Pope Francis warns that we can try to “use” God just as we “use” people.
Pope Francis is warning against the danger of seeking God only for our interests, just as we can use people “first and foremost [for] the satisfaction of our needs.”
We can thus in some sense exploit our faith, just as we exploit people, the Holy Father explained.
The Pope spoke of this in his reflection on the August 1 Gospel, from John 6.
[T]he Gospel teaches us that it is not enough to seek God; we must also ask why we are seeking him. Indeed, Jesus says: “You seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves” (v. 26). […]
Here then is a first question we can ask ourselves: Why do we seek the Lord? Why do I seek the Lord? What are the motivations for my faith, for our faith?
This temptation, the Pope explained, “drives us to seek God for our own use, to solve problems, to have, thanks to Him, what we cannot obtain on our own, for our interests.”
“At the centre of this immature faith is not God, but our own needs,” Francis said.
It is good to present our needs to God, he clarified, “but the Lord, who acts far beyond our expectations, wishes to live with us first of all in a relationship of love.”
And true love is disinterested, it is free: One does not love to receive a favour in return! This is self-interest; and very often in life we are motivated by self-interest.
Jesus will “purify our faith,” the Pope said. “We are not able to do this on our own. But the Lord wants a loving relationship with us: Before the things we receive and do, there is Him to love. There is a relationship with Him that goes beyond the logic of interest and calculation.”
The Holy Father noted how we can have the same temptation in our human relationships.
When we seek first and foremost the satisfaction of our needs, we risk using people and exploiting situations for our own ends. … And a society that puts interests instead of people at its centre is a society that does not generate life. The Gospel’s invitation is this: Rather than being concerned only with the material bread that feeds us, let us welcome Jesus as the bread of life and, starting out from our friendship with Him, learn to love each other. Freely and without calculation. Love given freely and without calculation, without using people, freely, with generosity, with magnanimity.
After praying the midday Angelus, the Pope joked about the weather:
I wish you all a good Sunday and a peaceful month of August… Too hot, but may it be peaceful! Please do not forget to pray for me.