Audiences 2005-2013 23111

Wednesday, 23 November 2011 - Apostolic Journey to Benin


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I still retain vivid impressions of my recent Apostolic Journey to Benin, on which I would like to reflect today. Thanksgiving to the Lord spontaneously wells up in my mind: in his Providence he wanted me to return to Africa, for the second time as successor of Peter, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the evangelization of Benin and to sign and officially consign the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus to the African ecclesial communities.

In this important document, after reflecting on the analyses and proposals that resulted from the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops that was held in the Vatican in October 2009, I wanted to offer some guidelines for pastoral action on the great continent of Africa. At the same time I wished to pay homage and to pray at the tomb of an illustrious son of Benin and of Africa who was also a great man of the Church, the unforgettable Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. His venerable memory is more alive than ever in his own country, which considers him a Father of the homeland and throughout the continent.

Today I would like to express once again my most heartfelt thanks to all those who contributed to organizing this pilgrimage. First of all I am deeply grateful to the President of the Republic who, with great courtesy, offered me his cordial greeting and that of the entire country; to the Archbishop of Cotonou and to my other venerable Brothers in the Episcopate who welcomed me with affection. I also thank the priests, men and women religious, deacons, catechists and innumerable brothers and sisters who accompanied me with such great faith and warmth during these days of grace. Together we lived a moving experience of faith and a renewed encounter with the living Jesus Christ, in the context of the 150th anniversary of the evangelization of Benin.

I laid the fruit of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, venerated in particular at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Ouidah. Following Mary's example, the Church in Africa accepted the Good News of the Gospel and brought forth many people in the faith. Henceforth the Christian communities of Africa ? as both the theme of the Synod and the motto of my Apostolic Journey emphasized ? are called to renew themselves in faith to be increasingly at the service of reconciliation, justice and peace. They are invited to be reconciled with their inner selves, to become joyful instruments of divine mercy, each one contributing his own spiritual and material riches to the common commitment.

This spirit of reconciliation is also indispensable, of course, at the civic level and requires openness to hope, which in addition must inspire the socio-political and economic life of the continent, as I had the opportunity to say at the meeting with the political institutions, the Diplomatic Corps and the representatives of the religions. On this occasion I wished to put the accent precisely on hope, since hope must motivate life to the continent's journey, pointing out the ardent desire for freedom and justice, which, especially in recent months, brings life to the hearts of numerous African peoples. Then I stressed the need to build a society in which relations between different religions and ethnic groups are characterized by dialogue and harmony. I invited everyone to be true sowers of hope in very situation and in every walk of life.

Christians by nature are people of hope who cannot neglect their own brothers and sisters. I also recalled this truth to the immense crowd gathered for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist in Friendship Stadium, Cotonou. This Sunday Mass was an extraordinary moment of prayer and festivity in which thousands of the faithful of Benin and from other African countries took part, from the most elderly to the youngest: a marvellous testimony of how faith succeeds in bringing generations together and can respond to the challenges of every season of life.

During this moving and solemn celebration, I consigned to the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of Africa the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus? which I had signed the day before in Ouidah ? destined for the bishops, priests, men and women religious, catechists and lay people of the entire African continent. In entrusting to them the fruit of the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, I asked them to meditate upon it attentively and to live it to the full in order to respond effectively to the demanding evangelizing mission of the Church, a pilgrim in Africa in the third millennium. In this important text every member of the faithful will find fundamental guidelines that will direct and encourage on her journey the Church in Africa which is called to be, increasingly, the "salt of the earth"ť and the "light of the world"ť (
Mt 5,13-14).

I addressed an appeal to everyone to be tireless builders of communion, peace and solidarity, in order to cooperate in bringing about God's plan of salvation for humanity. The Africans have responded enthusiastically to the Pope's invitation and, on their faces, in their ardent faith, in their convinced adherence to the Gospel of life, I once again recognized comforting signs of hope for the great continent of Africa.

