Pope Francis says "Yes, love is a gift for everyone!" - Revealing 3 Aspects of Charity as the Origin and Goal of the Christian Journey - FULL TEXT in Portugal

[2 - 6 AUGUST 2023]
“Centro Paroquial de Serafina” (Lisbon)
Friday, August 4, 2023
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
I thank the parish priest for his words and I greet all of you, in particular the friends of the Centro Paroquial da Serafina, of the Ajuda de Berço Family Home and of the Acreditar Association. And thank you for your words which illustrated the work being done, thank you! It is good to be here together in the context of World Youth Day, as we look at the Virgin who gets up to go and help. Indeed, charity is the origin and goal of the Christian journey, and your presence, the concrete reality of "love in action", helps us not to forget the route, the meaning of what we are always doing. Thank you for your testimonies, of which I would like to underline three aspects: doing good together, acting concretely and being close to the most fragile.

That is, doing good together, acting concretely, not only with ideas, but concretely, being close to the most fragile.
First: do good together. "Together" is the key word, which was repeated many times in the speeches. Living, helping and loving together: young and old, healthy and sick, together. João told us something very important: that we must not let ourselves be "defined" by the disease, but be a living part of the contribution we make to the community as a whole. It's true: we must not let ourselves be "defined" by illness or problems, because we are not a disease, we are not a problem: each of us is a gift, a gift, a unique gift, with its limitations, but a gift , a precious and sacred gift for God, for the Christian community and for the human community. So, just as we are, let's enrich the whole and let ourselves be enriched by the whole!
Second: take concrete action. This is also important. As Don Francisco reminded us, quoting St. John XXIII, the Church is not an archeology museum. Some think so, but it's not. It is the ancient fountain of the village that supplies water to today's generations as well as to future ones (cf. Homily in the Liturgy in the Byzantine-Slavic Rite in honor of St. John Chrysostom, 13 November 1960). The fountain serves to quench the thirst of the people who arrive, with the weight of the journey or of life and are concrete. Concreteness, therefore, attention to the "here and now", as you already do, with attention to detail and practical sense, beautiful virtues typical of the Portuguese people.
When you don't waste time complaining about reality, but are concerned with meeting concrete needs, with joy and trust in Providence, wonderful things happen. Your story bears witness to this: from meeting the gaze of an elderly man on the street, an "all-round" charity center is born, like the one we are in; from a moral and social challenge, the "campaign for life", an association was born that helps expectant mothers and families, children, teenagers and young people in difficulty, so that, as Sandra told us, they can find a safe life project; from the experience of the disease a community of support is born for those who face the battle against cancer, especially for children, so that, as João told us, "the evolution of treatment and the best quality of life become a reality for them". Thanks for what you do! Continue with meekness and kindness to allow yourselves to be questioned by reality, with its old and new poverties, and to respond concretely, with creativity and courage.
The third aspect: being close to the most fragile. We are all fragile and needy, but the compassionate gaze of the Gospel leads us to see the needs of those who are most in need. And to serve the poor, the beloved of God who made himself poor for us (see 2 Cor 8:9): the excluded, the marginalized, the rejected, the little ones, the defenceless. They are the treasure of the Church, they are God's favorites! And, among them, let us remember not to make differences. For a Christian, in fact, there are no preferences in the face of those who knock on the door in need: compatriots or foreigners, belonging to one group or another, young or old, likeable or disliked...
And, speaking of charity, I would now like to tell you a story, especially to you children, who perhaps do not know it. It is the story, which really happened, of a young Portuguese who lived a long time ago. His name was Giovanni Ciudad and he lived in Montemor-o-Novo. He dreamed of an adventurous life and so, as a boy, he set out from home in search of happiness. He found it after so many years and many adventures, when he met Jesus. And he was so happy with the discovery that he even decided to change his name and from then on, no longer call himself John Ciudad, but John of God. And he did a daring thing : he went to the city and began to beg on the street, saying to the people: «Do good to yourselves, brothers!». Do you understand? He asked for charity, but he told those who gave it to him that, by helping him, they were actually helping themselves first of all! That is, he explained that gestures of love are a gift above all for those who give them, even before those who receive them; because everything you hoard for yourself will be lost, while what you give out of love will never go to waste, but will be our treasure in heaven.
This is why he said: "Do good to yourselves, brothers!". But love doesn't only make you happy in heaven, but already here on earth, because it expands the heart and allows you to embrace the meaning of life. If we want to be truly happy, let's learn to transform everything into love, offering our work and our time to others, saying good words and doing good deeds, even with a smile, with a hug, with listening, with a look. Dear boys, brothers and sisters, let's live like this! We can all do it and we all need it, here and everywhere in the world.
Do you know what happened to John then? They didn't get it! They thought he was crazy and locked him in an asylum. But he didn't get demoralized, because love doesn't give up, because whoever follows Jesus doesn't lose peace and doesn't feel sorry for himself. And right there, in the asylum, carrying the cross, God's inspiration arrived. John realized how much the sick needed help and, when they finally let him out, after a few months, he began to take care of them with other companions, founding a religious order: the Hospitaller Brothers. Some, however, began to call them in another way, precisely with the words of that young man who said to everyone: "Do-good-brothers"! In Rome we call them like this: the “Fatebenefratelli”. What a beautiful name, what an important teaching! Helping others is a gift in itself and is good for everyone. Yes, love is a gift for everyone! Let us remember: “o amor é um presente para todos!”. Let's repeat it together: o amor é um presente para todos!
Let's love each other like this! Continue to make life a gift of love and joy. I thank you and I recommend you, all of you but especially the children, go ahead and pray for me. Obliged!
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Words off the cuff
There are many things I would like to tell you now, but it happens that the "spotlight" is not working for me and I cannot read well. So I'm giving it to you, so that you can make it public later. You can't force your eyesight and read badly.
I just want to dwell on something that is not written, but that is in the spirit of the encounter: concreteness. There is no abstract love, it does not exist. Platonic love is in orbit, it is not in reality. Concrete love, the one that gets its hands dirty. Each of us can ask: is the love I feel for everyone here, what I feel for others, concrete or abstract? When I shake hands with a needy person, a sick person, an outcast, after shaking hands, do I immediately do this [he rubs his hand on the garment] so as not to get infected? Does poverty disgust me, the poverty of others? Am I always looking for the "distilled" life, the one that exists in my fantasy, but doesn't exist in reality? How many distilled, useless lives that pass without leaving a mark, because those lives have no weight!
And here we have a reality that leaves an imprint, a reality of many years, many years, which is leaving an imprint that inspires others. There could be no World Youth Day without taking this reality into account. Because this too is youth, in the sense that you continually generate new life. With your conduct, with your commitment, with your getting your hands dirty to touch the reality of the misery of others, you are generating inspiration, you are generating life. Thank you for this! I thank you with all my heart. Go ahead and don't be discouraged! And if you get discouraged, grab a glass of water and move on!