Saint


Saints - Pope Francis     


Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

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On this Seventh Sunday of Easter we gather together in joy to celebrate a feast of holiness. Let us give thanks to God who made his glory, the glory of Love, shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and on Mother María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come for this celebration — from Italy, Colombia, Mexico and other countries — and I thank you! Let us look at the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed. It is a word that has invited us to be faithful to Christ, even to martyrdom; it has reminded us of the urgency and beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; and it has spoken to us of the testimony of charity, without which even martyrdom and the mission lose their Christian savour.

1. When the Acts of the Apostles tell us about the Deacon Stephen, the Proto-Martyr, it is written that he was a man “filled with the Holy Spirit” (6:5; 7:55). What does this mean? It means that he was filled with the Love of God, that his whole self, his life, was inspired by the Spirit of the Risen Christ so that he followed Jesus with total fidelity, to the point of giving up himself.

Today the Church holds up for our veneration an array of martyrs who in 1480 were called to bear the highest witness to the Gospel together. About 800 people, who had survived the siege and invasion of Otranto, were beheaded in the environs of that city. They refused to deny their faith and died professing the Risen Christ. Where did they find the strength to stay faithful? In the faith itself, which enables us to see beyond the limits of our human sight, beyond the boundaries of earthly life. It grants us to contemplate “the heavens opened”, as St Stephen says, and the living Christ at God’s right hand. Dear friends, let us keep the faith we have received and which is our true treasure, let us renew our faithfulness to the Lord, even in the midst of obstacles and misunderstanding. God will never let us lack strength and calmness. While we venerate the Martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain all the Christians who still suffer violence today in these very times and in so many parts of the world and to give them the courage to stay faithful and to respond to evil with goodness.

2. We might take the second idea from the words of Jesus which we heard in the Gospel: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us” (Jn 17:20). St Laura Montoya was an instrument of evangelization, first as a teacher and later as a spiritual mother of the indigenous in whom she instilled hope, welcoming them with this love that she had learned from God and bringing them to him with an effective pedagogy that respected their culture and was not in opposition to it. In her work of evangelization Mother Laura truly made herself all things to all people, to borrow St Paul’s words (cf. 1 Cor 9:22). Today too, like a vanguard of the Church, her spiritual daughters live in and take the Gospel to the furthest and most needy places.

This first saint, born in the beautiful country of Colombia, teaches us to be generous to God and not to live our faith in solitude — as if it were possible to live the faith alone! — but to communicate it and to make the joy of the Gospel shine out in our words and in the witness of our life wherever we meet others. Wherever we may happen to be, to radiate this life of the Gospel. She teaches us to see Jesus’ face reflected in others and to get the better of the indifference and individualism that corrode Christian communities and eat away our heart itself. She also teaches us to accept everyone without prejudice, without discrimination and without reticence, but rather with sincere love, giving them the very best of ourselves and, especially, sharing with them our most worthwhile possession; this is not one of our institutions or organizations, no. The most worthwhile thing we possess is Christ and his Gospel.

3. Lastly, a third idea. In today’s Gospel, Jesus prays to the Father with these words: “I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn 17:26). The martyr’s fidelity event to the death and the proclamation of the Gospel to all people are rooted, have their roots, in God’s love, which was poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), and in the witness we must bear in our life to this love.

St Guadalupe García Zavala was well aware of this. By renouncing a comfortable life — what great harm an easy life and well-being cause; the adoption of a bourgeois heart paralyzes us — by renouncing an easy life in order to follow Jesus’ call she taught people how to love poverty, how to feel greater love for the poor and for the sick. Mother Lupita would kneel on the hospital floor, before the sick, before the abandoned, in order to serve them with tenderness and compassion. And this is called “touching the flesh of Christ”. The poor, the abandoned, the sick and the marginalized are the flesh of Christ. And Mother Lupita touched the flesh of Christ and taught us this behaviour: not to feel ashamed, not to fear, not to find “touching Christ’s flesh” repugnant. Mother Lupita had realized what “touching Christ’s flesh” actually means. Today too her spiritual daughters try to mirror God’s love in works of charity, unsparing in sacrifices and facing every obstacle with docility and with apostolic perseverance (hypomon?), bearing it with courage.

This new Mexican saint invites us to love as Jesus loved us. This does not entail withdrawal into ourselves, into our own problems, into our own ideas, into our own interests, into this small world that is so harmful to us; but rather to come out of ourselves and care for those who are in need of attention, understanding and help, to bring them the warm closeness of God’s love through tangible actions of sensitivity, of sincere affection and of love.

