GOD SENDS US TO CONSOLE THE AFFLICTED.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.24
Christians suffer just like anyone else, and sometimes more so, because of the incomprehension or difficulties created by their fidelity to God.25 At the same time their sufferings are lighter because they are consoled by their Father. “This is your security, a haven where you can drop anchor no matter what is happening on the surface of the sea of life. And you will find joy, strength, optimism: victory!”26 The consolation given by God enables us to console others; he has sent us into the world to give consolation, “because our infinite sadness can only be cured by infinite love.”27
To be able to “console those who are sad” we have to learn to read other people’s needs. Some are sad because they are experiencing “the bitterness that comes from loneliness or indifference.”28 Others, because they are under a lot of pressure and need to rest. If so, we can try to accompany them, and sometimes actually teach them how to rest, because they have never learned that skill. A good child of God tries to copy the discreet work of the true Consoler, the Holy Spirit, “in toil comfort sweet, pleasant coolness in the heat, solace in the midst of woe.”29 We try to look after other people in such a way they don’t notice we are assisting them, and never give the impression that we are granting them “an audience,” or that we are “managing” them. “We are speaking about an attitude to life, one that approaches life with serene attentiveness capable of being fully present to someone without thinking of what comes next, that accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full.”30 A child of God goes through life with the profound conviction that “each person is worthy of our self-giving.”31 A smile, our willingness to be helpful, true interest in other people, including those we may not even know, can change their day and sometimes their lives.
With everyone, people we know and those we don’t, our mercy finds a channel, “a broad smooth-flowing stream”32 in our prayer. “Since Abraham, intercession – asking on behalf of another – has be characteristic of a heart attuned to God’s mercy,”33 and so the Church encourages us to “pray for the living and the dead.” One of our joys in heaven will be to discover the good done to so many people by a brief prayer offered in the midst of heavy traffic or on public transport, sometimes perhaps as a merciful response to less-than-polite behavior; or the hope that God has inspired, through our intercession, in someone who was suffering for some reason; or the comfort received by the living and the dead through our remembering them at Mass, inserted in Jesus’ prayer to the Father, in the Holy Spirit.
24 2 Cor 1:3-4.
25 The Psalms frequently echo this difficulty of the believer. Cf. e.g. Ps 42 (41):10-12; 44(43):10-26; 73(72).
26 St Josemaría, The Way of the Cross, seventh station, 2.
27 Pope Francis, Apost. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 265.
28 St Josemaría, Speech at the inauguration of the Centro ELIS, 21 November 1965.
29 Sequence of the Mass for Pentecost, Veni Sancte Spiritus.
30 Pope Francis, Enc. Letter Laudato si’, 24 May 2015, 226.
31 Pope Francis, Apost. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 274.
32 St Josemaría, Friends of God, 306.
33 Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2635.
34 Pope Francis, Third Meditation for the Jubilee of Priests, 2 June 2016. Cf. Mt 13:31-32 and 14:19-20.
EXCERPT FROM “SERENE ATTENTIVENESS: THE SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY”. READ MORE IN https://opusdei.org/en/document/serene-attentiveness-the-spiritual-works-of-mercy/