Pope at Angelus: ‘Reach out to the suffering with actions, not words’

By Lisa Zengarini
Pope Francis is seen during the Sunday Angelus in St Peter's Square on Sunday 17 September 2023. Image: Diocese of Parramatta

“Love needs concreteness, presence, encounter, time, and space offered gratuitously” Pope Francis said at the Angelus on Sunday. “It cannot be reduced to nice words, images on a screen, selfies of a moment, or hasty messages.”

As the Church observes the 32nd World Day of the Sick , on 11 February, the Holy Father remembered that today’s Gospel on the healing of the leper (Mk 1:40-45), offers us an example of “Jesus’ style” with those who suffer: “Few words and concrete actions.”

Jesus speaks little and promptly follows his words with actions

The Pope recalled that we see Jesus behave like this several other times in the Gospel: when he heals the deaf and dumb (Mk 7:31-37), the paralyzed (Mk 2:1-12), and many other needy people (Mk 5): “He always does this: he speaks little and promptly follows his words with actions”, said the Pope.

“Jesus does not linger in speeches or interrogations, much less in pietism or sentimentality. He rather demonstrates the delicate modesty of one who listens attentively and acts promptly, preferably without drawing attention to himself.”

Pope Francis went on to note that we can meet this “wonderful way of loving” also in some people we encounter in our lives: “restrained in words but generous in action; reluctant to show off but ready to be helpful; effective in assisting because they are willing to listen. Friends to whom we can ask, ‘Will you help me?’”

We need concrete presence specially in today’s virtual world

This concreteness – the Pope remarked – is even more important today in a world  where “an evanescent virtuality of relationships seems to be increasingly prevalent.”

“Love cannot be reduced to nice words, images on a screen, selfies of a moment, or hasty messages. These are useful tools, but they are not enough for love; they cannot replace concrete presence.”

Listening and reaching out

Pope Francis, therefore invited the faithful to ask themselves if they are able to listen to people and make themselves available to meet their needs or, instead,  “make  excuses and hide behind abstract and useless words.”

“When was the last time I visited a lonely or sick person, or changed my plans to meet the needs of someone asking for help?”

Thanks to Vatican News.

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