Faithfulness to Christ and to his Gospel, in order to proclaim them with our words and our life, witnessing to God’s love with our own love and with our charity to all: these are the luminous examples and teachings that the saints canonized today offer us but they call into question our Christian life: how am I faithful to Christ? Let us take this question with us, to think about it during the day: how am I faithful to Christ? Am I able to “make my faith seen with respect, but also with courage? Am I attentive to others, do I notice who is in need, do I see everyone as brothers and sisters to love? Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the new saints, to fill our life with the joy of his love. So may it be.



Pope Francis   01.11.15    Verano Cemetery, Rome         Solemnity of All Saints,            Matthew 5: 1-12A   

Pope Francis  01.11.15 All Saints

In the Gospel we listened to Jesus who was teaching his disciples and the crowd that had gathered on the mountain near the lake of Galilee (cf. Mt 5:1-12). The Word of the risen and living Lord also shows us, today, the way to reach the true beatitude, the way that leads to Heaven. It is difficult to understand the path because it goes against the current, but the Lord tells us that those who go on this path are happy, sooner or later they become happy.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. We might ask ourselves how a person poor of heart can be happy, one whose only treasure is the Kingdom of Heaven. The reason is exactly this: that having the heart stripped and free of so many worldly things, this person is “awaited” in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”. How can those who weep be happy? Yet, those who in life have never felt sadness, angst, sorrow, will never know the power of comfort. Instead, happy are those with the capacity to be moved, the capacity to feel in their heart the sorrow that exists in their life and in the lives of others. They will be happy! Because the tender hand of God the Father will comfort them and will caress them.

“Blessed are the meek”. How often are we, on the contrary, impatient, irritable, always ready to complain! We have many demands regarding others, but when our turn comes, we react by raising our voice, as if we were masters of the world, when in reality we are all children of God. Let us think instead of those mothers and fathers who are so patient with their children who “drive them mad”. This is the way of the Lord: the way of meekness and of patience. Jesus traveled this path: as a child he endured persecution and exile; and then, as an adult, slander, snares, false accusations in court; and he endured it all with meekness. Out of love for us he endured even the cross.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied”. Yes, those who have a strong sense of justice, and not only toward others, but first of all toward themselves, they will be satisfied, because they are ready to receive the greatest justice, that which only God can give.

Then, “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy”. Happy are those who know how to forgive, who have mercy on others, who do not judge every thing and every one, but try to put themselves in the place of others. Forgiveness is the thing we all need, without exception. This is why at the beginning of the Mass we recognize ourselves for what we are, namely, sinners. It isn’t an expression or a formality: it is an act of truth. “Lord, here I am, have mercy on me”. If we are able to give others the forgiveness we ask for ourselves, we are blessed. As we say in the “Our Father”: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God”. Let us look at the faces of those who go around sowing discord: are they happy? Those who are always seeking occasions to mislead, to take advantage of others, are they happy? No, they cannot be happy. Instead, those who patiently try to sow peace each day, are who artisans of peace, of reconciliation, yes, they are blessed, because they are true children of our Heavenly Father, who sows always and only peace, to the point that he sent his Son into the world as the seed of peace for humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is the way of holiness, and it is the very way of happiness. It is the way that Jesus travelled. Indeed, He himself is the Way: those who walk with Him and proceed through Him enter into life, into eternal life. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be simple and humble people, the grace to be able to weep, the grace to be meek, the grace to work for justice and peace, and above all the grace to let ourselves be forgiven by God so as to become instruments of his mercy.

This is what the
Saints did, those who have preceded us to our heavenly home. They accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage, they encourage us to go forward. May their intercession help us to walk on Jesus’ path, and to obtain eternal happiness for our deceased brothers and sisters, for whom we offer this Mass.




Pope Francis  16.10.16  Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square  29th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C  Exodus 17: 8-13,    2 Timothy 3: 14 -  4: 2,    Luke 18: 1-8

Pope Francis  16.10.16  Prayer
At the start of today’s celebration, we addressed this prayer to the Lord: “Create in us a generous and steadfast heart, so that we may always serve you with fidelity and purity of spirit” (Collect).

By our own efforts, we cannot give ourselves such a heart. Only God can do this, and so in the prayer we ask him to give it to us as his “creation”. In this way, we come to the theme of
prayer, which is central to this Sunday’s scriptural readings and challenges all of us who are gathered here for the canonization of new Saints. The Saints attained the goal. Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious.

