Pope: If you leave everything for Jesus, people will recognise the Lord in you and help you to convert. He makes an appeal to Venezuela

During the Angelus, Pope Francis called on Christians to hold Jesus as "the centre, the whole of life." Do not have a "duplicitous heart" with a "foot in two shoes". May the " holy faithful people of God” help “us to be good priests." He dedicated a Hail Mary to Venezuela, and expressed his “closeness to the families who have lost children in the streets”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – "If you leave everything for Jesus, people will recognise the Lord in you, but at the same time this will help you to convert to Him every day, to renew and purify yourself from compromises and overcome temptations," said Pope Francis as he addressed priests today in his comment on today’s Gospel (Thirteenth liturgical Sunday, Matthew 10:37-42), before the Angelus prayer with pilgrims in St Peter's Square. Right after the Marian prayer, Francis called for a "peaceful and democratic solution" to the crisis in Venezuela ahead of that country's national holiday on 5 July.

In the cited Gospel, "Jesus,” the pope said, “underscores two essential aspects of the life of the missionary disciple: first, his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; second, the missionary carries Jesus, not himself, and through Him the love of the heavenly Father. These two aspects are connected because the more Jesus is at the centre of the heart and life of the disciple, the more this disciple is 'transparent' to his presence."

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me," (see 37). A father’s affection, a mother’s tenderness, siblings’ sweet friendship, all this, whilst being very good and legitimate, cannot come before Christ. Not because He wants us without heart and gratitude; on the contrary, but because the disciple's condition requires a priority relationship with the master." And the "disciple," he added off the cuff, is "a priest, a religious, but also a layman, a laywoman."

"One could almost paraphrase the Book of Genesis: ‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and joins Jesus Christ, and the two become one body’ (cf. Gen 2:24)."

"Those who let themselves be attracted to this bond of love and life with the Lord Jesus,” Francis went on to say, “become his representative, his ‘ambassador’, especially with respect to the way of being, of living. To the point that Jesus himself, sending the disciples on a mission, told them: ‘Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me’ (Mt 10,40). People need to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly 'the Lord', he is truly the centre, the whole of life. It does not matter if, like every human person, he has his limits and even his mistakes – provided he has the humility of acknowledging them. The important thing is that he doesn’t have a duplicitous heart, but has instead a simple, united one, that he does not hold his foot in two shoes, but is honest with himself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian. This is reason Jesus prays to the Father that his disciples may not become prey to the world."

“In this case, our priestly experience teaches us something very beautiful and important. It is precisely this reception of the holy faithful people of God, precisely the ‘cup of cold water’ (see. 42) given with affectionate faith that helps us to be good priests! There is reciprocity also in the mission. If one leaves everything for Jesus, people will recognise the Lord in you, but at the same time this helps you to convert to Him every day, to renew and purify yourself from compromises and overcome temptations."

"The Virgin Mary experienced firsthand what it means to love Jesus by detaching herself from herself, by giving a new meaning to family ties, starting with faith in Him. Through her maternal intercession, may she help us be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel."

Right after the Angelus, Francis called for prayers on behalf of Venezuela. The country is going through an economic and political crisis to which President Nicolas Maduro has responded by cracking down on opposition and civil society with its trail of deaths, especially among young people.

Before reciting the Hail Mary with the faithful in the square, the pope said: "Dear Brothers and Sisters, 5 July is Venezuela’s Independence Day. I offer my prayers for this beloved nation and I express my closeness to the families who have lost their children in the streets. I call for end to violence and for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis. May Our Lady of Coromoto intercede for Venezuela!"