.- To carry the "explosive force" of the Gospel to the world takes a life based in the faith, said Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday homily. In living with faith, even a "pinch," he taught, the Christian is able to take courageous action to renew the face of the earth.
The Holy Father began his pastoral visit to Sicily's capital city of Palermo with an outdoor Mass on the city's Mediterranean seafront on Sunday morning. Thousands of people, many with parasols or caps to keep them shaded from warm southern Italian sun, were in attendance to celebrate with the Pontiff.
Noting the difficulties in Sicilian society due to unemployment, uncertainty for what tomorrow might hold and the physical and moral suffering caused by organized crime on the island, the Pope turned to Sunday's liturgy to call them to look to the future with hope.
Turning to Sunday's readings that "speak to us of faith, which is the foundation of all Christian life," the Pope concentrated on the lessons to trust in God and to live with humility from the Gospel reading from Luke.
Luke begins by recounting how the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. The Pope explained the situation, observing that they are not asking for material goods or privileges, "but they are asking for the grace of faith, that orients and illuminates all life; they are asking for the grace to recognize God and to be able to be in an intimate relationship with Him, receiving ... all of His gifts, also those of courage, love and hope."
Referring to Jesus' example of transplanting a tree that follows in Sunday's reading, Benedict XVI said that "as a lever moves much more than its own weight, also the faith, even a pinch of faith, is able to do unthinkable, extraordinary things ... The faith - trusting Christ, accepting Him, letting Him transform us, following Him to the very end - makes humanly impossible things possible, in every reality."
The Holy Father then contemplated the second part of the Gospel reading which teaches humility in the parable that shows the unending service of the servant. He said that, in the same way, "we are servants of God, we are not his creditors, but we are always his debtors, because we owe everything to him, because everything is His gift."
"Before God," the Pope explained, "we must never present ourselves as those who believe to have rendered a service and merit a great recompense ... we never do enough for God."
Following these lessons, he said, "(i)f we do God's will every day, humbly, without demanding anything of Him, it will be Jesus himself to serve us, to help us, to encourage us, to give us strength and serenity."
Calling believers not to be afraid to bear witness to the faith in society, he said that faith will give them "God's strength" to do so courageously and confidently, "to move forward with new decision, to take the necessary initiatives to give an always more beautiful face to the earth."
And amidst the temptation to discouragement, he said, those who are "solidly founded in the faith, who have full trust in God and live in the Church, are able to carry the explosive force of the Gospel."
Urging Sicilians to confront the future with hope, Pope Benedict emphasized that "(w)ith the force of God, everything is possible!"