(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a video-message to the participants of the “Manos Abiertas” [Open Hands] Encounter taking place in Santa Fe, Argentina.
The voluntary association was founded in 1992 by Father Ángel Rossi, SJ, with the motto “To love and to serve.” The theme of this year’s meeting is “Mercy: A journey from the heart to the hands.”
In his video-message, Pope Francis brought up two stories from the New Testament: The parable of the Good Samaritan, and the story of the raising of the son of the Widow of Nain.
“The heart, which in the Good Samaritan is like that of Jesus, was touched by misery: The misery he saw there, the misery of that widowed mother whom Jesus saw, that misery of pain and the misery of the beaten man who was seen by the Samaritan,” – Pope Francis said – “The heart is united with the misery of another and that's mercy.”
The Pope said mercy is not the same thing as having pity.
“When the misery of the other comes into my heart, I feel mercy; which is not the same as to have pity, pity is another feeling,” – the Holy Father said – “I can feel pity when I see a wounded animal or such a situation, but mercy is another feeling: It is when the misery of another, or a situation of pain or misery, gets into my heart, and I permit the situation to touch my heart. I say this: It is an outward journey, the journey of misery to the heart. And this is the path: It is not mercy if it is not of the heart, a heart wounded by the misery of another.”
He also said mercy is not mere philanthropy.
“It is distinct from having good feelings; this is not mercy, it is having good feelings,” – Pope Francis explained – “It is distinct from hands-on philanthropy, which is not mercy: It is good, it is good, philanthropy is not a bad thing, but it is not mercy, which is another thing. Mercy is the journey of misery to my heart, taken up by my heart, that moves my heart; and sometimes it moves so much that the heart becomes like a compass at the North Pole, and does not know where to stop, because of what it feels.”
The Pope then explained how to tell the difference between mercy and pity.
“First you must ask for the grace to have mercy; it is a grace, and we must ask it of the Lord,” he said.
“The only way to have mercy is to yourself recognize your own sin, and be forgiven by the Lord; through recognizing sin and forgiveness,” – Pope Francis continued. – “You can be merciful only if you truly feel that you have received the mercy of the Lord, otherwise you cannot be merciful … and having received mercy, you will be merciful.”
The Holy Father said this is the return journey, “from the heart to the hands.”
“Stop torturing yourself over what wounded your heart, both by others and yourself,” Pope Francis said. “Let yourself receive mercy and begin the return trip, and with your hands give mercy to others, spreading mercy and love.”