Sunday, October 09, 2016

Pope: Let us ask the Virgin Mary to help us understand that everything is God’s gift and know how to give thank

Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the Marian Jubilee on Sunday as part of the celebrations for the Year of Mercy.
Knowing how to say thank you was at the centre of his homily before hundreds of thousands of faithful in St Peter’s Square. In his address, he said we must “ask Our Lady to help us recognize that everything is God’s gift, and to be able to say ‘Thank you’.”

The icon of Mary, salvation of the Roman people, was on the altar. Pope Francis is very devoted to it (pictured). The icon is located in the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which the pontiff visits before and after every apostolic visit.

The idea of knowing how to “give thanks” comes from today's Gospel (Lk 17.11 to 19), in which Jesus heals 10 lepers, but only one, a Samaritan, comes back to thank Him. All the others “continued on their way” and “forgot the Giver.”

 “So we can ask ourselves: Are we capable of saying ‘Thank you’? How many times do we say ‘Thank you’ in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say “Thank you” to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life? Often we take everything for granted! This also happens with God. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to return and give thanks . . .”

“On this Jubilee day,” the pontiff added, “we are given a model, indeed the model, to whom we can look: Mary, our Mother. After hearing the message of the Angel, she lifted up her heart in a song of praise and thanksgiving to God: “My soul magnifies the Lord . . .”

The other important element is that it “takes humility to be able to give thanks”. The pope follows Naaman’s example (2 Kg 5:14-17). The latter is healed from leprosy by obeying the prophet Elisha who ordered him to bathe seven times in the waters of the River Jordan. However, “This request leaves Naaman perplexed, even annoyed. Can a God who demands such banal things truly be God? He would like to turn back, but then he agrees to be immersed in the Jordan and immediately he is cured.”

“The heart of Mary, more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God’s gifts. In order to become man, God chose precisely her, a simple young woman of Nazareth, who did not dwell in the palaces of power and wealth, who did not do extraordinary things. Let us ask ourselves if we are prepared to accept God’s gifts, or prefer instead to shut ourselves up within our forms of material security, intellectual security, the security of our plans.”

Lastly the pope turned his thoughts to the fact that Naaman and the healed Samaritan leper are foreigners, strangers to the people of the Promise. “How many foreigners,” he said, “including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside! Those living beside us, who may be scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners, can instead teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes.”

“The Mother of God, together with Joseph her spouse, knew what it was to live far from home. She too was long a foreigner in Egypt, far from her relatives and friends. Yet her faith was able to overcome the difficulties. Let us cling to this simple faith of the Holy Mother of God; let us ask her that we may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy.”

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