God, the Pope said, "did not want our lives by mistake, forcing himself and us to long nights of anguish." Rather, "he created us because he wants us happy. He is our Father, and if we here, now, experience a life that is not what he wanted for us, Jesus guarantees us that God himself is working his ransom."
Some people believe that all of life's happiness lay in youth and in the past, and that living "is a slow decay." Still others hold that the joys we experience "are only episodic and passionate," and that the life of man "is writing nonsense," the Pope noted.
But as Christians, "we don't believe this. We believe instead that on man's horizon there is a sun that illuminates forever. We believe that our most beautiful days are still to come."
"We are people more of spring than autumn," he said, and urged those present to ask themselves: "Am I a man, woman, child of the spring, or the fall? Is my spirit in the fall or the spring?"
"Don't forget that question," he said in off-the-cuff remarks, asking again "am I a person of the spring or the fall? The spring, which waits for flowers, fruit, the sun, which is Jesus; or the autumn, which is always looking down, embittered, with, as sometimes I've said, a face like peppers in vinegar."
There are always problems in life, such as gossip, war or illness, but in the end "the grain grows and in the end, evil is eliminated," he said.
Pope Francis closed his address saying Christians have the knowledge that in the Kingdom of God, grain grows "even if in there are weeds in the middle."
"In the end evil will be eliminated," he said. "The future does not belong to us, but we know that Jesus Christ is the greatest grace of life: he is the embrace of God who waits for us at the end, but who already accompanies us and consoles us on the journey."
After greeting groups of pilgrims from various countries around the world, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of a 4.0 level earthquake that rocked the Italian island of Ischia, roughly 88 miles off the coast of Naples, Monday, killing two and injuring at least 39 others.
Francis expressed his "affectionate closeness" to the many who are suffering as a result of the quake, and offered prayers "for the death, the wounded, for their families and for the people who have lost their homes."