Pope Francis began the season of Advent by celebrating Mass at the parish of St. Cyril of Alexandria in Rome.
Prior to the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday, the Holy Father met with the sick as well as children who made their first Communion. He also spent time hearing the Confessions of several parishioners.
This is the second parish in Rome that the Holy Father has visited.
During the Mass, which included administering the Sacrament of Confirmation to nine boys, the Pope spoke briefly on the journey towards encountering the Lord.
“The most important thing that can happen to a person,” the Holy Father sad, “ is to encounter Jesus: the encounter with Jesus who loves us, who has saved us, who gave his life for us — to encounter Jesus. And we walk to encounter Jesus.”
This encounter with Jesus does not, however, occur at the end of our lives, but throughout our lives. The Pope cited prayer, the Sacraments, particularly Baptism, Communion and Confirmation.
Speaking on the Sacrament of Confirmation, Pope Francis noted that many do not go to Church after receiving the Sacrament. On the contrary, he said, our whole life “is an encounter with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, and when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help a poor person, when we think of others, when we aren’t egoistic, when we are kind.”
Giving a word of hope to those who feel burdened by their sins to have a meaningful encounter with the Lord, the 76 year old Pontiff said that it was precisely sinners who Jesus went in search for and came to heal.
“We are all – all of us – sinners. When we make mistakes, when we commit a sin,[…] Jesus comes, and forgives us. And this forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus – we always encounter Jesus,” he said.
Pope Francis concluded his homily, addressing the 9 confirmandi, stressing the importance of desiring to encounter the Lord.
“You, today, with the seal of the Holy Spirit, will have more strength for this journey, to encounter Jesus. Be courageous, don’t be afraid! Life is this journey, and the most beautiful gift is to encounter Jesus. Forward, courage!” (J.A.E.)