So pray! Like Moses, who was above all a man of God, a man of prayer. We see him today in the battle against Amalek, standing atop the hill with his arms raised. From time to time, however, his arms would grow weary and fall, and then the tide would turn against the people. So Aaron and Hur made Moses sit on a stone and they held up his arms, until the final victory was won.

This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace!

There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another. Weariness is inevitable. Sometimes we simply cannot go on, yet, with the support of our brothers and sisters, our prayer can persevere until the Lord completes his work.

Saint Paul writes to Timothy, his disciple and co-worker, and urges him to hold fast to what he has learned and believed (cf. 2 Tim 3:14). But Timothy could not do this by his own efforts: the “battle” of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: “Pray always, without ever losing heart” (Lk 18:1). This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony. Here once again we may hear a voice within us, saying: “But Lord, how can we not grow weary? We are human… even Moses grew weary...!” True, each of us grows weary. Yet we are not alone; we are part of a Body! We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, whose arms are raised day and night to heaven, thanks to the presence of the Risen Christ and his Holy Spirit. Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.

We have heard the promise Jesus makes in the Gospel: “God will grant justice to his chosen ones, who cry to him day and night” (cf. Lk 18:7). This is the mystery of prayer: to keep crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised. This is the prayer that Jesus has revealed to us and given us in the Holy Spirit. To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm. On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us. For the Holy Spirit teaches us to pray. He guides us in prayer and he enables us to pray as sons and daughters.

The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them. They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart. Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer. May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.




Pope Francis  01.11.16 Malmo Sweden

Today, with the entire Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. In doing so, we remember not only those who have been proclaimed saints through the ages, but also our many brothers and sisters who, in a quiet and unassuming way, lived their Christian life in the fullness of faith and love. Surely among them are many of our relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Ours, then, is a celebration of holiness. A holiness that is seen not so much in great deeds and extraordinary events, but rather in daily fidelity to the demands of our baptism. A holiness that consists in the love of God and the love of our brothers and sisters. A love that remains faithful to the point of self-renunciation and complete devotion to others. We think of the lives of all those mothers and fathers who sacrifice for their families and are prepared to forego – though it is not always easy – so many things, so many personal plans and projects.

Yet if there is one thing typical of the
saints, it is that they are genuinely happy. They found the secret of authentic happiness, which lies deep within the soul and has its source in the love of God. That is why we call the saints blessed. The Beatitudes are their path, their goal towards the homeland. The Beatitudes are the way of life that the Lord teaches us, so that we can follow in his footsteps. In the Gospel of today’s Mass, we heard how Jesus proclaimed the Beatitudes before a great crowd on the hill by the Sea of Galilee.

The Beatitudes are the image of Christ and consequently of each Christian. Here I would like to mention only one: “Blessed are the meek”. Jesus says of himself: “Learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart” (Mt 11:29). This is his spiritual portrait and it reveals the abundance of his love. Meekness is a way of living and acting that draws us close to Jesus and to one another. It enables us to set aside everything that divides and estranges us, and to find ever new ways to advance along the path of unity. So it was with sons and daughters of this land, including Saint Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad, recently canonized, and Saint Bridget, Birgitta of Vadstena, co-patron of Europe. They prayed and worked to create bonds of unity and fellowship between Christians. One very eloquent sign of this is that here in your country, marked as it is by the coexistence of quite different peoples, we are jointly commemorating the fifth centenary of the Reformation. The saints bring about change through meekness of heart. With that meekness, we come to understand the grandeur of God and worship him with sincere hearts. For meekness is the attitude of those who have nothing to lose, because their only wealth is God.

The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus. Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians. All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.

Dear brothers and sisters, the call to holiness is directed to everyone and must be received from the Lord in a spirit of faith. The saints spur us on by their lives and their intercession before God, and we ourselves need one another if we are to become saints. Helping one another to become saints! Together let us implore the grace to accept this call with joy and to join in bringing it to fulfilment. To our heavenly Mother, Queen of All Saints, we entrust our intentions and the dialogue aimed at the full communion of all Christians, so that we may be blessed in our efforts and may attain holiness in unity.



Pope Francis    01.11.17  Angelus, St Peter's Square       Solemnity of All Saints        Matthew 5: 1-12A

Pope Francis 01.11.17 Happiness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good morning and happy Feast Day!

The
Solemnity of All Saints is “our” celebration: not because we are good, but because the sanctity of God has touched our life. The Saints are not perfect models, but people through whom God has passed. We can compare them to the Church windows which allow light to enter in different shades of colour. The saints are our brothers and sisters who have welcomed the light of God in their heart and have passed it on to the world, each according to his or her own “hue”. But they were all transparent; they fought to remove the stains and the darkness of sin, so as to enable the gentle light of God to pass through. This is life’s purpose: to enable God’s light to pass through; it is the purpose of our life too.

