During his general audience Pope Francis continued to reflect on the Church as mother, explaining that she teaches us by example how to go to the essential point of the Gospel, which is mercy. “Like a good mother and educator, she focuses on what is essential; and the essential, according to the Gospel, is mercy. But the Church’s teaching is not something merely theoretical, it doesn’t give lectures, but rather transmits through setting an example,” the Roman Pontiff told pilgrims Sept. 10. Speaking to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he recalled how “In our previous catechesis, we reflected on the Church as a Mother who nurtures us in the faith, guides us on the way of salvation, and protects us from evil.” “Today, I wish to reflect on the Church as a Mother who teaches us the works of mercy.” A strong characteristic of the Church’s motherhood “is that she educates us through works of mercy,” the Pope said, observing that a good teacher is not someone who gets “lost in the details” but rather “points to what is essential,” which in this case is mercy. “As Jesus told the disciples to be merciful as the Father is merciful, so the Church teaches her sons and daughters to be merciful like the Father and the Son.” She does this by “using words to explain her actions,” the Bishop of Rome went on, noting how “she instructs us to feed the hungry and to clothe the naked,” which is “a lesson taught by many fathers and mothers to their children through the sacred rule of hospitality.” The Church, he observed, “calls us to be close to the sick, clearly lived in so many hospital rooms, communities for the elderly and infirm, and private homes everywhere. She invites us to visit those imprisoned, where mercy is able to change hearts and lives, so that once freed, they may re-enter society renewed.” We also have the special task “to be close to those who are abandoned and dying alone, where mercy brings peace to both those departing this life and those who remain.” In order to show us how this is done the Church gives us not only the example of the Saints, “but also of so many simple men and women,” the Pope said. However, he pointed out that in order to change the world “it’s not enough to love only those who love us,” but it’s also necessary to love our enemies. “This is essential for salvation: that we may show mercy and love not only those who love us, but also those who cannot repay us, just as the Father had mercy on us and loved us through the gift of his Son Jesus.” Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging attendees “to give thanks to the Lord who has given us the Church as mother, and to travel with generosity on the path of mercy.” Following his catechesis, the Bishop of Rome extended greetings to groups of pilgrims present from around the world, including those from England, Wales, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, South Africa, the Philippines, Canada, the United States, Spain, México, Colombia, Per√∫, Chile and Argentina.
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