Pope: More important than serving are listening and welcoming guests
Francis spoke today about Jesus’s visit to two sisters, Martha and Mary, one of whom was “busy” and the other was “contemplative”. The right attitude belongs to those who "value the most important thing, i.e. the presence of the guest, Jesus." After the Marian prayer, the pope turned his thoughts to the Nice massacre. “May God, the good Father, welcome all the victims into his peace, support the wounded and comfort the families. May he dissolve every project of terror and death, so that no one dares to spill his brother's blood.” He also greeted “the great Chinese brothers and sisters” in the square.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Guests “should not just be served, fed, and cared for in every way. They need to be heard, accepted as people, with their own story, and heart full of feelings and thoughts, so that they can really feel at home," said Pope Francis those who suffered in Nice. "May God welcome all the victims into his peace, support the wounded, and comfort the families."
Today's Gospel is about Jesus' visit to two sisters, Martha and Mary. "Both offered hospitality to the Lord, but they did so in different ways. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his words. Martha instead was totally taken by the things she had to prepare. At one point she told Jesus, " Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me. " Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
In her bustling, Francis added, "Martha might forget, and that's the problem. She might forget that the most important thing is the presence of the guest, Jesus. She forgot the presence of the guest. Guests should not just be served, fed, and cared for in every way. They need to be heard, accepted as people, with their own story, and heart full of feelings and thoughts, so that they can really feel at home. But if you welcome a guest in your house and keep doing your own thing, and he says nothing and you say nothing . . . as if he was the guest of stone. One needs to listen to the guest.”
For sure, "the reply Jesus gives Martha – when he says that there is only one thing that is needed – finds its full meaning in reference to listening to the words of Jesus himself, the word that enlightens and supports all that we are and do. If we are going to pray, for example, before the crucifix, and [instead just] talk, talk, and then go away, we do not listen to Jesus. Listening! That is the key word. Do not forget that Jesus’ words enlighten us. "
But "we must not forget that even in the house of Martha and Mary, Jesus, before he was Lord and Master, he was a pilgrim and a guest. Hence, his reply has this first and most immediate meaning: 'Martha, Martha, why are you doing so much for the guest that you forget his presence?' The stone guest. Not many things are needed to welcome him; indeed, only one thing is necessary: listen to him, the word is listen to him, show him a fraternal attitude so that he feels like he is in a home, not in a temporary shelter. "
Thus understood, "hospitality, which is one of the works of mercy, really looks like a human and Christian virtue, a virtue that in today's world is likely to be neglected. In fact, there are more and more nursing homes and hospices, but not always is real hospitality practiced in these places. Several institutions that cater to many forms of illness, loneliness, and marginalisation are created, but the chance for those who are foreigners, marginalised, or excluded to find someone willing to listen decreases. Because they are outsiders, refugees, or migrants . . . listen to that painful story ... Even in one’s own home, among family, it might be easier to find service and care than willingness to listen and welcome. "
Today "we are so frantically caught up by so many problems, some of which are not important, that we lack the ability to listen. We are constantly busy, and so we have no time to listen. Let me ask you, and each of you reply in your own heart: you husband, do you have time to listen to your wife? And you woman, do you have time to listen to your husband? You parents, do you have time to spare to listen to your children? Or you grandparents, the elderly? Old people always say so many things . . . But they need to be heard! I call on you to learn to listen and to spend more time listening. The ability to listen is the root of peace."
After the Angelus, the pope turned his thoughts to the Nice massacre. "The pain over the massacre is alive in our hearts, when last Thursday evening in Nice, so many innocent lives were mowed down, even many children. I am close to each family and the entire French nation in mourning. May God, the good Father, welcome all the victims into his peace, support the wounded and comfort the families. May he dissolve every project of terror and death, so that no one dares to spill his brother's blood. A paternal and fraternal hug goes to all the inhabitants of Nice and the whole French nation. Now let us all pray together, thinking about this massacre, the victims, and the families. Let us pray first in silence [this is followed by a moment of silence in the square, then the pope’s recitation of Hail Mary].
Immediately after the customary greetings to the pilgrims present, the pope saw "the great Chinese brothers and sisters. A big hello to you." Finally, he wished everyone "a good meal and a good Sunday. Please, do not forget to pray for me! ".