(Vatican Radio) Thousands of people in Rome’s working class Magliana neighbourhood
welcomed Pope Francis on Sunday evening to the parish of San Gregorio Magno. The streets
were filled with people, many holding signs greeting the Pope in Roman dialect, still
spoken daily in the neighbourhood. The Pope spent three hours at the parish, and began
is visit by meeting young people in a soccer field, where he emphasized hope.
Pope Francis told them they could not live without hope, which drives people to be creative, to have children, to work. He said it’s not always easy to have hope today: “you see so many terrible things, sickness, unemployment”. The Holy Father said hope is a gift from God, and if you take away hope, then young people lose their faith and lose their way.
Pope Francis also met with the old and infirm, and told them to offer their suffering with Jesus on the Cross.
In a meeting with ex-convicts and former drug addicts, the Holy Father reminded them the Lord is not just at Church, but also in their own frailty. He said the best place to find Jesus in in “places of human weakness”. He also lamented the culture of waste, pointing out as an example the killing of unborn children in their mother’s womb.
The Holy Father heard confessions before celebrating Mass, where the Gospel was the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead.
“All of us have some parts …of our heart that are not alive, that are a bit dead,” Pope Francis said. “Only the power of Jesus can help us come out of these tombs of sin is in each and every one of us. But sometimes we are too attached to these tombs and are reluctant to leave them. This is when our soul starts to stink; this is the stench of sin.”
He said the promise of the Gospel of the Day was that Jesus would open these tombs and let us out.
“The Lord has the power to restore life to the dead,” said Pope Francis. “Do we have the strength to hear what Jesus said to Lazarus: Come out?”
The Holy Father said we must contemplate our attachment to sin, and avoid becoming corrupt by seeking the forgiveness of the Lord.
The Pope had pocketsize books of the Gospels handed out at the Mass, just as he did at the Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square earlier in the day. He repeated his request that the Gospels be carried at all times, and be read during any available moment, such as waiting in line or on the bus, but only “when you are not busy watching your pockets.”