Pope: If we want to truly love God we must love people, especially those who suffer
Francis celebrated Mass to mark the 60th anniversary of Rome’s Gemelli Polyclinic, the hospital where he was admitted in July. “It is good for us, in the evening, to look back on the faces we have met, the smiles we have received, the good words.” Such “memories of love [. . .] help our memory [. . .] find itself again: May our memory find itself again.”
Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass at Rome’s Agostino Gemelli University Policlinic (pictured) to mark the hospital’s 60th anniversary. The pontiff, who was admitted to the hospital back in July, used the occasion to “renew his thanks for the care and the affection I have received here.”
Pope John Paul II too was hospitalised at the Gemelli a few times, so much so that he dubbed it Vatican III (the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo being Vatican II).
The Gemelli is the teaching hospital for the medical school of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart).
In his homily, Francis used the university’s name to speak about the Heart of Jesus as well as memory, passion and comfort, words suggested by the contemplation of the Heart of Jesus, in which Jesus offered himself, “the compendium of his mercy”.
“Closeness, compassion and tenderness” are part of “God’s style”, the pope noted. This suggests that “we must be passionate about humanity, about all humanity, especially those who live the condition in which the Heart of Jesus was manifested, that is, pain, abandonment and rejection; especially in this throwaway culture that we live in today.”
“Looking at it, [. . .] it comes naturally to us to remember his goodness, which is freely given, which can be neither bought nor sold; and unconditional, it does not depend on our actions, it is sovereign. And it is moving. In today’s haste, in the midst of a thousand errands and continuous worries, we are losing the capacity to be moved and to feel compassion, because we are losing this return to the heart, that is, this memory, this return to the heart. Without memory one loses one’s roots, and without roots, one does not grow. It is good for us to nurture the memory of who has loved us, cared for us, and lifted us up.”
“I believe that in this time of the pandemic it is good for us to remember even of the times we have suffered the most: not to make us sad, but so as not to forget, and to guide us in our choices in the light of a very recent past.”
Remembering is a good thing, “treasuring the faces we meet. I think of the tiring days in hospital, at university, at work. We run the risk that everything will pass without a trace, or that only fatigue and tiredness will remain. It is good for us, in the evening, to look back on the faces we have met, the smiles we have received, the good words.
Such “memories of love” can “help our memory to find itself again: May our memory find itself again. How important these memories are in hospitals! They can give meaning to a sick person’s day. A fraternal word, a smile, a caress on the face: these are memories that heal inside, they do the heart good. Let us not forget the therapy of remembering: it does so much good!
“Passion is the second word. Passion. The first is memory, remembering; the second is passion. The Heart of Christ is not a pious devotion, so as to feel a little warmth inside; it is not a tender image that arouses affection, no, it is not that. It is a passionate heart - just read the Gospel -, a heart wounded with love, torn open for us on the cross.”
“In its tenderness and pain, that Heart reveals, in short, what God’s passion is. What is it? Man, us. And what is God’s style? Closeness, compassion and tenderness. This is God’s style: closeness, compassion and tenderness.
“What does this suggest? That, if we really want to love God, we must be passionate about humanity, about all humanity, especially those who live the condition in which the Heart of Jesus was manifested, that is, pain, abandonment and rejection; especially in this throwaway culture that we live in today. When we serve those who suffer we console and rejoice in the Heart of Christ.”
“The third word is comfort. [. . .]. It indicates a strength that does not come from us, but from those who are with us: that is where strength comes from. Jesus, the God-with-us, gives us this strength, his Heart gives us courage in adversity. So many uncertainties frighten us: in this time of the pandemic, we have found ourselves to be smaller, more fragile. In spite of so many marvellous advances, this is also evident in the medical field: so many rare and unknown diseases!”
“The Heart of Jesus beats for us, always repeating those words: ‘Courage, courage, do not be afraid, I am here!’ Courage, sister, courage, brother, do not lose heart, the Lord your God is greater than your ills, He takes you by the hand and caresses you, He is close to you, He is compassionate, He is tender. He is your comfort.”
Finally, “[l]et us encourage ourselves with this certainty, with God’s comfort. And let us ask the Sacred Heart for the grace to be able to console in turn. It is a grace that must be asked for, as we courageously commit ourselves to opening up, helping one another, carrying one another’s burdens. It also applies to the future of health care, especially ‘Catholic’ health care: sharing, supporting each other, moving forward together.
“May Jesus open the hearts of those who care for the sick to collaboration and cohesion. To your Heart, Lord, we entrust our vocation to care: let us make every person who approaches us in need feel they are dear to us.”