The fire of faith should spur us to conversion, not lull us into complacency, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.
In his weekly message on the Gospel, the pope reflected on a passage from St. Luke, who wrote: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’”
“Faith is not a ‘lullaby’ that lulls us to sleep, but rather a living flame to keep us wakeful and active even at night,” Francis said Aug. 14.
The pope delivered his reflection on the flame of faith from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Afterwards, he prayed the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, in Latin, before sharing some concluding remarks.
“The Gospel,” he said, “does not leave things as they are; when the Gospel passes, and is heard and received, things do not remain as they are. The Gospel provokes change and invites conversion.”
According to Francis, the fire of the Gospel does not give a false sense of peace, but spurs people into action.
“It is just like fire: while it warms us with God’s love, it wants to burn our selfishness, to enlighten the dark sides of life — we all have them — to consume the false idols that enslave us,” he said.
The pope said Jesus is inviting each person to be rekindled by the flame of the Gospel. To illustrate this point, he quoted from the book “The Discovery of God,” by Henri de Lubac, a 20th century theologian and Jesuit priest.
“As Father de Lubac said — faith in God ‘reassures us — but not on our level, or so to produce a paralyzing illusion, or a complacent satisfaction, but so as to enable us to act,” he emphasized.
He also suggested everyone ask themselves if they are passionate about the Gospel, if they read it often, and if they carry it with them.
“Does the faith I profess and celebrate lead me to complacent tranquility or does it ignite the flame of witness in me?” he said, proposing the question for reflection. “We can also ask ourselves this question as Church: in our communities, does the fire of the Spirit burn, with the passion for prayer and charity, and the joy of faith? Or do we drag ourselves along in weariness and habit, with a downcast face and a lament on our lips? And gossip every day?”
Do an interior examination on these questions, Francis said, so that like Jesus, we can say “we are inflamed with the fire of God’s love, and we want to spread it around the world, to take it to everyone, so that each person may discover the tenderness of the Father and experience the joy of Jesus, which enlarges the heart — and Jesus enlarges the heart — and makes life beautiful.”
Pope Francis closed his message by asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary.
After the Angelus, he drew attention to a humanitarian crisis in Somalia and some parts of the neighboring countries.
“The people of this region, already living in very precarious conditions, are now in mortal danger due to drought,” he explained.
Lamenting that war diverts attention and resources away from other places, he expressed hope that the international community will respond to the emergency.
The fight against hunger and the promotion of health and education, he said, “are the goals that demand the greatest commitment.”
Pope Francis also recalled the Aug. 17th anniversary of Saint Pope John Paul II’s entrustment of the world to Divine Mercy, which was carried out at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, 20 years ago in 2002.
“And we ask the Lord [for a] special mercy, mercy and compassion, for the tormented Ukrainian people,” he added.