On Sunday, Pope Francis made a pastoral visit to the Roman parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis (Holy Mary Queen of Peace) in the southern area of Ostia Lido.
Prior to his arrival to the parish, the Holy Father made an unscheduled stop at a trailer where the Little Sisters of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld have made their home. The sisters live among the gypsies and nomads of Rome.
The Pope also met with various groups of the parish including the youth, the sick and families who have baptized their children during the year. He also took time to confess 4 parishioners before the start of the Mass.
During his homily, the Pope reflected on Jesus’ call to “remain in me”, which he said was the definition of Christian life. Explaining Christ’s words regarding the vine and the branches, the Holy Father said that those who are not united to the vine (Jesus) does not bear fruit.
“The image is very, very simple,” he said. “To remain in Jesus means to be united to Him to receive life from Him, love from Him, the Holy Spirit from Him.”
“It is true, we are all sinners, but if we remained in Jesus, like the branches on the vine, the Lord comes, He prunes us a bit, so that we may give fruit. He always takes care of us. But if we detach from there, we do not remain in the Lord, we become Christians only by word, but not of life; we are Christians, but dead, because we do not bear fruit, like the branches detached from the vine.”
Echoing his words to pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square during his Regina Coeli address, the Pope said that in order to remain with Christ, the faithful can approach him through prayer and through the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
To be like Christ, he continued, means to have his same attitude and behavior of Christ. When one gives in to speaking ill of others, gossiping, lying, or cheating others, they become “dead branches”.
“To remain in Jesus means to do the same things that He did: to do good, to help others, to pray to the Father, care for the sick, help the poor, to have the joy of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
The 78 year old Pontiff called on the faithful to ask themselves whether they remain in Jesus or far from Him and thus becoming hypocrites. In doing this self-examination, he said, “Christian life can go forward.”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis said that by remaining in Christ, one gains strength in prayer.
“Where does this omnipotence of prayer come from?” he asked. “From remaining in Jesus, from being united to Jesus, like the branch on the vine. May the Lord give us this grace.”