|On June 21, at the Cathedral of the Havana, was the celebration of the 45th anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio, which is also the 20th of the Community's presence in Cuba. During the liturgy, presided over by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino, he addressed loving words to the Community, in the presence of dozens of priests, congregations members and many friends.
Preaching by Cardinal Jaime Ortega Alamino on the occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio, celebrated at the Cathedral of Havana:
Dear brothers and sisters,
It is a significant anniversary: we celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio. But it is also significant that this community has been established in Cuba for 20 years now, which means that, it has lived in our Church, especially in Havana, almost half the time ofits life. The Community was founded by a sense of love, of genuine service that always accompanies the other, in order to search in the humanity all that can grow the miracle, so that there is spiritual peace, social peace and peace at the bottom of our hearts.
This is the great journey of the Community of Sant'Egidio. Today's Gospel speaks to us of love. Not only of the love of God, but also of the love for which - Jesus will say - all will recognize his disciples. We could say that Christianity has its deepest roots in mercy. Christianity has its own form, its identity, in love lived among us and in love as a service to all, in love as reception. There is a commandment that Jesus calls a new commandment: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another”.Some people might say: Where is the novelty of this commandment of Jesus? The novelty lies in the way of formulating the sentence, placed immediately after the dinner at which he gave his body and his blood, in the way in which he had donated himself, meaning in the bread broken for us and in the blood shed, the announcement of the gift of his life on the cross for us. This true and sacramental announcement, which will be always repeatedin remembrance of him, asks a new love from us.
He no longer says: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself", but "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" with a love without limits. Jesus asks us to love one another with the intensity he has shownthroughout his entire life. It is a love that gives itself, which "is broken into pieces" for the others. The Lord has loved us with this love. There is a greater way to love. Do not love the other as myself, but as Christ has loved us:with a capacity to give life, to forget himself, to sacrifice for the other. It is a unique love, it is the love of God brought to earth by Christ. It is a love that invites us to serve.
We are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio.
Each of us might say: we have associated with this group, we have decided to become members of the Community for its service, for the charity it shows, for the good it does. But it was not so: it was not you who made the choice. Jesus says: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit".Here is the mystery of our faith and of the whole Church. We have been called to the faith by Jesus himself. We are here because each of us has been called by God and wanted to respond to this call. We are members of a family who does not choose who a brother is, but who receives the brother as a gift.
There is something special, interesting and authentic in the Community of Sant'Egidio. On some occasions, Isaw someone who was serving in the Community, in an event in which I participated, and you explained to me thatsuch person is not a believer but he wants to serve, wants to do good. Here's how to invite many, to call others. The Word comes together with this invitation; a word spoken with love and with love it becomes gesture and service, and he who comes to the Community begins to put it into practice. Many of you may recognize yourselves in this itinerary: you started serving and loving, and you have found that you can love fully only if we love seeing in the neighbor, in each one, the face of Jesus Christ.We realize that the love with which we're loving is not ours, it has been given to us, it has been placed in our hearts by the Lord.
The language of love is that of conversion, invitation and the discovery of reality, of the apostolate.
It is not only a matter of doing good in a concrete way, serving someone because of his old age, or his weakness, for his loneliness or the personal or economic problems; it is not only this, it is a language that can speak also to theothers so that they decide to love in the same way, so thatthey come to understand that the root of this love is the deep mercy of Christ and so they can get to the true faith. In his encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," Pope Benedict XVI says: "There can not be Word of God which is not accompanied by charity and the service to others; there can not be proclamation of the Gospel which is notaccompanied by love".
The apostle Paul tells us that love must penetrate everything. Saint Paul says that we must be sensitive in love. We realize that we all are one body in Christ Jesus.But we have gifts that differ according to the grace givento us by God. If the gift is service, devote yourselves to serve in the truth. The Community must never lose this gift, never lose the sense of daily service, tiring at times, which asks us to be there every day. Do not lose this sense and communicate it to those who come to the Community, it is a sign of your identification. I remember those cold evenings of January when you went out carrying theblankets and some hot food to those who live on the street. Saint Paul says: who does this, do it gladly. The apostle does not require great virtues or extraordinary works in his letter, but to gladly serve every day. Saint Paul says, following the advice of Jesus: "Be affectionate with each other, estimating others as better than yourselves". Keep yourselves in his burning Spirit. How? With prayer, otherwise we all fall down.
Some words that Pope Francis repeats a lot and that are very present in the Gospel: "hope makes you joyful." The Holy Father said, in some handwritten notes he gave me:"Joy is evangelising, even if it was a failure, I announced the good news. The joy is not in success, but in having done it". There is a joy in the fact of serving. I am very glad to always see all those who are part of the Community of Sant'Egidio, our people here today, men and women sometimes unknown but recognizable in the service, in love, in peace, in that good flavour that the encounter with the Community has given to their lives.
May the Lord continue to help you, may his strength not go out, may the Community grow, may it alwayscontinue in its service to the elderly of the nursing homes, to all those who are excluded from life; may it continue with this sense of dialogue and reconciliation among all, with that loving service done with discretion and simplicity which characterises the Community. May all this be true.
So be it and may the Lord bless the Community of Sant'Egidio. Amen.