Because we live in the world, we see "signs of evil, selfishness and sin" both in ourselves and in what surrounds us, he said. But at the same time, as Christians we also have learned to see the world "through the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ."
That's why this is a time of waiting, a time of longing: we have hope in our knowledge that the Lord wants to permanently heal our wounded hearts with his mercy, and in this way, regenerate "a new world and a new humanity, finally reconciled in his love."
We can often be tempted by pessimism, by disappointment, Pope Francis said. However, "we find solace the Holy Spirit, breath of our hope, which keeps alive the groaning and the expectation of our hearts."
At the end of the audience, the Pope and those gathered in the square received a surprise performance by an Italian circus group, Rony Roller Circus. Francis said afterwards that "they make beauty, and beauty is the road that leads to God. Continue to make beauty!"
He also made an appeal for "the martyred South Sudan," where millions of people are dying of hunger due to a food crisis brought on by the country's drawn-out internal conflict.
Right now "a fratricidal conflict joins a severe food crisis that condemns to death by hunger millions of people, including many children," the Pope observed, and called for action.
Just within the past few days a famine was declared in some areas of South Sudan as some 100,000 people face starvation and another 1 million are described as being on the brink of famine, according to the World Food Programme (WFP).
According to both WFP and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) sources, the number of people facing hunger is expected to raise to 5.5 million by July if nothing is done to curb the food crisis.
However, the agencies report that if adequate food assistance is urgently delivered to the suffering areas, the situation can be improved and further crisis averted.
In his appeal, Pope Francis said that right now "it is more needed than ever" for everyone to commit to not stopping with declarations, "but to give real food aid and to allow that it reach the suffering populations."
"May the Lord sustain these brothers of ours and those who work to help them," he said, and gave his blessing before closing the audience.
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Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.