Pope Francis closed his brief homily asking for the grace to believe that Jesus is truly alive and risen, because "other things are secondary" in life.
If a person does not believe that Christ is risen and present in the world, "we will never be a good Christian, we can't be," he said, and prayed for the grace to encounter the Risen Jesus in prayer, the Eucharist and the forgiveness of sins.
"Let us ask for the grace to be a joyful community," he said, asking that each person would be "sure in the faith of encountering the Risen Christ."
In his Q&A with youth before Mass, Pope Francis said his favorite bible verse is the calling of Matthew, because it shows "the strength Jesus has to change the heart."
He also told the children that even if someone is not baptized, they are still a child of God. This, he said, goes for the good, the bad and even the mafia, who he said need to be prayed for "so that they return to God."
When asked about how he felt after being elected pope, Francis said he didn't feel anything special, but he had a strong sense of peace. "When the Lord calls you, he gives you peace, and you feel it when there is a true call from the Lord," he said, explaining that this is also true when God calls one to a consecrated vocation.
Finally, the pope embraced a young boy named Manuele whose father recently died, and who was an atheist, but allowed each of his four children to be baptized in the Catholic Church. In his question, Manuele said his father was a good person, and asked if he was in heaven, even if he didn't believe in God.
Pope Francis answered by praising Manuele's courage to cry and to ask the question, and said that if a man can raise a child the way that Manuele's father had, then this man is indeed a good person, and good people are never far from God.
"It's a great witness that the child can say [his father] was good," he said, explaining that God never abandons his children, and encouraged Manuele to talk to his father, because "surely God loved him."
He then prayed an Our Father with the children before meeting briefly with the elderly, sick and poor of the parish, telling them that they are "the center of the Gospel."
"I know that each one of you have many problems, sicknesses, pains, the family, each one has their own pain, their own wound, everyone, but may this not take your hope or your joy, because Jesus came to pay for our wounds with his wounds," the pope said.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
He closed his brief greeting by encouraging them to do good to those around them and led them in praying a Hail Mary. He then spent time greeting them personally before hearing confessions and saying Mass.