The Choice For Mercy
How many times, during these first months of the Jubilee, we have heard talk of the works of mercy! Today the Lord invites us to make a serious examination of conscience. In fact, it is good never to forget that mercy is not an abstract word, but a style of life: a person can be merciful or not merciful; it’s a style of life. I choose to be merciful or I choose not to be merciful. It is one thing to speak of mercy and another to live mercy. Paraphrasing the words of Saint James the Apostle, (cf. 2:14-17), we can say: mercy without works is dead in itself. It is in fact like this! What renders mercy alive is its constant dynamism in going to meet the needs and necessities of all those in spiritual and material hardship. Mercy has eyes to see, ears to listen, hands to resolve …
Daily life enables us to touch with our hand so many needs regarding the poorest and most tested persons. Requested of us is that particular attention that leads us to be aware of the state of suffering and need in which so many brothers and sisters are. Sometimes we pass before dramatic situations of poverty and it seems that they do not touch us; everything continues as if there were nothing, in an indifference that in the end renders us hypocrites and, without realizing it, it results in a form of spiritual lethargy, which renders our mind insensitive and our life sterile. People that pass by, who go forward in life without being aware of the needs of others, without seeing the many spiritual and material needs, are people that pass by without living, people that do not serve others. Remember <this> well: he who does not live to serve, does not serve to live.
How many aspects there are of God’s mercy to us! In the same way, how many faces turn to us to obtain mercy. One who has experienced the Father’s mercy in his own life cannot remain insensitive in face of the needs of brothers. The teaching of Jesus, which we just heard, does not allow ways out: I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was naked, a refugee, sick, in prison and you assisted me (cf. Matthew 25:35-36). One cannot beat about the bush in face of a person who is hungry: he must be given to eat. Jesus says this to us! The works of mercy are not theoretical subjects, but concrete testimonies. They oblige one to rollup one’s sleeves to alleviate suffering.
Because of the changes of our globalized world, some material and spiritual poverties have multiplied: hence let us make room for the imagination of charity to identify new operative ways. Thus the way of mercy will become ever more concrete. Requested of us, therefore, is to remain vigilant as watchmen, so that it will not happen that, in face of the poverties produced by the culture of wellbeing, the eyes of Christians are weakened and become incapable of looking at the essential. What does it mean to look at the essential? To look at Jesus, to look at Jesus in the hungry, the imprisoned, the sick, the naked, in the one who has no work and must lead his family forward. To look at Jesus in these brothers and sisters of ours; to look at Jesus in one who is alone, sad, in one who errs and is in need of counsel, in one who needs to walk with Him in silence, to feel he is in company. These are the works that Jesus asks of us! To look at Jesus in them, in these people. Why? Because that is how Jesus looks at me, <how He> looks at all of us.
Pope Francis — 8th Jubilee Audience on Mercy (June 30, 2016)