On the First Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father Francis went on a pastoral visit to the parish of Saint Cyril of Alexandria at Tor Sapienza, in the sector of the diocese of Rome.
Upon his arrival, the Pope met with children who made their First Communion, the sick, children baptized in the current pastoral year, with their parents, and finally with youngsters who will receive Confirmation. Then he heard the Confession of seven parishioners.
In the afternoon, the Holy Mass began, during which the Holy Father administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to nine youngsters, all boys. After the Eucharistic celebration, having concluded with the greeting of the parish priest, Father Marco Ridolfo, the Pope met with the Parish Council and then greeted some small groups of faithful gathered in rooms of the building.
The following is a translation of the text of the homily given by Pope Francis in the course of the Holy Mass.
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In the First Reading we heard the prophet Isaiah speaking to us of a journey, and he says that at the end of the days, at the end of the journey, the mountain of the Temple of the Lord will be established on the summit of the mountains. And he says this to tell us that our life is a journey: we must go on this journey to arrive at the mountain of the Lord, to the encounter with Jesus. The most important thing that can happen to a person is to encounter Jesus: the encounter with Jesus who loves us, who has saved us, who gave his life for us -- to encounter Jesus. And we walk to encounter Jesus.
We can ask ourselves the question: but when do I encounter Jesus, only at the end? No, no! We encounter him every day. But how? In prayer, when you pray you encounter Jesus. When you go to Communion, you encounter Jesus, in the Sacraments. When you take your son to be baptized, you encounter Jesus, you find Jesus. And you, today, who will receive Confirmation, you also will encounter Jesus; then you will encounter him in Communion. “And then, Father, after Confirmation, goodbye!”, why do they say that Confirmation is called “the Sacrament of goodbye,” is this true or not. After Confirmation one doesn’t go to church anymore: is this true or not? … So, so! However, also after Confirmation, the whole of life is an encounter with Jesus: in prayer, when we go to Mass, and when we do good works, when we visit the sick, when we help a poor person, when we think of others, when we aren’t egoistic, when we are kind … in these things we always encounter Jesus. And the journey of life is in fact this: to walk to encounter Jesus.
And today, it is also a joy for me to come to meet with you, because all of us together today will encounter Jesus in the Mass, and we do a part of the journey together.
Remember this always: life is a journey; it is a journey, a journey to encounter Jesus. In the end, it is always a journey. A journey in which we do not encounter Jesus isn’t a Christian journey. It is proper of a Christian to encounter Jesus always, to look at him, to let oneself be looked at by Jesus, because Jesus looks at us with love, he loves us so, he loves us so much and always looks at us. To encounter Jesus is also to let oneself be looked at by him. “But Father you know – one of you might say to me – you know that this journey is an awful journey for me, because I am such a sinner, I have committed so many sins … how can I encounter Jesus?” But do you know that the people that Jesus sought in the main to meet were the greater sinner; and they reproved him for this, and the people – the persons who believed themselves to be just – said: but he, he isn’t a true prophet, look at the company he keeps! He was with sinners … And he said: I came for those who are in need of health, who are in need of curing, and Jesus cures our sins. And on the journey we – all sinners, we are all, all of us are sinners – also when we make mistakes, when we commit a sin, when we do a sin, Jesus comes, and forgives us. And this forgiveness that we receive in Confession is an encounter with Jesus – we always encounter Jesus.
And so we go in life, as the prophet says, to the mountain, up to the day of the definitive encounter, where we will be able to see that beautiful look of Jesus, so beautiful. This is the Christian life: to walk, to go forward, united, as brothers, loving one another. To encounter Jesus – are you in agreement you nine? Do you wish to encounter Jesus in your life? Yes? This is important in Christian life. You, today, with the seal of the Holy Spirit, will have more strength for this journey, to encounter Jesus. Be courageous, don’t be afraid! Life is this journey, and the most beautiful gift is to encounter Jesus. Forward, courage!
And now we go ahead with the Sacrament of Confirmation.
[Translation by ZENIT]