Pope Francis in Malta

Malta: At the granaries of Floriana with the Pope

Francis' visit to the island was greeted with gratitude by thousands of people. Among them were Pauline and Robert: "He embraced everyone with mercy. Even us."

After the double cancellation of the Pope's trip to Malta due to the pandemic, and after a six-week election campaign in which the Maltese people were practically split in two, we received – like a blessing – Francis' visit. His joyful arrival was welcomed as a unifying factor for the country.

The visit was a gift for us all. The Pope did not hesitate talking about the issues we live with here today, about unity and peace, about the value and dignity of human life, about Ukraine. Nor did he mince his words on the subject of migration, linking it to the "shipwreck of civilization, which threatens not only migrants but us all" and which can be avoided only through acceptance and humanity. Clear and direct words.

Robert and Pauline at the Granaries in Floriana

But what struck us was his humanity, how he was happy despite the physical fatigue of his travel schedule, and the way he looked straight into our eyes, especially of the most vulnerable: a deep, penetrating gaze that stays imprinted on your heart. He was welcomed everywhere; he embraced everyone with mercy, especially the suffering, the sick, migrants, prisoners, exploited workers and, last but not least, us. We were deeply touched. It was a great breath of fresh air, so human, so loving. If only this could last forever... He seemed to read our heart's desire.

He urged us to go back to the origins, to return to the beginning, rediscovering the core of our faith: "Not [...] merely ‘a past to remember’, but a ‘great future to build’." It is "a faith that is founded and renewed in the personal encounter with Christ, in the daily listening to his Word, in active participation in the life of the Church, in the soul of popular piety". Our religiosity must be the expression of "a living, open, faith, spreading the joy of the Gospel," and the Church must have "at heart the friendship with Jesus," the welcoming of all and the joy of evangelization. His words were a reminder of Christianity as an event, just as we desire and live it daily and to which we are continually reminded.

Sunday's homily was dedicated to mercy, as the Gospel of the day, that of the adulteress, proposed. Francis linked mercy to the definition of who we are, to what makes us authentic disciples of Christ. "We need to think about how we view ourselves," was his suggestion: to be faithful to the truth of the heart, to pray to Jesus for the change of our hearts and to recognize our need for salvation, discovering how God comes to us through our inner wounds. He then elaborated that we must also look at others with mercy, which is the heart of God. Mercy is God's way of taking care of us. He always forgives and does not tire of doing so. We are the ones who get tired of asking for His forgiveness. Listening to Him restored our strength and encouraged us not to get lost in the daily turbulence that life presents.

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What Francis said has helped us to rekindle this self-awareness in us, comforting us. While he spoke, there was extraordinary silence, despite the fact that we were in a crowd of about 20 thousand people, gathered on the square of the Granaries of Floriana. The gift offered to the Pope by Archbishop Charles Scicluna was a painting of Christ and the adulteress: Misericordia et Misera. May the Pope's words remain in our ears and his presence in our hearts for a better future of our island and our people.

Robert and Pauline, Valletta, Malta