Before going into the Square for the Audience, the Holy Father went to greet many sick and disabled persons in the air conditioned Pope Paul VI Hall. He told them it would be “like a Turkish bath out there today.” Thanking them for coming, he invited the group to listen to his words “with a heart united to those in St Peter’s Square." He said the Church is like this because it is united by the Holy Spirit, with “one group here and another there, but all are united.”
Before leaving to hold his General Audience, Pope Francis prayed the Our Father and Hail Mary and gave his blessing to his special guests.
The Holy Father began his reflection in St Peter's Square by noting that none of us can live without love. Yet many people today, he went on, are anguished or empty inside because they don’t believe they are beautiful or important enough to be loved by others.
Imagine a world where everyone is seeking attention and no-one is prepared to give love in a gratuitous way, he said. Behind so much narcissistic behaviour and incomprehensible actions we discover feelings of solitude and abandonment.
When adolescents feel unloved, the Pope continued, they may turn to violence, hatred or delinquent behaviour.
There is no such thing as bad children or evil adolescents, he said, but there are unhappy people. When we look and smile freely at someone who is sad, he said, we open their hearts and offer them a way out of their unhappiness.
Pope Francis said that God loves us with an unconditional love, not because we deserve it, but rather because he himself is love. Like the father of the prodigal son, he said, God has compassion for us even when we are far away from him. He also recalled the many mothers he met, back in Buenos Aires, who continued to love their sons unconditionally, even when they did wrong and ended up in prison.
It is a time of Resurrection for us all, the Pope concluded, because Jesus died to forgive us our sins. It is time to lift up those who are discouraged and to live in the hope of God the Father who loves us for ever, just as we are..May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom, he said, for in his love is the source of all our hope.