ROME — When Jesus gave his disciples the “new commandment” to love others as he loved them, what was “new” was the call to love completely, without counting the cost, Pope Francis said.
“The love that was demonstrated on Christ’s cross and that he calls us to live is the only force that can transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh,” the pope said May 19 before reciting the Regina Coeli prayer.
Francis asked the thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the noon prayer to ask themselves if they are able to love their enemies and forgive those who have wronged them.
“All of us have people, who, if not enemies, are people we don’t get along with, who are on ‘the other side,'” the pope said.
If Christians ask for the grace to love as Jesus loved, he said, they would begin to see others as fellow “friends of Jesus,” which in turn prompts dialogue, listening and getting to know the other person.
“Love opens us up to the other,” the pope said. “It helps us overcome the barriers of our own weaknesses and prejudices. The love of Jesus in us builds bridges, teaches us new ways and triggers the dynamism of brotherhood.”
After reciting the prayer, Francis asked everyone in the square to applaud Maria Guadalupe Ortiz de Landazuri, a chemist and early member of Opus Dei, who was beatified in Madrid May 18.
The pope told the crowd in the square that Ortiz “served her brothers and sisters with joy, combining teaching with proclaiming the Gospel. Her witness is an example for Christian women of commitment in social activities and scientific research.”
Born in Spain in 1916, she died in 1975.