How many times, during these first months of the Jubilee, have we heard about the works of mercy! Today the Lord invites us to make a serious examination of conscience. Indeed, it is good to never forget that mercy is not an abstract word, but it is a way of life: a person can either be merciful or unmerciful; it is a lifestyle. I choose to live in a way that is merciful or I choose to live in a way that is unmerciful. It is one thing to speak of mercy, and it is another to live mercy. Paraphrasing the words of St James the Apostle (cf. 2:14-17), we could say: mercy without works is dead within itself. That’s it! What makes mercy come alive is its constant dynamism in order to go and meet those in need and the necessities of those in spiritual and material hardship. Mercy has eyes to see, ears to hear, hands to lift up again….
Daily life allows us to touch, with our hands, many demands that concern the poorest and most tested of people. We are asked for that particular attention that leads us to notice the state of suffering and need in which so many brothers and sisters find themselves. Sometimes we pass by situations of dramatic poverty and it seems that they do not touch us; everything continues as if it were nothing, into an indifference that eventually creates hypocrites and, without our realizing it, leads to a form of spiritual lethargy that numbs the soul and renders life barren. People who pass by, who move on in life without noticing the needs of others, without seeing many spiritual and material needs, are people who pass by without living, they are people who do not need others. Remember well: those who do not live to serve, do not serve to live.
There are so many aspects of God’s mercy toward us! In the same way, there are so many faces turned to us in order to obtain mercy. Those who have experienced in their own lives the Father’s mercy cannot remain indifferent before the needs of their brothers. The lesson of Jesus that 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, displaced, sick, in prison and you assisted me (Mt 25:35-36). You cannot stonewall a person who is hungry: he must be fed. Jesus tells us this! The works of mercy are not theoretical ideas, but concrete testimonies. They oblige us to roll up our sleeves to alleviate suffering.
Due to changes in our globalized world, certain material and spiritual forms of poverty have multiplied: let us give space, therefore, to the imaginings of charity so as to find new ways of working. In this way, the way of mercy will become more and more concrete. It is necessary therefore, that we remain as vigilant as watchmen, so that, when facing the poverty produced by the culture of wellbeing, the Christian gaze does not weaken and become incapable of focusing on what is essential. Focus on the essentials. What does this mean? To focus on Jesus, to see Jesus in the hungry, in prisoners, in the sick, the naked, in those who don’t have work and need to lead their family forward. To see Jesus in these people, our brothers and sisters; to see Jesus in those who are lonely, sad, in those who have made mistakes and need counsel, in those who need to walk with Him in silence so that they feel accompanied. These are the works that Jesus asks of us! To see Jesus in them, in these people. Why? Because this is the way Jesus sees me, sees all of us.
-Pope Francis, JUBILEE AUDIENCE, St Peter’s Square, Thursday, 30 June 2016