instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, August 09, 2013

Reaching out multiplies our capacity to love

Rocco Palmo posts the English translation of a message Pope Francis recorded for Argentinians as they celebrated the Feast of St. Cajetan on Wednesday. In it, he calls his countrymen to a St. Francis and the leper moment:
Sometimes, I ask people, "Do you give alms." They say, "Yes, father." "And when you give alms, do you look into the eyes of people you are giving alms to?" "Ah, I do not know, I don't really think about it". "Then you have not reached out to those people. You just tossed them some charity and went away. When you give alms, do you touch their hands or just toss them the coins?". "No, I toss them the coins". "Then you have not touched them. And if you have not touched them, you have not reached out to them." What Jesus teaches us, first of all, is to reach out to each other, and in reaching out, helping one another.
There are Catholics who always rush to say that what Pope Francis says is nothing new. True enough. Pope Francis says what the Church has always said.

What would be new is if Catholics did what the Church has always said to do.

(Okay, it'd be new if I did.)

Towards the end of his message, Pope Francis says:
When you meet those most in need, your heart will begin to grow bigger, bigger and bigger! Because reaching out multiplies our capacity to love. An encounter with others makes our heart bigger.
The metaphor works. Like a physical muscle, your spiritual heart gets bigger and stronger with use, but shrinks and weakens otherwise. When your heart gets bigger by meeting with those most in need -- or, not to dull the Pope's point too much, by loving whoever you meet today who needs your love -- you can turn right around and use your increased capacity to love on those you are already loving. If you bring Jesus' love to a stranger, you'll have more of His love to bring to those closest to you.