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Pope Francis Santa Marta Mass Compassion


Pope Francis   17.09.09   Holy Mass, Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)     Luke 7: 11-17
Pope Francis 17.09.19 Santa Marta

Compassion is like "the lens of the heart" that makes us understand the dimensions of reality, it is also the language of God, whereas so often human language is indifference.

Open your hearts to compassion and do not to close yourselves in indifference. Compassion, in fact, takes us on the path of true justice, thus saving us from closure in ourselves. 

Luke's Gospel of today's liturgy (Luke 7: 11-17) tells of Jesus’ encounter with a widow in the city of Nain who is mourning the death of her only son as he taken to the grave. The evangelist does not say that Jesus had compassion but that "the Lord was moved with compassion," as if he had been overwhelmed with the sentiment.

There was the crowd that followed him, there were the people accompanying that woman but Jesus sees his reality: she is alone, she is a widow, she has lost her only child. It is compassion, in fact, that makes us understand reality deeply.

Compassion allows you to see reality; compassion is like the lens of the heart: it really makes us to take in and understand the true dimensions. In the Gospels, Jesus is often moved by compassion. And compassion is also God's language.

Compassion makes its appearance in the Bible long before the arrival of Christ: it was God who said to Moses, "I have witnessed the pain of my people," and it is thanks to the compassion of God that He sends Moses to save the people.

Our God is a God of compassion, and compassion - we can say – is the weakness of God, but also His strength. It was compassion that moved Him to send His son to us. Compassion is the language of God. 

Compassion is not a feeling of pity, a sentiment one would feel for example when seeing a dog die on the road. But it is getting involved in the problems of others.

In the parable of the multiplication of the loaves Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowd that followed him, whereas they wanted to dismiss those present and send them off to buy something to eat themselves. The disciples were prudent. I believe that at that moment Jesus was angry, in his heart, considering the answer "Give them food!" His invitation is to take charge of the people, without thinking that after a day or so they could go to the villages to buy bread.

The Lord had compassion because he saw these people as sheep without a shepherd. The Gospel speaks, on the one hand, of Jesus’ gesture of compassion, and on the other of the selfish attitude of the disciples who seek a solution without compromise, who do not get their hands dirty, as if to leave these people to get on with it:

If compassion is the language of God, so often human language is that of indifference.

One of our photographers, from the Roman Observer, took a picture that is now in the Hemosineria, which is called "Indifference". I've talked about this before. One winter night, in front of a luxury restaurant, a lady who lives on the street reaches out to another well dressed lady who comes out from the restaurant, and this other lady looks the other way. That is indifference. Go and look at that photograph: this is indifference. Our indifference. 

We must ask ourselves "How many times do we look away...?" By doing so we close the door to compassion. Can we examine our conscience and ask ourselves "Do I habitually look somewhere else? Or do I let the Holy Spirit lead me on the path of compassion? That it is a virtue of God.

I am touched by the words from todays Gospel when Jesus says to this mother "Do not weep". A caress of compassion. Jesus touches the coffin, telling the young man to stand up. Then, the young man sits down and starts talking. "And Jesus returned him to his mother."

He returned him: an act of justice. This word is used in justice: to give back.

Compassion takes us along the path to true justice. We must always return what rightfully belongs to someone else, and this always saves us from selfishness, from indifference, from self-closure. Let us continue with this word: "The Lord was taken with great compassion". May He also have compassion for each of us: We need it.