A small group from the Lázaro Association had already been received by the Pope in May this year. Now more numerous, they returned to the Vatican to celebrate with Francis its 10 years of foundation. And they heard words of encouragement from the Pontiff.
Pope Francis ended his activities this Saturday, welcoming, at the Vatican, the members of the Lazarus Association, which is completing 10 years of existence.
The project was born in France with the aim of providing homeless people with a home. More than offering shelter, the experience of the Association’s members is to live with these people in their homes and share their daily lives. Today, 10 years later, the project has grown and is present in Belgium, Spain and Mexico.
“I thank God for the beautiful experience they are having in the cohabitation and fraternity that they live on a daily basis”, the Pope writes in the speech that was delivered, defining the project as “a showcase of the social friendship that we are all called to live”.
“In an environment full of indifference, individualism and selfishness, it makes us understand that the values of authentic life are to be found in accepting differences, respecting human dignity, listening, caring for and serving the humblest.”
the courage to open doors
After hearing some testimonies, the Pope set aside the written text and handed it over, and reflected on what he had heard. Francisco’s speech was based on an image, that of the “door”, a metaphor for many experiences reported during the meeting: “The experience of the open door, the closed door, the fear of not opening the door for me, the fear of me shut the door in their face. This experience that we’ve just heard from some of you is the experience of each of us if we look inside ourselves.”
So many situations that raise a question: “What is my relationship with the door?”. “The door is God,” says the Pope. What is my relationship with the door? Do I appropriate it and not let anyone in? Or am I afraid to knock on the door? Or do I wait without knocking that someone opens it for me? Each of us has different attitudes towards God who is the door.
Lazarus, a small drop in the sea of need
Sometimes, in life, it is necessary to have “the humility to knock at the door”, at other times it is necessary to have “the courage not to be afraid of the one who will open the door for me, who is God”. And once inside, one should have “the greatness of not closing the door behind me”, but rather “opening it so that others can enter”. This is what the institution has been doing for years: “Open doors”. Not as “doormen” but as “men and women who, because they once opened the door for each of you, feel the need to open it for others.”
The Pope thus expressed his deepest gratitude for this drop in the sea of needs. A drop, however, precious: “Go ahead!”. Without, however, the pride of finding, they are great.
Do not give up
The same encouragement is contained in the delivered speech. In society, one can feel isolated, rejected and suffer from exclusion. “But don’t give up, don’t be discouraged”, were the words of the Pontiff.
Francis encouraged them to remain firm in their convictions and faith. “You are the loving face of Christ. So spread this fire of love around you that warms cold and dry hearts.”
The Pope’s exhortation continued asking that the members of the Association be able to go to the peripheries, “which are often filled with loneliness, sadness, inner wounds and a loss of zest for life.”
“With your words and actions, pour the oil of consolation and healing on the wounded hearts. I want to repeat: God loves them.”
The Holy Father concluded by imparting his apostolic blessing.