Francis celebrated Mass in Monza before a million people according to organisers. This followed his visit to Milan’s San Vittore Prison where he had lunch with inmates. “The Lord loves me as much as he does you,” he told them. “Jesus himself is in you and in me; we are sinful brothers".
Milan (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis celebrated the Holy Mass of today’s pastoral visit to Milan at a site north of Milan, near the town of Monza, in the presence of hundreds of thousand of people.
The pope arrived late because his previous engagement at Milan's San Vittore prison lasted longer than planned. In the correction facility, Francis met all 900 inmates and had lunch with about a hundred of them, some of whom cooked the meal.
"Jesus said,” he told the prisoners, “'I was in prison and you came to visit me'. You are Jesus for me, you are brothers. I do not have the courage to tell any person in prison that “he deserves it'. Why you and not me. The Lord loves me as much as he does you. Jesus himself is in you and in me; we are sinful brothers."
After his visit with the inmates, the pope rested a bit in the office of the prison chaplain, Fr Recalcati. Afterwards, he travelled to a park near the town of Monza for an open air Mass. Speaking before the huge crowd, about a million according to organisers, Francis, commented on the episode of the Annunciation.
"God’s new encounter with his people will take place in places that normally we do not expect: on the margins and peripheries. They will meet there. God shall become flesh and walk with us already in his mother’s womb. He will no longer be in a place reserved for the few whilst the majority remains waiting outside."
“Like Mary, astonished by the angel's words, we too can feel lost. ‘How will this happen’ at this time of speculation? Speculation is done on life, work, the family. It is done on the poor and migrants, on young people and their future. Everything seems to be reduced to numbers, letting uncertainty and insecurity stain the daily life of many families. As pain knocks on many doors, and many young people grow dissatisfied for lack of real opportunities, speculation abounds everywhere. Certainly, the dizzying pace imposed upon us seems to be robbing us of hope and joy.
“Pressures and impotence in the face of so many situations seem to be drying up our soul, making us insensitive to the many challenges. Paradoxically, when everything is sped up to build – in theory – a better society, we end up having no time for anything or anyone. We lose time for family, time for the community, time for friendship, for solidarity and memories."
"Faced with Mary’s sense of loss, with our sense of loss, the Angel gives us three keys to help us accept the mission entrusted to us.” The first is “Evoking memory. The first thing the Angel [Gabriel] does is evoke memory, thus opening Mary’s present to the whole history of Salvation. He evokes the promises made to David as a fruit of the Covenant with Jacob. Mary is a daughter of the Covenant.”
“Even today we are invited to remember, to look at our past so as not to forget from where we come. Not to forget our ancestors, our grandparents and all they have been through to arrive to where we are today. [. . .] Evoking memory is the best antidote to our disposition towards the magic solutions of division and estrangement."
"Belonging to the People of God. Memory allows Mary to recognise that she belongs to the People of God. It makes us remember that we are members of the people of God, [. . .] a people called to accommodate differences, integrate them with respect and creativity, and celebrate the novelties that comes from others; a people that is not afraid to embrace boundaries and borders; a people that is not afraid to welcome those who need it because it knows that its Lord is present there."
"The possibility of the impossible. "[N]othing will be impossible for God" (Lk 1:37). This is how the angel ends his answer to Mary. When we believe that everything depends only upon us, we remain prisoners of our abilities, our strength, our myopic horizons. When we let others help us, advise us, when we let ourselves to open up to grace, the impossible seems to start to become real. This land knows this very well for in the course of their history, it has produced many charisms, many missionaries, so much wealth for the life of the Church! So many faces who, going beyond a sterile and divisive pessimism, opened up to God's initiative and became a sign of how fruitful a land can be when it does not let itself be closed up by its own ideas, its own limitations, its own abilities, but instead opens up to others.
“As before, God continues to seek allies and men and women capable of believing and capable of remembering, recognising themselves as belonging to His people in order to cooperate with the creativity of the Holy Spirit. God continues to walk our neighbourhoods and our streets; he goes everywhere in search of hearts capable of listening to his invitation, making him become flesh in the here and now. Paraphrasing Saint Ambrose in his commentary on this passage, we can say: God continues to look for hearts like Mary’s, willing to believe even under very exceptional circumstances (see Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke II, 17: PL 15, 1559). May the Lord build up in us this faith and hope."
After the Mass, Francis left Monza for Milan to take part in the last public event of his pastoral visit, a meeting at the city’s Meazza-San Siro Stadium with recently confirmed young people.