The weekly catechesis at the Vatican began with this poignant scene.
This group of people could not contain their emotion to be able to greet Pope Francis. They were waving flags from China, a country where Christians must live their faith in difficult conditions.
During the audience, the pope warned against a hypocritical charity, which seeks self-interest instead of a sincere love.
"Hypocrisy can be insinuated everywhere, also in our way of loving. 'Ah, how great I am!' This is hypocrisy. How can we be sure that our love is sincere, that our charity is authentic, that we are not pretending or that our love is like a soap opera?"
Pope Francis explained that sincere charity is lived by those who have experienced the mercy of God. They know what it means to receive love for free, despite the mistakes they may have made in their lives. This, he said, is the secret of Christian joy.
"Because we know that in every circumstance, even in the most difficult, and also in spite of our own failures, the love of God never lessens."
The pope spoke with a harsh tone while greeting the Italian pilgrims, and without neglecting the theme of charity, he spoke precisely of an example of what charity is not. He greeted a group of employees from an Italian company that is firing its staff despite already existing profits. Pope Francis appealed to social responsibility and also gave a warning.
"Those who for economic advancements in business are not completely clear and close factories, close companies, and take away the work of people; this person commits a grave sin."
Before leaving, he recalled again that Lent is not so much a fast from food as a fast from bad habits that hurt others.