VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis urged Catholics to serve humanity by showing “the joy of being children of God” to the world, since it “no longer seems able to lift its gaze towards God.”
“Let us show the joy of being children of God, the freedom he gifts us to live in Christ. … It is a precious service that we give to our world, which is often no longer able to lift its gaze upwards; it no longer seems able to lift its gaze towards God,” he exclaimed to the 40,000 people gathered April 10 in St. Peter’s Square.
“This means that each day we must let Christ transform us and make us like him; it means trying to live as Christians, trying to follow him, even if we see our limitations and our weaknesses,” Pope Francis said.
He noted that, “without being discouraged by our falls, we can feel loved by him; our life will be new, inspired by serenity and joy. God is our strength! God is our hope!”
And the sacraments, he stressed, are vital to this father-child relationship with God.
“This filial relationship with God is not like a treasure that [is kept] in a corner of our lives, but it must grow, must be fed every day by listening to the word of God, prayer, participation in the sacraments, especially penance and the Eucharist and charity,” he said.
“Christianity is not simply a matter of following commandments,” the Pope said. It is about “living a new life, being in Christ, thinking and acting like Christ, and being transformed by the love of Christ; it is allowing him to take possession of our lives and change them, transform them, to free them from the darkness of evil and sin.”
He also linked behaving as children of God with the resurrection of Jesus and its “meaning and salvific value.”
Pope Francis taught that the Catholic faith is based on the Resurrection and is “in vain” without it. “Our faith is based on the death and resurrection of Christ; just like a house built on the foundations, without them the whole house collapses,” said Pope Francis.
“On the cross, Jesus offered himself by taking upon himself our sins and going down into the abyss of death, and the Resurrection removes them and opens the way to be reborn to a new life,” he added.
He explained that the day’s Gospel said that the resurrection of Jesus brings something “absolutely new” because “we are freed from the bondage of sin; we become children of God, and we are begotten to a new life.”
“The Holy Spirit produces in us this new status as children of God, and this is the greatest gift we receive from the paschal mystery of Jesus,” said the Pope.
“God treats us as children, understands us, forgives us, embraces us, loves us, even when we make mistakes,” he remarked.
The Pope explained that after the resurrection of Jesus, “God is now our Father.”
“He treats us as his beloved children; he understands us, forgives us, embraces us and loves us, even when we go astray.”
Pope Francis finished his third general audience by imparting his apostolic blessing and then mingling with the crowd for more than 15 minutes.
He blessed statues of Mary, autographed a painting of Mary and greeted children and people with disabilities.