Pope's Address to Bambino Gesù Patients, Staff

“One can live pursuing two different objectives: putting in the first place having or giving”

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Last Thursday, Pope Francis received in audience the Community of the “Bambino Gesu” Paediatric Hospital (BGPH) of Rome.
Taking part in the meeting were 150 children, in care at the hospital, and their parents. Among them were children from developing countries, where interventions of international cooperation of the Bambino Gesu are active. In addition, there were 15 children present from Bangui, in the Central African Republic, together with the Archbishop of the city, Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga.
After the greetings of the Hospital’s President, Dr. Mariella Enoc, and testimonies of some of the representatives of the BGPH, the Holy Father gave those present the address we translate below.
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Dear Friends, good morning!
I am happy to meet with you; I thank you for coming and for your testimonies. I thank the President, Dr. Mariella Enoc, for her courteous word.
Valentina, your question about children who suffer is great and difficult. I don’t have an answer. I think it would be good if this question remains open. Not even Jesus gave an answer in words. In the face of some cases, which happened then, of innocents who suffered in tragic circumstances, Jesus did not give a homily, a theoretical discourse. It certainly can be done, but He didn’t do so. Living in our midst, He did not explain to us why one suffers. Instead, Jesus showed us also the way to give meaning to this human experience. He did not explain why one suffers, but enduring suffering with love He showed us why one suffers. Not why, but for whom: He offered His life for us and with this gift, which cost Him so much, He saved us. And one who follows Jesus does the same: more than seeking why, one lives every day for. 
Valentina has been exacting and she also asked for a “medication” for one who is in contact with suffering. It’s a good request. I’ll say only a little thing, which can be learned from children: to rediscover every day the value of gratitude, to be able to say thank you. We teach it to children and then we adults don’t do it. But to say thank you, simply because we are before a person, is a medicine against dampening hope, which is an awful contagious sickness. To say thank you nourishes hope, that hope in which  as Saint Paul says, we have been saved (cf. Romans 8:24). Hope is the “gasoline” of Christian life, which makes us go forward every day. So it is good to live as grateful persons, as simple and happy, little and joyous children of God.
You, Dino, spoke to us in fact of the beauty of small things. It might seem a losing logic, especially today, with the mentality of appearance, which demands immediate results, success, and visibility. Instead, think of Jesus: the greater part of His life on this earth was spent in concealment. He grew up without hurry in His family, every day learning, working and sharing the joys and sorrows of His own. Christmas says to us that God did not make Himself strong and powerful, but fragile and weak as a child.
Dino, while you were speaking to us about how to live this littleness, you asked, however, for larger spaces. It’s a correct request. We live at a time in which spaces and times are increasingly restricted. One runs so much and fewer spaces are found, not only parking for cars, but also places to meet one another; not only free time, but time to stop and meet one another. There is great need of more human times and spaces. Of what I know, in the course of its history the Bambino Gesu Hospital developed in fact responding to so many needs, which little by little presented themselves. Other campuses were opened and services were moved precisely to offer new spaces for patients, for relatives, for researchers. This history is remembered, it is the best promise for the future! Despite the restricted spaces the horizons were widened: the “Bambino Gesu” did not look at its restrictions, but created new spaces and many projects, even far away, in other Continents. This tells us that the quality of the care doesn’t depend only on the logistical aspects, but on the spaces of the heart. It is essential to enlarge the spaces of the heart: then Providence will not fail to think also of the concrete spaces!
Instead, you, Luca, asked what should be the “trademark” of the Bambino Gesu, in addition to the professional capabilities, which are certainly indispensable. I will counsel two ingredients to a young Christian that, like Luca, after his studies appears in the world of work – which must be open to young people, not only to the market. The first is to keep dreams alive. Dreams are never anesthetized; anesthesia is banned here! God Himself — we will hear it in Sunday’s Gospel — communicates sometimes through dreams; but above all He invites us to have great dreams, even if difficult. He pushes us not to cease to do good, never to extinguish the desire to live great projects. I like to think that God Himself has dreams, also at this moment, for each one of us. A life without dreams isn’t worthy of God; a tired and resigned life isn’t Christian, where one is content, scrapes a living without enthusiasm, to the day.
After dreams, I will add a second ingredient: gift. You, Serena, have witnessed to us the strength of one who gives herself. Fundamentally, one can live pursuing two different objectives: putting in the first place having or giving. One can work thinking above all of earning, or seeking to give the best of oneselves for the benefit of all. Then work, despite all the difficulties, becomes a contribution to the common good, sometimes even a mission. And we are always before this juncture: on one hand to do something for my interests, for success, to be recognized; on the other, to follow the intuition of service, of giving, of loving. The two things are often mixed, they go together, but it’s always important to recognize which comes first. Every morning one can say: now I must go there, I must do this work, meet persons, address problems; but I want to live this day as the Lord would like me to: not as a weight — which then weighs especially on others who must endure me – but as a gift. It’s my turn to do some good, to bring Jesus, to witness not with words but with works. Every day one can leave home with a heart somewhat closed in itself, or with an open heart, ready to encounter and to give. It gives much more joy to live with an open heart than with a closed heart! Don’t you agree? So I wish you such a Christmas, of living with an open heart, keeping this good family spirit, and I thank you so much.
[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

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