In a special homily delivered at a service of Solumn Vespers on New Year's Eve for the Vigil of the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, celebrated yesterday, Pope Francis turned his attention in a special way to his role as the Bishop of Rome, telling the people of that city that the quality of life and the spiritual health of Rome depended on "all of us."
“It is the last day of the year. What will we do, how will we act next year, to make our city a little better?” the Pope asked, in a homily delivered in the Evening Prayer service celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. “The face of a city is like a mosaic whose pieces are all the people that live there,” said the Pope, highlighting the difference between the artistic beauty of the city that is the resting place of the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul, and the daily hardships confronted by many citizens of the city. “Rome is a city of unique beauty. Its spiritual and cultural patrimony is extraordinary. Nevertheless, in Rome there are also many persons marked by material and moral misery – poor, unhappy, suffering – who challenge the conscience not only of the responsible public officials, but of every citizen.”
The city is "full of tourists," but the Pope reminded the people that Rome is also "full of refugees," reminding all that whatever someone's situation in life, they deserve “the same attitude of welcome and equality because each person is a bearer of human dignity.”
The closing of one year and the beginning of another is an occasion to reflect on “how we have seen the time that the Lord has given us. “Have we used it above all for ourselves, for our interests, or have we known to spend it also for others? And for God?” the Holy Father asked. “The Church of Rome feels committed to make its own contribution to the life and future of the city, to animate it with the leaven of the gospel, to be a sign and instrument of the mercy of God."