Pope Francis warned against what he described as “an even worse virus” even after the new coronavirus pandemic is over.
Celebrating Mass on April 19, Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis said the pandemic is an opportunity to practice mercy toward the poor and those who are suffering.
He warned that while the world is looking forward to a “slow and arduous recovery” from the pandemic, “there is a danger that we will forget those who are left behind.”
“The risk is that we may then be struck by an even worse virus, that of selfish indifference,” said the pontiff in his homily during the feast of the Divine Mercy.
The pope said that during the feast of Divine Mercy, the most beautiful message comes from the Gospel reading about Thomas, the disciple who arrived late.
“But the Lord waited for Thomas,” noted Pope Francis. “Mercy does not abandon those who stay behind,” he said.
In his homily, Pope Francis warned of “a virus” that spread “by the thought that life is better if it is better for me, and that everything will be fine if it is fine for me.”
“It begins there and ends up selecting one person over another, discarding the poor, and sacrificing those left behind on the altar of progress,” he said.
The pontiff said the pandemic should reminds people “that there are no differences or borders between those who suffer.”
“We are all frail, all equal, all precious,” he said.
“May we be profoundly shaken by what is happening all around us: The time has come to eliminate inequalities, to heal the injustice that is undermining the health of the entire human family,” added the pope.
He called on the faithful to learn from the early Christian community described in the Acts of the Apostles. “It received mercy and lived with mercy,” he said.
“All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need,” Pope Francis quoted the Scripture.
“This is not some ideology,” he said. “It is Christianity.”
Pope Francis celebrated Sunday Mass in Rome’s Santo Spirito church, which is dedicated to the devotion to Divine Mercy, to mark the 20th anniversary of the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska and the institution of the Feast of Divine Mercy.
The feast was instituted by Pope St. John Paul II in 2000 and has since been celebrated during the first Sunday after Easter.
During the celebration, which was streamed live around the world, Pope Francis reminded Christians that “God never tires of reaching out to lift us up when we fall.”
“He wants us to see him, not as a taskmaster with whom we have to settle accounts, but as our Father who always raises us up,” he said.
He said “the hand that always puts us back on our feet is mercy,” adding that God knows that “without mercy we will remain on the ground.”
The pope said that even in the midst of trials, fears, and doubts, “We need the Lord, who sees beyond that frailty an irrepressible beauty.”
“With him we rediscover how precious we are even in our vulnerability. We discover that we are like beautiful crystals, fragile and at the same time precious,” he said.
“And if, like crystal, we are transparent before him, his light — the light of mercy — will shine in us and through us in the world,” added the pontiff.
He noted that these days “a small part of the human family has moved ahead, while the majority has remained behind.”
“Each of us could say: ‘These are complex problems, it is not my job to take care of the needy, others have to be concerned with it,'” said Pope Francis.
But he cited St. Faustina, who after meeting Jesus in a vision, wrote: “In a soul that is suffering we should see Jesus on the cross, not a parasite and a burden.”
“To everyone: Let us not think only of our interests, our vested interests. Let us welcome this time of trial as an opportunity to prepare for our collective future, a future for all without discarding anyone. Because without an all-embracing vision, there will be no future for anyone,” said the pope.
“Let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a new world,” he added.