Before Pope Francis continued his catechesis series on hope, he was greeted by an extra rowdy crowd today in Paul VI Audience Hall. It was one that offered him letters and drawings, stuffed animals, asked for his autograph, and even offered him a bottle of water that would help him breathe with ease.
In return, the pope spoke directly to mothers in the Audience who have experienced grief, especially those who have lost a child. He offered the example of Rachel, the wife of Jacob, who died in childbirth and the Blessed Mother who witnessed the death of her only Son.
"The Lord responds to Rachel's pain and bitter weeping with a promise that may be the reason for her true consolation: the people will return from exile and live in faith, freely, in relationship with God. These tears have generated hope. This is not easy to understand, but it is true, many times in our lives tears sow hope. They are seeds of hope.”
The pope said, like many people, even he does not know how to respond when people ask why God has allowed such suffering to happen to one of their children.
"In order to speak of hope to those in despair, you have to share in his or her despair. In order to wipe a tear from the face of the suffering, we must unite our tears to hers. Only then can our words really begin to give a bit 'of hope. If one cannot say words like that, or share in the painful tears, it is best to be silent, to offer a caress or a gesture without words.”
The pope then shared in the pain of Brazilians, who experienced the largest prison massacre on Sunday as a result of drug gangs. At least 60 people were killed in prisons in Manaus
"I express my sorrow and concern for what happened. I invite you to pray for the dead, for their families, for all inmates of that prison and for those who work there.”
He renewed his appeal for better conditions in prisons around the world, so they are a place of rehabilitation and social reintegration. He ended the petition with a Hail Mary prayed with all in attendance.