Welcoming the members of the Lazarus association, the Holy Father encouraged efforts to serve the homeless.
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Pope Francis received 200 members of the Lazarus association during a private audience in the Paul VI room of the Vatican, Saturday August 28, 2021. In a speech he gave them, the pontiff told them that they were “The loving face of Christ.”
It was by singing the chorus “Resucito” at the top of their lungs that the group of formerly homeless people and the young volunteers of Lazarus welcomed Pope Francis shortly before 12 noon. The pontiff, who had prepared a speech, began a dialogue with members of the French association, which was founded in 2011. The delegation was then invited to lunch at the Vatican.
Lazarus, an example for the homeless
In the text shared with participants, the Pope first thanked God for the “beautiful experience” of fraternity that is lived daily in the Lazarus collocations. “You have here an opportunity to be, not only for yourself but also for the world, a showcase of the social friendship that we are all called to live,” he said.
For the Pope, who has been pleading since 2013 for a poor Church at the service of the poor, “Lazarus” is an example. “In an environment strewn with indifference, individualism and selfishness, you make us understand that the values of an authentic life are to be found in welcoming differences, respect for human dignity, listening, ‘attention to the other and the service of the most humble’,” he said.
“Go to the peripheries!”
Aware of the difficult journeys of some people involved in the association—those who have faced or still face rejection, isolation or even exclusion—he encouraged them never to give up. He exhorted them, saying, “Go forward, cultivating in your heart the hope of contagious joy.” For the poor, “the face of Christ’s love”, are true evangelizers. And he confided in them, “God loves you, you are his privileged ones.”
The head of the Catholic Church then invited them not to be content with a life of friendship and sharing. “Go to the peripheries,” he asked them, “with your words and deeds pour the oil of consolation and healing on sore hearts.”