St. Peter's Square
Sunday, 28 July 2019
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
In today's page of the Gospel (see Lk 11: 1-13), St. Luke narrates the circumstances in which Jesus teaches the "Our Father". They, the disciples, already know how to pray, reciting the formulas of the Jewish tradition, but they also wish to be able to live the same "quality" of the prayer of Jesus. Because they can see that prayer is an essential dimension in the life of their Master, in fact each of its important actions is characterized by prolonged prayer stops. Moreover, they remain fascinated because they see that He does not pray like the other masters of the time, but his prayer is an intimate bond with the Father, so much so that they wish to participate in these moments of union with God, to fully savor its sweetness.
Thus, one day, they wait for Jesus to conclude the prayer, in a secluded place, and then they ask: "Lord, teach us to pray" (v.1). Responding to the explicit question of the disciples, Jesus does not give an abstract definition of prayer, nor does he teach an effective technique for praying and "getting" something. Instead, he invites his followers to experience prayer, placing them directly in communication with the Father, arousing in them a longing for a personal relationship with God, with the Father. Here is the novelty of Christian prayer! It is dialogue between people who love each other, a dialogue based on trust, supported by listening and open to solidarity. It is a dialogue of the Son with the Father, a dialogue between children and the Father. This is Christian prayer.
Therefore he gives them the prayer of the "Our Father", perhaps the most precious gift left to us by the divine Master in his earthly mission. After having revealed to us his mystery of Son and brother, with that prayer Jesus makes us penetrate into the paternity of God; I want to emphasize this: when Jesus teaches us, the Our Father makes us enter into the fatherhood of God and shows us the way to enter into a prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the path of filial confidence. And a dialogue between the father and his son, of the son with the father. What we ask in the "Our Father" is already all done to us in the Only-begotten Son: the sanctification of the Name, the advent of the Kingdom, the gift of bread, forgiveness and liberation from evil. As we ask, we open our hand to receive. Receive the gifts that the Father showed us in the Son. The prayer that the Lord has taught us is the synthesis of every prayer, and we always address it to the Father in communion with the brothers. Sometimes it happens that in prayer there are distractions but many times we feel like the desire to stop on the first word: "Father" and feel that paternity in the heart.
Then Jesus tells the parable of the importunate friend and says Jesus: "we must insist on prayer". I am reminded of what children do when they are three, three and a half years old: they begin to ask for things they do not understand. In my land it is called "the age of whys", I believe that even here it is the same. The children begin to look at their dad and say, "Dad, why ?, Dad, why?" They ask for explanations. We are careful: when the father begins to explain why, they arrive with another question without listening to the whole explanation. What happen? It happens that children feel insecure about many things that they begin to understand halfway. They just want to attract their father's gaze on them and for this: "Why, why, why?" We, in the Our Father, if we stop at the first word, we will do the same as when we were children, attract the gaze of the father on us. Saying "Father, Father", and also saying: "Why?" And He will look at us.
We ask Mary, a praying woman, to help us pray to the Our Father united to Jesus to live the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.
After the Angelus
Dear brothers and sisters,
I learned with grief the news of the dramatic shipwreck that occurred in recent days in the waters of the Mediterranean, where dozens of migrants, including women and children, lost their lives. I renew a heartfelt appeal for the international community to act promptly and decisively, to avoid the repetition of similar tragedies and to guarantee the safety and dignity of all. I invite you to pray with me for the victims and their families. And also to ask with the heart: "Father, why?" [Minute of silence follows]
I greet all of you, Romans and pilgrims from Italy and from various parts of the world: families, parish groups, associations.
In particular, I greet the Sisters of St. Elizabeth from different countries, the AVART Organización Internacional de Arte y Cultura Mexicana group from Puebla (Mexico) and the youth of the Santa Rita da Cascia parish in Turin. I see a Uruguayan flag but I don't see the mate! Welcome! I also greet the many Poles I see here with the flags and also the group of Spaniards.
I wish you all a good Sunday and please do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!