· Vatican City ·

The greatest gift

 The greatest gift  ING-046
18 November 2022

“The poor, ... in whose wounds we encounter Jesus. He told us so. Let us never forget it”. With these words in our hearts, pronounced by the Pope at the end of the homily, our Sixth World Day of the Poor continued at table, as a family, with guests Giorgio and Gianni, both homeless in the Vatican area.

This proposal of San Gregorio VII Parish offered us an unforgettable opportunity to open ourselves to people who were almost strangers, and the distance between us immediately melted away. “Look upon this meeting of ours full of wonder and fraternity”, we prayed, and between meal courses a warmth more nourishing than the food increased.

Giorgio, a cheerful 40-year-old from Romania, is famous for his enthusiastic Good morning! He loves to take long bike rides and proudly shows us images of the huge carp fish he caught in the Tiber. Gianni, a true Roman, has been a chef for 40 years. It was our secret; we told the home cook only at the end of the meal so as not to intimidate her! We knew he would like the stracciatella soup, and when he saw it he was almost moved. His review of the food was generous, but even more so his gratitude for a day unlike any other: sitting together, with a desire for real dialogue, adults and young people, without filters.

We exchange stories, we share lives; Gianni tells of a Rome when the TV was coin-operated, and from his memory, with modesty, even the scars emerge. Our children would stay and listen for hours. We take a photo, then look out onto the balcony, and dark clouds bring our guests back to reality: if it rains tonight, they will need new cardboard to avoid getting wet.

At the door, Giorgio’s eyes fill with tears, and he whispers, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them”, and the gift of his faith is, for those who have welcomed him, the greatest gift.

Giovanni M. Capetta