Dear brothers and sisters, good morning,
The Gospel of this Sunday opens with the scene of Jesus praying alone, in a separate place. When he finishes, the disciples ask him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” And he responds, “When you pray, say: Father …”
This word is the secret of Jesus’ prayer; it is the key that he himself gives us so that we can also enter into this relationship of trusting dialogue with the Father who has accompanied and sustained his life.
To the name “Father,” Jesus associates two petitions: “hallowed be your name; your kingdom come.” Jesus’ prayer, and therefore, a Christian’s prayer, is before all to give space to God, allowing him to manifest his holiness in us and allowing the advance of his kingdom by the possibility of exercising his lordship of love in our lives.
Another three petitions complete this prayer that Jesus teaches us, the Our Father. They are three requests that express our fundamental needs: bread, forgiveness and help in temptation. One cannot live without bread, one cannot live without forgiveness, and one cannot live without the help of God in temptation.
The bread that Jesus has us ask for is that which is necessary, not anything superfluous. It is the bread of pilgrims, of the just, a bread that doesn’t accumulate and doesn’t go to waste, that doesn’t weigh down our journey.
Forgiveness is above all that which we receive from God: Only an awareness of being sinners forgiven by infinite divine mercy can make us capable of carrying out concrete gestures of fraternal reconciliation.
If someone doesn’t feel that he is a forgiven sinner, he can never offer a gesture of pardon or reconciliation. Those gestures start in the heart where we feel that we are forgiven sinners.
The last request — do not abandon us in temptation — expresses an awareness of our condition, ever exposed to the deceit of evil and corruption. All of us know what a temptation is!
Jesus’ teaching on prayer continues with two parables, in which he takes as a model the attitude of a friend toward another friend, and of a father toward his son.
Both aim to teach us to have complete trust in God, who is Father. He knows better than us our own needs, but he wants us to present them with audacity and insistence, because this is our way of participating in his work of salvation.
Prayer is the first and principal “work tool” in our hands. To insist [on something] with God is not in order to convince him, but rather to strengthen our faith and our patience, that is, our capacity to fight beside God for the things that are truly important and necessary. In prayer we are a pair: God and me, fighting together for what is important.
Among these, there is one, the great important thing, which Jesus tells us today in the Gospel, but which we hardly ever consider, and it is the Holy Spirit.
“Grant to me the Holy Spirit!”
And Jesus says, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
The Holy Spirit! We need to ask that the Holy Spirit comes to us. But, what is the use of the Holy Spirit? To live well, to live with wisdom, with love, doing the will of God.
How beautiful a prayer it would be if in this week, each one of us would ask the Father, “Father, give me the Holy Spirit.”
The Virgin Mary shows us this with her existence, wholly animated by the Spirit of God. She helps us to pray to the Father united to Jesus, so as to live not in a worldly way, but in accord with the Gospel, guided by the Holy Spirit.
At this time, we find ourselves again disturbed by the sad news of terrorism and violence that has brought sorrow and death.
I think of the tragic events in Munich, Germany, and in Kabul, Afghanistan, where many innocent people have lost their lives.
I assure my closeness to the families of the victims and the wounded. I invite you to join with me in prayer so that the Lord inspires in everyone resolutions of goodness and fraternity.
To the extent that the difficulties seem more insurmountable and the prospects of security and peace seem more dark, our prayer should be more insistent.
Dear brothers and sisters, in these days so many youth from every part of the world are on the way to Krakow, where the XXXI World Youth Day will take place.
I will leave Wednesday to meet up with these young men and women and celebrate with them and for them the Jubilee of Mercy, with the intercession of John Paul II.
I ask you to accompany me with prayer. Already now, I greet and thank all those who are working to welcome these young pilgrims, with many bishops, priests and men and women religious.
A particular word to the many youth of their same age who, unable to be present personally, will follow the event through the media: “We are all united in prayer!”
And now I salute you, dear pilgrims from Italy and other countries, in particular those from São Paulo and São João de Boa Vista, in Brazil; the “Giuseppe Denti” choir from Cremona; the bicycle pilgrims from Piumazzo to Rome, enriched by this effort of solidarity. I greet the youth of Valperga and Pertusio Canavese, Torino. Keep trying to live and not just spin, as you have written on your t-shirts.