Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 7. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Overcome indifference, build a culture of encounter

By  Vatican Radio
  • September 13, 2016

Pope Francis says "an encounter with Jesus overcomes our indifference" and warned against bad habits that, even within a family, prevent us from truly listening to others and empathising with them. The Pope’s comments came during his homily at Tuesday’s Mass celebrated at the Santa Marta residence.

Taking his inspiration from the gospel reading where Jesus brought back from the dead the only son of a widow, Pope Francis lamented that often when people meet each other, “each of them is thinking of themselves, they can see the other person but are not looking at him or her, they can hear that person but are not listening to him or her.”

“An encounter is something different. It is what today’s Gospel proclaims to us: an encounter; an encounter between a man and a woman, between an only living son and an only son who had died; among a joyful crowd because they had encountered Jesus and were following him and a group of people, weeping, accompanying that woman, who had come out from the gate of the city; an encounter between the exit gate and the entry gate. The sheep fold. An encounter that makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other.”

In the Gospel, the Pope continued, we read that Jesus “was moved with pity.” He pointed out that the pity felt by Christ is not the same as we have when going out in the streets, we see something sad (and say) ‘what a shame!’ Jesus doesn’t pass by, he is moved with pity. He goes up to the woman for a real encounter and then performs the miracle.

An encounter with Jesus overcomes indifference and restores dignity

In this gospel encounter, explained the Pope, we not only see his tenderness but also the fruitfulness of that encounter that restores people and things to their proper place.

“We are accustomed to a culture of indifference and we must strive and ask for the grace to create a culture of encounter, of a fruitful encounter, of an encounter that restores to each person his or her own dignity as a child of God, the dignity of a living person. We are accustomed to this indifference, when we see the disasters of this world or small things: ‘What a shame, poor people, look how they are suffering,’ and then we carry on. An encounter. And if I don’t look, it’s not enough to see, no, (we must) look – if I don’t stop, if I don’t look, if I don’t touch, if I don’t speak, I cannot have an encounter and I cannot help to build a culture of encounter.”

Within the family we must live a true encounter and at the table we must listen to each other

The message from today’s reading, said Pope Francis, stems from that encounter between Jesus and his people and we all are in need of his Word and need that encounter with Him.

“In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, do people watch the TV or write messages on their cell phones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter. Even within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter. May this help us to strive for this culture of encounter, just as simply as Jesus did so. Not just see but look. Not just hear but listen. Not just meet and pass by but stop. And don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity. And then draw near, touch and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment, the language of the heart: ‘Do not weep,’ and donate at the very least a drop of life.”

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