Yesterday evening, Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of St. Thomas the Apostle on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. After meeting some of the parishoiners and hearing several confessions, he celebrated Mass.
The Pope also greeted children who are preparing for the Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation, as well as the elderly and the sick of the parish, in particular a Parish-sponsored group of families with disabled children.
Upon his arrival, Pope Francis first addressed the children, giving them advice on how to begin their path of faith.
“I will tell you a secret to love Jesus. Listen carefully: to love Jesus you must let yourself be loved by Him. Do you understand? It is He who does the work, not us! He loves us first of all!” he exclaimed.
The children surrounded the Holy Father and appeared very comfortable with him. According to Vatican Radio, one child told the Pope: “You are our friend, give me a five!” to which the Holy Father promptly gave him a high-five.
Delivering unprepared remarks during his Homily, the Pope reflected on the importance of truth and sincerity in our interpersonal relationships with others.
“I think it would do us well, today, not to think on whether our soul is clean or dirty, but rather, to think on what is in my heart, what do I have inside. To tell ourselves the truth,” he said.
“Is there love? Is there hate? Is there an attitude of forgiveness for those who have offended me, or is there an attitude of revenge? We should ask ourselves what is inside, because that which is inside comes out and does evil, if it is evil. And if it is good, it will come out and do good.”
While acknowledging that it is not an easy path, the Pope called on the parishioners to ask the Lord for the grace to know what is in their hearts and to choose good over evil.
“Let us remember that that which is dirty in our life is the evil that leaves our heart. May the Lord help us,” he said.
Fr. Antonio d’Errico, pastor of the St. Thomas the Apostle parish, thanked the Holy Father for his visit, which was the Pope’s fourth to a parish in Rome.