June 24, 2013

VATICAN CITY – Christians have "far to go" if they seek to be known primarily for their love of God and neighbour, Pope Francis said.

The first law governing the Church as the "People of God" is love, he said.

That means "recognizing God as the only Lord of life and, at the same time, welcoming others as true brothers and sisters, overcoming divisions, rivalries, misunderstandings and selfishness," he said.

At his weekly general audience June 12, Pope Francis lamented that brotherly love does not reign in the world, and often not even in Catholics' communities, neighbourhoods, workplaces or even their homes, "because of jealousy and envy."

"We must ask the Lord to help us understand his law of love," he said. "How good, how beautiful it would be if we loved one another as real brothers and sisters."

"Let's try something today," Pope Francis said. "We all have those we like and those we don't like so much. Perhaps many of us are angry with someone.

"Let's say to the Lord, 'I am angry with this person and that one. I pray for him and for her.'"

"Let's pray for those with whom we are angry. It's a good step forward in this law of love," he said. "Let's do it. Let's do it today."

Pope Francis said it is the obligation of every Christian to be a sign of hope and love in the world.

"It's enough to open a newspaper to know that evil exists, that the devil acts," he said. "But I want to say loudly that God is stronger."

"Do you believe this? That God is stronger?" the pope asked the crowd of more than 50,000 people. "Then let us say it together, 'God is stronger,'" he said, as many joined him in repeating the phrase.