Pope Francis traveled to an outlying parish in his Diocese of Rome today, celebrating Mass for the first Sunday of Advent as well as the sacrament of confirmation with parishioners there.
The Pope’s homily focused on the idea of life as a journey of encounter with Christ.
“We can ask ourselves this question: When will we meet Jesus – only at the end? No, no, no. We meet him every day. But how? In prayer. When you pray, you meet Jesus. When you take communion, you meet Jesus in the sacrament. When you bring your child to Jesus to be baptized, you bring him to Jesus, and you find Jesus. And you today, who receive confirmation, also you meet Jesus,” his said to those gathered in the Church of St. Cyril of Alexandria in Rome on Dec. 1.
He asked those in the parish if they considered confirmation to be the last time they would come to Church. Some in the congregation seemed to nod reluctantly.
“Well, it’s so-so,” the Pope said, acknowledging the common practice.
Yet he encouraged that it need not be so, saying, “but after confirmation the whole of life is also a meeting with Jesus!”
This meeting happens “in prayer, when we go to Mass, and when we do good works: when we visit the sick, when we help the poor, when we think of others,” the Pontiff explained.
“And today for me is also a joy to come here with you, because all of us here, today, together at Mass, meet Jesus. And we make a piece of the journey together,” he said.
Pope Francis then went on to note that some have said to him, “ but Father, you know that for me, this journey, it’s a brutal journey. I’m a great sinner. I’ve committed many sins. How can I meet Jesus?”
For the answer, the Pope turned to the life of Christ: “You know that the people Jesus sought out the most were the biggest sinners.”
Although many would reproach Jesus for this, Christ would say “I came for the sinners who need healing.”
“Jesus sees our sins,” noted the Holy Father. “And in our journey – ours, we’re all sinners, all of us – when we make mistakes, when we sin, Jesus comes even then, and he forgives us.”
“And this forgiveness that we receive in confession is a meeting with Jesus,” he added.
Reflecting on Sunday’s Old Testament reading, Pope Francis continued, “Let’s go, in life, up that mountain that the prophet speaks of… one day there will be the definite encounter where we can see the beautiful gaze of Jesus.”
“Let yourselves be looked upon by Jesus, because Jesus looks upon us with love. He loves us very much. And he looks upon us always.”
In the meantime, he said, “this is the Christian life. To journey, to go forward, united as brothers, everyone loving one another.”
To those who were about to receive confirmation, he added, “And today, with the seal of the Holy Spirit you will have more strength for this path to meet Jesus.”
“Be courageous. Don’t be afraid. Life is this journey,” he encouraged.
Pope Francis then celebrated the sacrament of confirmation with the young people of the parish before continuing the Mass.