At"The poor facilitate our access to heaven; that is why the sense of faith of the People of God has viewed them as the gatekeepers of the sky". The words of Pope Francis in his homily at the Mass for the Third World Day of the Poor - an initiative instituted at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy - which this year was celebrated throughout the Church on November 17, are unequivocal and represent the right synthesis of the attention to the last that has always characterized the Gospel message and the predilection of the Pontiff himself for the last.
They are "the treasure of the Church, because they reveal to us the wealth that never grows old, that which unites earth and heaven, and for which it is truly worth living: love.". The Pope's expression of affection was listened to in the front row by the homeless themselves, who at least for one day have once again become the protagonists of the whole Church.
Love is also what makes it possible to distinguish the true prophet - Jesus - from the false prophets who will come in his name, as the Scriptures say, Pope Francis explained in his homily. Y "to be Jesus'" and to speak their language is not enough etiquette "Christian" o "Catholic"but to go out "of the self", "give to the one who has nothing to give back to us.", "to serve without seeking rewards and compensation".as the poor do.
The presence of the poor, therefore, "takes us to the climate of the Gospel"Pope Francis has repeated, and "rather than being annoyed when we hear a knock at our door, we can welcome their cry for help".which is like a phone call "to get out of our own self"..
At the Angelus at the end of the Mass, the Pope invited the faithful to reflect on the "society's indifference towards the poor".He said he was dissatisfied and saddened by some statistics on poverty that had been presented to him shortly before.
Probably the Pontiff was referring to the latest global report published by Oxfam at the beginning of 2019, from which it emerges that even today 3.4 billion people (almost half of the world's population) live on less than 5.5 dollars a day, and there are 2.4 billion others who live in real poverty, without this being recognized by the institutions. Also according to the report, social and economic inequality is putting at risk the lives of 10,000 people in the world who cannot access health services, while some 262 million children do not have the possibility of integrating into school structures.
However, resources are not lacking, but are poorly distributed: the richest 1 % on the planet would have access to approximately 47.2 % of total net wealth, while the poorest half of people - some 3.8 billion - collectively own only 0.4 % of economic resources.
In his written Message for the Day, the Pontiff had also drawn attention to the "numerous forms of new slavery to which millions of men, women, youth and children are subjected."The following are some of the most vulnerable groups: families forced to leave their land, orphans, young people denied access to work, victims of prostitution and drugs, immigrants and all those who are marginalized and homeless.
However, the Pope wrote in the document, "there is no way to evade the urgent call that Sacred Scripture entrusts to the poor".The fact that in front of this large crowd of indigent people Jesus did nothing more than "identify with each other". He has thus inaugurated the preaching of the Kingdom of God, but has entrusted us with the task of preaching the Kingdom of God. "the task of carrying it forward, assuming the responsibility of giving hope to the poor.".
After attending the Mass celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica and the Angelus in the square, more than 1,500 needy and poor people accompanied by the staff of various associations moved to the Paul VI Hall to participate in the meal with Pope Francis. The diners came from Rome, from the dioceses of Lazio and from other Italian dioceses. The same initiative was repeated in other parts of the world as a gesture of inclusion and Christian charity.
Before blessing the table and the gifts, the Pontiff, making his entrance into the Hall, defined the event as a "gathering of friends"He was in an atmosphere of true family. For this reason, as soon as he sat down at the table, he began to talk to those who were next to him, and before saying goodbye, he invited them to think about the fact that there are always those who are more in need than we are.
Also this year, we have repeated the experience of the Presidio The hospital, installed on the left arm of the colonnade in St. Peter's Square, is aimed at the poor of the city of Rome, who, thanks to the generosity of doctors and nurses - who volunteered part of their vacation time - were able to receive free clinical analysis and specialized care in various fields, from radiology to cardiology, from gynecology to ophthalmology. A real mobile hospital, which in many cases also makes it possible to intervene in infectious diseases.
For the people who use it - most of whom live on the streets and in the vicinity of St. Peter's Square - it is really very useful to be able to use this service, which would be difficult to access in paid facilities. As usual, the "surprise" visit of Pope Francis, who wanted to show his closeness both to the doctors and to the patients, with whom he had a few moments of fun, was not to be missed.
Among the other initiatives of the Day, the customary concert "with the poor and for the poor". on this occasion the Italian Cinema Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Nicola Piovani and accompanied by the Choir of the Diocese of Rome under the direction of Monsignor Marco Frisina. Selected excerpts from the films of Roberto Benigni were performed.Life is beautiful y Pinocchio- and some sound tracks from television movies inspired by great Popes and saints. The first two sectors of the Aula had been reserved, as always, for the poor and needy: families in difficulty, the elderly, the homeless or those in precarious living conditions, who were thus "placed at the center", trying to offer them a seed of hope through the universal language of good music.
An entire building
As a concrete and striking legacy of this Third World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis inaugurated a new work of charity: a day and night shelter for the homeless, which occupies an entire four-story building in the Vatican, Palazzo Migliori, named after the family that gave it to the Holy See in 1930. It has been entrusted for its use to the Apostolic Almshouse of Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, which manages it jointly with the Community of Sant'Egidio.
Initially, the structure was to be used as a luxury hotel, after having been vacated by a female Religious Congregation, but the Holy Father wanted it to be destined for the most needy and people in difficulty. On the third and fourth floors are the rooms for overnight stays, which can accommodate about 50 people. The first and second floors, on the other hand, are reserved for daytime service, always animated by volunteers, with rooms for listening and conversation and other educational and cultural activities.
The center's kitchen is also used to prepare the more than 250 hot meals that have been distributed to the poor in the afternoons of the city's major railway stations for several years. The Center's activities are supported by the Apostolic Almshouse with income from the distribution of scrolls with the Apostolic Blessing and contributions from private individuals.