But the mercy of Jesus is not just sentiment: indeed it is a force that gives life, that raises man up! [This Sunday]’s Gospel tells us this as well, in the episode of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jesus, with his disciples, is just arrived in Nain, a village in Galilee, at the very moment in which a funeral is taking place. a boy is buried, the only son of a widow. Jesus’ gaze immediately fixes itself on the weeping mother. The evangelist Luke says: “Seeing her, the Lord was moved with great compassion for her (v. 13).” This “compassion” is the love of God for man, it is mercy, i.e. the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our poverty, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term “compassion” recalls the maternal viscera: a mother, in fact, experiences a reaction all her own, to the pain of her children. In this way does God love us, the Scripture says.
The Holy Father's message represents a challenge for us as Catholic Christians: how do we live out our faith so that it is not just a sentimental pastime, but something active and substantial?
So many people are 'turned off' by Christianity because they perceive it as a kind of insincere and even hypocritical Hallmark-Greeting-Card activity where we believers gather together every Sunday and congratulate one another for our holiness. While this is certainly a caricature, it is often sadly close to reality. The world does not need 'Ned Flanders' Christians; it needs the grit and bravery of the martyrs, the compassion of Mother Teresa and the peaceful love of St. Francis.
The world needs saints.
As Catholics, we read about the great saints in books and marvel at them in our artwork...but God is not calling us to reminisce about them or to pat ourselves on the back for being a member of the same Church as they were...He is calling us to become them.
May God give us the faith to trust in this call and put our faith into action in our lives.