The volunteers prepare lunch with the poor, in Bucharest

Bucharest: The grace of a day with the poor

Following the Pope's invitation, several charities in the Romanian capital organized to spend the day with the less fortunate. From mass, to lunch and games, it was an opportunity to share hope.

Three years ago, Pope Francis invited us to share in the Day of the Poor, not for good practice in volunteering, but because "if I really want to meet Christ it is necessary that we touch his body through the wounded bodies of the poor.” The Holy Father's wish was that this Day would establish itself as a tradition, as a concrete contribution to evangelization in the contemporary world. And so last year, as well, on the occasion of the second Day of the Poor, "This poor man cries out and the Lord listens to him", we rediscovered the joy of being together.

This year's message, for the third Day of the Poor, has also struck us with a sparkle: "The hope of the poor will never perish forever”. And with great firmness he condemned our way of looking at these people:"Frequently judged parasites on society, the poor are not even forgiven their poverty”; and our actions: "We can build any number of walls and close our door in the vain effort to feel secure in our wealth, at the expense of those left outside. It will not be that way for ever".

This year too, together with many associations and charitable works in Romania, we followed Pope Francis. The mass, celebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio Miguel Maury Buendia, at the parish of St Francis of Assisi in Bucharest, was attended by more than 200 people who then stayed for lunch. It was a very rich lunch, excellently organized by the friends of Pope John XXIII in collaboration with the Food Bank, Caritas, the friars of Charity, the Congregation Don Orione, the Marist Brothers, the community of Sant'Egidio, and our friends of the movement. The starters, pasta, stew with polenta, cutlets and chicken wings, and homemade desserts were wolfed down.

Afterwards, there was a moment of games for everyone. Some remained in the parish with the older people, we went with the volunteers of Pope John XXIII (there were 20 of them who had come from Italy specifically for this Day) to the Work of the Marist Friars, which welcomes 30 abandoned children and we played all afternoon.

What a day! What a grace! As Pope Francis reminded us in his message, and as the Nuncio reminded us during his sermon before giving us the greetings of the Holy Father, the road is simple: "It is enough to stop for a moment, smile and listen."

I carry this experience within my heart in an indelible way: "The poor save us because they allow us to meet the face of Jesus Christ". This became evident to me during the Tatal Nostru, the Our Father, during Mass: at that moment everyone, absolutely everyone, the elderly, the homeless, children, the disabled, prayed together: one voice was heard, which was certain and strong. That moment moved me. The Our Father is truly the prayer of the poor, and the poor man is a man of trust, because he is certain! Accompanied by our Nuncio, we lived the experience of people who are certain on their journey.

Simona, Bucharest, Romania