On Sunday, Pope Francis went on a pastoral visit to the parish of Santa Maria Regina Pacis(Holy Mary, Queen of Peace) at Ostia Lido, in the southern sector of the diocese of Rome.
Even before arriving at the parish church, the Pope stopped unexpectedly in a neighbouring field, and entered the caravan of the Little Sisters of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, who have chosen to share the reality of the nomads that live in Luna Park.
Around 4:00 pm arriving at the headquarters of the Santa Maria Regina Pacis parish, the Holy Father met with the various pastoral realities and, in particular, with the sick and the elderly, children and young people, and the families that baptized their children in the course of the year. Then he heard the Confession of four penitents in the sacristy.
The Pope then presided over the celebration of Holy Mass in the parish, at the end of which he returned to the Vatican.
The following is a translation of the text of the homily that Pope Francis gave after the proclamation of the Holy Gospel, and the words he spoke in the course of several meetings with different realities of the parish.
* * *
THE HOLY FATHER’S HOMILY
A word that Jesus repeats often, especially during the Last Supper, is: “Remain in me.” Do not tire of me, remain in me. And Christian life is precisely this abiding in Jesus. This is the Christian life: to remain in Jesus. And to explain well what He means by this Jesus uses this beautiful figure of the vine: “I am the true vine, you are the branches” (Cf. John 15:1.5). And every branch that is not united to the vine dies, does not bear fruit; and then it is thrown away, to make a fire. They are very useful for this, to make a fire – they are very, very useful – but not to give fruit. Instead, the branches that are united to the vine, receive from the vine the vital lymph and thus develop, grow and bear fruit. The image is simple, simple – 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 remain in Jesus, as the branches with the vine, the Lord comes, He prunes us a bit, so that we can bear more fruit. He is always taking care of us. However, if we get tired, if we do not remain in the Lord, we are Christians only in word, but not in life; we are Christians, but dead, because we do not bear fruit, like the branches detached from the vine.
To remain in Jesus means to will to receive life from Him, also forgiveness, also pruning, but to receive it from Him. To remain in Jesus means to seek Jesus, to pray, prayer. To remain in Jesus means to approach the Sacraments: the Eucharist, Reconciliation. To remain in Jesus – and this is the most difficult thing – means to do what Jesus did, to have the same attitude of Jesus. However, when we “flay” others [speak badly of others], for instance, or when we gossip, we do not remain in Jesus. Jesus never did this. When we are untruthful, we do not remain in Jesus. He never did this. When we cheat others with dirty affairs that are at everyone’s gates, we are dead branches, we do not remain in Jesus. To remain in Jesus is to do the same things He did: to do good, to help others, to pray to the Father, to care for the sick, to help the poor, to have the joy of the Holy Spirit.
A good question for us Christians is this: Do I remain in Jesus or am I far from Him? Am I united to the vine that gives me life or am I a dead branch, which is incapable of bearing fruit, of giving witness? And there are also other branches, of which Jesus does not speak here, but speaks about them elsewhere: those who make themselves seem as disciples of Jesus, but do the contrary of a disciple of Jesus, are hypocritical branches. Perhaps they all go to Mass on Sunday, perhaps they have the face of a little image, wholly pious, but then live as if they were pagans. And Jesus calls these in the Gospel hypocrites. Jesus is good; he invites us to remain in Him. He gives us strength, and if we slide into sin – we are all sinners – He forgives us, because He is merciful. However, what He wants are these two things: that we remain in Him and that we not be hypocrites. And with this a Christian life goes forward.
