(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday urged Christians to serve other people, without delay or hesitation, saying if we learnt how to reach out in this way, the world would be a very different place. His remarks came during his homily at the morning Mass in the Santa Marta residence where he used the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary for his reflections on the theme of Christians at the service of others.
Listen to this report by Susy Hodges:
May 31st was the final day of the month dedicated to Mary and the Pope used the day’s readings to illustrate Mary’s courage, her helping hand and concern for others and above all her joy, a joy, he said, that fills our hearts and gives meaning and a new direction to our lives. Referring to Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, Pope Francis said this is a liturgy full of joy that arrives like “a breath of fresh air” to fill our lives.
Joy and a grimace
“Christians with a grimace or disgruntled expression on their faces, sad Christians, are a very ugly thing. It’s really ugly, ugly, ugly. However, they are not fully Christian. They think they are (Christians) but they are not fully so. This is the Christian message. And in this atmosphere of joy that today’s liturgy gives us like a gift, I would like to underline just two things: first, an attitude; second, a fact. The attitude is one of service or helping others.”
The Pope pointed out how the gospel describes Mary as setting off immediately and without hesitation to visit her cousin, despite being pregnant and despite the risk of meeting robbers along the route. This young girl of 16 or 17, he said, was courageous by getting up straightaway and setting out on her journey.
The Church’s courageous women
“The courage of women. The courageous women who are present in the Church: they are like Mary. These women who bring up their families, these women who are responsible for rearing their children, who have to face so many hardships, so much pain, women who look after the sick…. Courageous: they get up and help other people. Serving others is a Christian sign. Whoever doesn’t live to serve other people, doesn’t serve to live. Serving others and being full of joy is the attitude that I would like to underline today. There is joy and also service towards others.”
The second attitude whose importance was stressed by the Pope is reaching out and meeting other people. Referring once again to Mary’s meeting with her cousin, he noted that the two kinswomen greeted each other with joy and their encounter was very festive. In conclusion, Pope Francis said if we could learn these two things: to serve others and reach out to them, how much our world would change:
“Reaching out to others is another Christian sign. Persons who describe themselves as Christian and who are unable to reach out to others, to go and meet them are not totally Christian. Being of service and reaching out to others both require going out from themselves: going out to serve and meet others, to embrace another person. Through Mary’s service towards others, through that encounter, our Lord’s promise is renewed and makes it happen now, just as it did then. And it is really our Lord – as we heard during the first Reading: ‘The Lord, your God, is in your midst’ – the Lord is about helping other people, the Lord is about meeting other people.”
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