Christians must lead by example in order to transmit the faith to their children, who are the future and called to live as Jesus did. Pope Francis made these reflections during his morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Friday.
According to Vatican Radio, children from a local Roman parish were present in the chapel. During the Mass, the Pope stressed that actions speak louder than words.
Recalling today's first reading from the second letter of St. John, he asked: "Do we teach them what we heard in the First Reading: to walk in love and truth?” or "Do we teach them with words, and then allow our lives to go in another direction?”
Highlighting a key responsibility of parents and adults, he said: “A Christian has to take care of children, little ones and pass on the faith, pass on what he lives, what is in his heart. We cannot ignore the little plants that grow."
Despite the kids showing initial shyness and awkwardness, the Pope engaged the children in an interactive question-and-answer session. Regarding the presence of the children, the Pope said he was “looking at a promise, looking at the world to come."
Everything, he continued, depends on our having the right attitude towards children. He called on those present to examine whether their attitude is helpful and caring or detached.
"We all have a responsibility to give our very best, and the very best that we have is our faith. "Give it to them, but give it by example!” he exclaimed.
Asking the children why they were at Mass, one child eventually answered: “To see you.”
"I like to see you all," the Pope responded.
While speaking with them on receiving the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation, he reminded them that it is the sacrament of Baptism that "opens the door to Christian life" and immediately after which “the journey of a lifetime begins.”
"Walking in truth and love" is the journey described in the letter of St. John in the first reading, he repeated, from which, he continued, other sacraments follow, such as marriage.
Given this, he continued, "it is important to know how to live this journey, to know how to live it like Jesus."
Posing a question to the little ones, he asked, “Is prayer a sacrament? ... Out loud now! ... No! That’s right, it is not! Prayer is not a sacrament, but we must pray,” while reminding them to turn to Jesus and Mary to help them pray.
“You have come to see me, who said that? You. But also to see Jesus. Right? Or do we just leave Jesus out?" the Pope asked, to which the children responded with a resounding "No!".
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis invited them to ask Christ to help them walk in truth and love.
"Will we all say it together?" he asked. "Walking in truth and love," the children responded.