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IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK BREAKING FORTH 10: REMEDYING THE INJUSTICES

Day 10: Remedying the Injustice
By Elizabeth Nawrocki

Before spending three years as an undergrad in West Virginia, I gave no thought to the origins of the energy I consumed. I was taught to turn off the lights or TV when they weren’t in use, but I assumed this was to save money on our electric bill.  Because of that small action, I thought I had “green living” figured out. What I had never put together before my work with the Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University was the fact that the energy I consumed came from somewhere, with individuals, societies, and Earth paying a toll higher than the electric bill I had saved on.

Today’s Gospel seems to echo this movement from ignorance to awareness to compassion. Just not killing each other is apparently not enough; Jesus challenges us all to go beyond, to break forth. We’ve heard it said that we should recycle, but we must go further, reducing our consumption and plastic use. If we continue to over-consume but justify it because we recycle, we are no better than when we justify our anger because we aren’t murderers.

Reduce consumption and waste, especially single-use items (coffee cups, take-out containers).  Beyond that, reduce your use of the term “natural resources” as if the worth of creation depends on its human-assigned value. Reduce energy consumption (energy fasts each week, charge your phone every other day and not overnight). Beyond that, learn about the environmental, health, and economic tolls fossil fuel extraction industries have on entire communities in order to provide you the energy you use.

To be in right relationship we need to change external behaviors and internal attitudes. The Gospel challenge is to see how our individual, seemingly insignificant actions contribute to the structures and systems of injustice. We may not be removing mountaintops to get to the coal seams ourselves, but our demand and constant energy use plays no insignificant role.

Remedying these injustices is essential to our participation in the body of Christ. We need to stop, turn around, and fix those relationships that are broken before we bring our gifts to the altar.

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IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK: BREAKING FORTH 9

Day 9: We Lead By Example
By Kevin Tuerff

It’s hard to step up and be a leader. Often, I’ve found myself thinking, “Someone should do something about _______________ (fill in the blank: e.g. climate change, immigration, etc.) Peter tells us today, “Be examples to the flock,” because through our actions in service to others, we lead by example.

In October 2016, at age 50, I had my first experience with Ignatian contemplative prayer at the Jesuit Center for Spiritual Growth in Wernersville, PA. I attended an 8-day silent retreat (I mistakenly thought the silent part was optional). In my prayer and meditation, I saw a vision with a white board, and letters which appeared one-at-a-time—i-m-m-i-g-r-a-n-t—and then disappeared. As a 30-year environmentalist, immigration issues weren’t really on my radar. But hateful rhetoric about migrants and refugees was on the rise.

Following the lessons I learned through contemplative prayer, I became a volunteer as a compassion advocate for strangers—immigrants and refugees.

I moved from Austin, Texas to New York City because I felt a calling to be a member of the Church of St. Francis Xavier. It hit me when I arrived for Mass as a visitor, and saw a giant “Immigrants and Refugees Welcome” banner hanging from the fence.

I’m now part of the parish prison ministry to asylum seekers. The detainee waits (often alone) for several months for a court hearing at an immigration detention center. It’s something I wouldn’t normally do because I don’t have much issue expertise, but now my heart is so full when I visit my assigned detainee. I’m this one man’s first friend in America, demonstrating to him (he’s originally from a “s***hole country”) a different narrative than the one coming from Washington, DC.

This Lent, you can be an example to the flock. Speak up for migrants and refugees at home, work, or school. Contact your legislator, or join an immigrant advocacy organization.

“I was a stranger, and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35)

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IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK: 8: HOW MANY SIGNS?

Day 8: How Many Signs?
By Kelly Swan

“How many signs does our country need before we do something?”

The homily at Mass Sunday morning was, in part, about the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

My twelve-year-old was an altar server that morning, and she has a very expressive face. I knew as soon as the homily began that I had misstepped in not thoroughly explaining what had happened the previous Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School prior to Mass.

So, on Sunday evening, the vibrant chaos of the day with younger siblings had faded away and we were in the car on our way to the theater for a performance in downtown Cleveland. I had to explain the unthinkable to my twelve-year-old.

She was quite young when one of the other most deadly school shootings occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. She doesn’t remember that, but I do. She was six—the same age as those children who were killed.

