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“Shelter the Homeless”

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“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.. "(Leviticus 19: 33-34).

The call that God addresses to Moses and his people not to forget the past is an examination of conscience that we all have to do in terms of reception. It often happens that even though we experienced  that in first person we run the risk of having a hostile attitude towards the needs of others.

God’s people is a people on the move, often in search of a certainty that he does not find in the place that he left and for this reason he is doubly in need of care and attention. "Shelter the homeless" or even "welcome the stranger" refers to the practice of giving hospitality, a refuge to the brother who is travelling.

Already in pre-Christian times, hospitality was known as a behavior due to the host, a sign of friendship amongst individuals, but it’s with the advent of Christianity that it is proclaimed as a commandment, as a service offered to those in need, as an help to the poor.

The "hostels" that arose on the occasion of the first Jubilee (1300) welcomed the masses of pilgrims that reached Rome, on foot or by means of luck, and who were in need of everything. Hospitia or already xenodochia (Xénos-foreigner) were then the houses that arose in the Later Christian Middle Ages, in the monasteries, which were intended for important guests, but also for the poor, pilgrims, the foreigners. Some of them were even put to accommodate sick and to "rescue" the dead. Those were real hospitals for the refreshment of the body and the care of soul. They were holy places where the pilgrim's rest was joined to the caring for the sick, consolation to the poor and there the dead were buried.

If the Jubilee that we are experiencing is a way to discover or rediscover the works of corporal and spiritual mercy, to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty, as Pope Francis hopes (MV 15), the practice of welcome requires a real preparation.

In his address to those engaged in pilgrimage work (January 21, 2016) Pope Francis proposed some suggestions, which resound a bit like duties, that should be take into consideration by those engaged in welcome work " In welcoming, let’s give it our all".  It should be remembered that although the pilgrim moves en masse, is primarily a person with his own history, who travels with his faith and brings with him his prayers, his desires. Above all, in each one there is a heart that seeks God. And those who are called to welcome can’t and mustn’t impede in any way the meeting between the pilgrim soul and God.

Therefore, an affectionate, festive, and patient welcome, can only be a stimulus to the pilgrim to continue his path, refreshing him already in part of the fatigue of travel. A journey that must be lightened and not burdened by any new difficulties: the pilgrim has with him his burdens and he  has a fervent desire to get rid of them. "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened" (Mt 11:28).

Those engaged in welcome or support work are therefore called to play the role of Simon of Cyrene, to help those who show a need, both materially and spiritually, to accompany them, considering this encounter with the needy as their own  meeting with Jesus.

Welcome and hospitality, practiced on the model of Jesus, in Jesus, play an important role in evangelization and support a change of course in the lives of those who are welcomed and those who welcome, for their ambivalence: gaze, sweetness, patience are the first hugs that he caters to those who are confused and approach Him, without being disappointed. Matthew, Zacchaeus, the sinful woman after meeting Jesus did not come back, but they followed him to the end of their days, because they felt embraced, loved. The pilgrim facing the new, something unknown needs a sweet and patient guide, in whom, he almost unconsciously, trusts, and how many graces the guide receives in giving herself responsibly to this service.

The warm words that Jesus says with humility to those He meets along the way are the familiar warmth for which the wandering soul longs, and when a man found this, he feels that he is the awaited one, the brother who returns and will certainly return again. Humility and Patience, therefore, are the virtues of those who welcome. The guide is a humble guest companion, not a cold observer of rules to be imposed, as unfortunately happens, to execute a command without feelings. Hospitality is an act by which he who welcomes, welcomes the humanity of the other and realizes his own humanity in a transfer of values that makes the guest in turn capable of welcoming because he was welcomed and felt welcomed "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart"(Mt 11:29).

Faced with the problem of migrants, welcome is much more complex, since hospitality is extended in time and space and it is difficult to find hearts ready to open themselves up to the unknown, because they are full of prejudice and fear, and the news of newscasts are certainly not comforting, so they aren’t a stimulus to overcome certain barriers, often causing confusion.

