Pope thanks Portuguese charity workers for 'love in action'

On the third day of his Apostolic Journey to Portugal, Pope Francis praises charitable outreach agents for living out 'love in action,' and reminds them of the value of even the most simple of gestures.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

'Love in action,' is the way Pope Francis characterized the selfless work of charity workers during his third day in Portugal for the occasion of the 37th World Youth Day.

Addressing representatives of some aid and charitable centers in the Centro Paroquial da Serafina” in Lisbon on Friday morning, the Pope urged them to continue making “life a gift of love and joy.”

The Pope said there is no such thing as "abstract love," noting, "it doesn't exist."

Listen to our report:

"Concrete love, that which gets its hands dirty, and each one of us can ask: is the love I feel for everyone here, what I feel for others, concrete or abstract? When I shake hands with a person in need, with a sick person, with a marginalised person, after shaking hands, do I do so immediately, so that they do not "infect" me?"

Pope Francis' encounter with charitable workers in Portugal
Pope Francis' encounter with charitable workers in Portugal

He called on individuals to ask themselves if  I am disgusted by poverty, and warned against living, what he described as, "distilled lives," which exist only in our imaginations, but not in reality.

“How many useless distilled lives, which pass through life without leaving a trace...”

The Pope instead called for living in a way that "leaves a mark" and can be an "inspiration to others."

Getting hands dirty

"With your behaviour, with your commitment, with your getting your hands dirty by touching the reality and the misery of others, you are generating inspiration, you are generating life," the Pope stressed, saying, "thank you for that."

The Pope thanked them from the bottom of his heart, telling them to keep going and not get discouraged. "And if you get discouraged, have a glass of water and keep going," he said.

The Pope had made these comments off the cuff while distributing the prepared speech. In that text, the Pope said charity is the origin and goal of our Christian journey, and of the charity worker's presence, which is a "concrete reminder of “love in action.”

The Pope said it helps us remember the meaning of what we do and how we are to do it. 

Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal
Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal

The secret to being truly happy

Love, the Pope told the charitable workers, makes us happy not only in heaven, but here on earth too, because it expands our hearts and allows us to embrace the meaning of life. 

“If we want to be truly happy, then, let us learn to transform everything into love, offering to others our work and our time, speaking kindly words and doing good deeds with a smile, an embrace, by listening, or even with a look.”

He encouraged the young people and those gathered before him, to live in this way. “All of us can do it, and everyone needs it, here and throughout the world,” he said.

The Pope called for living, helping and loving together, among the “young and old, the healthy and sick, all together.”

Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal
Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal

Reflecting on illness, Pope Francis said “we must not allow ourselves to be “defined” by our sickness, but instead make it a constructive part of our contribution to the wider community.” 

“We must not let ourselves be “defined” by sickness or difficulty, for none of us “is” an illness or problem: each of us is a gift, a unique gift, with our own limitations, a precious and sacred gift for God, and for the Christian and human community.”

Wonderful things can happen

Emphasizing the need to acting concretely, the Pope said, "this requires paying attention to the “here and now."

“If we do not waste time complaining about things, but instead focus on meeting people’s concrete needs, with joy and trust in God’s providence, then wonderful things can happen.”

“Carry on, with gentleness and kindness,” the Pope implored, “taking up challenges, with their old and new forms of poverty, and responding in concrete ways, with creativity and courage.”

Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal
Pope Francis at encounter with charitable workers in Portugal

Church's real treasure

The Pope appealed for being close to the most vulnerable. 

“While we are all fragile and in need, the Gospel’s compassionate outlook leads us to see the needs of the most vulnerable.  It likewise impels us to serve the poor – the excluded, the outcast, the discarded, the little ones, the defenceless – those most beloved of God, who made himself poor for,” the Pope recalled. 

“They are the Church’s real treasure...”

Make lives a gift of love

The Pope called on faithful to make their lives a gift of love.

“Loving is a gift for all! “Let us remember: “o amor é um presente para todos!”. Let us repeat it together: o amor é um presente para todos!”

“Let us love in that way!” the Pope said,  “Please, carry on making life a gift of love and joy.”

Full video of meeting with charity workers

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04 August 2023, 11:38