By Gianni Valente
Francis had spoken about geographical peripheries and more importantly about existential peripheries, like the mystery of sin, pain, the lack of faith and “every form of misery”, in his address to fellow cardinals before the Conclave. In this morning’s mass at St. Martha’s House the Pope described what it means to show Christian kindness to those who are in so much pain that they curse the day they were born and hope to die. With the evangelical freedom that is typical of Francis’ speeches, the Pope managed to dodge the misleading diatribes about values which often make even the Catholic Church immune to the worst experiences of pain.
As usual, today’s homily was inspired by the readings of the day. The first was the story of Tobit and Sarah “Two just people who live dramatic situations. The first is blinded despite his performing good works, even risking his life, and the second marries seven men in turn, each of whom dies before their wedding night. Both, in their great sorrow, pray to God to let them die,” Vatican Radio quoted the Pope saying.
The Pope said that Tobit and Sarah’s wish to die could not be considered blasphemy. In some situations, lamenting one’s misfortunes before God is not a sin but a prayer. Even Job and the prophet Jeremiah cursed the day they were born. “The Lord hears, He listens to our complaints.”
The Pope explained how these biblical readings applied in today’s world, by mentioning three examples of people living in conditions of extreme suffering: malnourished children, refugees, the terminally ill. The worst thing a Christian can do is to look at those who suffer “as though they were an [abstract moral conundrum].” “I do not like it when people speak about tough situations in an academic and not a human manner, sometimes with statistics … and that’s it. In the Church there are many people in this situation,” the Pope said. When one looks at people’s suffering as a moral problem, they become closed and everything turns into an “intellectual game.”
What Pope Francis seems to be saying in his daily teachings at St. Martha’s House, is that the mercy of Christ’s who embraces human pain should inspire Christians to look at difficult situations that constitute a battle between life and death, between one’s desire to go on and the impulse to let go, in the face.