Paul VI Hall
Wednesday, February 13th 2019
Catechesis on the "Our Father": 6. Father of us all
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
We continue our journey to learn more and more how to pray as Jesus taught us. We must pray as He taught us to do it.
He said: when you pray, go into the silence of your room, withdraw from the world and turn to God calling him "Father!". Jesus wants his disciples not to be like the hypocrites who pray standing upright in the streets to be admired by the people (cf. Mt 6: 5). Jesus does not want hypocrisy. True prayer is that which takes place in the secret of conscience, of the heart: inscrutable, visible only to God. I and God. It shuns falsehood: with God it is impossible to pretend. It is impossible, before God there is no trick that has power, God knows us so, naked in the conscience, and pretend we can not. At the root of dialogue with God there is a silent dialogue, like the crossing of glances between two people who love each other: man and God meet the eyes, and this is prayer. To look at God and to allow oneself to be looked at from God: this is to pray. "But, father, I do not say words ...". Look at God and let yourself be watched by Him: it is a prayer, a beautiful prayer!
Yet, although the disciple's prayer is all confidential, it never expires in intimism. In the secret of conscience, the Christian does not leave the world outside the door of his room, but he carries in his heart people and situations, problems, so many things, all of them carry in prayer.
There is an impressive absence in the text of "Our Father". If I ask you what is the awesome absence in the text of "Our Father"? It will not be easy to answer. A word is missing. Think of all: what is missing in "our Father"? Think, what is missing? A word. A word that in our time - but perhaps always - all hold in high esteem. What is the word that is missing in the "Our Father" that we pray every day? To save time I will say it: the word "I" is missing. Never says "I". Jesus teaches us to pray, having the "You" on our lips, because Christian prayer is dialogue: "may your name be sanctified, your kingdom come, your will be done". Not my name, my kingdom, my will. Not me, it's not right. And then it goes to "us". The whole second part of the "Our Father" is declined to the first plural person: "Give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, do not abandon us to temptation, deliver us from evil". Even the most basic human questions - such as having food to quench hunger - are all plural. In Christian prayer, no one asks for bread for himself: give me the bread of today, no, give us, begs him for all, for all the poor of the world. We must not forget this, the word "I" is missing. Please with the you and with us. It is a good teaching of Jesus, do not forget it.
Why? Because there is no room for individualism in dialogue with God. There is no ostentation of one's problems as if we were the only ones in the world to suffer. There is no high prayer to God that is not the prayer of a community of brothers and sisters, we: we are in community, we are brothers and sisters, we are a people that prays, "we". Once the prison chaplain asked me a question: "Tell me, father, what is the word contrary to 'I'?". And I, naive, I said: "You". "This is the beginning of the war. The word opposite to 'I' is 'us', where there is peace, all together ". It is a beautiful teaching I received from that priest.
In prayer, a Christian brings all the difficulties of the people who live next to him: when he comes down in the evening, he tells God about the pains he has encountered on that day; he puts before him many faces, friends and even hostiles; he does not drive them away as dangerous distractions. If one does not realize that there are so many people around him that are suffering, if he does not pity the tears of the poor, if he is addicted to everything, then it means that his heart ... how is it? Wilted? No, worse: it is made of stone. In this case it is good to beg the Lord to touch us with his Spirit and soften our heart: "Touch my heart, O Lord". It is a beautiful prayer: "Lord, soften my heart, so that I can understand and take charge of all the problems, all the pains of others". Christ did not pass unharmed by the miseries of the world: whenever he perceived a loneliness, a pain of the body or the spirit, he felt a strong sense of compassion, like a mother's womb. This "feeling compassion" - let us not forget this very Christian word: feeling compassion - is one of the key verbs of the Gospel: it is what drives the good Samaritan to approach the wounded man on the roadside, unlike others who have the hard heart.
We can ask ourselves: when I pray, I open myself to the cry of many people near and far? Or do I think of prayer as a kind of anesthesia, in order to be calmer? I put the question there, everyone answers. In this case I would be the victim of a terrible misunderstanding. Of course, mine would no longer be a Christian prayer. Because that "us" that Jesus taught us prevents me from being alone, and makes me feel responsible for my brothers and sisters.
