POPE’S MESSAGE | The mystery of God’s fatherly love is a great revolution

Alessandro Bianchi | Reuters
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VATICAN CITY — The mystery of God's relationship with humankind is revolutionary in that Christians can look to Him without fear as children to a loving father, Pope Francis said.

In teaching the Lord's prayer, Jesus invites all Christians "to have the courage of calling God with the name 'father,'" the pope said June 7 at his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.

"This is the great revolution that Christianity ingrains into the religious psychology of man. The mystery of God who always fascinates us and makes us feel small but no longer frightens us, He doesn't crush us, He doesn't distress us," the pope said.

In his talk, the pope reflected on the theme of God's fatherhood as a source of hope for Christians as conveyed in the prayer of the "Our Father."

While some may be more inclined to refer to God with a title that is "more respectful of his transcendence," he said, the word "father" implies a trustful relationship "like a child to a father, knowing that we are loved and cared for by Him."

Referring to the parable of the prodigal son, the pope said God loves His children "not in a human way because there is no father in this world who would behave like the protagonist in this parable."

"God is a father in His own way: good, defenseless in the face of man's free will, capable only of conjugating the verb, 'love,'" the pope said. "What an unfathomable mystery is a God that nourishes this kind of love toward His children!"

For this reason, he added, St. Paul chose not to translate the word "father" into Greek and instead uses the Aramaic word, "'Abba,' a term that is even more intimate than 'father' and that someone may translate as 'pop, dad.'"

The pope said that although men and women "can be far away, hostile or even profess ourselves as being 'without God,'" God is never far from humankind.

"When we need help, Jesus doesn't tell us to give up and close in on ourselves, but rather to turn to the father and ask Him with confidence," he said.

Before concluding, Pope Francis asked pilgrims to contemplate on the difficulties they face in their lives before leading them in praying the "Our Father."

"Let us think about these problems and needs in silence. Let us also think about the father, our father, who cannot be without us and who is watching us at this moment," he said.

Pope Francis also said he would participate in the "One minute for peace" initiative June 8, a moment of prayer starting at 1 p.m. on the third anniversary of the prayer service held at the Vatican with the late Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"In our time, there is a great need to pray — Christians, Jews and Muslims — for peace," the pope said. 

Pope: Hypocrisy kills the Christian community

VATICAN CITY — The diabolical language of hypocrisy, which ensnares others through flattery, has the power to destroy Christian communities, Pope Francis said.

Like the Pharisees who spoke to Jesus with soothing words of adulation, Christians who engage in hypocrisy speak gently yet "brutally judge a person," the pope said June 6 at his early morning Mass.

"Hypocrisy is not the language of Jesus. Hypocrisy is not the language of Christians. A Christian cannot be a hypocrite and a hypocrite cannot be a Christian. This is very clear," he said. "Hypocrisy can kill a community."

In his homily at Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope focused on the day's Gospel reading from St. Mark, which recounts the Pharisees' attempts to trick Jesus into answering a question on the legality of paying a census tax.

Their attempt to trap Jesus with flattery, the pope said, is the first sign of their hypocrisy.

"Hypocrites always begin with adulation," he explained. Adulation is "not saying a truth; it is exaggerating, it makes vanity grow."

Jesus' answer that they "repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar," the pope said, reveals that He can see beyond their duplicitous nature, and that He "responds to hypocrites and ideologues with reality."

Christians, the pope said, should pray, "Lord, may I never be a hypocrite, may I know how to say the truth and if I cannot say it, to be quiet. But never, never a hypocrite."

— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service 

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