Somehow, between Wednesday and Sunday, she’d also caught wind of the Sandy Hook tragedy, and asked me about the first graders who were killed.

Anxious, stunned, angry—she asked: “well, how many signs does our country need before we do something?”

How many signs, indeed.

Isn’t 26 enough? Or even 17?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls out the Pharisees and Scribes for their continuous demands for a sign from him, proof that he was the Son of God, because the signs and miracles he was providing were not enough.

It is easy to see the Pharisees and Scribes in our society today. What sign will we need as proof that change is required to build a society that more closely resembles the Kingdom of God—where our most vulnerable members are protected, where personal liberty does not trump the safety of children?

There are powerful voices from the generation coming of age today—a generation that has lost or feared for their own or their peers’ lives—asking “well, how many signs does our country need before we do something?”

May we, like the king of Nineveh, heed the blatant signs.

IGNATIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORK 7: SOCIAL JUSTICE BABBLERS?

Day 7: Are We Social Justice Babblers?
By Garrett Gundlach, S.J.

Mní wichoni … Water is life!

Ningun ser humano es ilegal … No human being is illegal!

Many of us know who and what we stand for in this world; I not only wear mine on buttons, shirts, and bumper stickers but pray for it at Mass or in nighttime prayers. We are very good at talking the talk of solidarity, of racial and social justice.

We say who and what we stand for, but the readings today give us a first challenge: How often, how concretely do we walk the talk as advocates, activists, and lovers? God’s word in Isaiah is active, watering the earth, sowing seed and feeding needs: how wholly does our word become real, world-nourishing activity?

We say who and what we stand for, but the readings today give us a second challenge: Do we risk joining God in this work? Jesus’ prayer today is a dangerous one, the Our Father a bold call to action. Do we truly want to co-work for God’s will to be done, the hard work of forgiveness and deliverance, fed only by a daily bread? Are we willing to be led and delivered, to lead and deliver our world from ingrained evils?

The prophets Isaiah and Jesus push us today, calling us out of the trenches our slogans can dig, calling us onto the front lines—the front lines of recommitment to daily action.

Are we social justice babblers or are we supporting actresses and actors?

Dear God, renew our courage to break forth from our routines; may our prayers and slogans be not ends in themselves, but reminders of the work we have done and must continue to do, together, with one another and with You, God, who challenge, nourish and lead us. Amen! Let it be so!

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FRANCIS TO THE BISHOPS OF CHILE, ON THE LAITY AND CLERICALISM

      

Francis Speeches 2018 January

DE  – EN  – ES  – FR  – IT  – PL  – PT ]

APOSTOLIC JOURNEY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO CHILE AND PERU 
(15-22 JANUARY 2018)

MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS

GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER

Santiago Cathedral Sacristy
Tuesday, 16 January 2018

[Multimedia]

 

 

Dear Brothers:

I thank you for the greeting that the President of the Conference has offered to me in the name of all present.

Before all else, I would like to greet Bishop Bernardino Piñero Carvallo, who this year celebrates his sixtieth anniversary of episcopal ordination – he is the oldest bishop in the world, not only in age but also in years of episcopate – who was present for four sessions of the Second Vatican Council.  A marvellous living memory.

Soon a year will have passed since your ad limina visit.  Now it is my turn to come and visit you.  I am pleased that our meeting follows that with our consecrated men and women, for one of our principal tasks is precisely to be close to consecrated life and to our priests.  If the shepherd wanders off, the sheep too will stray and fall prey to any wolf that comes along.  The fatherhood of the bishop with his priests, with his presbyterate!  A fatherhood that neither paternalism nor authoritarianism, but a gift to be sought.  Stay close to your priests, like Saint Joseph, with a fatherhood that helps them to grow and to develop the charisms that the Holy Spirit has wished to pour out upon your respective presbyterates.

I know that ours was meant to be a brief meeting, since we already discussed a great deal in the two extensive sessions we had during the ad limina visit.  But I would like to reiterate some of the points I made during our meeting in Rome.  I can sum them up in the following phrase: the consciousness of being a people, of being the People of God.

