Vatican City, 21 March 2015 (VIS) – Piazza del Plebicito, the centre of Naples, was crowded with faithful today for the Eucharistic concelebration at which Pope Francis presided at 11 a.m. In his homily the Holy Father commented on the passage from the Gospel of St. John in which Jesus, in the temple, spoke about Himself as a source of “living water”, and the people began to discuss the truthfulness of this assertion. Although the high priests wanted to detain him, “as they did under dictatorships”, noted Francis, the guards returned empty-handed as they had heard “the voice of truth”.
“The Word of the Lord, today as yesterday, always causes division between those who welcome it and those who reject it”, explained the Pontiff. “It is, at times, an inner conflict in our hearts because we experience the fascination, the beauty and the truth of Jesus' words, but at the same time we reject them because they challenge us and it costs us too much to observe them”.
“Today I have come to Naples to proclaim with you, “Jesus is the Lord! No-one speaks like him! But I don't want to say it alone: I want to hear it from everyone!” continued Francis, inviting the faithful to repeat this phrase in unison. “He alone has the words of mercy that can heal the wounds of our heart. He alone has the words of eternal life. The Word of Christ is powerful: … its power is that of love, a love that knows no limits, a love that makes us love others before ourselves. The Word of Jesus, the Holy Gospel, teaches us that the truly blessed are the poor in spirit, the non-violent, the meek, workers of peace and justice. It is the strength that changes the world”.
“The Word of Christ is intended to reach out to everyone, in particular those who live in the peripheries of existence, so that they might find in Him the centre of their life and the source of hope. And we, who have had the grace of receiving this Word of Life, are called upon to go, to leave our confines and with zeal bring forth all the mercy, the tenderness, the friendship of God. Go and welcome: in this way the heart of the mother Church and all her children is able to beat. When hearts open up to the Gospel, the world starts to change and humanity is resurrected. If we welcome and live the Word of Jesus every day, we will rise again with Him. The Lenten period that we are living makes this message resound in the Church, as we proceed towards Easter: in all God's people the hope of rising again with Christ is reignited”.
“Dear Neapolitans”, exclaimed the Bishop of Rome, “make room for hope, do not let yourselves be robbed of hope. Do not fall pray to the promises of easy money or dishonest income. React decisively to the organisations that exploit and corrupt the young, the poor and the weak, with their cynical trade in drugs and other crimes. Corruption and delinquency disfigure the face of this beautiful city! To criminals and all their accomplices, I repeat: convert to love and justice! Let yourselves be found by God's justice! With the grace of God, Who forgives all, it is possible to return to an honest life. This is asked of you also by tears of the mothers of Naples, mixed with those of Mary, the heavenly Mother. … May these tears soften hard hearts and lead all towards the path of goodness”.
“Today is the beginning of spring, and today is a time of redemption for Naples: it is my wish and my prayer for a city that contains so much spiritual, cultural and human potential, and above all, so much capacity for love. The authorities, the institutions, the various social situations and citizens, all together and in harmony, can build a better future. And the future of Naples is not to withdraw into itself, but instead to open up trustfully to the world. This city can find in Jesus' mercy, which makes all things new, the strength to go ahead with hope. … To hope is to resist evil. To hope is to see the world through the eyes and heart of God. To hope is to wager on the mercy of God, Who is the Father, and Who always forgives all”.
Following Mass, the Pope transferred to the Poggioreale penitentiary, where he lunched with detainees.