I also felt these signs tangibly at the meeting with children and with the world of suffering. In the parish Church of St Rita I truly sampled the joy of life, the cheerfulness and enthusiasm of the new generations who constitute Africa's future. I pointed out to the festive throngs of children ? one of the continent's many resources and riches, St Kizito ? a Ugandan boy killed because he wanted to live in accordance with the Gospel, and I urged each one to witness to Jesus among his peers.

The Visit to the Foyer "Paix et Joie"ť, run by Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity, enabled me to experience a deeply moving moment in meeting abandoned and sick children and permitted me to see in practice that love and solidarity can make the strength and affection of the risen Christ present in weakness.

The joy and apostolic fervour I found among the priests, religious, seminarians and lay people, gathered in large numbers, is a sign of sure hope for the future of the Church in Benin. I urged all to have an authentic, lively faith and a Christian life characterized by the practice of the virtues and I encouraged each one to live his or her respective mission in the Church with fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium, in communion with each other and with the pastors, pointing out the way of holiness especially to priests, in the knowledge that the ministry is not merely a social function but brings God to man and man to God.

The meeting with the Episcopate of Benin was a moment of intense communion in order to reflect in particular on the origin of the Gospel proclamation in their country undertaken by missionaries who generously gave their lives ? sometimes heroically ? so that God's love may be proclaimed to all.

I invited the bishops to put into practice pastoral initiatives to inspire in families, in parishes, in the communities and in ecclesial movements a constant rediscovery of Sacred Scripture as a source of spiritual renewal and an opportunity for deepening their faith.

From this renewed approach to the word of God and from the rediscovery of their own baptism, the lay faithful will find the strength to witness to their faith in Christ and in his Gospel in their daily life. In this crucial phase for the whole continent the Church in Africa, with her commitment to serving the Gospel and with the courageous witness of effective solidarity can play the lead in a new season of hope.

In Africa I saw spontaneity in the yes to life, a freshness of the religious sense and of hope, a perception of reality in its totality with God and not reduced to positivism which, in the end, extinguishes hope. All this shows that in this continent there is a reserve of life and vitality for the future, on which we can count, on which the Church can count.

My journey has also been an important appeal to Africa to direct its every effort to announcing the Gospel to those who do not yet know it. It is a renewed commitment to evangelization to which every baptized person is called, promoting reconciliation, justice and peace.

To Mary, Mother of the Church and Our Lady of Africa, I entrust those whom I have had the opportunity to meet on my unforgettable Apostolic Journey. I commend the Church in Africa to her. May the motherly intercession of Mary "whose heart is always inclined to God's will, sustain every effort at conversion; may she consolidate every initiative of reconciliation and strengthen every endeavour for peace in a world which hungers and thirsts for justice" (Africae Munus, n. 175). Many thanks.

To special groups:

I offer a cordial greeting to the Sisters of Jesus and Mary taking part in a course of spiritual renewal. I also greet the international group of Marist and Marianist Brothers. My warm welcome likewise goes to the pilgrims from Indonesia. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, including the groups from Nigeria, South Korea and the United States of America, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace.

I am particularly glad to welcome the Delegation of the Catholic-Orthodox Forum, composed of numerous prelates to whom I address my most cordial greeting. To the Catholic members in particular, I offer heartfelt good wishes on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences.

A thought now, as usual for the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.

We are experiencing the last days of the liturgical year which invite us to consider with a gaze of faith the time that is passing. Dear young people, harmonize your personal journey with the journey of the Church, marked by the liturgy, and prepare yourselves to live the season of Advent as a time of inner waiting for the Messiah, Our Saviour; dear sick people, invoke from God the gift of hope, offering your sufferings for this as well; and may you, dear newlyweds, always have trust in divine Providence which guides and accompanies Christian families.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our previous Catecheses we have reflected on several examples of prayer in the Old Testament. Today I would like to begin to look at Jesus, at his prayer that flows through the whole of his life like a secret channel that waters existence, relationships and actions and guides them, with progressive firmness, to the total gift of self in accordance with the loving plan of God the Father. Jesus is also our Teacher in prayer, indeed he is our active and fraternal support on every occasion that we address the Father. Truly, “prayer”, as it is summed up in a heading in the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “is fully revealed and realized in Jesus” (nn. 541-547). Let us also look at him in our forthcoming Catecheses.