Indeed, today in the Gospel, Jesus addresses his followers, all of us, telling us we are “Blessed” (Mt 5:3). It is the word with which he begins his sermon, which is the “Gospel”, Good News, because it is
the path of happiness. Those who are with Jesus are blessed; they are happy. Happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone, no. True happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? True happiness is not in having something or in becoming someone; true happiness is being with the Lord and living for love. Do you believe this? We must go forth, believing in this. So, the ingredients for a happy life are called Beatitudes: blessed are the simple, the humble who make room for God, who are able to weep for others and for their own mistakes, who remain meek, fight for justice, are merciful to all, safeguard purity of heart, always work for peace and abide in joy, do not hate and, even when suffering, respond to evil with good.

These are the Beatitudes. They do not require conspicuous gestures; they are not for supermen, but for those who live the trials and toils of every day, for us. This is how the saints are: like everyone, they breathe air polluted by the evil there is in the world, but on the journey they never lose sight of Jesus’ roadmap, that indicated in the Beatitudes, which is like the map of Christian life.


Today is the celebration of those who have reached the destination indicated by this map: not only the saints on the calendar, but many brothers and sisters “next door”, whom we may have met and known. Today is a family celebration, of many simple, hidden people who in reality help God to move the world forward. And there are so many of them today! There are so many of them! Thanks to these unknown brothers and sisters who help God to move the world forward, who live among us; let us salute them all with a nice round of applause!

First of all — the first Beatitude says — they are “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). What does this mean? That they do not live for success, power and money; they know that those who set aside treasure for themselves are not rich toward God (cf. Lk 12:21). Rather, they believe that the Lord is life’s treasure, and love for neighbour the only true source of gain. At times we are dissatisfied due to something we lack, or worried if we are not considered as we would like; let us remember that our Beatitude is not here but in the Lord and in love: only with him, only by loving do we live as blessed.

Lastly I would like to quote another beatitude, which is not found in the Gospel but at the end of the Bible, and it speaks of the end of life: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev 14:13). Tomorrow we will be called to accompany with prayer our deceased, so they may be forever joyful in the Lord. Let us remember our loved ones with gratitude and let us pray for them. May the Mother of God, Queen of the Saints and Gate of Heaven, intercede for our journey of holiness and for our loved ones who have gone before us and who have already departed for the heavenly Homeland.


Pope Francis     01.11.18    Solemnity of All Saints, St Peter's Square          Revelations 7: 2-4, 9-14,       Matthew 5: 1-12A


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning and happy Feast Day!
Pope Francis | Beatitudes, the path to holiness in daily life


Today’s first reading, from the Book of Revelation, speaks to us about heaven and sets before us “a great multitude”, innumerable, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9). They are the saints. What do they do up there in heaven? They sing together, they joyfully praise God. It would be beautiful to hear their song.... But we can imagine it: do you know when? During Mass, when we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts...”. It is a hymn, the Bible says, which comes from heaven, which is sung there (cf. Is 6:3; Rev 4:8), a hymn of praise. Thus, by singing the Sanctus, not only do we think of the saints, but we do as they do: at that moment, in the Mass, we are united with them more than ever.

And we are united with all the saints: not only the most well known, from the calendar, but also those “next door”, our family members and acquaintances who are now part of that great multitude. Therefore, today is a family celebration. The saints are close to us, indeed they are our truest brothers and sisters. They understand us, love us, know what is truly good for us, help us and await us. They are happy and want us to be happy with them in paradise.

Thus they invite us on the path of happiness, indicated by today’s beautiful and well-known Gospel passage: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.... Blessed are the meek.... Blessed are the pure in heart...” (cf. Mt 5:3-8). But how? The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the overbearing. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, while the world says blessed are the cunning and the pleasure-seekers. This way of
the Beatitudes, of holiness, seems to always lead to defeat. Yet — the first reading also reminds us — the Saints hold “palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9), which is a symbol of victory. They have prevailed, not the world. And they exhort us to choose their side, that of God who is Holy.

