GREETING OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE EMMANUEL COMMUNITY, OF LECCE
Thursday, 26 September 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I greet you all, and I thank Father Mario Marafioti. Is it true that they call you "the dumb" because you can't talk? [answers: It is true!] I would like my greeting to reach all the people linked to your community, to those who have attended it in these decades, with a prayer for those who have left for Heaven.
I thank you for all that you have done in these almost 40 years, for the welcome, the accompaniment, the work ... And I thank you for how you did it, that is always feeding the "doing" with the "being" that it comes from the sap of the Word of God, moments of retreat and fraternity. This is important, otherwise you become a welfare agency or a company.
Your community was born on Christmas day, and expresses a faith embodied in service. You started with a welcoming gesture. This is always the case in the Church's works of charity: the Lord knocks on the door with the face of fragile people, brothers and sisters who live in poverty, abandonment, slavery ... And you have opened, you have answered and you have continued to answer - yes, because the most difficult thing is to persevere, to move forward ... From this sprout the various sectors of the community have developed, all of which are places and moments of welcome.
I thank God with you for this journey. It is He, with his Spirit, who inspires the choices and gives the strength to carry them out; it is He who gives love to serve the brothers with compassion, with closeness, with gratuity ... You can testify - by lived experience - that everything comes from Him, is his gift. And this makes you remain in gratitude, praise and joyful awareness that the work is not yours but God's.
Dear brothers and sisters, to prepare yourselves for the fortieth year of your community's life, you wanted this meeting with the Pope. Father Mario was the interpreter of the questions that are in your hearts, especially those who are older in the community, and see better the road made, the fruits ripened and also the dangers and temptations.
I would like to confirm you in the high road, which is that of a twofold purpose: to be with Christ and to be with the brothers in difficulty. This is the key: the double being.
It is a road that is indicated by the very name of the community: Emmanuel. God shows us this way: He, who is Love, is God-with-us. And not as an idea, or worse an ideology, but as a life, the life of Jesus. He is Emmanuel, God-with-us, who witnessed the love of the Father by sharing our human condition to the end.
From this source the living water is drawn to go on,
- not to let the joy, the hope, the courage to give oneself be stolen;
- to stay together without getting hurt;
- to throw back the networks after the disappointments and the failures;
- to continue to work with joy even if you struggle and feel tired;
- to remain faithful to the original spirit of vocation and mission.
I heard that during the next year you want to read in depth the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. Thank you, it's a good choice, it will surely do you good. I give you an advice: in this reading, do not be self-referential, that is, do not read the Exhortation thinking only of your community, but always read it feeling yourself part of the Church, which in turn is a pilgrim and sent to the world.
Thank you for this visit. For me it is always a gift and a consolation to meet the communities that seek to live the joy of the Gospel. Thanks and have a nice walk! May the Lord, God-with-us, bless you and Our Lady protect you. And don't forget to pray for me. Thanks.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation