Pope Francis creates 13 new Cardinals during an Ordinary Public Consistory in St Peter’s Basilica on the afternoon of Saturday 5 October, and reflects on the importance of being aware of God’s compassion.
“Compassion”: This was the keyword in Pope Francis’ homily during the Ordinary Public Consistory, celebrated in the Vatican before members of the College of Cardinals, and delegations from five continents.
“Compassion is a keyword in the Gospel,” he said. “It is forever written in the heart of God.”
Pope Francis went on to give examples of Jesus’ compassion for those who suffer. “The more we read, the more we contemplate,” he said, “the more we come to realise that the Lord’s compassion is not an occasional, sporadic emotion, but is steadfast and indeed seems to be the attitude of His heart.”
Jesus is compassion
Jesus, said the Pope, “incarnates God’s will to purify men and women afflicted by the scourge of sin; He is ‘the outstretched hand of God’, who touches our sickly flesh and accomplishes this work by bridging the chasm of separation.”
Jesus, continued the Pope, “goes out in search of the outcast, those without hope.” This compassion was always there in God, he added, “impressed on His Paternal heart.”
God’s love for His people is “drenched with compassion,” said Pope Francis, while, “sad to say, it appears that what is human is so often lacking in compassion.” Jesus’ disciples often lack compassion, explained the Pope. When faced with the problem of having to feed the crowds, they tell them to worry about it themselves. “This is a common attitude among us human beings,” the Pope continued. “There are always justifications; at times they are even codified and give rise to ‘institutional disregard’… which generates structures lacking compassion.”
Awareness of compassion
Pope Francis then addressed members of the College of Cardinals, and those about to become Cardinals, asking if they are conscious “of having been the object of God’s compassion… of always having been preceded and accompanied by His mercy.”
“Do we have a lively awareness of this compassion that God feels for us?”, he asked. “Unless I feel that I am the object of God’s compassion, I cannot understand His love,” stated the Pope. “If I don’t feel it, how can I share it, bear witness to it, bestow it on others?”
The ability to be loyal in our own ministry depends on this awareness, continued Pope Francis. “The readiness of a Cardinal to shed his own blood, as signified by the scarlet colour of your robes, is secure if it is rooted in this awareness of having been shown compassion and in the ability to show compassion in turn. Otherwise, one cannot be loyal,” he said.
“Many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion,” added the Pope, “and by the habit of averting one’s gaze, the habit of indifference.”
A compassionate heart
Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying for the grace of a compassionate heart, “in order to be witnesses of the One who has looked with favour upon us, who chose us, consecrated us, and sent us to bring to everyone His Gospel of salvation.”
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.