One of the problems facing our societies today is the sense of being orphaned, of not belonging to anyone.  This “postmodern” feeling can seep into us and into our clergy.  We begin to think that we belong to no one; we forget that we are part of God’s holy and faithful people and that the Church is not, nor will it ever be, an élite of consecrated men and women, priests and bishops.  Without this consciousness of being a people, we are not able to sustain our life, our vocation and our ministry.  To forget this – as I said to the Commission for Latin America – “carries many risks and distortions in our own experience, as individuals and in community, of the ministry that the Church has entrusted to us”.[1]  The lack of consciousness of belonging to God’s faithful people as servants, and not masters, can lead us to one of the temptations that is most damaging to the missionary outreach that we are called to promote: clericalism, which ends up as a caricature of the vocation we have received.

A failure to realize that the mission belongs to the entire Church, and not to the individual priest or bishop, limits the horizon, and even worse, stifles all the initiatives that the Spirit may be awakening in our midst.  Let us be clear about this.  The laypersons are not our peons, or our employees.  They don’t have to parrot back whatever we say.  “Clericalism, far from giving impetus to various contributions and proposals, gradually extinguishes the prophetic flame to which the entire Church is called to bear witness.  Clericalism forgets that the visibility and the sacramentality of the Church belong to all the faithful people of God (cf. Lumen Gentium, 9-14), not only to the few chosen and enlightened”.[2]

Let us be on guard, please, against this temptation, especially in seminaries and throughout the process of formation.  I must confess, I am concerned about the formation of seminarians, that they be pastors at the service of the People of God; as a pastor should be, through the means of doctrine, discipline, the sacraments, by being close to the people, through works of charity, but also with the awareness that they are the People of God.  Seminaries must stress that future priests be capable of serving God’s holy and faithful people, acknowledging the diversity of cultures and renouncing the temptation to any form of clericalism.  The priest is a minister of Jesus Christ: Jesus is the protagonist who makes himself present in the entire people of God.   Tomorrow’s priests must be trained with a view to the future, since their ministry will be carried out in a secularized world.  This in turn demands that we pastors discern how best to prepare them for carrying out their mission in these concrete circumstances and not in our “ideal worlds or situations”.   Their mission is carried out in fraternal unity with the whole People of God.  Side by side, supporting and encouraging the laity in a climate of discernment and synodality, two of the essential features of the priest of tomorrow.  Let us say no to clericalism and to ideal worlds that are only part of our thinking, but touch the life of no one.

And in this regard, to implore from the Holy Spirit the gift of dreaming.  Please do not stop dreaming, dreaming and working for a missionary and prophetic option capable of transforming everything, so that our customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and ecclesial structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of Chile rather than for ecclesiastical self-preservation.  Let us not be afraid to strip ourselves of everything that separates us from the missionary mandate.[3]

Dear brothers, this is the summary I wanted to offer you from our discussions during the ad limina visit.  Let us commend ourselves to the protection of Mary, Mother of Chile.  Let us pray together for our presbyterates and for our consecrated men and women.  Let us pray for God’s holy and faithful people, of which we are a part.  Thank you!

 

[1] Letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (21 March 2016).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 27.

 

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POPE FRANCIS: THE CHURCH IS NOT FOR THE LUKEWARM

POPE FRANCIS

MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

The Church is not for the lukewarm

Tuesday, 23 May

 

(by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 24, 16 June  2017)

 

The Church ought not ever to be “lukewarm” and is called, as is every single Christian, to a journey of “daily conversion”. It is important to be attentive and not to become comfortable within a “tranquil” or “worldly” state, but rather to be always open to “the joyful proclamation that Jesus is Lord”. As an example, the Pope recalled Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero during Mass on Tuesday, 23 May, the second anniversary of the latter’s beatification.

