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Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
First of all I want to thank God for the day I spent at Assisi on Friday. Understand that this was the first time that I went to Assisi and it was a great gift to make this pilgrimage on the feast on St. Francis. I thank the people of Assisi for their warm reception. Many thanks!
Today the Gospel reading begins this way: “At that time the apostles said to the Lord: “‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17;5-6). I think that all of us can make this request our own. We, like the Apostles, also say to Jesus: ”Increase our faith!” Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak, fragile, but we offer it to you just as it is, so that you will make it grow. It seems to me that it would be good for all of us to repeat this together: “Lord, increase our faith!” Shall we do it? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!
And the Lord, how does he answer? He replies: “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree: ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Luke 17:6). The mustard seed is very small, but Jesus says that it is enough to have a faith like this, small, but true, sincere to do things that are humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but with an incredibly strong faith, who truly move mountains! Think, for example, of certain mammas and papas who face very hard situations; or certain sick people, even gravely sick people, who convey serenity to those who visit them. These people, precisely because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “We are useless servants. We have done what we were supposed to do” (Luke 17:10). How many people among us have this strong, humble faith and do so much good!
In this month of October, which is especially dedicated to the missions, we think of many missionaries, men and women, who have overcome all sorts of obstacles to spread the Gospel. They have truly given their life; as St. Paul says to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed to bear witness to our Lord, nor to me, in prison for him; but with the power of God, suffer with me for the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8). But this is meant for everyone: each one of us, in his everyday life, can bear witness to Christ, with the power of God, the power of faith, the small faith that we have, which, nevertheless, is strong! With this strength bear witness to Jesus Christ, be Christians with your life, with our witness!
And where do we get this strength from? We get it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be lacking, and prayer is a dialogue of the soul with God. October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it a tradition to recite the Supplication to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary. Let us join spiritually in this act of confidence in our Mother, and we receive from her hands the beads of the Rosary: the Rosary is a school of prayer; the Rosary is a school of faith![Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in Italian:]
Dear brothers and sisters,
Yesterday in Modena (Italy) Rolando Rivi was beatified. He was a seminarian of that region, Emilia, who was killed in 1945, when he was 14, because of hatred for his faith, guilty only of wearing a cassock during that time of raging violence against the clergy, who spoke out to condemn in the name of God the postwar massacres. But the faith in Jesus overcomes the spirit of the world! Let us thank God for this young martyr, heroic witness to the Gospel! Let us give thanks to God for this young martyr, heroic witness to the Gospel. Many young people today have this example before their eyes: a courageous young man who knew where he must go, who knew the love of Jesus in his heart and gave his life for him. A beautiful example for young people!
I would like to remember with you the people who lost their lives in Lampedusa on Thursday. Let us all pray in silence for these brothers and sisters of ours: women, men, children… Let our hearts weep. Let us pray in silence.
I greet with affection all the pilgrims, especially families and parish groups. I greet the faithful of the city of Mede, those from Poggio Rusco, and the young people from Zambana and Caserta.
A special thought goes out to the Peruvian community in Rome, who carried in procession the sacred image of the “Señor de los Milagros.” I see this image from here, there, in the middle of the piazza. Let us all greet the “Señor de los Milagros” there in the piazza! I greet the faithful from Chile and the Bürgerwache Mengen group from the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, in Germany.
I greet the group of women who have come from Gubbio along the “Via Francigena Francescana.” I greet the leaders of the Community of Sant’Egidio from various countries in Asia – these people from Sant’Egidio are great! I greet the blood donors of ASFA from Verona and those of AVIS from Carpinone; the national council of AGESCI, the group of retirees from the Hospital of Sant’Anna in Como, the Istituto Canossiano from Brescia and the Associazione “Missione Effatà.”
Have good Sunday everyone. Have a good lunch and goodbye![Translation by Joseph Trabbic]