The prayer that followed the baptism in the River Jordan to which he submitted is an especially important moment on his journey. Luke the Evangelist noted that after receiving baptism from John the Baptist together with all the people he was praying a very personal, extended prayer. “When all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him” (
Lc 3,21-22). The fact that he “was praying”, in conversation with the Father, illuminated the act he had carried out along with so many of his people who had flocked to the banks of the Jordan. By praying, he gave his action, baptism, an exclusively personal character.

The Baptist had launched a forceful appeal to live truly as “children to Abraham”, being converted to goodness and bearing fruit worthy of this change (cf. Lc 3,7-9). And a large number of Israelites had felt impelled to act, as Mark the Evangelist recalled, writing: “There went out to him [to John] all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the River Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mc 1,5).

The Baptist was bringing something really new: to undergo baptism was to mark a decisive turning point, leaving behind forms of conduct linked to sin and starting a new life.

Jesus too accepted this invitation, he joined the grey multitude of sinners waiting on the banks of the Jordan. However, a question also wells up in us, as it did in the early Christians: why did Jesus voluntarily submit to this baptism of penance and conversion? He had no sins to confess, he had not sinned, hence he was in no need of conversion. So what accounts for his action?

The Evangelist Matthew records the amazement of the Baptist who stated: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Mt 3,14), and Jesus’ response: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness” (Mt 3,15). The word “righteousness” in the biblical world means the acceptance of God’s will without reserve. Jesus showed his closeness to that part of his people who, following the Baptist, recognized that it was not enough merely to consider themselves children of Abraham and wanted to do God’s will, wanted to commit themselves to ensuring that their behaviour was a faithful response to the Covenant God had offered through Abraham.

Therefore by entering the River Jordan, Jesus, without sin, showed his solidarity with those who recognize their sins, who choose to repent and to change their lives; Jesus made it clear that being part of the People of God means entering into a perspective of newness of life, of life in accordance with God.

In this action Jesus anticipated the cross, he began his ministry by taking his place among sinners, by taking upon his shoulders the burden of the whole of humanity and by doing the Father’s will. Recollected in prayer, Jesus showed his profound bond with the Father who is in Heaven, he experienced his fatherhood, understood the demanding beauty of his love and, in conversation with the Father, received the confirmation of his mission.

The words that resounded from Heaven (cf. Lc 3,22), anticipated a reference to the Paschal Mystery, the cross and the resurrection. The divine voice called him “my beloved Son”, reevoking Isaac, the beloved son whom Abraham his father was prepared to sacrifice, in accordance with God’s command (cf. Gn 22,1-14). Jesus was not only the son of David, of royal, messianic lineage, or the Servant with whom God was well pleased; he was also the only begotten Son, beloved, like Isaac, whom God the Father gave for the world’s salvation.

At the moment when, through prayer, Jesus was experiencing the depth of his own sonship and God’s fatherhood (cf. Lc 3,22b), the Holy Spirit, whom he was to pour out after being raised on the Cross (cf. Jn 1,32-34 Jn 7,37-39), descended upon him (cf. Lc 3,22a) and guided him in his mission that he might illuminate the Church’s action. In prayer, Jesus lived in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to fulfil completely his plan of love for mankind.

Against the background of this extraordinary prayer Jesus lived his entire life in a family deeply tied to the religious tradition of the people of Israel. This is demonstrated by the references we find in the Gospels: his circumcision (cf. Lc 2,21), and his presentation in the temple (cf. Lc 2,22-24), as well as his education and training at Nazareth, in the holy house (cf. Lc 2,39-40 and Lc 2,51-52).

