"On this XX Sunday of ordinary time, the liturgy presents us with a singular example of faith: a Canaanite woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter “cruelly tormented by a demon”. As the evangelist Matthew tells us, the Lord resists her insistent pleas and does not seem to give in, even when his own disciples intercede for her. At the end, however, faced with the perseverance and humility of this stranger, Jesus consents: “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” (cfr Mt 15: 21-28).
“Woman, great is your faith!” This humble woman is singled out by Jesus as an example of indomitable faith. Her insistence in calling for the intervention of Christ is an encouragement for us not to lose heart, not to despair even amid life’s greatest trials. The Lord does not close his eyes to the needs of his children and in times when he seems insensitive to their pleas, this is only to put them to the test and to strengthen their faith. This is the testimony of the saints, especially the witness of martyrs, who are linked in the closest way possible to the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. In recent days, we commemorated many: the popes Ponziano and Sixtus II, the priest Ippolito, the deacon Lawrence, killed with his companions in Rome at the dawn of Christianity. We also recalled a martyr of our times, St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, co-patron of Europe, who died in a concentration camp; and today the liturgy presents us with a martyr of charity, who sealed his witness to the love of Christ in a bunker of starvation in Auschwitz: St Maximilian Maria Kolbe, who sacrificed himself voluntary in the place of a father, a family man.
I invite every baptized Christian and especially youths taking part in World Youth Day to look to these shining examples of gospel heroism. I invoke on all their protection and especially that of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross who spent the last years of her life right in the Carmel of Cologne. On each one let Mary’s maternal love reign, the queen of martyrs who we contemplate tomorrow in her glorious assumption into heaven."