TO THE DELEGATION OF THE FRANCISCAN CENTER OF SOLIDARITY, OF FLORENCE
Monday, 1 March 2021
Dear brothers and sisters ,
I am pleased to welcome all of you from the Franciscan Solidarity Center, and I thank your President, Maria Eugenia Ralletto, for her words of greeting. Simple words, Franciscan words those he said, but really consistent: thank you.
For many years, in the city of Florence, you have been carrying out a precious service of listening and being close to people who find themselves in difficult economic and social conditions: families who have to face difficulties of various kinds; elderly or disabled people who need support and companionship. First of all, I would like to say "thank you" to you for this. In a world that tends to run at two speeds, which on the one hand produces wealth but, on the other, generates inequality, you are an effective work of assistance, based on voluntary work, and, in the eyes of faith, you are among those who they sow the seeds of God's Kingdom.
In fact, by coming into the world and announcing the Kingdom of the Father, Jesus approached human wounds with compassion. He made himself close above all to the poor, to those who were marginalized and discarded; he became close to the disheartened, the abandoned and the oppressed. We remember his words: "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, [...] I was naked and you clothed me" ( Mt25,35.36). Thus, Christ has revealed God's heart to us: he is a Father who wants to guard: God is a Father who wants to guard all of us; defend and promote the dignity of each of his sons and daughters, and who calls us to build the human, social and economic conditions so that no one is excluded or trampled on his fundamental rights, no one should suffer from the lack of material bread or from loneliness.
In this work you are inspired by the luminous testimony of St. Francis of Assisi, who practiced universal brotherhood and "everywhere sowed peace and walked alongside the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the discarded, the least" (Enc. Brothers all , 2). Trying to follow his example, you have been carrying out this service for almost forty years, which is a concrete sign of hope, and also a sign of contradiction in the busy life of the city, where many find themselves alone with their poverty and suffering. A sign that arouses dormant consciences and invites us to come out of indifference, to have compassion for those who are wounded, to bend down with tenderness over those who are crushed by the weight of life. And we have said the three words which are precisely God's style: closeness - God draws near -, compassion and tenderness. This is God's style and this should be your style. Closeness, compassion and tenderness.
Dear friends, go ahead with courage in your work! I ask the Lord to support him, because we know that our good heart and our human strength are not enough. Before the things to do and beyond these, when we are faced with a poor person we are called to a love that makes us feel our brother, our sister; and this is possible thanks to Christ, present precisely in that person. I assure you of my prayers that the Lord, through the intercession of St. Francis, will always keep you the joy of serving, the joy of approaching you, the joy of having compassion, the joy of doing things with tenderness. And please, you too pray for me. Thank you.