The Holy Father began his homily by returning to the day’s first reading (Acts 16:22-34) and, while explaining that this was the final part of a broader discourse, he summarized the entire passage. It is a crucial moment in the preaching of Paul and Silas who, having arrived at the city of Philippi, found “a slave who was a soothsayer” and who, as a result, earned a lot of money for her masters. This woman, seeing that the two were “going to pray”, began to cry out: “These are the servants of God!”. Apparently, the Pope noted, this was a type of “praise”. But her words, repeated “for many days”, brought about a certain consequence. We read in the Acts, in fact, that “Paul was annoyed”. The Apostle, the Holy Father explained, “had the spirit of discernment and knew that this woman was possessed by an evil spirit”, so “he turned to her” and “cast out the evil spirit”. The immediate consequence was that “this woman, this slave, could no longer practice magic and her masters saw that their earnings had disappeared — they had been earning a lot — and so they seized Paul and Silas and took them to the rulers”. A series of accusations began. And here, the day’s passage indicates that “the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. Having received this charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks”.

At this point, however, the Pope said that “God intervened” and thus, at “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them”; there was “a great earthquake … and all the doors were opened”. With this exceptional occurrence, the jailer, fearing that the prisoners had escaped, was about to kill himself because, according to “the law of the time”, when prisoners escaped, the jailer was held responsible.

But “Paul cried with a loud voice: ‘Do not harm yourself, for we are all here’. And that man did not understand: ‘How can this have happened? That these delinquents, instead of taking the opportunity to escape, are still here?’”. The jailer recognized that “something very strange” had occurred, “and that this was some sign from God; including the earthquake, the opened doors and also that not one of them had escaped”. He rushed in “and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas and brought them outside and said: ‘Men, what must I do to be saved?’”. Evidently, Pope Francis noted, this was “a man whose heart was touched by the Spirit”. The two men responded: “‘Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household. And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family. Then he brought them up into his house, and set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household’; they celebrated this grace”. This, the Pope said, concluding the narrative, is “a beautiful story that makes us think”.

From here he pointed out how, above all in the present incident, we meet with a type of “transition”. It starts, in fact, from “a situation of calm preaching where Paul and Silas should have been pleased with the fact that this slave who had quite a lot of authority, this sorceress, this soothsayer, said that they were men of God”. The fact is that that “was not in truth”. And “Why?”, the Holy Father asked. “Because Paul”, the Pope responded, “moved by the Spirit, understood that that was not the Church of Christ, that that was not the way of conversion for that city, that everyone would remain calm, that there were no conversions. Yes, all accepted the doctrine: ‘How lovely, how beautiful, we are all fine’”.

This situation, the Pope emphasized, “repeats” many times “in the history of salvation”: in fact, “when the People of God were calm, or at the service of worldliness”; but when they served “worldliness and they were lukewarm”, the Lord “sent prophets”. Furthermore: “the same thing happened to the prophets as happened to Paul: they were persecuted, beaten. Why? Because they were causing trouble”. This is exactly what Paul did, “the man of discernment”, understood that the spirit possessed the sorceress, that “it was a spirit of tepidness, that it was making the Church lukewarm”. And “thus, he understood the deceit and he cast out the evil spirit. And the truth came out”.

This dynamic, the Holy Father said, occurs even today in the Church: “when someone denounces various mundane ways, he is regarded with a strange look; this man is strange, better to keep clear of him”. And the Pope added: “I recall in my own country many, many men and women, fine consecrated people, not ideologues, but who would say: ‘No, the Church of Jesus is like this…’, and some people said of them: ‘he’s a communist, throw him out!’. And they would cast them out; they would persecute them. Just think of Blessed Romero”. And this happened to “many, many people in the history of the Church, even here in Europe”.

This is explained by the fact that “the evil spirit prefers a calm Church without risks, a Church of business, a comfortable Church, comfortably tepid, lukewarm”.

To better understand this reasoning, the Pope recalled two words found in the day’s Scripture passage, one “at the beginning of the story” and one “at the end”. If one reads carefully, in fact, one can see that “the masters of this woman, this slave, this sorceress, were angry because they had lost their ability to earn money”. And so the first word: “money”. In fact “the evil spirit always enters through the pocket” and, the Holy Father suggested, “when the Church is lukewarm, calm, all organized, when there are no problems, look immediately to where there is business”.

There is then a second word that emerges towards the end of the passage: “joy”. In fact we read that the jailer, after being baptized, “set food before them; and he rejoiced with all his household that he had believed in God”. Thus, “the way of our daily conversion”, Pope Francis said, is “to pass from a worldly way of life, calm, without risks, Catholic, yes, yes, but so lukewarm, to a state of life in the true proclamation of Jesus, to the joy of proclaiming Christ; to pass from a religiosity which looks too much at earnings, to [the way of] faith and to proclaiming: ‘Jesus is Lord’”. And this, Francis added, “is the miracle which the Holy Spirit works”.

