CAMERINO, ITALY — Hope, which is more than mere optimism, gives one a deep-rooted confidence in the love and care of God, no matter what has happened, Pope Francis said June 16.
Hope "does not expire, because it is based on the fidelity of God. The hope of the Spirit is not even optimism. Born deeper, it rekindles at the bottom of the heart the certainty of being precious because loved," the pope said in June.
"It is a hope that leaves peace and joy inside, regardless of what happens outside. It is a hope that has strong roots, which no storm of life can uproot," he added. "It is a hope that, says St. Paul, 'does not disappoint' - hope does not disappoint! - which gives the strength to overcome all tribulations."
Pope Francis said Mass in Camerino, Italy during a day visit to the Archdiocese of Camerino-San Severino Marche. The area was one of those affected by the earthquakes which struck central Italy in 2016 and 2017. The Mass was said in the square outside the cathedral, which is still under reconstruction after being damaged in the earthquake.
In his homily, Francis spoke to those who suffered damage, injury or loss due to the earthquakes.
"When we are troubled or wounded - and you know well what it means to be troubled, wounded - we are led to 'nest' around our sadness and our fears," he said, noting that the Holy Spirit can free people from these "nests."
"The Spirit feeds us with living hope. Invite him. Let us ask him to come to us and he will come near. Come, Comforter Spirit! Come give us some light, give us the sense of this tragedy, give us the hope that does not disappoint. Come, Holy Spirit!" he prayed.
The pope also reflected on a line from the day's Responsorial Psalm: "What is man that you should be mindful of him?" This question, he said, could come also in the face of "collapsed houses and buildings reduced to rubble."
"What is man ever? What is he, if what you raise can collapse in an instant? What is he if his hope can end in dust?"
The truth, Francis said, is that "God remembers us as we are, with our frailties."
"No one is contemptible in his eyes, each has an infinite value for him: we are small under heaven and powerless when the earth trembles, but for God we are more precious than anything."
Before praying the Angelus following Mass, Pope Francis told the people of the diocese he came in order to be near to them and to pray with them, saying, "I pray to the God of hope, so that what is unstable on earth does not shake the certainty we have inside."
God remembers everyone and he can heal the memories of that difficult time, he said. "God helps us to be builders of good, consolers of hearts. Everyone can do a little good, without waiting for others to start."
Entrusting the diocese to the Virgin Mary, he prayed: "May she who animated the first community of Jesus' disciples with her motherly presence, also help the Church today to give good witness to the Gospel."
Before returning to the Vatican in the afternoon, the pope met with around 200 children who had received their first Holy Communion and with their parents and catechists.