Accompanying a French group from the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in their meeting with Pope Francis and the poor in Assisi, Italy, I was able to experience the beatitude of the poor in spirit. Yes, what a joy to be able to live with people who so often unfortunately go unnoticed in our daily lives!
Staying at the same hotel, I was able to ‘hang out’ with these poor people, we would have meals together, go for a walk, etc. In short, it was the opportunity to sow seeds of new friendships.
I remember very well a Portuguese lady who told me that the street is like a school and poverty is like a teacher. She doesn’t have money as a great desire, she simply wants to be heard and loved as she is.
How can I not also remember this man of great culture, knowledgeable about art and botany, but who needs help with simple activities such as taking a bath or shaving.
In the poor there is always a mark of Christ. We only need to be aware to see Him.
Today the Pope shook my hand. Yes, inside the Church of Our Lady of Angels, a few meters from the Porciúncula, the holy father greeted me.
It was an immense grace. But no less important, I had the opportunity to go in procession with a lady there through the streets of Assisi. We walked hand in hand, she leaning on me to walk, me leaning on her to touch Christ.
A day to never forget. The great lesson of the day is to always be open to hospitality, to the culture of encounter, as Pope Francis said: Hospitality, the Pope said, is the most evangelical expression we are called to make our own. It means opening the door of our house and heart to allow the person who knocks to come in, that he or she might feel welcome and not ashamed ”Every one of us needs the other, and that even weakness, if experienced together, can become a strength that will make the world better.”
May the culture of encounter convert our hearts to the charity of Christ. Amen!
Marden Vinicius de Souza