The "Pope of the Poor" repeatedly called for greater attention to the needy, and on several occasions applauded the thirst for justice among young people.
During his visit to a Rio slum, he said that no "pacification" campaign can succeed without addressing the social conditions that breed misery -- an indirect slap at recent crackdowns on violence in the slums by local police.
At the same time, Francis didn't embarrass his hosts. He was gracious with Brazil's embattled president, Dilma Rousseff. He dropped by Rio de Janeiro's city palace on Thursday to pray over the flags for the 2016 Olympics, meaning that organizers can literally claim a papal blessing against complaints that splashy events such as the Olympics and the World Cup are a waste of money.
In the end, Francis offered a little something for everyone, without blurring his central message expressed in the slum visit: "The measure of the greatness of a society is found in the way it treats those most in need."
Energizer Bunny of a Pope
Finally, we learned that despite his advanced age, Francis has a seemingly boundless reserve of energy.
Even before he left Rome, he had trimmed the two days of rest planned for Benedict XVI to one, adding a 150-mile outing to Aparecida, Brazil, on Wednesday to visit a famed Marian shrine, and later in the day stopping by a Rio hospital that treats alcohol and drug addicts.
On the plane en route to Brazil, he stood for an hour to chat with each journalist covering the trip, then spent the rest of the flight talking to his Vatican aides and making notes. A spokesman said nap time had been planned for the pope, but he never used it.
Even on his alleged day off on Tuesday, Francis kept at it. He held a business meeting with a cardinal from Honduras, Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, who's in charge of a new council of eight cardinals from around the world helping the pope with Vatican reform.
At one stage, a Vatican spokesman confessed, "I'm happy we're halfway through, because if [the trip] were any longer I'd be destroyed."
Despite the grueling pace, Francis seemed as fresh at the end as at the beginning. Nor will things slow down anytime soon, since he's already announced that he won't take the usual papal break in August, but will stay on the job in Rome.
The "Energizer bunny" aspect of his personality should serve Francis well, because his bravura performance in Brazil notwithstanding, the Vatican is not going to reform itself.
John L. Allen Jr. is CNN's senior Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.