Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Looking the poor in the eye, touching the needy, following the example of Jesus to make room for the work of the Holy Spirit: "This is a Christian! This is what Jesus taught: to reach out to those in need. Like Jesus who always reached out to the people. Who went out to meet them. Reaching out to the most needy". This is the heart of the video message sent by Pope Francis to the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires on the feast of St Cajetan.
Every year, on August 7, the feast of the saint's death, thousands of
people line up to venerate the statue of San Cayetano, to kiss the glass of the
small niche that contains it and make the sign of the cross. The
queue winds through 15 of the city's streets all day long and the wait can last
up to 10 hours.
The theme of the festival this year is "With Jesus and San Cayetano we encounter the neediest." The celebration will include a novena of prayer, from 1 to 9 August, with specific prayer intentions each day: for the family, authorities, the suffering, deceased, unemployed, and solidarity.
The Pope's video message is being broadcast at regular intervals on the Catholic Television of Buenos Aires (Canal 21) and on big screens at the entrance of the Sanctuary starting at midnight local time (5 this morning in Italy) so that the faithful waiting in line can see and hear him. Here is the full text of the message.
Every year, after having travelled the length of the queue, I speak with you. This time, however, I have travelled the length of the queue in my heart. I am a little too far away to be able to share this beautiful moment with you. Right now, you are on pilgrimage towards the image of St Cajetan. Why? To meet with him, to meet with Jesus. But today, the theme of this pilgrimage - a theme chosen for you, selected from among many possibilities - today the theme is about another meeting, and says: "With Jesus and St Cajetan, let us reach out to those most in need. "
This speaks of the people most in need, of those who need us to give them a hand, who need us to look them with love, to share their pain or their anxieties, their problems. What's important is that we don't just look at them from afar or help from afar. No, no! We must reach out to them. This is being Christian! This is what Jesus taught us: to reach out to the needy. Like Jesus who always reached out to the people. He went to meet them. Reaching out to those most in need.
Sometimes, I ask people, "Do you give alms." They say, "Yes, father." "And when you give alms, do you look into the eyes of people you are giving alms to?" "Ah, I do not know, I don't really think about it". "Then you have not reached out to those people. You just tossed them some charity and went away. When you give alms, do you touch their hands or just toss them the coins?". "No, I toss them the coins". "Then you have not touched them. And if you have not touched them, you have not reached out to them." What Jesus teaches us, first of all, is to reach out to each other, and in reaching out, helping one another.
We must be able to reach out to each other. We must build, create, construct a culture of encounter. How many differences, family troubles, always! Trouble in the neighborhood, trouble at work, trouble everywhere. And these differences do not help. The culture of encounter. Reaching out to encounter eachother. And the theme says, "Reaching out to those most in need", in short, with those who need me. With those who are going through a bad time, far worse than what I'm going through.
There is always someone who is having a worse, eh? Always! There is always someone. So, I think, "I'm going through a bad time, I line up to encounter San Cayetano and with Jesus and then go out to encounter others, because there is always someone who is having it worse than me." To these people, it is to these people that we have to reach out.
Thank you for listening, thank
you for coming here today, thank you for everything you carry in your hearts. Jesus loves you very much! San Cayetano loves you very much!
only one thing: that you reach out! And that you go
and seek out and encounter the most needy! But not alone, no. With Jesus and San
Cayetano! Does this mean going
to convince someone to become became Catholic? No,
no, no! You are just
reaching out to meet him, he is your brother! That is enough. You reach
out to help them, the rest is done by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit. Remember
well: with San Cayetano, we need we encounter the neediest. With
Jesus, we who are in need, we reach out to those who are even more in need. And
maybe Jesus will show us the path to meet with those who need it most.
When you meet those most in need, your heart will begin to grow bigger, bigger and bigger! Because reaching out multiplies our capacity to love. An encounter with others makes our heart bigger. Take courage! "I don't know what to do on my own". No, no, no! With Jesus and San Cayetano! May God bless you and may this feast day of St Cajetan end well. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.