Angelus Address: On the Need for Unwavering Faith

The Evangelical Episode of the Canaanite Woman “Helps Us to Understand that We Are All in Need of Growing in Faith and of Strengthening Our Trust in Jesus”

Angelus / Foto: Francesco Sforza - © PHOTO.VA - OSSERVATORE ROMANO

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Before the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!  

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 15:21-28) presents to us a singular example of faith in Jesus’ meeting with a Canaanite woman, a foreigner for the Jews. The scene unfolds while He is on the way to the city of Tyre and Sidon, northwest of Galilee: it’s here that the woman implores Jesus to heal her daughter who, the Gospel says, “is severely possessed by a demon” (v. 22). Initially the Lord seems not to listen to this cry of grief, so much so as to arouse the intervention of the disciples, who intercede for her. Jesus’ apparent detachment doesn’t discourage this mother, who insists on her invocation.

The inner strength of this woman, which enables her to surmount every obstacle, is found in her maternal love and in her confidence that Jesus can hear her request. And this makes me think of the strength of women. With their fortitude they are able to obtain great things. We have known so many! We can say that it’s love that moves faith and faith on her part becomes the reward of love. Her heartrending love for her daughter induces her “to cry: ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David!’” (v. 22). And her perseverant faith in Jesus enables her not to be discouraged, not even in face of His initial refusal; so the woman “knelt before Him, saying: ‘Lord, help me!’” (v. 25).

At the end, in face of such perseverance, Jesus remains in admiration, almost astonished by the faith of the pagan woman. Therefore, He consents saying: ”’O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’” And her daughter was healed instantly” (v. 28). Jesus points out this humble woman as an example of unwavering faith. Her insistence on invoking Christ’s intervention is a stimulus for us not to be discouraged, not to despair when we are oppressed by life’s harsh trials. The Lord doesn’t turn away in face of our needs and, if at times He seems insensible to requests for help, it’s to test and strengthen our faith. We must continue to cry as this woman: Lord, help me! Lord, help me!” — so, with perseverance and courage. And this is the courage we must have in prayer.

This evangelical episode helps us to understand that we are all in need of growing in faith and of strengthening our trust in Jesus. He can help us to rediscover the way, when we have lost the compass of our way; when the way no longer seems flat but rough and arduous; when it’s hard to be faithful to our commitments. It is important to nourish our faith every day, with attentive listening to the Word of God, with the celebration of the Sacraments, with personal prayer as “cry” to Him ––“Lord, help me!” — and with concrete attitudes of charity to our neighbor.

We entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that He will help us to persevere in faith. The Spirit infuses audacity in the heart of believers; He gives our life and our Christian witness the strength of conviction and persuasion; He encourages us to overcome incredulity towards God and indifference towards brothers.

May the Virgin Mary render us increasingly aware of our need of the Lord and of His Spirit; may She obtain for us a strong faith, full of love, and a love that is able to become entreaty, courageous entreaty to God.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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After the Angelus

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We bear grief in our hearts for the terrorist acts that, in these last days, have caused numerous victims in Burkina Faso, in Spain and in Finland. We pray for all the deceased, for the wounded and their families; and we implore the Lord, God of mercy and peace, to free the world from this inhuman violence. We pray together in silence and, afterwards, to Our Lady.

[Hail Mary . . .]

A warm greeting goes to you, dear Italian pilgrims and those of different countries. In particular, I greet the members of the French Association “Roulons pour l’Espoir, who have come on bicycle from Besancon; the new Seminarians with their Superiors of the North American College of Rome; the altar boys of Rivoltella (Brescia), and the boys and girls of Zevio (Verona).

I wish you all a good Sunday. Please, don’t forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and goodbye!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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