270. Sometimes we are tempted to be that kind of Christian who keeps the Lord’s wounds at arm’s length. Yet Jesus wants us to touch human misery, to touch the suffering flesh of others. He hopes that we will stop looking for those personal or communal niches which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and instead enter into the reality of other people’s lives and know the power of tenderness. Whenever we do so, our lives become wonderfully complicated and we experience intensely what it is to be a people, to be part of a people.
Many people possess and cultivate an outward devotion to the cross. But Pope Francis diagnoses accurately here, I think. Keep Jesus on the cross. Not me. Not the people I encounter.
The Ignatian spirit is in play here: to find the experience of the cross and to find a reflection of God in the “misery,” the “suffering,” and the “misfortune” of others. And to be so moved as we would be if it were Jesus himself miserable, suffering, and misfortunate right here before us.
What do we feel and experience when we engage people who are suffering and difficult? We find the tender countenance of God.
The Holy Father’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium is available online here.