Therefore, the Pope suggested a re-reading of chapter 16 of the Acts of the Apostles so as to better understand “this journey” and also how “the Lord with his witnesses, with his martyrs, moved the Church forward”. We must recognize that “a Church without martyrs creates doubt; a Church which does not risk creates doubt; a Church which is afraid to proclaim Jesus Christ and to cast out demons, idols, the other lord, which is money, is not the Church of Jesus”.

Concluding his meditation, Francis recalled that, in the liturgy of the day, there was a prayer in which we thank “the Lord for the renewed youthfulness which Jesus gives us”. Even the Church of Philippi, he said, “was renewed and became a young Church”. We ought then to pray until “we all have this: a renewed youthfulness, a conversion from a lukewarm way of living to the joyful proclamation that Jesus is Lord”.

 

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POPE FRANCIS: THE RISK OF GIVING MERCY

POPE FRANCIS

MORNING MEDITATION IN THE CHAPEL OF THE
DOMUS SANCTAE MARTHAE

The risk of giving mercy

Monday, 5 June

 

(by L’Osservatore Romano, Weekly ed. in English, n. 26, 30 June 2017)

 

In giving safe haven to persecuted Jews during the second World War, Pius xii offered an example of how to perform acts of mercy: through sharing, feeling compassion for another person’s suffering, taking personal risks, without fear of derision or misunderstandings. At Mass at Santa Marta on Monday, 5 June, Pope Francis held up his predecessor as a courageous model of mercy for Christians to follow. He also urged the faithful to examine their conscience and to rediscover and to put into practice “the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy”.

For his reflection, Francis began with the day’s first reading, taken from the Book of Tobit (1:3; 2:1-8). It presents “an entire story, but today it speaks to us about what Tobit was like — Tobit, Tobias’ father — what his life of faith was like: a man of belief”. Perhaps “it may seem at first that he boasts a bit”, the Pope noted, “but no, it is not so”.

Simply put, “it is a story with some bad moments and at the end there is a message”. And “today this passage speaks to us of Tobit’s testimony, that merciful witness”. Tobit, Francis continued, “performs works of mercy”. The text in fact, reads: “I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life, and I performed many acts of charity to my brethren and countrymen who went with me into the land of Assyria, to Nineveh” — because he had been a prisoner, a slave in Nineveh, the Pope noted.

In short, Tobit was “a wealthy man, but he was generous”, the Pontiff said. “During the feast of Pentecost he had a good dinner prepared, and before sitting down at the table he told his son to go out and look for a poor Jewish brother and to invite him to dinner; he performed a work of mercy”. And then, the Pope continued, “the son came — he was happy; it was a day of celebration — and said that they had killed a Jewish brother”. Immediately Tobit “got up, left the dinner intact, then went to the square, removed the man from the square and carried him to a room, waiting for sunset to bury him”. And in the end, the passage reads: “When I returned I washed myself”, Tobit says, “and ate my food in sorrow”.

Tobit has therefore put into practice “a work of mercy, one of the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy”, Francis explained. And “in the list of the works of mercy that the Church gives us, this is the last one: praying to God for the living and the dead, and therefore also to bury the dead”. For this very reason, the Pope observed, “I would like to speak today about the works of mercy”.

“A work of mercy”, he explained, “means not only sharing what I have”. Of course, “this is very important, and Tobit shared his money, because he was rich and gave alms”. But “he also shared friendship: he invited the poor to dinner”. Therefore, the Pontiff cautioned, it is not enough simply “to share, but to feel compassion, that is: to suffer with those who suffer”.

Moreover, he pointed out, “a work of mercy is not something to alleviate the conscience: a good work so I am more at ease, I take a load off my back. No!”. Performing a work of mercy also means “feeling the pain of others”, because “sharing and compassion go together”. Therefore, “merciful is he who knows how to share and also to feel compassion for other people’s problems”.

