VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Men and women must work to build a culture of encounter in order to overcome today’s habit of turning a blind eye to the suffering of others, Pope Francis said.

People often cross paths but too often “think of themselves; they see but do not look, they hear but do not listen,” the pope said Sept. 13 during morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“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,” the pope said in his homily.


The pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading in which Jesus raises the son of widow from the dead after he saw the mother’s suffering and “was moved with pity for her.”

Christ’s encounter with the woman “makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other,” the pope said.

This compassion is not the same kind we feel “when we walk along the street, for example, and we see something sad and say, ‘What a pity!'” he said.

Pope Francis said that in reaching out to this woman’s suffering, Jesus shows not only tenderness, but the fruitfulness of encounter “that restores people and things to their rightful place.”

“It’s not enough to see. No, (we must) look. If I don’t stop, if I don’t look, if I don’t touch, if I don’t speak, I cannot have an encounter and I cannot help build a culture of encounter,” the pope said.

People today, he continued, are in need of an encounter with Jesus and his word, particularly today where “within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter.”

“In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, do people watch the TV or write messages on their cellphones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter,” he said.

Pope Francis called on Christians to follow Jesus’ example and “to be moved by pity” for those who suffer.

“Draw near, touch them and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment — the language of the heart: ‘Do not weep’ and give them at least a touch of life.”