And what does the Lord give us if we remain in Him? We heard it: “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7). Strength in prayer: “ask whatever you will,” that is, powerful prayer, so much so that Jesus does what we ask. However, if our prayer is weak — if it is not made truly in Jesus – prayer does not bear its fruits, because the branch is not united to the vine. But if the branch is united to the vine, namely “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” And this is omnipotent prayer. From where does this omnipotence of prayer come? From abiding in Jesus, from being united to Jesus, as the branch to the vine. May the Lord give us this grace.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
THE POPE’S WORDS IN VARIOUS MEETINGS IN THE COURSE OF THE VISIT TO THE PARISH
Good afternoon. And this is good: today, in the gymnasium where children and young people play, are the sick, the elderly, those who have the wisdom of life, experience, also those who have the wisdom of pain, of patience! It is a wisdom that we forget so much. The elderly have the experience of life and they also give us the memory, the memory of our people, the memory of the family. It is so important to walk with a memory. And the sick are so much like Jesus: they suffer like Jesus and carry the cross like Jesus. You are privileged in this sense. We thank the Lord that that the sick and the elderly are taken care of in this community. When a community does not look after them, that community is not doing well, it lacks something. And there are young people, and there are children, those who carry life forward, but with your wisdom and your patience, and your constancy. I thank you so much from my heart for what you do for this parish, for the whole Church, for the People of God. And pray for me, also because I am somewhat elderly, somewhat sick, but not very sick! And the things that are in the middle of the way no longer serve. But pray for me, I need it!
Now we pray to Our Lady and I will give you my Blessing, all right?[Hail Mary] [Blessing]
And there are young people, children and youngsters there! They are the future of the history that you give them. They are the future of a people. I would simply like to stay here with you, but I must continue the tour. Pray for me, may the Lord bless you and I wish you so many good things.
Meeting with young people
The two questions you asked me have the same root: joy, joy that comes from within. How can we go forward with a restless heart, large shoes, how can we carry forward our testimony of the Gospel, because one day it is good, then another day … Today is somewhat a day of temptation, because you came here, but you could have gone to the beach, with this sun, and you did not go. We must always choose in life, and there are difficult choices, choices that are not so good. If I must do my school tasks and I must give witness of this, but I don’t do so, I escape to the street , I go … It is a mistaken choice. And that choice will be amusing, but it won’t give you joy. The difference between a thing that is joyful and just, is the joy that comes from within. So many mistaken choices are made in life, but as I heard sung once in a song, I believe of a
he grace of God. This is the testimony. And that restless heart rises and says: “Yes, I am a sinner, I made a mistake, but I go ahead, because the Lord is with me.” And this is what the world needs from you, from you scouts, from you boys and girls, from you young people: a testimony of going always beyond, of going forward, even though we are weak, but we must go forward. Understood? And this will give you joy.
And this is the second question: Joy is not purchased here in the market. It is not purchased. And you are not given joy because you win in a Luna Park game. No! Joy is a gift, joy is a present of the Holy Spirit and we must ask for it: “Lord give me joy.” However, we must not have that “fallen” face of sadness, of melancholy. This doesn’t do good, it doesn’t do good. Joy!
Now we pray to Our Lady and I will give you my blessing.[Hail Mary …] [Blessing]
And, please, pray for me, truly. But pray with joy!
Meeting with families of children baptized in the course of the year
I thank you for this greeting and I am pleased that you brought the children baptized this year. To have Baptism is a good step; the life of faith begins. In Baptism we give them the light of faith. Therefore, at the beginning of Christianity Baptism was also called “Illumination,” because with Baptism the child received faith from the father and the mother. And it has been a chain from the moment in which Jesus ordered us to baptize until today. One baptizes another, another, another … And these children, who were baptized now, with the passing of the years will be in your place and will bring their children. And life is like this. However, may there always be this transmission of faith, to give the light of faith. It is the best inheritance we can give to children: the light of the faith, together with Christian witness. “Now, Father, I have complied, I have done what I should do, now goodbye ….” But what does this mean? “No, I have baptized, now I go home and we don’t see you anymore until the First Communion …” But no, it is also important to walk with the child on this new path of faith and to go to the parish. When you have time, because with children one does not always have the time! And you with five, I don’t know how you manage! But always be close to the Lord who has given the faith to these children. And then there will be the catechism, the First Communion, Confirmation, but always this path. It must not be: “I do this and then I don’t come back for six years.” No, no … Always try to come, in the time one has to do so. However, do not to go away, because it is better to be close like this. I thank you so much. I ask you this: to pray for me, for my work, for my ministry, so that I can do what Jesus wants.
And now, if you wish, we can pray to Our Lady all together and I will give you my blessing.[Hail Mary …] [Blessing]
Good evening, Good evening and I wish so many good things for you, for the children and a special blessing for the problems that you perhaps have. May the Lord be with you and I will pray for this. Forward![Original text: Italian]</p> [Translation by ZENIT]