Pope Francis continued his visits to parishes in the Diocese of Rome with an evening visit at the parish of San Gregorio Magno (Saint Gregory the Great) on Sunday.
Prior to celebrating Mass at the parish, the Holy Father met with the faithful, including a meeting with young people in a soccer field, calling on them to live with hope. Hope, the Pope said, “is a gift from God, and if you take away hope, then young people lose their faith and lose their way.”
Shortly after, the Pope met with engaged and married couples, the elderly of the parish and the sick. He also met with a group of ex-convicts and former drug addicts, reminding them that the best place to find Christ is “in places of human weakness.” The Holy Father also took a moment to hear confessions from several parishioners before the Mass.
During his homily, the Pope reflected on the Gospel of John, which recounted Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The Sunday readings, he told the faithful, all speak of the promise of life to those in death.
“I would simply like to say one thing. All of us have inside us some area, some parts of our heart that are not alive, that are a bit dead, and some have so many parts of their heart dead, a truly spiritual necrosis!” the Pope said.
“And when we have this situation [and] we realize it, we want to flee from it, but we can’t. Only the power of Jesus can help us come out of these tombs of sin is in each and every one of us. But sometimes we are too attached to these tombs and are reluctant to leave them. This is when our soul starts to stink; this is the stench of sin.”
Regarding the Gospel, the 77-year-old Pontiff said that it reminds us of the promise of Christ, who has the power to open our tombs and free us from the death of sin. The Pope asked the faithful if they had the strength to hear Christ’s call to Lazarus: “Come out!”
He said that the Lord today, on this Sunday, in which we speak of the Resurrection, wants to give all of us the grace to rise again from our sins, to come out of our tombs; with the voice of Jesus who calls us, to go out, to go to Him.
The Holy Father, who earlier in the day, had pocket-sized Gospels distributed to the faithful in St. Peter’s, also brought them for parishioners, calling on them to read some passages from the Gospels every day.
“It will do us so much good, so much good!” Pope Francis concluded. “A little bit each day. It is a gift, that I have brought for your whole community, so that, today, the fifth Sunday of [Lent] you may receive the Word of God and also, so that you may listen to the voice of Jesus who tells you: ‘Come out! Come! Come out!’, and to prepare you for the night of Easter.” (J.A.E.)