(Address to the Missionaries of the Homeless Shelter Dono di Maria, 21 May 2013)
When we say “home,” we mean a place of hospitality, a dwelling, a pleasant human environment where one stays readily, finds oneself, feels inserted into a territory, a community. Yet more profoundly, home is a word with a typically familiar flavor, which recalls warmth, affection, and the love that can be felt in a family. Hence the home represents the most precious human treasures: encounter, relations among people who are different in age, culture, and history, but who live together and help one another to grow. For this reason, the home is a crucial place in life, where life grows and can be fulfilled, because it is a place in which every person learns to receive love and to give love. This is “home.” And this is what this home has tried to be for twenty-five years! On the border between the Vatican and Italy, it is a strong appeal to us all – to the church, to the city of Rome – to be more and more of a family, a “home” open to hospitality, care, and brotherhood.
There is then a second very important word: gift, which qualifies this home and describes its typical identity. It is a home, in fact, that is characterized by gift, by mutual gift. What do I mean? I wish to say that this home gives hospitality – material and spiritual sustenance to you, dear guests, who have come from different parts of the world. But you are also a gift for this home and for the church. You tell us that to love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, and to serve him concretely. And you are, dear brothers and sisters, the face of Jesus. Thank you! To all those who work in this place, you give the possibility to serve Jesus in those who are in difficulty, who are in need of help.
This home, then, is a luminous transparency of the charity of God, who is a good and merciful Father to all. Open hospitality is lived here, without distinctions of nationality or religion, according to the teaching of Jesus: “You received without pay, give without pay,” (Matthew 10:8). We must recover the whole sense of gift, of gratuitousness, of solidarity. Rampart capitalism has taught the logic of profit at all costs, of giving to get, of exploitation without looking at the person. . . and we see the results in the crisis we are experiencing! This home is a place that teaches charity; it is a “school” of charity, which instructs me to go and encounter every person, not for profit, but for love.