Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, 9 January 2019
Catechesis on the "Our Father": 4. Knock and it will be opened to you
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today's catechesis refers to the Gospel of Luke. In fact, it is above all this Gospel, from the stories of childhood, to describe the figure of Christ in an atmosphere full of prayer. It contains the three hymns that mark the Church's prayer every day: the Benedictus, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis.
And in this catechesis on the Our Father we go forward, we see Jesus as praying. Jesus prays. In Luke's story, for example, the episode of the transfiguration springs from a moment of prayer. Thus he says: "As he prayed, his face changed in appearance and his garment became white and blazing" (9,29). But every step in the life of Jesus is inspired by the breath of the Spirit who guides him in all actions. Jesus prays in the baptism at the Jordan, he talks with the Father before making the most important decisions, he often withdraws into solitude to pray, he intercedes for Peter, who will soon deny him. Thus says: "Simon, Simon, behold: Satan has sought you to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail "(Lk 22: 31-32). This consoles: to know that Jesus prays for us, prays for me, for each one of us so that our faith may not fail. And this is true. "But father, do you still do that?" He still does it, before the Father. Jesus prays for me. Each of us can say it. And we can also say to Jesus: "You are praying for me, keep praying that I need it". Thus: courageous.
Even the death of the Messiah is immersed in an atmosphere of prayer, so that the hours of passion appear marked by a surprising calm: Jesus comforts women, prays for his crucifiers, promises heaven to the good thief, and breathes by saying: "Father in your hands I convey my spirit "(Lk 23:45). The prayer of Jesus seems to muffle the most violent emotions, the desires of revenge and revenge, reconciles man with his bitter enemy, reconciles man with this enemy, which is death.
It is always in the Gospel of Luke that we find the request, expressed by one of the disciples, of being able to be educated by Jesus himself in prayer. And he thus says: "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11: 1). They saw him praying. "Teach us - we can also say to the Lord - Lord, you are praying for me, I know, but it teaches me to pray, so that I can pray".
From this request - "Lord, teach us to pray" - a fairly extensive teaching is born, through which Jesus explains to his own with what words and with what sentiments they must turn to God.
The first part of this teaching is precisely the Our Father. Pray like this: "Father, who art in heaven". "Father": that beautiful word to say. We can stay all the time of prayer with that word alone: "Father". And to feel that we have a father: not a master or a stepfather. No: a father. The Christian addresses God by calling him above all "Father".
In this teaching that Jesus gives to his disciples it is interesting to dwell on some instructions that crown the text of prayer. To give us confidence, Jesus explains some things. They insist on the attitudes of the believer who prays. For example, there is the parable of the impious friend, who goes to disturb a whole family who sleeps because suddenly a person has arrived from a trip and has no bread to offer him. What does Jesus say to this who knocks at the door, and wakes the friend? «I tell you - Jesus explains - that even if he does not get up to give it to him because he is his friend, at least for his intrusiveness he will get up to give him as many as he needs "(Lk 11: 9). With this he wants to teach us to pray and to insist in prayer. And immediately after he gives the example of a father who has a hungry son. All of you, fathers and grandparents, who are here when the son or the grandson asks for something, is hungry, asks and asks, then cries, cries, is hungry: "As a father among you, if the son asks him for a fish, will he give him a snake instead of fish? "(v. 11). And all of you have the experience when the child asks, you feed what you ask for the good of him.
With these words Jesus makes us understand that God always answers, that no prayer will remain unheard, why? Because he is a Father, and he does not forget his children who suffer.
Of course, these statements put us in crisis, because so many of our prayers seem to get no result. How many times have we asked and not obtained - we all experience it - how many times have we knocked and found a closed door? Jesus urges us, in those moments, to insist and not to give up. Prayer always transforms reality, always. If things do not change around us, at least we change, change our heart. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and to every woman who prays.
We can be sure that God will answer. The only uncertainty is due to the times, but we do not doubt that He will answer. Maybe we will have to insist for a lifetime, but He will answer. He promised us: He is not like a father who gives a snake instead of a fish. There is nothing more certain: the desire for happiness that we all bring into our hearts will one day be fulfilled. Jesus says: "Will God not do justice to his elect, who cry day and night to him?" (Lk 18: 7). Yes, he will do justice, he will listen to us. What a day of glory and resurrection will it be! Praying is now the victory over loneliness and despair. To pray. Prayer changes reality, let's not forget it. Either it changes things or changes our hearts, but it always changes. Praying is now the victory over loneliness and despair. It's like seeing every fragment of creation swarming in the torpor of a story that we sometimes do not grasp why. But it's moving, it's on its way, and at the end of every street, what's at the end of our road? At the end of prayer, at the end of a time when we are praying, at the end of life: what is there? There is a Father waiting for everything and waiting for everyone with his arms wide open. We look at this Father.
Greetings in Various Languages: