Pope Francis delivered a Sunday evening homily at a parish in the south of Rome, preaching about the importance of detaching from sin through the power of Christ’s healing grace. “All of us, we are sinners, but let’s not finish (our lives) attached to sin. We have the power to feel that which Jesus said to Lazarus, crying out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ Today I invite you to think for a minute here in silence… ‘where is the dead part of my soul? Where is my tomb?’” he urged the parishioners in St. Gregory the Great Church on April 6. “Take the stone in your heart, and allow the Lord to do what he says, as he said to Lazarus, ‘come forth!’ so that all of our hearts might be healed, might be resurrected by the power of Jesus.” The pontiff used the story of Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead to point out that everyone has a “tomb” in his or her heart, a place in need of new life. Since “we are all sinners” there is “something--really small, really small--something internal, some parts of our heart that are not living. They are dead.” Some people have “many dead parts of the heart,” and find it difficult to be free of sin, he noted. “We want to get out of it, but we can’t. Only the power of Jesus is able to help us leave this dead part of the heart, this tomb that we all have.” “We’re all sinners,” he acknowledged, “but we have to be attentive not to be corrupted by sin.” The Pope then told the faithful that he wanted them to read the gospels, and would give them a copy so that they could. “I want to give you a little copy of the gospels, and you bring it home to your house,” he said. “Just carry it with you and read a little,” he encouraged, adding that the book is pocket-sized and easy to read anytime, like “when you are on the bus, sitting comfortably.” “But don’t get too comfortable, or else they’ll pick-pocket you!” he jested. Pope Francis had also given away copies of the gospels at the Sunday morning Angelus. At the close of the Mass, the parish presented Pope Francis with a small gift: a new little black bag, similar to the old one that he carries during his travels. The gift was small but “symbolic” said the pastor, indicating that just as Pope Francis carries the bag, he carries the parishioners in their faith. A few hours before the Mass, Pope Francis met with the children and youth of the parish, the sick, the elderly, the engaged, and couples who recently had their children baptized, as well as members of an outreach dedicated to helping with the reintegration of ex-prisoners and ex-addicts. Sunday’s visit was Pope Francis’ sixth pastoral visit to a parish in the diocese of Rome. St. Gregory the Great Church was founded in 1963. Today it is served by the Marian Congregation of the House of Charity and the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Queen of Peace.
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