Today, Pope Francis has given the last Jubilee audience in St Peter’s Square, before the summer break: Wednesday papal audiences will be suspended in July. This morning, before the usual crowd of faithful, Bergoglio has focused his catechesis on works of mercy. “How many times, during these first months of the Jubilee – has begun the Pope, who had come back “almost from the end of them world” – we have heard about works of mercy! Today, the Lord invites us to search our hearts thoroughly. Never forget that mercy is not an abstract word, it is a lifestyle. A person can be merciful or may not be merciful; it is a lifestyle. I choose to live mercifully or I choose to live unmercifully. One thing is to talk of mercy, another is to put mercy into practice.”
“To paraphrase the words of St. James the Apostle, we might say – Francis explains – that mercy without works is dead in itself. That’s true! What makes mercy alive is its constant dynamism to meet the needs of those in spiritual and material hardship. Mercy has eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to help the others back on their feet.” “Daily life allows us to come in contact with so many demands of the poorest and weary. We are asked to show the kind of attention that leads us to perceive the suffering and need of so many brothers and sisters. Sometimes we pass by cases of tragic poverty and it seems it does not affect us; everything continues as if nothing had happened, in indifference that eventually transforms us into hypocrites and, without us realizing it, leads to a form of spiritual lethargy that numbs the mind and makes our life sterile”.
Then, the Pope added off the cuff: “People passing by, going through life without noticing the needs of the others, without seeing many spiritual and material needs, are people who go on without living, people who do not need the others. Remember that, ok? Those who do not live to serve, do not serve to live.” Returning to the text, Bergoglio has exclaimed: “How multifaceted is God’s mercy toward us! Likewise, how many faces turn to us for mercy! Those who have experienced the mercy of God in their lives cannot remain indifferent before the needs of the saints. Jesus’ teaching we have heard does not allow escape routes: ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was naked, a stranger, sick, in prison and you visited me’. You cannot beat about the bush before a person who is hungry: (s)he needs to be fed. Jesus tells us that! The works of mercy are not theoretical issues, but concrete evidence. They compel us to roll up our sleeves and ease suffering.”
“Due to changes in our globalized world – the Pope links the text to present-day world -, certain types of material and spiritual poverty have multiplied: let us make room for the creativity of charity to find new ways. Thus, the way of mercy will become more and more concrete. We are asked to remain vigilant like sentinels, to avoid the look of the Christians to weaken and become incapable of focusing before the poverty produced by the culture of wellness”.
Then, he added off the cuff again: “Aim to essentials: what does it mean? Look at Jesus in the hungry, in prison, in the sick, in the naked, in those who do not have a job and need to feed a family. Look at Jesus in these brothers and sisters; look at Jesus in the lonely, sad, in those who make mistakes and need advice, in those who need someone walk with Him in silence, to feel in company. These are the works Jesus asks from us: look at Jesus in them, because that is the way Jesus in them, in these people, but why? Because that is how Jesus looks at me, at all of us.”