“You cannot learn faith from books”, it is “a gift you have to ask in prayer”. These were the words the Pope pronounced during his homily in the Mass at St Martha’s House. The readings have told the story of the defeat of the children of Israel at the hands of the Philistines, narrated in the book of Samuel, and the story of the healing of the leper narrated in the Gospel. “The people loses everything, even dignity. What has led us to this defeat?” the Pope wonders. People have “slowly abbandoned from the Lord, they lived secularly, even with idols”. They went to the Shrine of Silo, but “as if it were a cultural habit: they had lost their filial relationship with the Father. They did not worship God! And the Lord left them alone”.
The people uses even the Ark of the Covenant to win the battle, as if it were a “a slightly magic thing. There was the law, the law they deserted and did not observe”. 30 thousand Israelites were killed, the ark of God was taken by the Philistines and Eli’s two sons, “those delinquent priests who exploited people in the Shrine of Silo” died. “a total defeat. This is the destiny of a people that abandons God”. It has a shrine, but their heart is not with God, it does not know how to adore. You believe in God, but He is a somewhat foggy and distant God who does not enter your heart and you do not obey His Commandments. This is defeat!”.
Whereas in the Gospel there is an example of true faith: “A a leper came to Jesus. He implored on his knees (in an act of adoration), telling Him: ‘You can purify me if you want’. He challenge the Lord, saying: ‘I have been defeated in life, but you can turn this defeat into victory!’. Jesus felt compassion when he saw this. He stretched his hand, touched him, and said: ‘I want it! Be purified!’. This battle has finished in two minutes, with victory; the other one lasted a whole day and led to defeat. There was something that pushed that man to go to Jesus and challenge Him. It was Faith!”.
Faith is victory. The defeated from the First Reading prayed God carried the ark, but had no faith; they had forgotten Him. The other one had faith and when you ask with faith – as Jesus himself told us – you can move mountains. We are able to move a mountain from one place to another: faith can do that. Jesus himself told us: ‘You will be granted whatever you ask from the Father in my name. Ask and it will be given to you; knock and it will be opened to you’. But with faith. And this is our victory”.
Then the Pontiff has concluded with a prayer: “Let us ask the Lord that our prayer may always spring from faith. The Lord will give you this gift, just ask for it: ‘Give me faith!’. ‘I believe in you, Father!’ were the words of the man who asked Jesus to heal his son. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to pray with faith, to be sure that everything we ask from Him will be given to us, with the certainty faith bestows on us. And this is our victory: our faith!”.