Pope Francis tells members of St Peter’s Circle that he sees in them the image of the Good Samaritan who was moved by compassion and tenderness.
By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis had warm words of gratitude for members of the Rome-based charitable association that strives to reach poor people in Rome with concrete help and compassion.
Receiving a delegation of St Peter’s Circle in audience on Monday, he said “I recognize in you the image of the Good Samaritan.”
The Pope upheld the effort, time, energy, creativity, patience, and perseverance the association puts into its work, which is carried out through a number of activities.
“I think of you who meet our brothers and sisters in soup kitchens, in listening centres, in shelters, in homes that host the families of children undergoing treatment in the Bambino Gesù children’s hospital.”
St Peter’s Circle was founded in 1869 through the initiative of a group of young Romans, in order to support the Church’s charitable activities. It is supported by the Diocese of Rome and carries out some of its activities directly on behalf of the Pope.
Pope receives in audience members of St Peter’s Circle
Culture of tenderness
Recalling how, in the parable of Luke’s Gospel, the Good Samaritan “approaches the wounded man by the roadside, he approaches him moved by compassion. He does not know him, he is a stranger, in a certain sense even an ‘enemy,’ because the Samaritans were frowned upon and despised,” the Pope said. “He approaches because his heart is tender, he is not hardened, he is capable of tenderness.”
“The first thing I want to recommend to you is tenderness.”
The Holy Father went on to explain that “tenderness” is not “sentimentality,” it is “a trait of God’s love that is needed today more than ever.”
In societies often polluted by a culture of indifference and of waste, he said that “as believers, we are called to go against the tide with a culture of tenderness, that is, of caring for others as God has cared for us: for me, for you, for each one of us.”
“We see this in the Gospel: how Jesus approaches the little ones, the marginalized, the last ones. He is the Good Samaritan who gave his life for us, those in need of mercy and forgiveness.”
The secret of Christian life
The second thing that must never be forgotten, the Pope continued, is that “we truly love others to the extent that we recognize ourselves loved by Him, by our Lord and Saviour. “
“We help to the extent that we feel we have been helped; we lift up if we allow ourselves to be lifted up by Him every day.”
He added that we can experience this in “the silence of prayer,” when “we stand before Him as we are.”
“There He can place His Spirit in our heart, He can give us His compassion and tenderness. And so we can move on. Not us – as St Paul would say – not us, but Him with us! This is the secret of the Christian life and, in a special way, of charitable service,” he said, concluding with words of closeness.
“I cannot accompany you physically on the streets of Rome, but I do so with my heart and prayer.”
Pope recieves members of St Peter’s Circle