Immense joy fills the aisles of the basilica this evening. Saint Paul’s Basilica is not small, but today it seems small. Here, I must say, there is a lot of joy! Truly, we contemplate the Evangelii Gaudium, the joy of the Gospel, which becomes thanksgiving for the many gifts that, through the Community of Sant’Egidio, have made the lives of many luminous and blessed.
A great, universal people, of humble and poor praise the Lord because they have received gratuitously and undeservedly so much good water. It quenches thirst, indeed makes our very hearts a spring.
Let us contemplate it, and always do so with our brothers and sisters who live in the fullness of love, in that house towards which our life is oriented. And to seek that home means to remember it is the very home towards which our life is oriented. It helps us to live well in this world, really well.
Let us remember together! Let us contemplate together with them the "hundred times more" promised by the Lord. We can see it. Despite the limitations, the smallness, the sinfulness of our poor history, God has poured out the precious and always amazing treasure of his love. He surprises us over and over again. Then sometimes our self-pity is so pervasive that we are not even surprised by something so beautiful. Beautiful, full of joy and full of light.
Let us never tire of marvelling how the Lord’s paths, as we have heard, have also become our paths; his thoughts, so much greater than ours, have become our thoughts. And this tiny seed, planted on 7 February 1968, continues to bear much fruit.
The Word of God “shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” says the prophet. And this is God’s desire that we are contemplating today: people love each other and are loved. And there is no one who does not love and - above all - who is not loved. Sometimes this is what frees us from so much fear. And there is so much love.
That is why we praise the Lord today. We do not praise the limits, rather we feel the restlessness for the many things that still need to be done, personally even for the many things that I should have done. Restlessness to do better, to reach out to the many whose suffering we feel, often with no hope, in the complex, dramatic events of the world. We are in Saint Paul’s basilica and we feel all his passion for the ‘labor pains’ the creation is going through . We must go there, singing with all the fullness of the grace of this house built on rock.
God’s joy is very human, real. Sometimes we think about the joy of the Lord: it is very human, very concrete. Indeed, it helps us understand the deception of subjective joy that does not see life as it is. It is a joy that confronts a world repeatedly shattered by wars.
It is not a joy of those who flee, rather the joy of those who confront evil. A world where we see so much violence, widespread terrorism, poverty that, like the rain, the rivers, the winds the Gospel speaks of, buffet our house until it collapses.
And a culture of violence seems to be taking up more and more space, seems to be both pervasive and convincing. The search for safety seems to provide security, and the confused and powerless majority withdraws even more into itself. It is that affirmation of the self, without an us and without God, that inexorably leads to ruin.
A self nourished by so many providers of individual well-being - there are many - and never finds itself. Because it is only by coming out of the self that we understand who we are. This is one of the reasons to thank the Community. It has brought us all out of self-centredness and made us see others. It has also made us love others and shown us that we feel good when we love others. As well as we make others feel good.
For this, we thank the founder, Andrea Riccardi, who has never stopped building houses and homes. He has never stopped making us feel at home and believing it possible for the earth to be a common home. He has lived “Fratelli tutti” in the passion and intelligence of dialogue, in the wisdom of questioning the deep currents of history, scrutinising them not with the widespread scepticism and fatalism. Indeed, he has always been looking for the signs of the times and interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.
And I thank, I believe on behalf of us all, the president, Marco Impagliazzo, and all those who collaborate with him. May this communion, which is articulated and physically universal, always be a family, with a trait of attentive and delicate fraternity. Never taken for granted, always original and creative, sacrament of friendship, in which we contemplate the love of God.
And I also thank the many who walk with us, who support the journey of the Community in many ways, including all of you here. And also many whom we carry into our hearts.
The Community is truly a home and wants to be a home, a family, where self-knowledge grows as we think of ourselves in relation to God and our neighbour, in interiority and mutual service. The Community has not wasted time and does not want to waste time in sterile discussion. How much time and how much superficiality in sterile, albeit passionate, contrasts! Sometimes we get passionate and we do not even know why, or we exist only because we oppose others! Congratulations!
