VATICAN CITY — The Blessed Virgin Mary is the model of thanksgiving to God, and by imitating her faith, our hearts are opened to appreciate his gifts and give thanks for his mercy, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
Addressing clergy and faithful at Holy Mass in St. Peter’s Square, on the Marian Jubilee for the Year of Mercy, the pope said that joy comes from imitating the simple faith of the Mother of God, who teaches us to receive the Lord’s mercy with a humble and grateful heart.
Commenting on this Sunday’s Gospel of the ten lepers (cf. Lk 17,11-19), Pope Francis said it invites us “to acknowledge God’s gifts with wonder and gratitude. On the way to his death and resurrection, Jesus meets ten lepers, who approach him, keep their distance and tell their troubles to the one whom their faith perceived as a possible savior: ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ (v. 13).’”
“They are sick and they are looking someone to heal them,” he said. “Jesus responds by telling them to go and present themselves to the priests, who according to the Law were charged with certifying presumed healings. In this way, Jesus does not simply make them a promise; he tests their faith.”
Obedience leads to healing
The pope observed that it was obedience to truth that led to the lepers’ healing. “At that moment, in fact, the ten were not yet healed. They were restored to health after they set out in obedience to Jesus’ command. Then, rejoicing, they showed themselves to the priests and continued on their way. They forgot the Giver, the Father, who cured them through Jesus, his Son made man.”
“All but one,” the pope noted. “A Samaritan, a foreigner living on the fringes of the chosen people, practically a pagan! This man was not content with being healed by his faith, but brought that healing to completion by returning to express his gratitude for the gift received. He recognized in Jesus the true Priest, who raised him up and saved him, who can now set him on his way and accept him as one of his disciples.”
Healing is completed in thanksgiving
“To be able to offer thanks, to be able to praise the Lord for what he has done for us: this is important,” the pope continued.
“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… That is why Jesus so emphasizes the failure of the nine ungrateful lepers: ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ (Lk 17:17-18).”
Mary is the model of thanksgiving to God
On this Jubilee day, Pope Francis said, “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…’ Let us ask our Lady to help us recognize that everything is God’s gift, and to be able to say ‘Thank you’. Then our joy will be complete.”
But, the pope observed, humility is needed to be able to give thanks. And here, too, the Blessed Virgin is our model. “The heart of Mary, more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God’s gifts,” he said. “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,” he said. The pope continued: “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.”
“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,” Pope Francis said.