Serving the suffering is serving the crucified Christ, pope says

Serving the suffering is serving the crucified Christ, pope says

Pope Francis leads an audience with members of Fidesco at the Vatican March 20, 2021. Fidesco is a Catholic organization that recruits and deploys people for missionary and development work. (Credit: CNS photo/Vatican Media.)

Contemplating how Jesus suffered and died to save each human being should motivate an awe that translates into loving care for anyone who is suffering, Pope Francis said.

ROME — Contemplating how Jesus suffered and died to save each human being should motivate an awe that translates into loving care for anyone who is suffering, Pope Francis said.

As Palm Sunday and Holy Week approach, Catholics are reminded that “the suffering Christ is present in every poor, excluded, sick or hungry person,” the pope said March 20 as he welcomed representatives of Fidesco, a Catholic organization that recruits and trains volunteers for mission and development work.

The papal audience marked the 40th anniversary of the organization, which was founded by members of the France-based Emmanuel Community, but now includes volunteers from a dozen countries, including the United States.

“To believe that Jesus shed his blood for us removes any doubt about the boundless love which ennobles each human being,” he said, quoting from his 2013 exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.”

When Catholics decide to devote a year or two of their life to service with Fidesco, he said, they give concrete witness to belief that God loves and has bestowed dignity on every human being, including “brothers and sisters who are farthest away, less fortunate, more disadvantaged and having fewer opportunities than you do.”

“Every human being is worthy,” he said. “Every human being is my brother or sister.”

“When you are on your mission, with your personal relationship with the Lord and with your faith, keep intact the awe, the fascination and the enthusiasm of living the Gospel of fraternity,” the pope told Fidesco members. “We all need that in the most difficult moments of solitude, discouragement or disappointment.”

“It is more important than ever today that Christ’s faithful be witnesses of tenderness and compassion,” he said.

“Listening to the cry of the poor that resonates within you, allowing yourself to be moved by the suffering of others and deciding to travel far to touch their wounds, which are the wounds of Christ, not only makes you participants in building a more beautiful, more fraternal, more evangelical world,” Pope Francis said, “but it reinforces the church in its mission of hastening the establishment of the kingdom of God.”

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