"A caring, wise, generous, bold, and prudent mother". Homily of Card. Matteo Zuppi on the occasion of the 53rd anniversary of the Community of Sant'Egidio

Santa Maria in Trastevere – February 6, 2021

I feel and we feel so much joy and excitement today, coming together in a bond that is spiritual as well as digital. And it is the former that makes the latter effective! Tonight we thank the Lord for the gift of Community. We are gathered together from dispersion. Giving thanks makes us young, it makes us discover and rediscover something that we never cease to understand and that, indeed, as at Cana, we taste as it is always the best wine. This Mother - we are in the Basilica dedicated to her, source of consolation and strength - is a gift of God, as we are adopted all without merit and she is entrusted to each of us.

The Community is many years old, more than many of us, and yet it is like the face of Mary, always young. In fact, it is always a new experience, as even if pierced by many swords it always reflects the love of Jesus. We are proud to be children of this Mother and therefore brothers and sisters among us. No, truly my life and ours would not have been the same! Blessed is the day of our meeting and blessed are all the days accompanied as they are by God's love and sustained by the community of brothers and sisters. We give thanks because the light of the Community not only has not faded, but represents a light that illuminates so much of the world's darkness and its name stirs hope in despair, comfort to those immersed in the darkness of evil, joy for its gratuitous love. And gratuitousness invites to gratuitousness. In the pandemic we have seen this clearly. The community has always faced pandemics, has not believed itself to be healthy and has sought to heal a sick world. It has not closed itself off in a psychological world or in the agitations of well-being; it has not looked to condemn and has not been content to admonish with principles but without involving in its journey.

The Community has been a caring, wise, generous, bold, and prudent mother, treating the world as brothers and sisters to all, practicing the art of encounter that is the secret of life. She was not intimidated by evil and did not let the roots of bitterness grow from the inevitable disappointments. She remained open to the unexpected, outraged at so much wasted life and yet careful to build prudently on the rock of the Word. Andrea was not content to find a few answers for himself and a few of his friends, but he did not resign because he made the anxiety of the world his own, with no borders, and he has taken us with intelligence and passion into the great complexity of history, he has understood its deep currents so that it could be reached by the Gospel. The Gospel asks us to make us all things to all people, it makes us feel at home everywhere, family members of the far and near, which means being on the roads of the world. The Community has not lost the dream of changing the world because it feels its suffering and knows that everything is possible for those who believe. Tonight let us pray for him, for Marco and for those who "labour among you," for whom the apostle invites us to always have consideration, respect and love, responsibly and personally guarding the holy gift of communion (1 Thess 5:12).

It is the Spirit who has called us to be part of this mosaic that depicts, just like the one before our eyes, God's dream of the world. As I look at the mosaic, I think of all our communities and each of our persons called to compose this most beautiful vision of our present and our future, with Jesus sitting on the throne in the fullness of glory, and we wrapped in the full light of gold, each one a star called by name, never anonymous.  In some ways the mosaic helps us to understand what we already are, even in the weakness and sin of each of us. Each small stone, which by itself is lost or without meaning and value, acquires importance and beauty precisely because it is loved and gathered together. No one is saved alone. All those whom the world condemns to be alone, whom it considers worthless, are included in this same mosaic. There is so much need for this light in the darkness of the pandemics that threaten life, merciless as evil always is. Each stone is important, but not by itself - what value would it have? - but precisely because together. How precious in such a fragmented, ethnic world, which seeks safety in walls and borders, is a mosaic like ours, which includes, which knows how to portray the humanity loved by God in so many ways. Today I think we all understand this more, always in wonder at the gifts we receive and that we are. What good is your colour if it doesn't go along with that of others? Ours is a mosaic of so much humanity that over the years grows and whose image becomes more and more beautiful, clear, attractive, and luminous. In it, it is easier and more consoling for us to contemplate the other part of the community that is already in the fullness of love, our brothers and sisters who left us and reflect to us the fullness of God's love. We remember them on this feast that belongs to everyone.

In front of the door of each of our communities, whether small or large, it always happens just as it is described in the Gospel we heard. The whole city of the entire world gathers before the door of the community. We have the world in our hearts and the world finds its heart in the communities that give hope, light, consolation, protection and where everyone is a brother and a sister, even those who have no name and no importance for the world. The has never been with the door closed and in prayer and service she took Peter's mother-in-law by the hand and had the same personal love for the crowd. The door is that of compassion and prayer. Love makes our own the pain of our neighbour, of the breath that is the life of so many “Job” - but really isn't every person like that? - whom we discover to be our brothers and sisters and who find a home, our home. How many experience that their days are like those of a mercenary, forced into nights that become very long as they wait for a dawn that is too distant and uncertain? Looking at this great crowd of poor people, we understand that there is much need to proclaim the Gospel first of all with our personal lives. Truly woe to us if we do not communicate the Gospel. We understand the importance of our house by looking at the crowd that is always thronging in front of it. Thank you Lord because we contemplate the fruits of your love that makes new what is old. Thank you Lord because you teach that free are those who makes themselves servants so that no one is lost.
The Lord heals the broken hearts and binds up their wounds. The Lord upholds the poor, but lowers the wicked to the ground. Thank you Lord, bless us and protect us.