By Justin McLellan
VATICAN CITY — Only by shedding feelings of personal greatness and regaining a sense of wonder in God’s love can people welcome Jesus into their hearts and lives, Pope Francis said.
With some 15,000 visitors gathered to pray the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square July 9, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Matthew in which Jesus praises God the Father for hiding “things” from the wise and revealing them to the childlike.
Those things, Pope Francis explained, refer to Jesus’ miracles — restoring sight to the blind and healing lepers — which are “signs of God acting in the world” that are overlooked by the prideful.
God’s love, as reflected through Jesus’ miracles, “is not understood by those who presume to be great and manufacture a god in their own image: powerful, unyielding, vengeful,” he said.
“These presumptuous ones fail to accept God as Father; those who are full of themselves, proud, concerned only with their own interests: these are the presumptuous ones, convinced that they need no one,” Pope Francis said.
The childlike who are open to receiving God’s love, however, “have hearts free from conceit and self-love,” the pope explained.
“The childlike are those who, like children, feel needy and not self-sufficient; they are open to God and let themselves be astonished by his works,” he said. “They know how to read his signs, amazed by the miracles of his love.”
Pope Francis urged Christians to ask themselves whether they let themselves stop and be amazed by how the signs of God are working in their lives or if they notice them only in passing.
“Our lives, if we think about it, are full of miracles, full of signs of love, of signs of God’s bounty,” he said. “Before these, however, our heart can also remain indifferent and become set in its ways, strangely unable to be amazed.”
Pope Francis suggested that Christians draw attention to the signs of God’s love in daily life in by “photographing” them in their minds and “printing” them onto their heart to then develop them in their lives through positive actions, so that the “photograph” of God’s love “becomes brighter in us and through us.”
After praying the Angelus the pope recalled “with pain” the recent bloodshed in the Holy Land, where on July 3 Israeli forces launched a two-day ground and aerial attack on the city of Jenin in the West Bank. The Palestinian government reported that 12 Palestinians were killed in the raid and at least 120 were wounded.
“I hope that the Israeli and Palestinian Authorities can resume a direct dialogue in order to end the spiral of violence and open paths of reconciliation and peace,” the pope said.