Thanksgiving was the focus of Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus remarks in Mexico. He invited the Mexican faithful to help make their country “a land of opportunities” while not forgetting their origins.

The Pope reflected on the first Mass reading from Deuteronomy, in which Moses gave directions to the people.

“At harvest time, at the time of abundance and first fruits, do not forget your beginnings,” Francis said Feb. 14. “Thanksgiving is something which is born and grows among a people capable of remembering. It is rooted in the past, and through good and bad times, it shapes the present.”

Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered for Mass at the Ecatepec Study Center, where Pope Francis continued his Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico.

“On this festive day we can celebrate how good the Lord has been to us. Let us give thanks for this opportunity to be together, to present to our Good Father the first fruits of our children, our grandchildren, of our dreams and our plans; the first fruits of our cultures, our languages and traditions, the first fruits of our concerns”

Pope Francis’ remarks included the importance of memory and remembrance in a living faith.

“Today, at the invitation of Moses, as a people we want to remember, we want to be the people that keeps alive the memory of God who passes among his People, in their midst,” the Pope continued. “We look upon our children knowing that they will inherit not only a land, a culture and a tradition, but also the living fruits of faith which recalls the certainty of God’s passing through this land. It is a certainty of closeness and solidarity, a certainty which helps us lift up our heads and ardently hope for the dawn.”

“I too join you in this remembrance, in this living memory of God’s passing through your lives,” he said.

The Pope continued to encourage Mexicans to work together to overcome problems in their country.

“I invite you once again today to be on the front line, to be first in all the initiatives which help make this blessed land of Mexico a land of opportunities, where there will be no need to emigrate in order to dream, no need to be exploited in order to work, no need to make the despair and poverty of many the opportunism of a few, a land that will not have to mourn men and women, young people and children who are destroyed at the hands of the dealers of death.”

Pope Francis cited Blessed Pope Paul VI’s words in Mexico during his October 1970 visit:

“A Christian cannot but show solidarity… to solve the situation of those who have not yet received the bread of culture or the opportunity of an honorable job… he cannot remain insensitive while the new generations have not found the way to bring into reality their legitimate aspirations.”

Francis invoked Our Lady of Guadalupe, saying Mexico is “filled with the perfume of la Guadalupana, a mother who has always gone before us in love.”

He prayed that she will “help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world.”

The Pope then led the congregation of hundreds of thousands of people in praying the Angelus.