Pope Francis presided over a penitential liturgy at a very crowded St. Peter's Basilica.
The Pope explained, in an atmosphere of great sobriety and recollection, that sin isolates and blinds people.
"It is a blindness of the spirit, which prevents us from seeing what is most important, from fixing our gaze on the love that gives us life. This blindness leads us little by little to dwell on what is superficial, until we are indifferent to others and to what is good.”
He also said that temptation leads to selfishness and, ultimately, to complete closure of the heart.
"How easy and misguided it is to believe that life depends on what we have, on our successes and on the approval we receive; to believe that the economy is only for profit and consumption; that personal desires are more important than social responsibility!”
That's why he asked Christians not to cling to anything that can separate them from God.
"Let us cast aside all that prevents us from racing towards Him, unafraid of leaving behind those things which make us feel safe and to which we are attached.”
He also directed a message to the confessors. He invited them to be faithful to the Gospel, but at the same time, to take into account the fragility and the desire to return to God of those who go to confession.
"We must certainly not water-down the demands of the Gospel, but we cannot risk frustrating the desire of the sinner to be reconciled with the Father. For what the Father awaits more than anything is for his sons and daughters to return home.”
To conclude his homily, the pope practiced what he preached and confessed. He was the first to receive the sacrament of reconciliation at this penitential celebration. Then he heard the confession of some pilgrims.