VATICAN CITY— As he met with thousands of pro-life advocates from around the globe, Pope Francis stressed that the Gospel is the “way to freedom and life,” but lifestyles that are “dictated by selfishness” lead to slavery and death.
“Dear brothers and sisters,” the Pope urged, “let us look to God as the God of Life; let us look to his law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The living God sets us free.”
He addressed his homily for the June 16 Mass in St. Peter’s Square to pilgrims from Australia, Asia, Europe and North and South America, who filled the famous piazza up to its gates.
They were also joined in the square by around 1,400 people on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles, who came to Rome to celebrate 110 years of the iconic American machine and to receive the Pope’s blessing during the Angelus prayer that followed the Mass.
Pope Francis based his homily on the first reading from 2 Samuel, which recounts King David committing adultery with Bathsheba and conspiring to have her husband killed, and the Gospel reading from Luke 4, where Jesus forgives the adulterous woman of her sins.
The Holy Father distilled his reflections into three simple points: “First, the Bible reveals to us the living God, the God who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life, and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and, third, following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.”
King David’s adultery serves to show “human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin and its consequences,” the Pope said, underscoring that, despite his evil actions, God brought life to David when he repented.
“Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death,” he said as he examined the consequences of David’s actions.
This raises the question of what our image of God is, the Holy Father remarked.
“Perhaps he appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life,” the Pontiff preached.
He then turned to the Gospel reading from Luke, in which Jesus allowed himself to be approached by a woman who was a sinner and forgave her sins.
The Pope said that in this interaction it can be seen how “Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid deeds of death, sin, selfishness and self-absorption."
“Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels, we see how Jesus by his words and actions brings the transforming life of God,” he said.
The life-giving power of God is also given through the Holy Spirit, Francis said.
“The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God’s will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness,” he said.
The Pope cautioned that this “does not mean that we are people who live ‘in the clouds,’ far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists; they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.”
Returning to the theme of the weekend — "The Gospel of Life" — Pope Francis made his final point: that following God leads to life, but all other ways lead to death.
“But all too often, people do not choose life; they do not accept the ‘gospel of life,’ but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure and not by love, by concern for the good of others,” he said.
This way of living is not new, the Pope explained, calling it “the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God’s life and love — a new Tower of Babel.”
“It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the gospel of life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfillment,” he said.
The result of this turning away from God is that he “is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death,” the Pope stated.
He finished his homily by invoking the intercession of “Mary, Mother of Life,” asking her “to help us receive and bear constant witness to the ‘gospel of life.’”