Today the wish that I had mentioned in St. Peter’s Square before the start of summer, to be able to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, is realized.
1. I have come to share with you the joys and hopes, toil and effort, ideals and aspirations of your island, and to confirm you in the faith. Here too in Cagliari, as in the rest of Sardinia, difficulties are not lacking – there are many – problems and worries: I think especially of the lack of work and of the precariousness and so of the uncertainty of the future. Sardinia, this beautiful region of yours, has for a long time suffered from many situations of poverty, which is also accentuated by its geographical isolation. The loyal cooperation of everyone is necessary, with the commitment of the heads of institutions – including the Church – to secure fundamental rights to persons and families and make a more fraternal and solidary society grow; to secure the right to work, the right to provide bread for your family, bread earned by work! I am close to you! I am close to you, I remember you in prayer, and I encourage you to persevere in witness to the human and Christian values so deeply rooted in the faith and history of this land and its people. Always keep the light of hope burning!
2. I have come among you to place myself with you at the feet of Our Lady, who gives us her Son. I know well that Mary, our Mother, is in your heart, as this shrine testifies, a sanctuary where many generations of Sardinians have come – and will continue to come! – to invoke the protection of Our Lady of Bonaria, great patroness of this island. Here you bring the joys and sufferings of this island, of its families, and of those children who live far from here, who often left with great sorrow and nostalgia to find work and a future for themselves and their loved ones. Today, all of us who gathered here would like to thank Mary for always being near us; we wish to renew our trust in her and love for her.
The first reading that we heard shows us Mary in prayer, in the upper room together with the apostles. Mary prays, she prays together with the disciples, and she teaches us to have complete trust in God, in his mercy. This is the power of prayer! We do not tire of knocking at God’s door. Every day, through Mary, we bring to God’s heart our whole life! Knock at the door of God’s heart!
In the Gospel we see Jesus’ last glance at his Mother (cf. John 19:25-27). From the cross Jesus looks upon his Mother and entrusts the apostle John to her, saying: This is your son. All of us too are in John and Jesus’ look of love entrusts us to the Mother’s maternal protection. Mary would have recalled another look of love from when she was a young woman: the look of God the Father, who looked upon her humility, her littleness. Mary teaches us that God does not abandon us, he can do great things even with our weakness. We trust in Him! Let us knock at the door of his heart!
3. And the third thought: today I have come among you, or rather, we have all come together to encounter the gaze of Mary, because in it is reflected the gaze of the Father, who made her Mother of God, and the gaze of the Son on the cross, who made her our mother. And with that gaze Mary looks upon us today. We need her gaze of tenderness, her maternal gaze that knows us better than any other, her gaze that is full of compassion and care. Mary, today we would like to say to you: Mary, give us the gift of your gaze! Your gaze leads us to God, your gaze is a gift of the good Father that attends to us at every turn of our journey, it is a gift of Jesus Christ on the cross, who takes our sufferings, our toil, our sin upon himself. And to encounter this Father full of love we say today: Mary, give us the gift of your gaze! Let us say it all together: “Mary, give us the gift of your gaze! Mary, give us the gift of your gaze!”
We are not alone on the often difficult journey, we are many, we are a people, and the gaze of Our Lady helps us to look with a brotherly gaze upon each other. Let us look upon each other in a more brotherly way! Mary teaches us to have that gaze that that seeks to welcome, to accompany, to protect. Let us learn to look upon each other under the maternal gaze of Mary! There are people whom we instinctively give less consideration but who have greater need of our consideration: the abandoned, the sick, those who lack what they need to live, those who do not know Jesus, young people who are in difficulty, young people who do not find work. Let us not be afraid to go out and look upon our brothers and sisters with the gaze of Our Lady. She invites us to be true brothers. And let us not allow anything or anyone to come between us and the gaze of Our Lady. Mother, give us the gift of your gaze! Let no one hide it! May our filial heart know how to defend it from the many words that cause illusions; from those who have a covetous gaze wanting an easy life, of promises that they cannot keep. Let them not rob us of Mary’s gaze, which is full of tenderness, that gives us strength, that makes us solidary with each other. Let us all say together: Mother, give us the gift of your gaze! Mother, give us the gift of your gaze! Mother, give us the gift of your gaze!
[Concluding in Sardinian, he said:]
May Our Lady of Bonaria always be with you in life!