Love for God and neighbour two faces of same coin : Pope Francis

Pope Francis takes his cue from Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark in which a scribe asks Jesus "What is the first of all the commandments?Jesus responds, said the Pope, by quoting the profession of faith with which every Israelite opens and closes his day and which begins with the words "Listen, Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord". It is from this source, explained the Pontiff, “that the double commandment is derived for us: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”

Serve, Forgive, Cultivate
By choosing these two words addressed by God to his people and putting them together, Pope Francis said that, “Jesus taught once and for all that love for God and love for one's neighbour are inseparable; indeed, more than that, they support one another. Even if placed in sequence, they are the two faces of a single coin: lived together they are the true strength of the believer! To love God is to live by Him and for Him, for what He is and for what He does. It means, the Pope continued, “to invest one's energies every day to be his collaborators in serving our neighbour without reserve, in trying to forgive without limits and in cultivating relationships of communion and fraternity.” Pope Francis pointed out that Mark the Evangelist, “does not bother to specify who the neighbour is…” as it is “not a question of pre-selecting my neighbour, but of having eyes to see him and a heart to love him.”

Be more than Christian “service stations”
Today's Gospel, he went on to say, “invites all of us to be projected not only towards the urgencies of our poorest brothers and sisters, but above all to be attentive to their need for fraternal closeness, for a sense of life and for tenderness. This challenges our Christian communities: it is a question of avoiding the risk of being communities that live by many initiatives but with few relationships: "service stations" but with little company, in the full and Christian sense of the term.” The Pope underlined that “God, who is love, created us out of love, so that we can love others while remaining united to Him. The two dimensions of love, for God and for our neighbour, in their unity, characterize the disciple of Christ.”

Pope warns against selfish ambition and conceit

Pope Francis has warned that “rivalry and vainglory” have the power to destroy the very foundations of communities by sowing division and conflict.

Gratuitousness is universal, not selective
The Pope explained that Jesus’ teaching is clear: “do not do things out of [self-]interest”, do not choose your friendships on the basis of convenience.He said that reasoning on the basis of one's own “advantage” is a “form of selfishness, segregation and self-interest” whilst Jesus’ message “is exactly the opposite.”And referring to the first reading in which St. Paul speaks to the Philippians, he urged the faithful to “do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory” but to humbly regard others as more important than themselves.

The Pope also mentioned the negative effects of gossip, which he said, stems from rivalry and is used to destroy others.“Rivalry is ugly: you can perpetrate it openly, in a direct way, or with white gloves. But it always aims to destroy the other and to ‘raise oneself up’ by diminishing the other.” Rivalry, he said, stems from self- interest.

Conceit destroys communities
Equally harmful, the Pope continued, is someone who prides himself on being superior to others.This attitude, he said, destroys communities and families: “Think of the rivalry between siblings for the father’s inheritance for example”, it is something we see every day.

A Christian life is born from giving freely
Christians, Pope Francis said, must follow the example of the Son of God, cultivating “gratuitousness”: doing good without expecting or wanting to be repaid, sowing unity and abandoning “rivalry or vainglory”.“Building peace with small gestures paves a path of harmony throughout the world” he said.

When we read of wars, he concluded, of the famine of children in Yemen caused by the conflict there, we think “that’s far away, poor children… why don't they have food?”“The same war is waged at home and in our institutions” he warned, “stemming from rivalry: that’s where war begins! And that’s where peace must be made: in the family, in the parish, in the institutions, in the workplace, always seeking unanimity and harmony and not one's own interest.”