VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Those who suffer are brothers and sisters Catholics must pray for, not cases to be analyzed or examples to be used in debates, Pope Francis said in a morning homily.
The Christian response to those who are suffering must be to “pray for them. They must enter into my heart, they must make me restless,” the pope said at Mass June 5 in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. “My brother is suffering, my sister is suffering.”
The Bible is filled with stories of people who suffer and cry out to God for relief, he said. “Crying out to God is not a sin. A priest I know once told a woman who was lamenting to God about her calamities: ‘Ma’am, that is a form of prayer. Keep going.'”
In the day’s Gospel reading, the Sadducees use the sad case of a woman widowed multiple times simply as a device to trick Jesus, the pope said.
“The Sadducees talked about this woman as if in a laboratory, all aseptically,” Pope Francis said. For them, she was simply an example of an abstract moral problem, he said.
“When we think of people who suffer so much, do we think of them as if they were were an (abstract) moral case, purely ideas?” the pope asked. “Or do we think of them with our hearts?”
“I don’t like it when people talk about these situations in a way that is very academic and not human, sometimes even adding statistics,” he said.
Pope Francis called attention to a photograph of a malnourished child published on the front page of the Vatican newspaper the previous evening. “How many more are like this?” he asked.
Also mentioning refugees from the civil war in Syria and the terminally ill, the pope said that those who suffer cry out for solidarity, including the solidarity of the prayers of others.
“This is the mystery of the communion of saints. Pray: ‘Lord, see that one who is crying, suffering,'” he said.
Treating suffering as part of an “intellectual game” is not part of solidarity and is not a prayer, he said. God hears the cries of those who suffer and the prayers of those whose concern comes from the heart.