A deep and shared joy: message of president of Sant'Egidio Marco Impagliazzo

February 6 2021 - ROME, ITALY


on the occasion of Community's 53rd anniversary

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Good evening!

Today's celebration has a more sober character than in past years for obvious reasons related to the pandemic. But this doesn't mean it has any less value or depth. Quite the contrary! First of all because we are in the Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere entrusted to us by John Paul II, the beautiful hall of the Community - as we have long defined it - the church to which all our communities around the world look to as the heart of common prayer. But also the beautiful room of the Christmas lunch with the poor. That Christmas lunch that began here and has since spread throughout the world.

It is the place of prayer and encounter with the poor. The fact that this liturgy is presided over by Cardinal Matteo increases our joy, because we all feel him as a brother whom the Lord has called to be part of the College of Cardinals that supports the Pope's mission. As he told us on September 1, "Eminent is the Community, what I have is for the love I have received and we are all title holders of this house that unites us to the Bishop of Rome and the Church he presides over." I still join his words when he said, "We thank the Community because it has changed our lives and after so many years and so much resistance it does not stop doing so. In the small seed of the beginning was hidden a big tree that Andrea saw even when it seemed impossible, because he believed that the Word is effective and we thank him wholeheartedly."
This is the further underlining of this feast: thank you, Andrea, from the bottom of our hearts for what you inspire every day in the life of the Community and in the journey of each one of us, making us feel close and near without any geographical, cultural, national, and ethnic distance. One people, one vocation. One heart and one soul.

Dear friends, today's joy is deep and it is shared. Let no one feel peripheral or small. On the contrary, may everyone receive the most affectionate greetings and good wishes from wherever you are connected. Our thoughts go especially to those who left us this year. We have realized what great value each person's life has. A very dear and affectionate greeting and thought to those who are sick. We are close to you and we love you. The Lord loves us and fills us with his gifts. I would like to mention three in particular: the Word of God, which this year has resounded with greater force even from a distance, given the situation, and which has guided us to live with wisdom and closeness in this time of pandemic. The Lord has spoken and has not left us alone with our fears, but has called us again to go out into the streets of the world.

The poor, our companions on the road and our teachers, who have enriched our poor humanity and with whom we have seen paths of freedom and rebirth open between those who serve and those who are served. The friendship that is never lacking in the Community because the Lord has said, "I no longer call you servants, but friends" and this word is filled every day with new meanings that each of us knows personally. Victory - said a wise Eastern bishop - is in friendship. If we want to continue to overcome the evil that manifests every day in different forms, not least that of the pandemic, we must invest a great deal in friendship. With everyone. Because no one - as Pope Francis reminds us - is saved alone, but we will only be saved together.