The Community has not been exhausted in an exciting season of dreams, only to fall asleep in the grey of cynicism and indifference. Indeed, the world of the self builds on the sand of subjectivism, which is a great deception. It makes you believe you are yourself by putting yourself at the centre. Constantly studying yourself, but never satisfied. We end up caught in the logic of competition, comparison, dangerously ignorant, easily aggressive and violent.
The Community has not retreated into mediocrity and compromise with the tyrant of individualism. It wanted to be a community, to think together. Sometimes it is not easy, now and then someone really had to work hard with needle and thread to keep thinking together. But no one is saved alone, we are saved together, the first is our Lord.
The radicality of the beginning has become the rock of faithful love, which never abandons in difficulty, stronger than disappointment and inevitable frailty. Radicality has become passion, a passion that is far removed from sadness and melancholy and has energised the tenacious pursuit of good. Demanding and human, possible to all and for all. Today we understand it even more clearly. Gaudium et spes, joy and hope. This is what the world, shrouded in sadness and marked by disillusionment, needs. The world is marked by so much disillusionment, by that poison of pessimism that makes us give in to fear. It makes us passionate about things and not about people, it makes us give up.
Gaudium et Spes begins just like this:“The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”
We can place these words at the beginning of our Community’s life. A child of the Council, which defines the Church as a sign and instrument of the unity of the human race. And the Community is always a small flock, but its heart is great and universal. It is not a caste of elected, but a family where all are called and loved by God. This is what the Community has wanted to be and what it wants to be in humility but with determination in the upheaval of the world.
Finally, the Community is a prophecy in the world. This means the memory of the beginning urges us to reaffirm this call with enthusiasm, and prophecy means seeing today and seeking and realising today what will be tomorrow. The prophets lived in difficult times. They did not speak of light in the fullness of the day, but in the fatigue of the night. So every humble and small service to our neighbour is prophetic because it mends the broken pieces of society.
It never gives up, it is not tempted, says Pope Francis, by indietrism, that is, always looking backwards, much easier than we believe. The Community tries to live the passion of the lover. Prophecy is the gesture of love that begins today what will be full tomorrow. Therefore, the Community feels the restlessness to be prophecy in the world, in the world to come. It calls today to build it up, to believe it possible, to recognise it present in that creation suffering so much.
The many cries, the terrible cries of the victims, of the poor pierce the sensitive heart of this mother, the Community and become concrete and personal compassion for the little ones and for entire countries. It is the choice for a more united, more fraternal world where no one is a stranger because everyone is a neighbour.
It is indeed true, as Andrea Riccardi recently said, using a somewhat outdated Italian verb,“riamicarsi”, to make friends again. Riamicarsi means to make friends again, to love again the souls of enemies, the disappointed, the indifferent. To love our own soul again by creating in ourselves a soul that is a friend, a friend of God and therefore a friend of humanity. And so, we must remove some enmity, some barriers, some distrust.
Our Communities represent, humbly but with so much humanity, this decision to draw closer to the world again and to love the world with others. For this I would thank our brothers and sisters of Ukraine, but also those, unfortunately many, who represent the prophecy of peace with their love in many areas of armed conflict. They do not stop renewing themselves in a world at war, from there peace can begin, peace begins.
Hope does not end, it is prophetic, it is God’s love that begins today, which is not yet there, and which begins in our poor humanity, a reflection of God’s love.
Thank you Lord, and thank you to the Community, which continues to make us look at humanity with confidence and passion because evil does not prevail. May the Lord send out new labourers for his harvest. May all choose peace and may the Lord give peace. And may every Community, whether small or large, in African villages or in large megapolises, be the house on the rock of love that never ends and never disappoints, for so many weary and wounded people for whom the Lord is compassionately interceding. He calls and sends his disciples entrusting them with the true power that changes the world and fulfils the desire of God today, which is also everyone’s desire, namely the desire of love.