Pope Francis celebrated the canonization mass of Bishop João Batista Scalabrini and Salesian brother Artemides Zatti, this Sunday (09/10), in St. Peter’s Square. “The two Saints canonized today remind us of the importance of walking together and knowing how to give thanks”, said Francis, who suggested praying “so that these holy brothers of ours help us to walk together, without walls of division”.
João Baptist Scalabrini “stated that, in the common path of those who emigrate, it is necessary to see not only problems, but also a plan of Providence. Salesian Brother Artemides Zatti was a living example of gratitude: cured of tuberculosis, he dedicated his whole life to helping others, caring with love and tenderness for the sick”.
The Pope began his homily with the Gospel episode, from this Sunday’s liturgy, in which ten lepers walk together and go to meet Jesus who heals them, but only one of them returns “glorifying God aloud” and thanks Jesus. He was a Samaritan, a foreigner.
Next, Francis focused on two aspects of this passage of the Gospel: walking together and giving thanks. The Pope stressed that “at the beginning of the narration, there is no distinction between the Samaritan and the other nine. It is simply spoken of ten lepers, who form a group and, without division, go to meet Jesus. As we know, leprosy was not just a physical ulcer, but also a “social disease”, because at that time, for fear of contagion, lepers had to be outside the community. They could not enter the inhabited centers, but were kept at a distance, relegated to the margins of social and even religious life. Walking together, these lepers cry out against a society that excludes them. The Samaritan, despite being considered a heretic, a “foreigner”, forms a group with others. Common illness and frailty bring down barriers and overcome all exclusion, as Naaman the Syrian reminded us in the first reading, who despite being rich and powerful, in order to be cured had to dive into the river where all the others bathed. ”.
Take off our outer armor
How good it is for us to remove our outer armor, our defensive barriers and take a good bath of humility, remembering that we are all fragile inside and in need of healing, we are all brothers! Let us remember this: the Christian faith always asks us to walk together with others, never to be lonely walkers; he always invites us to go out of ourselves towards God and our brothers and sisters, without ever closing in on ourselves; he always asks us to recognize ourselves in need of healing and forgiveness, and to share the weaknesses of those who live around us, without feeling superior.
The Pope invited us to verify if, “in our lives, in our families, in our places of work and daily coexistence, we are capable of walking together with others, listening, overcoming the temptation to entrench ourselves in our self-referentiality and think only our needs”.
Walking together is the vocation of the Church
“But walking together”, the Pontiff said, “to be “synodals”, is also the vocation of the Church”.
Let us ask ourselves to what extent are we really open and inclusive communities in relation to everyone; if we can work together, priests and lay people, in the service of the Gospel; if we have a welcoming attitude – made not only of words, but of concrete gestures – both towards those who are far away and towards all those who approach us, feeling unskilled because of their troubled life paths. Do we make them feel part of the community, or do we exclude them?
Francis said he was afraid when he saw “Christian communities that divide the world into good and bad, into saints and sinners.” As a result, “one ends up feeling better than others and keeping out many that God wants to embrace”. The Pope said that it is important “to always include both in the Church and in society, still characterized by so many inequalities and marginalization. Include everyone”.
The exclusion of migrants is scandalous
Today, on the day that Scalabrini becomes a saint, I would like to think of migrants. The exclusion of migrants is scandalous. In fact, the exclusion of migrants is criminal, it causes them to die in front of us. And so, today we have the Mediterranean which is the largest cemetery in the world. The exclusion of migrants is disgusting, it is sinful, it is criminal. Not opening the doors to those in need… “We don’t exclude them, we send them away”, to the concentration camps, where they are exploited and sold as slaves. Brothers and sisters, today we think of our migrants, those who die and those who are able to enter. Do we welcome them as brothers or do we exploit them? I leave this question.
Next, the Pope stopped at the aspect: to give thanks. “In the group of ten lepers, there is only one who, when he is cured, returns to praise God and express his gratitude to Jesus. While the other nine are purified, but go on their way, forgetting the One who healed them. The Samaritan makes the gift he has received the beginning of a new path: he returns to the One who healed him, he gets to know Jesus closely, he begins a relationship with Him. Thus, his attitude of gratitude is not a simple gesture of courtesy, but the beginning of a journey of gratitude: he prostrates himself at the feet of Christ, that is, he makes a gesture of adoration, recognizing that Jesus is Lord and that he is more important than the healing received.”
It is essential to know how to thank
This is also a great lesson for us, who every day benefit from God’s gifts, but we often go on our way forgetting to cultivate a living relationship with Him. It is a serious spiritual illness: taking everything for granted, including faith, even our relationship with God, to the point that we become Christians who are no longer amazed, no longer know how to say “thank you”, no longer show gratitude, they do not know how to see the wonders of the Lord. And so we end up thinking that everything we receive daily is obvious and due. On the contrary, gratitude, knowing how to say “thank you” leads us to affirm the presence of God-love and also to recognize the importance of others, overcoming the discontent and indifference that stultify our hearts.
“It is essential to know how to give thanks”, reiterated the Pope. “We must daily give thanks to the Lord, know each day to thank one another: in the family, for those little things that we sometimes receive without even asking where they come from; in the places we visit on a daily basis, for the numerous services we enjoy and for the people who support us; in our Christian communities, for the love of God that we experience through the closeness of brothers and sisters who often pray in silence, offer, suffer, walk with us. Please, let us not forget this keyword: thank you”, underlined Francis.
The migration of Ukrainians fleeing the war
The two Saints, canonized today, remind us of the importance of walking together and knowing how to give thanks. Bishop Scalabrini, who founded a Congregation for the care of migrants, in fact two: one for men and one for women, stated that, in the common journey of those who emigrate, it is necessary not only to see problems, but also a plan of Providence. There is a migration right now here in Europe that makes us suffer a lot and makes us open our hearts: the migration of Ukrainians fleeing the war. Let us not forget today the martyred Ukraine. Scalabrini looked beyond, looked ahead, to a world and a Church without barriers, without foreigners. For his part, Salesian Brother Artemides Zatti was a living example of gratitude: cured of tuberculosis, he dedicated his whole life to helping others, caring with love and tenderness for the sick. It is said that they saw him carry the dead body of one of his patients on his shoulders. Full of gratitude for everything he had received, he wanted to say his “thank you” by taking care of the wounds of others.
The Pope concluded by inviting us to pray “that these holy brothers of ours help us to walk together, without walls of division; and to cultivate that nobility of soul so pleasing to God which is gratitude”.
Vatican News e Vatican Media