Pope's Video Messege to Caritas Residents of Rome

«Poverty is the great teaching that Jesus gave us when he descended in the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist.»

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The following is a translation of the video-message that Pope Francis sent to the guests of the hospitality centers of the diocesan Caritas of Rome.

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Brothers and Sisters, good evening!

Someone told me that this evening, in the important “Brancaccio” Theater, you, guests of the hospitality centers of Caritas of our Church of Rome, will be actors in the performance entitled “If It Wasn’t for You,” which recounts true and difficult experiences of abandonment and marginalization, which you yourselves have lived. This theatrical initiative talks about your love for children, for parents, for life and for God.

I am happy to be among you in this way, to be gratified by your courage, to tell you not to lose trust and hope. God loves you, He loves all!

I consider the way in which you speak to the city a significant occasion of dialogue and exchange. You teach  — by showing your hidden capacities, helped by expert professionals who were able to guide you, actors, to have the resources and potentialities of each one of you blossom – and the others who listen, and  — I am sure – marvelled at the riches that are offered. Who ever thinks that a homeless person is someone to learn from? Who thinks he can be a saint?

Instead, this evening it is you who make of the stage a place from which to transmit precious teachings on love, on the other’s need, on solidarity, on how in difficulties one finds the love of the Father.

Poverty is the great teaching that Jesus gave us when he descended in the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. He did not do so because he needed penance, conversion; he did so to put himself in the midst of the people, people needy of forgiveness, in the midst of us sinners, and to carry the weight of our sins. This is the way he chose to console us, to save us, to free us from our misery. What gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is his love of compassion, of tenderness and of sharing; the Good Samaritan who picks us up, mistreated by brigands.

Saint Gregory of Nissa, a great theologian of antiquity, wrote: “Consider well who the poor are in the Gospel and you will discover their dignity: they have the face of the Lord. In his mercy he has given them his own face.”

And Saint Augustine said: “On earth Christ is indigent in the person of his poor. It is necessary, therefore, to fear the Christ of Heaven and to recognize him on earth: on earth he is poor, in Heaven he is rich. In his very humanity he went up to Heaven as rich, but he still remains here among us in the suffering poor.”

I also wish to make these words my own. For us, you are not a weight.  You are the richness without which our attempts to discover the Lord’s face are vain.

A few days after my election, I received a letter of congratulations and the offer of prayers from you. I remember that I answered you immediately saying to you that I carry you in my heart and that I am at your disposition. I confirm those words. On that occasion, I asked you to pray for me, I renew the request. I am really in need of it.

I also thank all the workers of our Caritas. I feel them as my hands, the hands of the Bishop, in touching the body of Christ. I also thank the many volunteers from the parishes of Rome and from other parts of Italy. Thus they discover a world that asks for care and solidarity: men and women who seek affection, relation, dignity, and together with whom we can all experience charity learning to receive, listen and give ourselves

How much I would like this city, studded at all times with persons permeated with the love of God – we think of Saint Lawrence (his treasures were the poor), Saint Pammachio (converted Roman Senator who dedicated himself completely to the service of the least), Saint Fabiola (the first to build a hostel at Porto for the poor), Saint Philip Neri, Blessed Angelo Paoli, Saint Joseph Labre (man of the street), up to Don Luigi di Liegro (founder of our Caritas  of Rome) – I was saying, how much I would like Rome to be able to shine with “pietas” for the suffering, with hospitality for those fleeing from war and death, with availability, with smiling and magnanimity for those who have lost hope. How much I would like the Church of Rome to manifest herself ever more an attentive and solicitous mother to the weak. We all have weaknesses, we all have them, each one has his own. How much I would like that parish communities in prayer, at the entrance of a poor man in the church, to kneel in veneration in the same way as when the Lord enters! How much I would like this, that the flesh of Christ be touched in the needy of this city!

With your work, the theater of this evening, I am sure that you will contribute to make such sentiments grow. Thank you!

And in the expectation of being able to meet you personally, as happened recently in the Sistine Chapel, I send you my paternal blessing.

May the Lord help us to recognize him in the face of the poor! May the Virgin Mary accompany us on this path! And I ask you all, please: do not forget to pray for me! Thank you.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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