ROME – Pope Francis gave a group of children some homework to do over the holidays — to listen to their grandparents, ask them questions and tell them about their own dreams.

“They remember history, have life experience and, for you, this will be a great gift that will help you in your journey,” he told hundreds of Italian children on December 19.

The children were members of Catholic Action’s children’s section, parish-based groups of young people from 4 to 14 years of age. The pope traditionally has an audience with them before Christmas.

“I’m giving you homework,” he told them.

The joy that comes from Christ and his love “is contagious” and, while it must be shared with everyone, the pope said he wanted them to make sure they definitely shared it with their grandparents.

“Speak often with your grandparents. They, too, have this contagious joy. Ask them lots of things, listen to them,” he said.

Grandparents also need to listen to their grandchildren, “to understand your dreams, your hopes,” said the 80-year-old pope.

He asked the children to remember during the Christmas season what the angel told the shepherds — “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

This Savior, born for each and every person, shows how much “we are loved by God,” he said.

“When we are a bit sad, when everything seems to go wrong, when a friend lets us down, or rather we let ourselves down, we think, ‘God loves me,’ ‘God doesn’t abandon me,'” he said.

“Our father is always faithful and he never stops loving us for an instant, following our every step and also running after us when we distance ourselves a bit. This is why there is always joy in a Christian heart.”