Who is your neighbor? Someone who 'inconveniences' you, Francis says

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Panama Jan. 26, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/EWTN.

On the final day of World Youth Day in Panama, Pope Francis met with the guests of a home for people with AIDS, reflecting on a question Jesus was asked in the Gospels: “Who is my neighbor?”

When Jesus was asked to describe a neighbor, he did not respond with “theories, or give a fine, lofty speech,” the pope said at the Good Samaritan Home in Panama City Jan. 27. “Instead he told a story – the parable of the Good Samaritan – a concrete example drawn from the real life.”

He explained that a neighbor is the person who moves you to stop and “make room.” A person who “wonderfully inconveniences our lives, because it reminds us and points our steps towards what is really important, and it frees us from all that is trite and superficial in the way we follow the Lord.”

Pope Francis spoke at one of four centers of the Good Samaritan Home, a charity of the Church in Panama which assists poor adults and young people with AIDS. “Being with you today gives me reason for renewed hope. Thank you for giving me this,” he said.

Among those present at the encounter were about 60 young people who receive assistance from the Good Samaritan Home, a few of whom shared their testimonies with the pope. “This home, and all the centers you represent, are a sign of the new life that the Lord wants to give us,” he told the young people.

Explaining that a home is a place which requires cooperation, he stated that “no one can be indifferent or aloof, since each is a stone needed to build the home.”

And to do this requires the grace to be patient and to forgive one another, he added. “How many times should I forgive and start over?” he asked. “Seventy times seven times, as many times as necessary. To create strong bonds requires confidence and trust nurtured daily by patience and forgiveness.”

Francis led the noon Angelus, and after the prayer, gave an impromptu speech on the situations in Colombia and Venezuela. He said that had thought a lot about the people of Venezuela while in Panama, and that he had felt particularly united to them in these days.

“Faced with the grave situation that [Venezuela] is going through, I ask the Lord to seek and achieve a just and peaceful solution to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights and exclusively desiring the good of all the inhabitants of the country,” he said.

He also invited Catholics to pray for the country through the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto, Patroness of Venezuela.

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