Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis visited a Caritas centre in Rome after 4 pm (local time). The facility includes the St John Paul II cafeteria, and the Don Luigi Di Liegro Hostel, named after the Caritas director who opened it in 1987, both located near Rome’s main Termini Railway Station.
During his visit to the centre, which symbolically represented all of the city’s Caritas shelters, he opened the Holy Door for the Jubilee of Mercy (pictured), and led a Mass during which he delivered a homily without written notes before a gathering of about 200 people.
In his address, the Holy Father noted that the streets of riches, vanity, and pride, are not the paths of salvation, because when our time to be judged comes, to open the Gate of Heaven, Jesus will tell us "I was hungry and you gave me food; I was homeless and you gave me shelter; I was ill and you cared for me; I was in prison and you visited me.”
In opening the door, the pontiff led a procession with people chanting the litany of the saints, including some connected to mercy and important to Rome, like Saint Philip Neri, Saint Fabiola, Saint Jacinta, Saint Damien of Molokai, and Saint John Paul II, plus the "martyrs of justice and charity", Blessed Oscar Romero and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Only staff from the shelter and their relatives were allowed to attend the Mass celebrated shortly after the opening of the Holy Door. Francis dedicated his homily to them, which he delivered without a prepared text. He asked them “to feel discarded because we have no merit. He alone can grant us mercy and grace – to get closer to this grace we must get closer the discarded, the poor, to those who have greater needs – because we shall be judged by how close we get to them.
“God comes to save us,” he said earlier. “He found no better way to do so than walking with us, sharing our life. When the moment came of choosing how to do it, how to live life, he did not choose a great city of a great empire, or a princess, or a countess for His Mother, an important person. He did not choose a luxurious palace. It seems as if everything was done intentionally, almost covertly.”
Instead, he picked “Mary, a young woman of no more than 16 or 17 years, in a village lost on the fringes of the Roman Empire, surely a village no one knew”. Likewise, he chose “Joseph, a youth who loved her and wanted to marry her, a carpenter who earned his daily bread. All in simplicity, covertly, “experiencing” rejection as well, because they were engaged and in such a small village – you know how gossip is. It travels fast . . .
“Joseph noticed that she was pregnant, but he was a just man, [he kept] everything hidden, even lies, and gossip. The Angel explained the mystery to Joseph, “The child that your bride bears is God’s work, work of the Holy Spirit.’ When Joseph woke up from his sleep, he did what the Angel of the Lord ordered him, and went to her and married her. But he did all this in a covert, humble way. The great cities of the world knew nothing. And so is God among us. If you want to find God, seek Him in humility, seek Him in poverty, seek Him where He is hidden: in the neediest, the sick, the hungry, the imprisoned.
“When Jesus preaches life to us He tells us how we shall be judged. He will not say you come with me because you did so made many good offerings to the Church. Entrance to Heaven is not paid for with money. He will not say that you are very important; you studied so much and received so many honours, come to Heaven . . .’ No indeed, honours do not open the doors of Heaven.”
“What will Jesus say to us to open the door of heaven for us? ‘I was hungry and you gave me food; I was homeless and you gave me shelter; I was ill and you cared for me; I was in prison and you visited me.’ Jesus is in humility. Jesus’ love is great. So today, on opening this Holy Door I would like the Holy Spirit to open the heart of all Romans, to make them see what the path of salvation is.
“There is no luxury; there is no path of great riches; there is no path of power. There is the path of humility: the poor, the sick, the imprisoned . . . But Jesus says more, right? If the greatest sinners repent, they will precede us in Heaven.’ They have the key. Charity is letting oneself be embraced by the Lord’s mercy.”
“Today we open this door and ask two things. First, may the Lord open the door of our hearts to everyone. We all need it; we are all sinners; we all need to hear the Word of the Lord. May the Word of the Lord come. Second, may the Lord make us understand that the path of conceit, the path of wealth, the path of vanity, the path of pride, are not the paths of salvation.
“May the Lord make us understand that his touch as a Father, his mercy, his forgiveness, come when we get closer to those who suffer, to those who are discarded by society: that is where Jesus is. May this door – which is the door of charity, the door where help his given to so many, like those who are discarded – help us understand that it would be nice if each of us, if every Roman, right? If all Romans felt discarded and felt the need of God.
“Today we pray for Rome, for all the residents of Rome, for everyone, starting with myself, that the Lord may grant us the grace of feeling discarded, because we do not have any merit. He alone gives us mercy and grace – and to get closer to this grace, we must get closer to the discarded, the poor, to those who have greater needs – because we shall be judged by how close we get to them.
“Upon opening this door, may the Lord give this grace to all of Rome, to every resident of Rome, to move forward in the embrace of mercy where the father takes the wounded son but the wounded one is the Father. God is wounded of love and for this reason he is able to save all of us. May the Lord give us this grace."