Pope Greets Florence Franciscan Group

‘You are among those that sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God’

Pope Florence Franciscan
© Vatican Media

Pope Francis Greeted the Delegation of the Franciscan Solidarity Center of Florence today in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican. He thanked them for their years of service to those in need.

Here is the greeting of the Holy Father, provided by the Vatican:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I’m happy to receive all of you of the Franciscan Solidarity Center, and I thank your President, Maria Eugenia Ralletto, for her words of greeting. Simple words, Franciscan words are those that she said, but in fact consistent: thank you.

For many years you have carried out, in the city of Florence, a precious service of listening and closeness to people who find themselves in difficult economic and social conditions: families that must face hardships of various kinds; elderly and disabled people who are in need of support and company. I wish first of all to say “thank you” to you for this. In a world that tends to run at two speeds, which on one hand produces wealth but on the other generates inequality, you are an effective endeavor of assistance, based on voluntary work and, to the gaze of faith, you are among those that sow the seeds of the Kingdom of God.

In fact, on coming into the world and proclaiming the Kingdom of the Father Jesus got close with compassion to human wounds. He made himself close especially to the poor, to those that were marginalized and rejected; He made himself close to the disheartened, to the abandoned, and to the oppressed. Let us recall His words: “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink, [. . . ] I was naked and you clothed me” (Matthew 25:35.36). So Christ revealed to us the heart of God: He is a Father who wants to protect all of us; to defend and promote the dignity of every son and daughter of His, and who calls us to build human, social and economic conditions so that no one is excluded or trampled in his/her fundamental rights so that no one should suffer for lack of material bread or loneliness.

In this work you are inspired by the luminous testimony of Saint Francis of Assisi, who practiced universal fraternity, “sowed peace everywhere and walked next to the poor, the abandoned, the sick, the rejected, the least” (Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, 2). By seeking to follow his example, you have carried forward this service for almost forty years, which is a concrete sign of hope, and also a sign of contradiction in busy city life, where so many find themselves alone in their poverty and suffering. A sign that shakes somnolent consciences and invites to come out of indifference, to have compassion for one who is wounded, to stoop down with tenderness to one who is crushed by the weight of life. And we have said the three words that are in fact God’s style: closeness — God gets close –, compassion, and tenderness. This is God’s style and this must be your style: closeness, compassion, and tenderness.

Dear friends, go forward with courage in your work! I ask the Lord to sustain it, because we know that our good heart and our human strength are not enough. First among the things to be done and beyond these, when we are before a poor person we are called to a love that makes him/her feel our brother, our sister, and this is possible thanks to Christ, who in fact is present in that person. I assure you of my prayer so that the Lord, through the intercession of Saint Francis, may keep you always in the joy of serving, in the joy of getting close, in the joy of having compassion, in the joy of doing things with tenderness. And, please, you also pray for me. Thank you.

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester