"Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life," he said: The unborn, starving children, young people in places of conflict, the elderly, those forced to leave their home and native country.
Taking care of those in need is not a "sociological option, it is not the fad of a pontificate; it is a theological requirement," he emphasized. "It entails acknowledging that we are beggars pleading for salvation, brothers and sisters of all, but especially of the poor whom the Lord loves."
After Mass, Pope Francis led the Angelus in St. Peter's Square. Before the prayer, he reflected on the day's Gospel passage from Mark. In the passage, the pope explained, Jesus is saying that the story of people and of individuals all have a goal: "permanent encounter with the Lord."
"We do not know the time nor the ways in which [the end of the world] will happen," Francis said. "We know, however, a fundamental principle which we must confront: 'Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away,' Jesus says."
At the end he offered a special prayer for everyone affected by the fires that are "scourging California" and for the victims of the winter storm on the east coast.
"May the Lord welcome the deceased into his peace, comfort the family members and support those who commit themselves to help," he prayed.
The pope also prayed for those who died in a Nov. 15 attack on the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Alindao, in the Central African Republic. At least 42 people died in the attack, including at least one priest, according to local reports. Some unofficial estimates have said the death toll could reach as high as 100. Many of the people killed were refugees sheltering at the church.
Pope Francis said, "we pray for the dead and the wounded and for an end to all violence in that beloved country, which is in great need of peace."