And here, Francis suggested a series of questions for an examination of conscience: “Do I know how to share? Am I generous? When I see a person who is suffering, who is in trouble, do I also suffer? Do I know how to put myself in the shoes of others, in situations of suffering?”. The words of Tobit are eloquent: “I ate with sorrow”. They accurately express the idea of “sharing and feeling compassion. This is the first characteristic, the first way, the first consequence of a work of mercy: I share, I feel compassion”.

“But then there is another thing”, the Pope stressed. In fact, he emphasized that “performing works of mercy sometimes means taking risks”. To illustrate his point, the Pope again turned to the day’s reading from the Book of Tobit. “My neighbors laughed at me and said, ‘He is no longer afraid that he will be put to death for doing this; he once ran away, and here he is burying the dead again!’”.

Thus, Francis noted, “one often takes risks” in order to perform a work of mercy . “Let us think about Rome in the midst of war: about those who took risks, beginning with Pius xii, to hide Jews, so that they were not killed, so that they would not be deported. They risked their lives! But it was a work of mercy, to save those people’s lives!”. That is why one must also “take risks”.

In this reflection on what it takes to perform authentic works of mercy, the Pontiff also indicated the possibility that “at times”, a well-intentioned person may end up “becoming an object of mockery”. This is the case with Tobit, who states: “my neighbors laughed at me”. Perhaps they called him “crazy” and looked at him askew for continuing to do these gestures for others, despite being “persecuted”. As if to say that Tobit “does not know how to live well…”.

But Tobit’s story, the Pope affirmed, indicates for us the “three characteristics”, the “three features of the works of mercy”: sharing and feeling compassion for others, taking risks and being prepared to face derision. Tobit, continued the Pope, “is not like the rich man clothed in purple whom Jesus speaks about in the Gospel, who feasted and ignored poor Lazarus who was starving at the door of his palace; he knew he was there, but ignored him”. Tobit, on the other hand, knows how “to share and feel compassion”. And he also is willing “to take risks: one always takes risks and, as I have said, at times the risks are ugly”. Moreover, we must “know that if we perform works of mercy, someone might say, ‘this man is crazy, this woman is crazy: instead of being calm, comfortable at home, he or she goes to the hospital, goes here, goes there…’”.

“Works of mercy”, said the Pontiff, “are the way to find mercy”. He explained: “In the Beatitudes, Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’”. Moreover, the Pope added, he “who is capable of performing a work of mercy does so because he knows that he has received mercy before: it was the Lord who had mercy on him”. And “if we do these things, it is because the Lord has had pity on us: let us think about our sins, our mistakes, and how the Lord has forgiven us, has forgiven us for everything; he has had this mercy”. Therefore, the Pope recommended, “let us at least do the same for our brothers and sisters”. This is the essence of “the works of mercy”.

“I would like to add another thing”, Francis continued, “that is not explicit but implicit in the passage we have read: works of mercy, performing works of mercy, is inconvenient”. One might think, “I have a sick friend, I would like to visit him or her, but I am not in the mood; I prefer to rest, or watch tv, in peace…”. Because “performing works of mercy means always being subjected to inconvenience”. This sort of work “is discomforting, but the Lord suffered discomfort for us: he went to the cross, to give us mercy”.

In conclusion, the Pontiff called for reflection “today on the works of mercy”. And above all, he suggested, “let us remember them: there are 14, seven corporal and seven spiritual” works of mercy. And with a smile, he reassured those in the chapel at Santa Marta: “I will not ask here: ‘Who knows what the works of mercy are, raise your hand’; I won’t ask it, because I’m afraid only a few hands would be raised”. But the Pope recommended that the faithful not miss the opportunity to find ways to perform the works of mercy: of course, by remembering “what they are”, but also by asking themselves, “‘Do I do this? Do I know how to share, do I know how to feel compassion? Do I take risks? Do I accept inconvenience in order to perform a work of mercy?’”.

This is an important matter, the Pope added, because “the works of mercy are what rid us of selfishness and lead us to imitate Jesus more closely”. And it does not matter if “someone might make fun of us and say, ‘this person is crazy, the things he does instead of being comfortable…’”. It is not important, said Francis, “let it go”. But “today let us take some time — it will be good for us all — to think about the works of mercy and to ask ourselves: Do I do this?”.

 

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