ROME — Speaking at the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis said it is essential to understand that God loves us, is with us and never leaves us alone.
“Our God is not absent, locked away over the distant sky,” the pope told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s square. “He is instead a God who is ‘passionate’ about man, who loves us so tenderly that he cannot separate Himself from him.”
The pope said that while humans are capable of burning bridges in relationships, God is always by our side even when we forget about him and “if our heart cools, his remains incandescent.”
The pope’s remarks focused on the Gospel of Saint Matthew, that begins with the with the birth of Jesus as Emmanuel (meaning God is with us) and finishes with God’s promise that “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The entire Gospel can be summarized in these two quotes, the pope said, that stress the human nature of God and his closeness to us.
“Our soul is a migrant soul,” the pope said, meaning that man’s very existence is a pilgrimage and that all people feel the seduction of the horizon, pushing them to explore world that they don’t know. Pope Francis added that the Bible is full of examples of pilgrims and travellers such as the story of Abraham.
“One cannot become a mature man or woman unless one understands the appeal of the horizon: That limit between the sky and the Earth that begs to be reached by a walking people,” the pope said. “While walking the world man is never alone. Christians especially never feel abandoned, because Jesus promises us not only to wait for us at the end of our long journey, but to accompany us every waking day.”
The pope asked when God’s care for humanity will end and answered that the Gospel is clear: Until the end of the world. Everything else will fade, the pope said, but the world of God is greater than anything else and shall endure.
The pope added that God “will not abandon us in the moment of trial and darkness,” and this Christian certainty is called providence. The anchor is among the Christian symbols for hope, signifying that the Christian hope is not vague and fickle.
Hope for Christians has its roots “in the certainty of what God has promised us and realized in Jesus Christ,” the pope said.
We should not be afraid since God has promised to never leave us alone. “With this promise Christians can walk anywhere,” Francis told the crowd of pilgrims. “One can even cross portions of scarred earth where things are not going well, we are among those who even there continue to hope.”
“It is precisely where darkness reigns that we must keep the light on,” the pope said.
Francis said that even though the world is often hostile to the laws of love, if faith in God’s promise to never abandon us is strong, we will never be disappointed.
“During the journey, God’s promise – ‘I am with you’ – will keep us on our feet with hope, confiding in the fact that the good Lord is already at work to realize that which is humanly impossible,” the pope said.
“The holy people of God is a people that stands up and walks with hope,” the pope concluded. “And everywhere it goes it knows that the love of God has preceded it: There is no part of the world that escaped the victory of the Risen Christ, the victory of love.”
At the end of the audience, the pontiff invoked St. Mark the Evangelist, whose feast was celebrated on Tuesday.
For young people the pope offered the saint’s example as a model of discipleship, while asking his intercession for the sick. He also said his “short yet precise Gospel” reminds newlyweds of the importance of prayer during the journey of marriage.