Michael Jackson’s song, “They don’t care about us,” reminds us of Pope Francis’ message for Lent about the “globalization of indifference.” We have become accustomed to the sufferings, poverty, and inequality of others; and they don’t affect or concern us anymore. We fail “to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors;” for there are some things in life we just don’t want to see – as the song goes.
In UST, the Pope spoke that today’s world doesn’t know how to cry, how to experience compassion, i.e. suffering with others. He said, “There is a worldly compassion which is useless. It’s a compassion that makes us put our hands in our pockets and give something to the poor” (and walk on). It is possible that some works of charity are done without love. Thus, St. Paul said that even if we give away to the poor all that we have … but have no love, we don’t gain anything. (1 Cor 13:3)
True charity is more the giving of what we are than of what we have. It is to go out of our comfort zone, to willingly inconvenience ourselves or make sacrifices for our neighbors for God’s sake. What people really want is a portion of our hearts.
To counter-act the culture of indifference, there are three things we can do. First, we pray together with the Church (in heaven and on earth) for a new era of mercy and compassion for the world. Second, we reach out to others with our acts of charity. Third, we try to have a change of heart. We ask Jesus to ”make our hearts like yours.” We wish to receive hearts, which are firm and merciful, attentive and generous; hearts which are not closed and indifferent.
Although poverty and sufferings will never be completely eliminated, love can transform the world and make it a better place to live. Love can change lyrics; for when people experience our kindness, compassion, and selfless love, they can only exclaim, “They DO really care about us!”
(Reference: Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2015; Homily of Holy Father Francis, July 8, 2013 (Visit to Lampedusa); “Pope Francis’s Critique of Indifference” by Jonathon Mansell; “The Hidden Power of Kindness” by Lawrence Lovasik)