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Love of God and neighbor are inseparable, Pope tells audience

Catholic World News - November 05, 2012

“Love is not a command; it is a gift,” Pope Benedict XVI told his midday audience on Sunday, November 4.

Speaking about the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus spoke of the “greatest commandment,” the Pope said that Christians who show a genuine love for their neighbors are motivated by the love of God, “just as children become capable of love beginning with a good relationship with their parents.”

When a believer truly responds to God’s love, the Pope said, “he is able to love even those who do not merit it, just as God loves us.” He went on to say that Christian love embraces not only those whom one finds attractive, but even to those who are at first unattractive. “We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes, but also with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ.”

Moreover, the Holy Father continued, when one makes the effort to understand others, that effort helps one to understand God. Thus love of God and love of neighbor “are inseparable and have a reciprocal relationship.” The Pope likened these two aspects of Christian love to “the two arms of the Cross, vertical and horizontal.”

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