In his last papal liturgy of 2013, Pope Francis gave thanks to God for the year just passed, invited the faithful to make an examination of conscience, and reflected on the quality of life and citizenship in Rome.
The Holy Father made the comments at the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Holy Mary Mother of God Dec. 31 which included the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, the singing of the traditional “Te Deum” of thanksgiving for the conclusion of the civil year, and the Eucharistic blessing.
As the year reaches the end, the Pope said, “we ask ourselves bravely how we have lived the time that He has given to us. Have we used it above all for ourselves, for our own interests, or have we known how to use it also for others? And for God? How much time have we set aside to ‘be with Him’, in prayer and in silence?”
“And let us think also of this city of Rome”, continued the Holy Father who is also Bishop of Rome. “How is the quality of life in this city? This depends on all of us! How is the quality of our ‘citizenship?’ This year did we make our own ‘small contribution’, to make it more liveable, tidier and friendlier?”
He said the face of a town “is like a mosaic” whose pieces are its inhabitants. “Of course, those vested with authority a have greater responsibility, but we are all jointly responsible, for better or for worse,” he said.
“Rome is a city of unique beauty. It has an extraordinary spiritual and cultural heritage. Yet, even in Rome there are so many people whose lives are marked by material and moral misery, the poor, the destitute, the suffering, that appeal to the conscience of every citizen.”
The Pope said Rome is a city full of tourists, but also full of refugees, full of working people, but also people who are unable to find employment or who work in underpaid and sometimes undignified jobs. “Everyone has the right to be treated with the same attitude of acceptance and fairness, because every one of us is the bearer of human dignity,” he said.
He added that the city could become better if she is “richer in humanity, more hospitable and welcoming” as well as “attentive and generous” towards those in difficulty and work for the good of all.
“Rome in the new year will be better if people do not simply look on from afar, as if at a picture postcard, observing life ‘from the balcony’ without getting involved in human problems,” he said. “Whether we like it or not, are our brothers and sisters”.
And he added that from this point of view, the Church of Rome is committed to her duty of giving her contribution to the life and future of the city; to animating her with the leaven of the Gospel and being a sign and instrument of God’s mercy.
Following the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope visited the Nativity display arranged next to the obelisk in St. Peter’s Square.