“The heart of man desires joy. All of us aspire to joy. Every family, every people aspires to happiness,” he explained. “But what is the joy to which the Christian is called to live and to give witness? It is that that comes from the closeness of God, of his presence in our lives. […] We don’t need to look elsewhere. Jesus came to bring joy to everyone and for ever.”

He affirmed that this joy is not just something for the future, for heaven. “No. It’s not that. Rather, [it is] a joy that is already real and that can be felt now, because Jesus himself is our joy, is our home.”

Pope Francis said that helping others to discover or rediscover this joy of Jesus is a mission like that of St. John the Baptist, given to all the baptized: “a beautiful mission […] to point people toward Christ — not to ourselves — because He is the final goal toward which the human heart reaches when it seeks joy and happiness.”

“The Christian is a person who has his heart full of peace, because he knows how to place his joy in the Lord, even when the difficult moments of life arise. To have faith does not mean to not have difficult moments, but to have the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone. And this is the Peace that God gives to his children,” the Pope said. “With eyes set on Christmas, which is approaching, the Church invites us to give witness that Jesus is not a figure from the past. He is the word of God who today continues illuminating the path of man. His actions, the sacraments, are the manifestations of the tenderness, of the consolation, of the love of the Father for each human being.”

In greeting the children with their Baby Jesus figurines, the Pope asked them to remember him in their prayers before their home nativity sets.

“Prayer is the breath of the soul,” he said. “It is important to find moments during the day to open the heart to God, also with simple and brief prayers of the Christian people.”

With this, the Pope explained that he planned to give those in the Square the gift of a pocket-sized prayerbook and he asked them to “carry it with you always, as a tool to help you live the day with God.”