Pope Francis said Sunday that great joy is found when one offers his life in service to God’s call.
“There are different ways of carrying out the plan that God has for each of us, which is always a plan of love. … And the greatest joy for every believer is to respond to this call, to offer all of himself at the service of God and his brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Jan. 17.
Speaking from the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope said that each time that God calls someone it is “an initiative of His love.”
“God calls to life, He calls to faith, and He calls to a particular state in life,” he said.
“God’s first call is to life, through which He makes us persons; it is an individual call because God does not make things in sets. Then God calls us to faith and to become part of His family as children of God. Lastly, God calls us to a particular state in life: to give of ourselves on the path of marriage, or that of the priesthood or the consecrated life.”
In the live video broadcast, the pope offered a reflection on Jesus’ first encounter and call of his disciples Andrew and Simon Peter in the Gospel of John.
“The two follow Him and remained that afternoon with Him. It is not difficult to imagine them seated asking Him questions and above all listening to Him, feeling their hearts inflamed ever more while the Master spoke,” he said.
“They sense the beauty of the words that respond to their greatest hope. And all of a sudden they discover that, even though it is evening, … that light that only God can give burst within them. … When they leave and return to their brothers, that joy, this light overflows from their hearts like a raging river. One of the two, Andrew, tells his brother Simon – whom Jesus will call Peter when he meets him: ‘We have found the Messiah.’”
Pope Francis said that God’s call is always love and should always be responded to only with love.
“Brothers and sisters, faced with the call of the Lord, which can reach us in a thousand ways even through people, happy or sad events, sometimes our attitude can be one of rejection: ‘No, I’m afraid” — rejection because it seems contrary to our aspirations; and also fear, because we consider it too demanding and uncomfortable: ‘Oh I won’t make it, better not, better a more peaceful life… God there, I am here.’ But God’s call is love, we must try to find the love that is behind every call, and respond to it only with love,” he said.
“At the beginning there is an encounter, or rather, there is ‘the encounter’ with Jesus who speaks to us of His Father, He makes His love known to us. And then the desire to communicate it to the people we love will spontaneously arise within us too: ‘I met Love.’ ‘I met the Messiah.’ ‘I met God.’ ‘I met Jesus.’ ‘I found the meaning of life.’ In a word: ‘I found God.’”
The pope invited each person to remember the moment in his life in which “God made himself present more strongly, with a call.”
At the end of his Angelus address, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, which was hit by a strong earthquake on Jan. 15.
“I pray for the dead, for the wounded and for those who have lost their homes and jobs. May the Lord comfort them and support the efforts of those who are committed to helping,” the pope said.
Pope Francis also recalled that the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” will begin Jan. 18. This year’s theme is “Remain in my love and you will bear much fruit.”
“In these days, let us pray together so that Jesus’ desire may be fulfilled: ‘That all may be one.’ Unity is always superior to conflict,” he said.