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Dialogue is a reflection of mercy

opinion2In his catechesis in the Jubilee audience held in St Peter’s Square on 16 Nov 2016, the Holy Father reflected on the relationship between mercy and dialogue, based on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. “What strikes us about this encounter,” he said, “is the very close dialogue between the woman and Jesus. Today this allows us to underline a very important aspect of mercy, which is indeed dialogue.

“Jesus understood well what was in the heart of the Samaritan woman; despite this He did not prevent her from expressing herself – he let her speak until she had finished – and entered a little at a time into the mystery of her life. This teaching applies to us too. Through dialogue, we can allow the signs of God’s mercy to grow and make them a tool of acceptance and respect.”

“Dialogue allows people to know each other and to understand each other’s needs,” he continued. “First, it is a sign of great respect, because it inspires in people an attitude of listening and places them in the condition of recognising the best aspects of their interlocutor. Secondly, dialogue is an expression of charity, because while it does not ignore differences, it can help in seeking and sharing the common good. Furthermore, dialogue invites us to place ourselves before the other, seeing him as a gift from God, who challenges us and asks to be recognised.

“Very often we do not encounter our brothers, even while living alongside them, especially when we make our position prevail over that of the other. We do not enter into dialogue when we do not listen enough, or tend to interrupt the other to show we are right. How often, when listening to someone, we say ‘But it is not like that!’, and we do not let the person finish explaining what they mean. This obstructs dialogue: this is aggression. True dialogue, instead, requires moments of silence, in which we perceive the extraordinary gift of the presence of God in our brother.”

Explaining that dialogue helps people to humanise their relationships and overcome misunderstandings, he exclaimed “There is a great need for dialogue in our families. How much more easily problems would be solved if we learned to listen to each other!  It is thus in the relationship between husband and wife, between parents and children, between teachers and pupils, or between managers and workers, how much help comes from dialogue, and to discover the most important demands of the job.”

All forms of dialogue are “an expression of the great need for the love of God, Who reaches out to everyone and places in each person a seed of His goodness, so that he or she might assist in His creative work,” concluded the Holy Father.  “Dialogue breaks down the walls of divisions and misunderstandings; it creates bridges of communion and does not allow one to isolate oneself, closed up in one’s own little world.” –

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