Pope Francis says that big cities, in their diversity of languages, cultures and traditions, are a reminder of the world’s "hidden riches," but that they also conceal the faces of a "second class," people including foreigners, the uneducated, those without medical insurance and the elderly, who aren’t given the right to "be part of the city."

The Pope said this tonight in a Mass he celebrated at Madison Square Garden, in which he reflected on God’s presence in the city, despite its dangers.

"In every age, the People of God are called to contemplate" the light that Christ brings, the Pontiff said. "Together with the prophet Isaiah, we can say: The people who walk, breathe and live in the midst of smog, have seen a great light, have experienced a breath of fresh air."


Life in a big city has challenges, the Pope observed. 

While "big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be," he said, as well, "so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no 'right' to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly."

"These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially," he said, "in our hearts."

Despite this situation, knowing that Jesus is part of the lives of his people fills us with hope, the Holy Father continued.

"A hope which is unafraid of involvement, which acts as a leaven wherever we happen to live and work. A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city. Because God is in the city," he said.

The Pontiff went on to reflect on Isaiah’s description, which presents Jesus as "Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace."“

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," the Holy Father affirmed. "And we ourselves, Christians, are witnesses of that light."

The Mass concluded in jubilation as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, noted that in every Mass, we pray for Francis, our Pope, and now here he is with us. To this, the crowd responded with an exuberant standing ovation and wave after wave of cheers.

Wrapping up

The Pope on Saturday departs for Philadelphia, where he will meet with clergy and religious in the morning, and have a meeting for religious freedom later in the day, before joining the Festival of Families in the evening at the World Meeting of Families. 

On Sunday, he will visit a prison and meet with the bishops who are in town from around the world for the World Meeting, before celebrating the Meeting’s final Mass. He departs for Rome at 8 p.m..


On ZENIT's Web page:

Full text of homily: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-homily-at-mass-in-madison-square-garden