Rome (Agenzia Fides) - "The protagonist of History is the beggar", said Pope Francis today, taking up the incipit of a beautiful sentence pronounced by Don Luigi Giussani on May 30, 1998 in St. Peter's Square, in a meeting with John Paul II («The real protagonist of the history is the beggar: Christ who begs for man’s heart, and man’s heart that begs for Christ"). Today, Wednesday, June 28, during the General Audience, and continuing the catecheses dedicated to men and women who have brilliantly witnessed to the passion for proclaiming the Gospel and apostolic zeal, the Bishop of Rome reproposed the Christian adventure of Saint Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), foundress of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, who dedicated her life to the intellectual and religious formation of the poor in rural Australia. Recalling the many works initiated by Sister Mary in caring for the poor and the marginalized, the Pope remarked (adding to the written text considerations delivered "off the cuff") that "on the path to holiness, the poor and marginalized are protagonists, and a person cannot advance in holiness if he or she is not dedicated to them too, in one way or another. But they are the presence of the Lord, those who are in need of the Lord’s help. Once - continued the Pontiff - I read a phrase that struck me; it said: "The protagonist of History is the beggar. They are the ones who draw attention to this great injustice, which is the great poverty in the world; money is spent on manufacturing weapons, not providing meals. And do not forget: there is no holiness if in one way or another there is no care for the poor, the needy, those who are somewhat on the margins of society".
In his catechesis, Pope Francis recalled that the apostolic fervor of Saint Mary MacKillop manifested itself and bore fruit especially in the field of formation and teaching; "Wisely reading the signs of the times", Sister Mary understood that "for her, the best way to do so was through the education of the young, in the knowledge that Catholic education is a form of evangelization". Education - added the Successor of Peter "does not consist of filling the head with ideas, but in accompanying and encouraging students on the path of human and spiritual growth, showing them how friendship with the Risen Jesus expands the heart and makes life more humane". A vision that Pope Francis has recognized as "fully relevant today, when we feel the need for an “educational pact” capable of uniting families, schools and society as a whole".
Pope Francis also recalled the gift of inner peace received and witnessed by Sister Mary MacKillop in her earthly life, also marked by crosses, misunderstandings and bad things suffered: she "had to pay bills, negotiate with local bishops and priests, manage the schools and look after the professional and spiritual formation of her Sisters; and, later, she suffered health problems".
Sustained by grace, Saint Mary "did not give up in times of trial and darkness, when her joy was dampened by opposition or rejection. All the saints" the Pope said "faced opposition, even within the Church. This is curious. And she faced it too. She remained convinced that even when the Lord gave her “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction", The Lord Himself would soon answer her cry and surround her with His grace. This is the secret of apostolic zeal: the continual relationship with the Lord". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 28/6/2023)