“Francesco, Francesco, tu sei uno di noi”. “Francis, Francis, you are one of us!”
The parishioners of Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah chanted these words to Pope Francis during his first parish visit in the diocese of Rome. The Holy Father administered the Sacrament of First Communion to 26 children of the parish as well as another group of children who received the sacrament last year.
Arriving by helicopter, the Holy Father was greeted by the pastor of the Roman parish, Fr. Benoni Ambarus, and promptly went to the parish to greet the faithful. Pope Francis greeted the elderly and sick of the parish individually, many of them moved to tears by the down to earth nature of the Holy Father. Several children ran to the him and embraced him. The Pope, with the tenderness of a gentle father, would receive them in his arms and bless them.
During the Mass, the Holy Father began speaking on the humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary in attending to her cousin Elizabeth, one of the namesakes of the parish.
“When Our Lady, just having received the announcement that she would be the mother of Jesus, and the announcement that her cousin Elizabeth was expecting, the Gospel says, she set out in haste; she did not wait,” the Pope said.
“She did not say to herself, ‘But I’m pregnant now, so I had better look after my health. My cousin will have friends who perhaps will help her.’ She heard something and she ‘set out in haste.’ It is lovely to think about these actions of Our Lady, our Mother, who sets out in haste, because it tells us about helping. She goes to help, she does not go to boast and say to her cousin: ‘Now listen, I’m in charge now because I am God’s mamma!’ No she did not do that. She went to help! And Our Lady is always like this. She is our Mother, who always comes in haste when we need help.”
One of the more touching moments during the Mass was the moment of dialogue that Pope Francis had with the children who were receiving the Sacrament of Communion. Explaining the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Father asked, “How do we explain that one is the Father, the other the Son and the other the Holy Spirit.”
“There are three persons in One God,” a few children replied.
“Louder, Louder,” the Holy Father pressed on with a smile.
“There are three persons in One God!!”, the children exclaimed loudly.
“And what does the Father do? The Father is the origin, the Father, who created everything, created us. What does the Son do? What does Jesus do? Who knows how to say what Jesus does? He loves us? And what else? What did Jesus do on the earth? He saved us! And Jesus came to give his life for us. The Father creates the world; Jesus saves us. And the Holy Spirit, what does he do? He loves us! He gives you love! All the children together: the Father creates everything, he creates the world, Jesus saves us; and the Holy Spirit? He loves us! And this is the Christian life: talking to the Father, talking to the Son, talking to the Holy Spirit. Jesus saved us, but he also walks with us in life,” the Pope explained.
Continuing his homily, Pope Francis called on both the children receiving the sacrement as well as the faithful to rely on and allow Christ to “walk with us, to help us, to guides, and to teach us to how to go forward.”
Pope Francis, concluded his homily, emphasizing the importance of Communion as the way Christ comes to give all the strength to face life’s difficulties. Within the Holy Spirit, he continued, “the Father gave us life, Jesus gave us salvation, […] and the Holy Spirit gives us love.”
At the conclusion of the Mass, all 43 children gathered in front of the Pope and sang a song of “blessing” written by St. Francis. The Holy Father bowed his head in front of the children as they, along with the parishioners, sang the song of benediction.
It is an image that will undoubtedly remain engraved in the memory of the faithful of this local parish as well as a reminder of the night of his election to the Papacy: a father accepting God’s blessing through the prayers of his children.
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On ZENIT’s web page:
For the full text of the Pope’s homily, go to: