In his homily at Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Friday, Pope Francis reminded the Catholic faithful to remember to care for the poor and all those who go unnoticed in their metropolis, saying "Jesus still walks our streets and is part of the lives of people.''
The pontiff said a connection with Jesus brings "a hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city."
"God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities, and she wants to be like yeast in the dough. She wants to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone's side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Wonderful Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace," he added.
His homily, delivered in Spanish before thousands of worshippers in attendance, was taken from Isaiah: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light,'' the Catholic News Agency reported.
He also reflected on the "multicultural nature of large, modern cities, with such "hidden riches," noting that these big cities also "conceal the faces of all those people who don't appear to belong, or are second-class citizens.''
"There are people who go unnoticed, like foreigners, children without education, those without health insurance, the homeless, and the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts," he said.
The Pope likewise made a strong call for leadership and for Christians to set aside self-interest and to work together for the common good.
He encouraged Americans to follow Christ's example "to go out and meet others where they really are, to go out again and again without fear, without hesitation, to go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people and share the good news that God walks at our side."
The Pope also called for people to "protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,'' stressing that this gives Christians "a hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city."
The 90-minute Mass at the Madison Square Garden was attended by some 20,000 worshippers who expressed sheer excitement and jubilation for having an audience or having been blessed by the pontiff.
The arena exploded in cheers, worshippers leaping to their feet amid standing ovation as Pope Francis entered and seated himself on the altar, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At the end of the mass, Francis' reportedly told the audience to "Please, I ask you, don't forget to pray for me.''
The Pope spent his night at the Vatican's diplomatic residence before leaving early Saturday for Philadelphia and the World Meeting of Families.
His three-day historic trip to the US also included a visit to the East Harlem Catholic school and the United Nations, and speaking to the powerful and the poor of New York City.
Pope Francis will remain in the United States until Sunday, CNA said. He will preside a Mass at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia before departing for Rome on Sunday evening.