Let us ask ourselves which side we are on: that of heaven or that of earth? Do we live for the Lord or for ourselves, for eternal happiness or for some immediate gratification? Let us ask ourselves: do we truly want holiness? Or are we content with being Christians without infamy and without praise, who believe in God and esteem their neighbour, but without overemphasizing. “The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created” (Apostolic Exhortation
Gaudete et Exsultate, 1). Thus, either holiness or nothing! It is good for us to let ourselves be spurred by the saints, who did not use half-measures here, and are ‘cheering us on’ from there, so that we may choose God, humility, meekness, mercy, purity, so that we may be impassioned by heaven rather than earth.

Today our brothers and sisters do not ask us to listen to another fine Gospel passage, but to put it into practice, to set out on the way of the Beatitudes. It is not a matter of doing extraordinary things, but of following, each day, this way that leads us to heaven, leads us to family, leads us home. Thus today we glimpse our future and we celebrate what we were born for: we were born so as to die no more; we were born to enjoy God’s happiness! The Lord encourages us and says to those setting out on the path of the Beatitudes: “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:12). May the Holy Mother of God, Queen of Saints, help us to decisively follow the road to holiness; may she, who is the Gate of Heaven, introduce our departed loved ones into the heavenly family.



Pope Francis   13.10.19 Holy Mass and Canonization of the Blesseds, St Peter's Square   28th Sunday of Ordinary Time  Year C     Luke 17: 11-19

Pope Francis  13.10.19

“Your faith has saved you” (Lk 17:19). This is the climax of today’s Gospel, which reflects the journey of faith. There are three steps in this journey of faith. We see them in the actions of the lepers whom Jesus heals. They cry out, they walk and they give thanks.

First, they
cry out. The lepers were in a dreadful situation, not only because of a disease that, widespread even today, needs to be battled with unremitting effort, but also because of their exclusion from society. At the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and, as such, had to be isolated and kept apart (cf. Lev 13:46). We see that when they approach Jesus, they “kept their distance” (Lk 17:12). Even though their condition kept them apart, the Gospel tells us that they “called out” (v. 13) and pleaded with Jesus. They did not let themselves be paralyzed because they were shunned by society; they cried out to God, who excludes no one. We see how distances are shortened, how loneliness is overcome: by not closing in on ourselves and our own problems, by not thinking about how others judge us, but rather by crying out to the Lord, for the Lord hears the cry of those who find themselves alone.

Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us. We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think. The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: “Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear”. The lepers are the first people, in this Gospel, who called on the name of Jesus. Later, a blind man and a crucified thief would do so: all of them needy people calling on the name of Jesus, which means: “God saves”. They call God by name, directly and spontaneously. To call someone by name is a sign of confidence, and it pleases the Lord. That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting
prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer, to say “Jesus“ is to pray. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart.

The second word is to walk. It is the second stage. In today’s brief Gospel, there are several verbs of motion. It is quite striking is that the lepers are not healed as they stand before Jesus; it is only afterwards, as they were walking. The Gospel tells us that: “As they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). They were healed by going up to Jerusalem, that is, while walking uphill. On
the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights. Faith calls for journey, a “going out” from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks. Faith advances when we make our way equipped with trust in God. Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who went down to bathe in the river Jordan (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17). The same is true for us. We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day, and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way.

There is a further interesting aspect to the journey of the lepers: they move together. The Gospel tells us that, “as they went, they were made clean” (v. 14). The verbs are in the plural. Faith means also walking together, never alone. Once healed, however, nine of them go off on their own way, and only one turns back to offer thanks. Jesus then expresses his astonishment: “The others, where are they?” (v. 17). It is as if he asks the only one who returned to account for the other nine. It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters, all of us! We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? You, who are here today, do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister.

To cry out. To walk. And to
give thanks. This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit; it is going to the source, which is Jesus. He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful. Whenever we meet Jesus, the word “thanks” comes immediately to our lips, because we have discovered the most important thing in life, which is not to receive a grace or resolve a problem, but to embrace the Lord of life. And this is the most important thing in life: to embrace the Lord of life.

It is impressive to see how the man who was healed, a Samaritan, expresses his joy with his entire being: he praises God in a loud voice, he prostrates himself, and he gives thanks (cf. vv. 15-16). The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise? Are we closed in on ourselves, waiting to ask another blessing, or do we find our joy in giving thanks? When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and he pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette; it is a question of faith. A grateful heart is one that remains young. To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed: that is the best way to keep our hearts young, because hearts can grow old and be spoilt. This also holds true for families, and between spouses. Remember to say thank you. Those words are the simplest and most effective of all.

To cry out. To walk. To give thanks. Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new
Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Three of them were religious women; they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world. Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life, in her humbleness. Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).

Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others” (Meditations on Christian Doctrine, VII, 3). Amen.