What does God look like? According to Pope Francis, one discovers Him in the face of every brother and sister–especially the most helpless.
“In the midst of the dense forest of rules and regulations,” Pope Francis said to a crowd of tens of thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sunday morning, “Jesus opens a breach that allows you to see two faces: the face of the Father and that of your brother.”
The face of God “is reflected in many faces, because in the face of every brother, especially the smallest, most fragile, helpless and needy, is the very image of God.”
“And we should ask ourselves,” said Francis, “when we meet one of these brothers or sisters, are we able to recognize in them the face of God?”
According to the Pope, Jesus did not invent love of neighbor. The “novelty” of his teaching was “in putting these two commandments together–love of God and love of neighbor–proving that they are inseparable and complementary, like two sides of the same coin.”
“You cannot love God without loving our neighbor and you cannot love your neighbor without loving God,” he asserted.
“The commandment of love of God and neighbor is the first not because it is at the top of the list of commandments,” said Francis. “Jesus does not put it at the top, but at the center, it is the heart from which everything has to start.”
Echoing the words of St. Paul, Francis said that “love is the measure of faith, and faith is the soul of love.”
“We cannot separate our religious life or our life of piety from the service of our brothers,” Francis said. “We can no longer divide our prayer, our meeting God in the sacraments, from listening to others, drawing close to their lives, especially their wounds,” he said.
The visible sign that the Christian can show to the world, Pope Francis said, “is the love of his brothers and sisters.”