Here below is a translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Pope John XXIII Community Association in Paul VI Hall in the Vatican Saturday at noon:
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I receive you with joy and thank you for your warm welcome. I thank the director, Giovanni Paolo Ramonda, for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all; thank you so much to those of you who have given your testimony.
Your accounts speak of slavery and liberation, speaking of the egoism of those who think of building their existence by exploiting others and of the generosity of those who help their neighbor to rise again from material and moral degradation.
They are experiences that bring to light the many forms of poverty of which, unfortunately, our world is wounded, and they reveal the most dangerous misery, cause of all others: estrangement from God, the presumption to be able to do without Him. This is the blind misery of considering material wealth, the pursuit of power and pleasure, the purpose of one’s existence, and of enslaving the life of one’s neighbor to obtain these objectives.
Yes, friends, it is the presence of the Lord that marks the difference between the freedom of goodness and the slavery of evil, which can make us capable of carrying out good works and bring us profound joy, able to radiate also on those close to us. The Lord’s presence widens horizons, heals thoughts and emotions, and gives us the necessary strength to surmount difficulties and trials. Where the Lord Jesus is, there is Resurrection; there is life, because he is the Resurrection and the Life.
Faith truly moves the mountains of indifference and apathy, of indifference and of sterile withdrawal into oneself. Faith opens the door of charity making us desire to imitate Jesus. It incites us to the good, furnishing us with the courage to act on the example of the Good Samaritan.
Don Oreste Benzi, founder of your Association, knew this well. His love for the little ones and the poor, for the excluded and the abandoned, was rooted in the love of Jesus crucified, who made himself poor and last for us. His courageous determination in giving life to so many initiatives of sharing in different countries flowed from his trusting abandonment to God’s Providence, it flowed from faith in the risen Christ, alive and operating, capable of multiplying the little strength and resources available, as He once multiplied the loaves and fish to feed the crowds.
From the mission to involve adolescents and to interest them in the person of Jesus was born in Don Oreste Bensi the idea of organizing for them a “pleasing encounter with Christ,” that is to say a vital and radical encounter with Him as hero and friend, through the witness of a life lived that would show in fullness the Christian message, but in a joyful and even playful way. Thus your Community was born, present today in 34 countries with its Family-Homes, social and educational cooperatives, Houses of Prayer, services to support problematic maternities and other initiatives. Providence has made you grow, proving the vitality of the Founder’s charism, who liked to repeat – as the Director General said – “to stand it is necessary to kneel.”
Dear brothers and sisters, I make my own the invitation that Saint John Paul II made to you to take care of your spiritual formation and of the assiduous frequentation of the Sacraments and, in particular, to make the Eucharist the heart of the Family-Homes and of every other social and educational activity (Cf. Insegnamenti XXVII, 2, 2004, 632). It is from a heart filled with the love of God that charity for brothers sand sisters flows.
I ask you, please, to pray for me. I entrust you all to Our Lady, may she grant you a Christmas full of love and joy, and I bless you from my heart.
We pray all together to Our Lady to receive the blessing: Hail Mary …[Blessing] [Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]