The Vatican (Wednesday, 04-29-2015, Gaudium Press) Yesterday evening in the Brancaccio theatre, Rome, the guests of the Caritas reception centre were the protagonists of the play “Se non fosse per te” (“If it were not for you”), directed by Carlo Del Giudice, which narrates their life stories. It recounts stories of love, disappointment and abandonment, but also of mutual love for children, parents, life and God. It offers a unique opportunity for dialogue between Rome and her most vulnerable citizens, in which Pope Francis wished to participate by sending a video message to the actors.
“The way in which you speak to the city offers a meaningful opportunity for dialogue and exchange. Between you, on the stage, displaying your hidden talents, assisted by expert professionals who have guided you as actors to enable your resources and potential to flourish – and those who are listen, surely amazed by the richness you offer. Whoever thought that a homeless person could be someone we can learn from? Whoever thought they could be a saint? Instead, this evening you transmit to us from the stage valuable teachings on love, on the needs of others, on solidarity, and on how to find, amid difficulties, the love of the Father”.
“Poverty is the great teaching that Jesus gave to us when he descended into the waters of the Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist. He did not do so out of a need for penance, for conversion; He did so in order to be among the people, people in need of forgiveness, in the midst of us, sinners, in order to bear the burden of our sins. And this is the path He chose so as to console us, save us, liberate us from our misery. That which gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is His love of compassion, tenderness and sharing. The Good Samaritan who lifts us up, beaten by robbers”.
“St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great theologian of antiquity, writes: ‘Consider well who are the poor in the Gospel and discover their dignity; they wear the face of the Lord. In His mercy He has given them His own face’. And St. Augustine said, ‘On earth Christ is hungry in the poor. You must fear Christ in heaven and recognise Him on earth; on earth He is poor, in heaven He is rich'”.
“I too wish to make these words my own. You are not a burden to us. You are the wealth without which our attempts to discover the face of the Lord are in vain. A few days after my election, I received from you a letter of well wishes and offers of prayer. I remember replying immediately, to tell you that I hold you in my heart and am at your disposal. I confirm those words. On that occasion I asked you to pray for me. I reiterate my request, as I am truly in need of your prayers”.
The Pope went on to thank all the workers of Caritas Rome. “I think of 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 other parts of Italy. In this way they discover a world that requires attention and solidarity; men and women who seek affection, relationships, dignity, and with whom we can experience charity by learning to welcome, listen and give of ourselves”.
The Pope remarked that the city of Rome has in all times been distinguished by persons filled with God’s love. “Let us think of St. Lawrence (his jewels were the poor) and St. Pammachius (a Roman senator who converted and devoted himself exclusively to the service of the least among us), St. Fabiola (the first to build a hostel for the poor in Porto), St. Philip Neri, Blessed Angelo Paoli, St. Joseph Labre (the ‘beggar saint’), and Don Luigi di Liegro, founder of Caritas Rome. How I would like Rome to shine with ‘pietas’ for those who suffer, with welcome for those who flee from war and death, with willingness, smiles and magnanimity for those who have lost hope. How I would like the Church of Rome always to show herself to be an ever more attentive and caring mother to the weak. We all have weaknesses, all of us; everyone has their own. How I would like the parish communities in prayer, as a poor person enters the Church, to kneel in veneration as they do when the Lord enters! How I would like the flesh of Christ to be touched in the needy of this city”.
The Pope concluded his message by expressing his hope of meeting the actors personally, as occurred recently with the homeless in the Sistine Chapel, and he bestowed on them his blessing.
From Vatican Information Service