We are called to be brave, to have "that evangelical courage which springs from knowing that there are many who are hungry, who hunger for God, who hunger for dignity, because they have been deprived."
As Christians, we must help others to satisfy this hunger, to encounter Christ, we can't put up "do not enter" signs, he said.
"The Church is not ours, she is God's; he is the owner of the temple and the field; everyone has a place, everyone is invited to find here, and among us, his or her nourishment."
Jesus told his disciples to give the hungry crowd something to eat, which is our call, too, the Pope emphasized.
He pointed out that St. Peter Claver, whose feast day is celebrated by the Church Sept. 9, understood this well. In the 1600s, the Spanish missionary cared for the spiritual and physical needs of slaves in modern-day Colombia.
"'Slave of the blacks forever' was the motto of his life, because he understood, as a disciple of Jesus, that he could not remain indifferent to the suffering of the most helpless and mistreated of his time, and that he had to do something to alleviate their suffering," Francis said.
Referencing the gathering of Latin American bishops at Aparecida in 2007, he said that the Church in Colombia "is called to commit itself, with greater boldness, to forming missionary disciples."
As it says in the document from that gathering, Colombia needs disciples who know how to see, judge and act, he said.
"I have come here precisely to confirm you in the faith and hope of the Gospel. Remain steadfast and free in Christ, in such a way that you manifest him in everything you do; take up the path of Jesus with all your strength, know him, allow yourselves to be called and taught by him, and proclaim him with great joy," he concluded.
"Let us pray through the intercession of Our Mother, Our Lady of Candelaria, that she may accompany us on our path of discipleship, so that, giving our lives to Christ, we may simply be missionaries who bring the light and joy of the Gospel to all people."
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.