Pope Francis: the most godlike people might not be who you expect

Pope Francis prays in front of the icon of Salus Populi Romani during an Oct 8 2016 prayer vigil for the Marian Jubilee Credit Daniel Ibez CNA Pope Francis prays in front of the icon of Salus Populi Romani during an Oct. 8 2016, prayer vigil for the Marian Jubilee. | Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

At the close of the Marian Jubilee, Pope Francis said that it's often strangers and even people from other religions who remind us of the Christian virtues of humility and thanksgiving, of which Mary is a prime model.

"How many foreigners, including persons of other religions, give us an example of values that we sometimes forget or set aside," the Pope said Oct. 9.

People who live among us but might be "scorned and sidelined because they are foreigners," can in fact be the ones who "teach us how to walk on the path that the Lord wishes."

Not only were the 10 lepers healed by Jesus in the day's Gospel from Luke foreigners, the only one who gave thanks being a Samaritan, but Mary and Joseph were also strangers in a foreign land, Francis noted.

Mary "knew what it was to live far from home. She too was long a foreigner in Egypt, far from her relatives and friends," he said, "yet her faith was able to overcome the difficulties."

"Let us cling to this simple faith of the Holy Mother of God; let us ask her that we may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy."

Pope Francis spoke to the thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to celebrate Mass on the final day of the Oct. 7-8 Marian Jubilee, which is part of the Pope's wider Jubilee of Mercy.

The Marian Jubilee opened Oct. 7 with Mass in the Roman Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The Mass was followed by the recitation of the rosary in Saint Peter's Square and the Prayer to the Queen of the Holy Rosary of Pompeii.

Adoration and confessions were then available until midnight in the parishes of Santa Maria in Valicella, also called "Chiesa Nuova," and San Salvatore in Lauro.

Jubilee activities continued Saturday morning with a pilgrimage to the Holy Doors of the four Major Basilicas in Rome: St. Mary Major, St. Paul Outside the Wall, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's.

Groups of various Marian delegations from national communities and shrines then participated in a special procession to St. Peter's Square, where Pope Francis led pilgrims in praying the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary before delivering his address.

Celebrations for the Marian Jubilee concluded Sunday following the Pope Francis' Mass.

In his homily, the Pope pointed to how when Jesus healed 10 lepers in the day's Gospel from Luke, all but one came back to give thanks: "a Samaritan, a foreigner living on the fringes of the chosen people, practically a pagan!"

"This man was not content with being healed by his faith, but brought that healing to completion by returning to express his gratitude for the gift received," he said, adding that to be able to give thanks and praise the Lord for what he has done for us "is important!"

"How many times do we say 'thank you' in our family, our community, and in the Church? How many times do we say 'thank you' to those who help us, to those close to us, to those who accompany us through life?" he asked, noting that often times "we take everything for granted," even with God.

Pope Francis stressed that amid our own shortcomings, "we are given a model, indeed the model, to whom we can look: Mary, our Mother," who gave thanks to God in her "Magnificat."

It takes humility to be able to give thanks to God, he said, explaining that the heart of Mary "more than any other, is a humble heart, capable of accepting God's gifts."

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"In order to become man, God chose precisely her, a simple young woman of Nazareth, who did not dwell in the palaces of power and wealth, who did not do extraordinary things," he said, and urged those present to ask themselves whether or not they are able to receive what God offers.

"Let us ask ourselves if we are prepared to accept God's gifts, or prefer instead to shut ourselves up within our forms of material security, intellectual security, the security of our plans," he said.

The Pope noted how despite being far from home and estranged in a foreign land, Mary was able to overcome her difficulties thanks to her faith.

He closed his homily praying that all, like Mary, "may always come back to Jesus and express our thanks for the many benefits we have received from his mercy."

After Mass, Pope Francis greeted all those who came to Rome for the Marian Jubilee, and offered some words of comfort and solidarity to those suffering due to the Hurricane Matthew before leading pilgrims in the traditional Angelus prayer.

"I have learned of the serious consequences caused by the hurricane which in recent days has hit the Caribbean, in particular Haiti, leaving numerous victims and displaced persons, as well as material damage," he said.

Francis assured his prayer and closeness to those affected, and voiced his confidence in the solidarity of the international community, Catholic institutions and of all people of good will, inviting them to unite "to my prayer for these brothers and sisters, so sorely tested."

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