Sixteenth Sunday in the Liturgical Year

On Thursday, June 30, at the final Jubilee Audience before the summer break, Francis recalled his visit to Armenia and looked ahead to his trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan. In a globalized world where new forms of material and spiritual poverty are on the rise, Christians “are asked to be silent as sentinels in order to ensure that a poverty created by the culture of wellbeing” does not make them indifferent. The Pope said this during the course of the Extraordinary Jubilee Audience held just before the summer break, underlining that “works of mercy are not theory but concrete testimonies”. Francis also sent out an appeal for families suffering as a result of scares or precarious work. The Pope then recalled the recent visit to Armenia from Friday to Sunday last week and reminded faithful that in September he will be travelling back to the Caucasus region, this time to Georgia and Azerbaijan, to encourage “hope and paths of peace” amongst other things.

“How often, in the first few months of the Jubilee, have we heard about works of mercy!” the Pope started off by saying. “Today, the Lord asks us to seriously examine our conscience. We should never forget that mercy is not an abstract word but a life-style. It is one thing to talk about mercy and quite another to practice it.” What “makes mercy come alive, is the inexhaustible energy with which it meets the needs and requirements of the materially and spiritually disadvantaged. Mercy has eyes to see, ears to listen, hands to lift back up. Day-to-day life exposes us directly to the many needs of the most poor and tested people. We are asked to give this special attention, which alerts us to the suffering and neediness of so many brothers and sisters. Sometimes, we walk past dramatic situations of poverty, yet we seem not to be affected by them; everything goes on as normal, in a spirit of indifference that turns us into hypocrites and leads to a form of spiritual lethargy that numbs the soul and make sour life sterile. Those who live their lives without paying attention to the needs of others, without seeing the many spiritual and material needs of others, are people who walk past without living, people who do not serve others. Remember this carefully: those who do not live to serve, is of no use living.”

“Whoever has felt the Father’s mercy in his or her own life, cannot be indifferent to the needs of their brothers and sisters,” Francis continued. Jesus teaching, which we have heard, offers no way out: I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you visited Me. It is no good dithering around a hungry person: give him or her something to eat. The changes in our globalized world are causing some material and spiritual forms of poverty to grow: so let us give space to our imagination when it comes to charity, to discover new ways of operating. This way, the path of mercy will become will become increasingly concrete. We are therefore asked to be alert like sentinels, to prevent Christian care from dwindling and being unable to focus on what is essential in the face of poverty caused by a culture of wellbeing. What does it mean to focus on the essential?”

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