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Ramiro Pellitero, Professor of Theology

"Moving from indifference to meeting"

Fri, 16 Sep 2016 12:29:00 +0000 Posted in Religion Confidential

In one of his homilies in Santa Marta on Tuesday, September 13, Francis reflected once again on the culture of meeting. The meeting implies looking, touching, speaking.

"Often people cross paths, but do not meet." Before the funeral procession of a widow who is going to bury her only son, Jesus does not pass by, but moves to compassion. This is the first time that the Gospel speaks of Jesus' compassion. Later on, the evangelists record the compassion of Jesus before the crowd that follows him, as well as before the sisters of Lazarus, his friend who died. Now, before the widow of Nain, Jesus approaches the woman, really meets her and then performs the miracle.

Here the Pope perceives not only the tenderness but also the fruitfulness of a meeting. "Every meeting - he observes - is fruitful. Every meeting restores persons and things to their place".

Francis points out that we are accustomed to a culture of indifference, and we must work and ask for the grace to create a culture of meeting, of that fruitful meeting , of that meeting that restores to each person his or her dignity as a child of God. He adds that we have become accustomed to this indifference when we see the calamities of the world or other smaller things. Perhaps we think, "Oh, what a pity, poor people, how much they suffer," but we move on.  

The Pope proposes authentic encounters:

"If I don't look - it's not enough to see, no: you have to look - if I don't stop, if I don't look, if I don't touch, if I don't talk, I can't have a meeting and I can't help to create a culture of meeting".

As a fruit of this event, the gospel says that the people were overwhelmed and gave glory to God. And Francis offers us another core topic, profound and theological, to interpret this meeting:

"I also like to see here the everyday meeting between Jesus and his bride, the Church, who awaits his return." 

This is - the Pope points out - today's message: the meeting of Jesus with his people; the meeting of Jesus who serves, who financial aid, who is the servant, who lowers himself to help all those in need.

Jesus meets his people, for we are all - not only the homeless - in need; in need of the Word of Jesus, of meeting with Him, as are the people we love.   

As an example, Francis describes an ordinary scene of our present life: while at table, in the family, we often eat, watch television or write messages on our cell phones. Everyone is indifferent in this meeting. In other words, even in the nucleus of society, which is the family, there is no real meeting.

And he proposes that we work for the culture of meeting, as simply as Jesus did.

Not only see: look. Not only hear: listen. Not just cross: stop. Not only to say what a pity, poor people, but to let oneself be involved by compassion. "And then approach, touch and say", in the language that comes to each one at that moment, the language of the heart: "Do not cry, and give at least a drop of life".

All a symbol of easy and difficult attitudes, which in this Year of Mercy (which will conclude in two months) we can improve. But above all, we must ask for the grace to contribute to the culture of meeting.