Already in October 2015, on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy, the C.E.I. approved a handbook, which was then distributed to the Italian dioceses, including information on the reception of asylum seekers and refugees, and highlighting, given the complexity of the issue, a process of preparation for the communities who are called to give hospitality: the churches, Caritas, families.

We must remember that the works of charity are not the prerogative of communities or voluntary associations, but they call into question every single creature that calls herself Christian, although the lack of listening remains the main problem: "No time no interest in listening to the stories of others. We already have our own problems! "These are the recurrent expressions which in turns we all say or at least we formulate as thoughts. We should not feel totally exempted or privileged because once, and only once, we gave assistance to those who are not of us.

The second obstacle lies in not being able to recognize God yet, His suffering Son in the other's face, the very life of Jesus, who was already fugitive, exile as a child to escape the imminent danger of death, exactly as the brothers who every day continue to arrive on our shores because in their "homelands" there is only misery and death. Abraham, at the oaks of Mamre, in the three strangers recognizes the presence of the Lord and with Sara is working to give them relief.

So God commands us to see and recognize him in wayfarers that we meet along our way and He grants to those who practice hospitality new and great favors. God does not keep anything for himself, but He returns everything multiplied.

That's why it is important to develop the culture of listening, of an attentive listening that aspires to know the other as an independent entity and not to classify him within a category of belonging to a religion, culture and more. A listening to establish a relationship where differences are no longer a threat, but a resource to be shared.

After all, we are all exiles. Aren’t we? We are always looking for a shelter, a refuge "O Lord, all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours... For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were." (1Ch 29:11 to 15). What exile did not create the human will for the creature!

We might call Luisa the great exile of the Divine Will, and also a great "pilgrim".

For all of us she lived her life "as an exile”" in her room because, finding refuge and refreshment in the heart of Jesus, in His Will and giving to Him the exchange of this shelter and refreshment, she allowed to Jesus, with the total offer of herself, to rebuild in her our homeland, the only one  in which we are all called to live, the Kingdom of the Supreme Fiat.

In the light of the Divine Will Jesus’ flight to Egypt means to repair for the exile in which the human will put the creature, to recall her to live not in a foreign land, but in the land that God planned for all His children and where He had placed them. Egypt symbolizes the human will, a land full of idols: idols of vainglory, of self-esteem and of passions. Idols that are grounded and sent to hell with the sole passage of Jesus, through the encounter of the creature with Him.

Since man was made by the Holy Trinity in order to live in the Divine Will, all the acts redone by Jesus had to serve as so many different cities or nations, in which man should find with right his fatherland, the different cities which should hold his amusements, his joys, the enchanting scenes that his Creator had prepared with so much love. So that one can say the sun is a city, and as the soul enters into the Divine Volition she finds this city of light, with all the various beauties of colors and of sweetness; she finds the creative and festive act, full of joys, of love and of indescribable happiness, and she immerses herself in these beauties as in her fatherland and renders herself proprietor of the goods that she finds there.

Luisa calls this immersion of the creature in the beauties of Creation the "pilgrimage of the soul". While with the prayer of the "Our Father Our" we invoke the coming of the Kingdom, with "the Rounds" we learn to live in the Kingdom of the Divine Will. Man, joining the creation and penetrating the life of the Supreme Fiat that supports it, comes into the Act Divine, he joins the Fiat, the Divine Will and passes from the natural act to the transformation of the Act Divine, coming, in this way, to take possession of the life which sustains all the creation.

What glory receives the Divine Will in seeing populated the cities that It created only for man who, because entering into the Divine Will he finds the way that conducts him into the different cities that God formed in the creation; and there he finds a love that embraces him and communicates the way of love to him. With the creation God prepared a worthy dwelling for man, that is his Homeland and creating man He intended to prepare a worthy dwelling, a Homeland for Himself. 

Most sweet Mama we  pray You,

for the sake of the sorrow You suffered in the exile of Egypt,

to make our soul go out of the exile of our will,

and to make us repatriate

to the dear Fatherland of the Divine Will



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