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Pope’s Address at Villa Nazareth

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Pope’s Address at Villa Nazareth

Below is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave during his visit to Villa Nazareth in the Pineta Sacchetti area of Rome on Saturday afternoon. Founded in 1954 to help orphans and poor children, Villa Nazareth aims to provide the underprivileged with educational opportunities.


There are so many individuals involved in this passage of the Gospel: the one who asks the question “€œwho is my neighbor?”€; Jesus; and then, in the parable, the brigands; the poor man who was half dead on the road, then the priest, then the Doctor of the Law, perhaps a lawyer [the “€œLevite”€]; then the innkeeper.

On the parable, perhaps neither the priest, nor the Doctor of the Law, nor the Samaritan, nor the innkeeper were able to answer the question “€œwho is my neighbor?”€ Perhaps they didn”€™t even know their “€œneighbor”€ — who was their “€œneighbor.”€ The priest was in a hurry, as all priests, because he looked at his watch: “€œI must say Mass,”€ or, so often: “€œI left the church open, I must close it, because that”€™s the schedule and I can”€™t stay here.”€™ The Doctor of the Law, a practical man, said: “€œIf I get involved in this, I”€™ll have to go to the court tomorrow, be a witness, say what I”€™ve done, I”€™ll lose two, three days of work … No, no, better not go … Hail Pontius Pilate, and he went away. Instead, the other one [the Samaritan], sinner, foreigner who was not in fact of the People of God, was moved: “€œhe had compassion,”€ and he stopped. All three — the priest, the lawyer and the Samaritan — knew well what should be done. And each one made his decision. But I like to think of the innkeeper: he is the anonymous one. He saw all this, he saw and didn”€™t understand anything. “€œBut he is crazy! A Samaritan who helps a Jew! He”€™s crazy! And then, with his hands, he tends to the wounds and brings him to the Inn and says to me: “€œTake care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back …”€ I”€™ve never seen anything like it, he”€™s mad!”€ And that man received the Word of God. Whose testimony, that of the priest? No, he didn”€™t even see him; of the lawyer — the same. Of the sinner, a sinner that had compassion. “€œAh, did you hear something? A sinner, yes, he was not a faithful of the People of God, but he had compassion.”€ And he <the innkeeper> didn”€™t understand anything; he remained doubtful, perhaps curious: “€œBut what strange thing happened here …”€ With anxiety inside — and this is what witness does — the witness of this sinner sowed anxiety in the innkeeper”€™s heart. And what happened to him — the Gospel doesn”€™t say, not even his name. But undoubtedly this man … “€“ undoubtedly, because when the Holy Spirit sows, He makes one grow — undoubtedly his curiosity grew, his anxiety, made him grow in his heart and he received the message of the testimony. Then, days after, the Samaritan passed by that side again; no doubt he paid something. Or [the innkeeper said to him]: “€œNo, leave it, leave it, this is for my account.”€

And why do I pause today on this personage, on this person? Because our witness cannot be calculated “€“ I don”€™t know how it”€™s said –. Testimony is to live in such a way that others “€œseeing your works glorify the Father who is in Heaven”€ (cf. Matthew 5:16), namely, they encounter the Father, they go to Him .. These are Jesus”€™ words.

I heard news about Villa Nazareth: “€œThere is this work …,”€ but I didn”€™t know it well. Then Monsignor Celli said something to me … It”€™s a work, a work where testimony is fostered. One comes here not to “€œclimb up,”€ or to earn money, no, but to follow in Jesus”€™ steps and witness to Jesus, to sow testimony “€“ in silence, without explanations, with gestures … taking up the language of gestures. And no doubt this innkeeper is in Heaven — undoubtedly! — because surely that seed grew; it germinated. He saw something that he never, never thought he”€™d see. And this is testimony. Testimony passes and goes away. You leave it there and you go. The Lord protects it, makes it grow, as He makes a seed grow: while the innkeeper sleeps the plant grows.

I hope that this work continues to be a work of testimony, a house of testimony, of testimony to all, to all. Of testimony for people that approach it, or hear talk of it … a testimony. I hope for this. And may the Lord free us from brigands — there are so many! — may He free us from priests in a hurry or who are always going in a hurry, always, they don”€™t have time to listen, to see, they have to do their things …; that He free us from Doctors who want to present Jesus Christ”€™s faith with a mathematical rigidity; and that He teach us to stop, and teach us that wisdom of the Gospel: “€˜to soil one”€™s hands.”€ May the Lord give us this grace. Thank you.




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