Receiving God’s mercy is not enough, we also have to be a “sign and instrument” of mercy for others, says Pope Francis. And “mercy is not reserved only for particular moments, but it embraces the whole of our daily existence.”
The Pope said this today during his address at the general audience, in which he continued his catechesis on the theme of mercy as the jubilee nears its end.
“How, then, can we be witnesses of mercy?” the Holy Father asked.
It’s nothing complicated, he answered, saying it’s about simple gestures that have great value in God’s eyes — “to the point that He said to us that it is on these that we will be judged.”
“Jesus says that every time we feed someone who is hungry and give drink to someone who is thirsty, that we clothe a naked person and receive a stranger, that we visit a sick or imprisoned person, we do it to Him,” the Pope said. “The Church has called these gestures ‘corporal works of mercy,’ because they help persons in their material needs.”
He continued: “There are, however, seven other works of mercy called ‘spiritual,’ which have to do with other equally important needs, especially today, because they touch the depth of persons and often make one suffer more.”
The Pope said future catecheses will consider these works of mercy, which have given “genuine witness of the faith” down through the centuries.
“In a world stricken, unfortunately, by the virus of indifference, the works of mercy are the best antidote,” he said. “In fact, they educate us to pay attention to the most elementary needs of our ‘least brothers.’”
“To recognize His face in that of one who is in need is a real challenge against indifference. It enables us to be always vigilant, avoiding Christ passing beside us without our recognizing Him.”
Francis cited St. Augustine’s phrase, “Timeo Iesum transeuntem,” saying “I wondered why Saint Augustine said he was afraid of Jesus’ passing. The answer, unfortunately, is in our behaviour, because we are often distracted, indifferent, and when the Lord passes close to us we lose the occasion of an encounter with Him.”
On ZENIT’s Web page: