VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday preached about the importance of gratitude and thankfulness for the Christian community and for family life.
“If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength!” he told the crowd of about 150,000 gathered for Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 13.
“Saying ‘thank you’ is such an easy thing and yet so hard,” his homily continued. “How often do we say ‘thank you’ to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common.” The Pope gave special attention to the need to show consideration for one’s family.
“If families can say these three things, they will be fine: ‘sorry,’ ‘excuse me,’ ‘thank you.’ How often do we say ‘thank you’ in our families? How often do we say ‘thank you’ to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted.”
The Pope spoke after a weekend of Marian prayer that culminated in a special act of entrustment of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and to Mary’s maternal care.
As the original statue of Our Lady of Fatima stood nearby, Pope Francis reflected on Mary’s relationship with God as an example of Christian gratitude.
Mary’s words at the Annunciation, “My soul magnifies the Lord,” are “a song of praise and thanksgiving to God, not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation,” the Pope explained.
This history reveals that “God surprises us.”
“It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength,” the Pope explained.
The journey to salvation also entails a commitment on the part of those following the path of Christ, which is not always easy.
“I ask myself: Am I a Christian by fits and starts or am I a Christian full time?” the Pope said. “Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life.”
Fortunately, the Christian knows that “we can be unfaithful, but he [God] cannot: He is ‘the faithful one,’” he added.
One woman in the crowd shed tears as Pope Francis said that God in his mercy “never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength.”
“This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins.”