The mercy of God works wonders….
Pope Francis expressed this at this morning’s General Audience in a sunny, chilly St. Peter’s Square, as he reminded faithful that we are to live out His mercy and not be indifferent.
Continuing his catechesis for the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Pope reflected on the corporal works of mercy of visiting the sick and imprisoned, noting that Jesus himself is our model in both.
Recalling the sentiments of loneliness which the sick often feel, Francis stressed that even a brief visit can make a sick person feel less alone.
“A little company is an optimum medicine! … A smile, a caress, a handshake are simple gestures, but so important for one who feels abandoned to himself,” Francis said, praising those who dedicate their time and lives to visiting the sick in hospitals and in their homes.
“It is a priceless work of volunteers. When it is done in the Lord’s name, then it also becomes an eloquent and effective expression of mercy,” the Pope said.
“Let us not leave the sick alone! Let us not impede them from finding relief, and us from being enriched by our closeness to those who suffer. Hospitals are real ‘cathedrals of pain,’ where, however, the strength of charity, which sustains and feels compassion, is rendered evident.”
Despite Wrongs, Remain Loved by God
By the same token, Francis noted his thoughts go to those imprisoned, who Jesus does not forget. They, he underscored, should remind us of how Jesus was captured and imprisoned before His Passion, and how the Apostles, including the great St. Paul, suffered this reality, too.
While acknowledging that prisoners often have made serious errors and justly are serving time for their mistake, the Pontiff noted: “But whatever one prisoner may have done, he still remains loved by God.”
“Who can enter in the depths of his conscience to understand what proof? Who can understand the pain and remorse?
“It is too easy,” Francis acknowledged, for others “to wash their hands,” saying, “He was wrong.”
“The lack of freedom is without a doubt one of the greatest deprivations for the human being. If to this, is added the degradation given the conditions often deprived of humanity, in which these individuals find themselves living, then it is truly the case in which a Christian feels stirred to do his utmost to restore to them their dignity.”
Mercy of God Works Wonders
Warning against the tendency of many to “point one’s finger at someone,” Francis reflected, ” we must instead be committed to being instruments of mercy, with attitudes of sharing and respect.”
“I often think of those in prison … I often think, I carry them in my heart. I wonder what led them to commit a crime and how they could succumb to different forms of evil. Yet, along with these thoughts I feel that they all require closeness and tenderness because the mercy of God works wonders.”
Francis recalled how many prisoners he has encountered weeping, because they felt welcomed and loved, and reminded those gathered, how even if the works of mercy have been around a long time, they are timeless.
“May we we not fall into indifference, but become instruments of God’s mercy,” Pope Francis concluded, urging that our acts of mercy can help “restore joy and dignity to those who have lost it.”
On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full Text of General Audience: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-on-visiting-the-sick-imprisoned/