanied by the ringing of the Angelus bell. The name comes from the Latin word for Angel and the prayer itself reminds us of how Jesus Christ assumed our human nature through the Mystery of the Incarnation.
The Pope recites the Angelus prayer in St Peter’s Square every Sunday at midday.
He also gives a brief reflection on the Gospel of the day and often comments on some issue of international concern. The Pope’s words are broadcast all over the world on radio and television and widely shared on social media.
From Easter to Pentecost the Regina Coeli is prayed instead of the Angelus. This prayer commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and, like the Angelus, concludes with the recitation of the Gloria three times.

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