Pope Francis has sent a gift of 200 Euros to an elderly Venetian woman who wrote him, upset because she had been mugged. The woman, in her late 80s, told the Holy Father that her purse, which contained 54 Euros, had been stolen while she was on her way to visit her ailing husband in the hospital.
The Catholic Herald reports that last week, an envelope was delivered to a local priest, Father Gianni Antoniazzi, sealed by the Vatican Secretary of State. In it, a note from the Pope’s new almoner, Most Reverend Konrad Krajewski, said:
“Please deliver in the manner it deems appropriate, the relevant amount to the lady in question, that it is a gift of His Holiness, who offers her his apostolic blessing accompanied by desired aid and divine comfort for her and for her husband.”
Fr. Antoniazzi was deeply moved and said,
“It is an extraordinary series of events: Francis knows not only how to interact with people, communicating brilliantly and infusing them with great hope, but also responds to personal requests.”
Some have been critical of Pope Francis for his “new way” of doing business, speaking off the cuff, upsetting the status quo. This, though—this generosity of spirit, this concern for the individual—is where he shines.
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There is an old legend about a young girl who was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.
She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”
The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”
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The lesson of the starfish, like the lesson we learn from Pope Francis, is this: While we cannot change the lives of everyone in need, we can make a difference to the person in front of us. Pope Francis helped the elderly woman; the girl in the story helped the starfish.
We should go and do likewise, in our small way helping those in need who come into our path.