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Dear brothers and sisters, good day!
In today’s Gospel, Jesus told a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. The main character is a widow who, forced to plead before a dishonest judge, manages to get him to grant her justice. And Jesus concludes, if the widow managed to convince that judge, do you think God will not hear us, if we pray to Him insistently? The expression used by Jesus is very strong: Will not God then do justice for His chosen ones who call out to Him day and night?
To cry out day and night to the Lord! This is a striking image of prayer. But we might ask, why does God want this. Doesn’t He already know our needs? What does it mean to insist with God?
And this is a good question, that leads us to deepen a very important aspect of the Faith: God invites us to pray with insistence, not because He doesn’t know what we need, or because He doesn’t listen to us. On the contrary, He always hears and knows all of us, with love. In our daily journey, especially in difficulties, in the fight against evil outside of ourselves and within us, the Lord is not far away, He is at our side; we fight with Him beside us, and our weapon is prayer, which makes us feel His presence alongside of us, His mercy, even His help. But the fight against evil is hard and long, it requires patience and resistance like Moses, who had to hold up his arms so that his people could triumph (cf. Ex. 17:8-13). It is so: there is a struggle to carry on every day; but God is our ally, faith in Him is our strength, and prayer is the expression of this faith. Therefore, Jesus assures us of victory but in the end He asks When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth? (Lk. 18:8). If the faith goes out, if prayer goes out, and we walk in the darkness, we will be lost on the journey of life.
Let us learn, therefore, from the widow of the Gospel, and pray always without growing weary. This widow was good, she knew to fight for her children, and I think of the many women who fight for their families, who pray, who never grow weary! Today let us remember, all of us, these women who with their behavior give us a true witness of faith, of courage, of a model of prayer. Let us remember them! Pray always, but not to convince the Lord by the strength of words! He knows better than we do what it is we need. And so persevering prayer is an expression of faith in a God Who calls us to fight along with Him, every day, every moment, to overcome evil with good.
(After the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following:)
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today is World Mission Day. What is the mission of the Church? To spread throughout the world the flame of faith that Jesus has lighted in the world: faith in God who is Father, Love, and Mercy. The method of the Christian mission is not proselytism, but that the sharing of the flame that heats up the soul. I thank all those who through prayer and concrete help sustain the work of the missions, in particular the solicitude of the Bishop of Rome for spread of the Gospel. On this Day, we are close to all men and women missionaries, who work without making noise, and who give their lives. [Missionaries] like the Italian Afra Martinelli, who worked for many years in Nigeria: one day she was killed in a robbery; everyone wept, Christians and Muslims. They really loved her! She announced the Gospel with her life, with the works she accomplished, a center of instruction; in this way she spread the flame of faith, she fought the good fight. Let us think about this our sister, and greet her with applause, all of us!
I think too of Stefano Sándor, who was beatified yesterday in Budapest. He was a lay Salesian, exemplary in service to young people, in the oratory and in professional instruction. When the Communist regime closed all the Catholic churches, he confronted the persecutions with courage, and was killed when he was 39 years old. Let us unite ourselves with the Salesian family and the Hungarian Church in giving thanks.
I want to express my closeness to the people of the Philippines who have been struck by a strong earthquake, and I invite you to pray for that dear Nation, which in recent days has suffered different calamities.
I affectionately greet all the pilgrims present, beginning with the young people who gave lift to the 100 meter Sprint for Faith event, which was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture. Thank you for reminding us that the believer is an athlete of the spirit! Thank you so much!
I welcome with joy the faithful of the Dioceses of Bologna and of Cesena-Sarsina, led by Cardinal Caffarra and Bishop Regattieri; as well as those of Corrientes, Argentina, and of Maracaibo and Barinas in Venezuela. And today in Argentina, Mothers Day is celebrated. I offer an affectionate greeting to the mothers of my land!
I greet the prayer group Raio de Luz of Brazil; and the Fraternity of Secular Trinitarians.
There are many Italian parishes and associations, I can’t name them, but I greet all of you with affection and I thank you.
Buona Domenica! Arrivederci, and Buon Pranzo![Translation by Vatican Radio]