There are men who apparently do not seek God, but Jesus makes us pray for them too, because God seeks these people above all. Jesus did not come for the healthy, but for the sick, for sinners (cf. Lk 5:31) - that is, for everyone, because those who think they are healthy, in reality it is not. If we work for justice, let us not feel better than others: the Father makes his sun rise above the good and above the wicked (cf. Mt 5:45). Love all the Father! We learn from God that he is always good with everyone, unlike us who can only be good with someone, with someone I like.
Brothers and sisters, saints and sinners, we are all brothers loved by the same Father. And, in the evening of life, we will be judged on love, on how we have loved. Not just sentimental love, but compassionate and concrete, according to the Gospel rule - do not forget it! -: "All you have done to one of these my younger brothers, you have done it to me" (Mt 25.40). Thus says the Lord. Thank you.
GREETINGS in Various Languages:
Je salue les pèlerins venus de France et de Belgique, en particulier les séminaristes de Lorraine avec leur évêque, Monseigneur Jean-Christophe Lagleize, et tous les jeunes présents. Je vous invite à prendre chaque jour un moment pour prier afin d’ouvrir votre cœur à Dieu et aux autres. Que Jésus soit votre guide sur le chemin de la prière ! Bon pèlerinage à tous.
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Sweden, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Pilger deutscher Sprache. Wer glaubt, ist nie allein! Das gilt ganz besonders auch im Gebet. Machen wir uns bewusst, dass wir immer in Gemeinschaft mit unseren Brüdern und Schwestern vor dem Vater stehen. Gott behüte euch und alle Menschen, mit denen ihr im Gebet verbunden seid!
Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Hay banderas panameñas ahí. Saludo al grupo Valdocco, que está presente y trabaja en zonas marginales por la cultura, por el bienestar de los pueblos. Los animo a pensar cómo es el diálogo que tienen con el Señor y a seguir el ejemplo de Jesús para rezar de forma concreta, recordando a aquellos que tienen a su lado y aman, como también a aquellos que no quieren tanto. Necesitamos aprender de Dios que es bueno con todos. Que Dios los bendiga. Muchas gracias.
Saúdo os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os grupos vindos de Portugal e do Brasil. Queridos amigos, faço votos de que a vossa peregrinação a Roma fortaleça em todos a esperança e consolide, no amor divino, o compromisso pessoal de se sentir sempre mais responsável pelos irmãos e irmãs mais necessitados. Que Nossa Senhora vos acompanhe e proteja!
أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من سوريا ولبنان والشرق الأوسط. إن الله أب للجميع وجعل منا إخوة في البشرية الواحدة. هناك اليوم الكثير من إخوتنا في العالم الذين يعانون، وهم بحاجة لأن نعمل من أجلهم وأن نحملهم في صلاتنا. لنكن إذا خميرة محبة في العالم، لأننا لن نحمل معنا في اليوم الأخير إلا المحبة التي قدمناها في حياتنا. ليبارككم الرب جميعا ويحرسكم من الشرير!
I extend a cordial welcome to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
I am pleased to welcome the participants in the Course for the Responsible for the ongoing formation of the Clergy in Latin America, promoted by the Congregation for the Clergy and the Apostle Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I greet the parishes, in particular those of Lanciano and San Giorgio in Sannio; the Askanews Journalist group, who are going through a difficult time; the National Cancer Institute; the juvenile penal institution of Airola; the School children, especially the Impastato Institute in Rome and the Polla-Vallo di Diano Football School.
A special thought I address to young people, the elderly, the sick and newlyweds.
Tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius, evangelizers of the Slavic peoples and co-patrons of Europe. Their example helps us all to become in every environment of life, disciples and missionaries, for the conversion of the distant, as well as the closest. Their love for the Lord gives us the strength to sustain every sacrifice, so that the Gospel becomes the fundamental rule of our life. Thank you.
To give the blessing I would like to wear this stole brought to me by the valdocco group yesterday and made by women of the Wichis people, a people from a great culture.