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I address an affectionate greeting to you all, in an altogether special way to you, dear guests of this House, which is above all yours, because it was thought out and instituted for you. I thank all those who in various ways sustain this beautiful reality of the Vatican. My presence this evening is, first of all, a sincere thank you to the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who have been working here for 25 years, with numerous volunteers, in favor of so many persons in need of help. My heartfelt thanks! You, dear Sisters, together with the Missionaries of Charity [Brothers and Fathers] and your collaborators, render visible the love of the Church for the poor. With your daily service you are – as a Psalm says – the hand of God that satisfies the hunger of every living being (cf. Psalm 145:16). How many times over these years have you bent down to someone in need, like the Good Samaritan, you have looked at them in their eyes, you gave them your hand to raise them up! How many mouths you have fed with patience and dedication! How many wounds, especially spiritual, you have bandaged! Today I would like to pause on three words that are familiar to you: house, gift and Mary.
1. This structure, willed and inaugurated by Blessed John Paul II – but this is something between Saints, between the Blessed! John Paul II and Teresa of Calcutta; and holiness is passed on. This is beautiful” it is a “home.” And when we say “home” we understand a place of hospitality, a dwelling, a human environment where one is well, one finds oneself, feels inserted in a territory, in a community. Yet more profoundly, “home” is a word of a typically familiar flavor, which recalls warmth, affection, the love that can be felt in a family. Hence the “home” represents the most precious human richness, that of encounter, that of relations among persons, different in age, culture and history, but who live together and together help one another to grow. In fact because of this, the “home” is a decisive place in life, where life grows and can be fulfilled, because it is a place in which every person learns to receive love and to give love. This is a “home.” And this is what this House has tried to be for 25 years! At the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a strong appeal to us all, to the Church, to the City of Rome to be always more family, “home” in which one is open to hospitality, care and fraternity.</p>
2. There is then a second very important word: the word “gift,” which qualifies this House and describes its typical identity. It is a House, in fact, that is characterized by gift, by mutual gift. What do I wish to say? I wish to say that this House gives hospitality, material and spiritual sustenance to you, dear guests, who come from different parts of the world; but you are also a gift for this House and for the Church. You tell us that to love God and one’s neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means to see in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve Him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus. Thank you! You “give” the possibility to all those who work in this place to serve Jesus in those who are in difficulty, who are in need of help. This House then is a luminous transparency of the charity of God, who is a good and merciful Father to all. An open hospitality is lived here, without distinctions of nationality or religion, according to the teaching of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay” (Matthew 10:8). We must recover the whole sense of gift, of gratuitousness, of solidarity. A wild capitalism has taught the logic of profit at all cost, of giving to get, of exploitation without looking at the persons … and we see the results in the crisis we are living! This House is a place that educates to charity, a “school” of charity, which teaches to go to the encounter of every person, not for profit, but for love. The music – let us say it thus – of this House is love. And this is beautiful! I am pleased that seminarians from the whole world come here to have a direct experience of service. The future priests can thus live in a concrete way an essential aspect of the mission of the Church and make it a treasure for their pastoral ministry.
3. There is, finally, one last characteristic of this House: it qualifies itself as a gift “of Mary.” The Holy Virgin made of her existence an incessant and beautiful gift to God, because she loved the Lord. Mary is an example and a symbol for those who live in this House, and for all of us, to live charity to our neighbor not out of some sort of social duty, but beginning from the love of God, from the charity of God. And also – as we heard from Mother –, Mary is she who takes us to Jesus and who teaches us how to go to Jesus; and the Mother of Jesus is ours and makes a family with us and with Jesus. For us Christians, love for our neighbor is born from the love of God and it is the most limpid expression. Here one tries to love one’s neighbor, but also to allow oneself to be loved by one’s neighbor. These two attitudes go together, one cannot be exercised without the other. Printed on the letterhead of the Missionaries of Charity are these words of Jesus: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). To love God in brethren and lover brethren in God.
Dear friends, thanks again to each one of you. I pray that this House will continue to be a place of hospitality, of gift, of charity, in the heart of our City of Rome. May the Virgin Mary always watch over you, and my Blessing accompany you. Thank you.[Translation by ZENIT]