Don’t let indifference stop you from an authentic encounter with another person, Pope Francis said Tuesday.
“In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, do people watch the TV or write messages on their cell phones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter. Even within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter,” he lamented in his Sept. 13 homily at the chapel of the Santa Marta residence in the Vatican.
He said that this situation of indifference should move us “to strive for this culture of encounter, just as simply as Jesus did so.”
“Not just see, but look. Not just hear, but listen. Not just meet and pass by, but stop,” Pope Francis said. In the face of tragedy, one should not just say, “What a shame, poor people.” Rather, we should “allow ourselves to be moved by pity.”
“And then draw near, touch and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment, the language of the heart: ‘Do not weep,’ and donate at the very least a drop of life,” the Roman Pontiff advised.
He reflected on the gospel story of Christ's bringing back to life the only son of a widow, and discussed meetings between two people where each of them is thinking of themselves without perceiving or listening to the other.
“An encounter is something different,” he said, describing the gospel story as “an encounter that makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other.”
The “joyful crowd” following Christ met the group of people weeping and accompanying the widow.
Christ was “moved with pity” when he encountered the widow. This is a pity different from those who simply pass by something sad on the streets. Instead, he approached her son and performed the miracle.
The Pope reflected on how people can grow accustomed to indifference when we see disasters or small things. We say, “What a shame, poor people, look how they are suffering,” and then we carry on.
“We are accustomed to a culture of indifference and we must strive and ask for the grace to create a culture of encounter, of a fruitful encounter, of an encounter that restores to each person his or her own dignity as a child of God, the dignity of a living person,” he said.
Pope Francis stressed the need to perceive an encounter by stopping, looking, touching, and speaking. Otherwise “I cannot help to build a culture of encounter.”