This was “about thirty years” (Lc 3,23), a long period of hidden daily life, even though it included experiences of participation with the community in moments of religious expression, such as pilgrimages to Jerusalem (cf. Lc 2,41).

In recounting the episode of the 12-year-old Jesus in the temple, sitting among the teachers (cf. Lc 2,42-52), Luke the Evangelist makes us understand that Jesus, who was praying after his baptism in the Jordan, had a long-standing habit of intimate prayer to God the Father. This habit was rooted in the traditions, in the style of his family, and in his own crucial experiences within it.

The 12-year-old’s answer to Mary and Joseph already suggests the divine Sonship which the heavenly voice expressed after his baptism: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” to do his bidding (Lc 2,49). Jesus did not begin to pray after emerging from the waters of the Jordan, but continued in his ongoing, customary relationship with the Father; and it was in this close union with the Father that he stepped out of the hidden life in Nazareth into his public ministry.

Jesus’ teaching on prayer certainly derives from the approach to prayer that he acquired in his family but its deep, essential origins are found in his being the Son of God and in his unique relationship with God the Father.

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church answers the question: “From whom did Jesus learn how to pray?" in this way, “Jesus, with his human heart, learned how to pray from his Mother and from the Jewish tradition. But his prayer sprang from a more secret source because he is the eternal Son of God who in his holy humanity offers his perfect filial prayer to his Father” (n. 541).

In the Gospel narrative, the settings of Jesus’ prayer are always placed half-way between insertion into his people’s tradition and the newness of a unique personal relationship with God. The “lonely place” (cf. Mc 1,35 Lc 5,16), to which he often withdrew, “the hills” he climbs in order to pray (cf. Lc 6,12 Lc 9,28), “the night” that affords him solitude (cf. Mc 1,35 Mc 6,46-47 Lc 6,12) recall moments in the process of God’s revelation in the Old Testament, pointing out the continuity of his saving plan. Yet, at the same time, they mark moments of special importance for Jesus who fits consciously into this plan, completely faithful to the Father’s will.

In our prayer too we must learn, increasingly, to enter this history of salvation of which Jesus is the summit, to renew before God our personal decision to open ourselves to his will, to ask him for the strength to conform our will to his will, throughout our life, in obedience to his design of love for us.

Jesus’ prayer penetrates all the phases of his ministry and all his days. Difficulties do not obstruct it. The Gospels, on the contrary, allow us a glimpse of Jesus’ habit of spending part of the night in prayer. Mark the Evangelist tells of one of these nights, after the tiring day of the multiplication of the loaves, and writes: “Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went into the hills to pray. And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land” (Mc 6,45-47). When decisions became urgent and complicated his prayers grew longer and more intense. Just before he chose the Twelve Apostles, for example, Luke emphasizes the nocturnal duration of Jesus’ preparatory prayer: “In those days he went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: (Lc 6,12-13).

In looking at Jesus’ prayers, a question must arise within us: how do I pray? How do we pray? How much time do I give to my relationship with God? Are people today given sufficient education and formation in prayer? And who can teach it? In the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini I spoke of the importance of the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture. In gathering what emerged at the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, I placed a special emphasis on the specific form of lectio divina. Listening, meditating, and being silent before the Lord who speaks is an art which is learned by practising it with perseverance.

Prayer is of course is a gift which nevertheless asks to be accepted; it is a work of God but demands commitment and continuity on our part. Above all continuity and constancy are important.

Jesus’ exemplary experience itself shows that his prayer, enlivened by the fatherhood of God and by communion with the Spirit, was deepened and prolonged in faithful practice, up to the Garden of Olives and to the Cross.

Today Christians are called to be witnesses of prayer precisely because our world is often closed to the divine horizon and to the hope that brings the encounter with God. In deep friendship with Jesus and living in him and with him the filial relationship with the Father, through our constant and faithful prayer we can open windows on God’s Heaven. Indeed, by taking the way of prayer, attaching no importance to human things, we can help others to take it. For Christian prayer too it is true that, in journeying on, new paths unfold.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us train ourselves in an intense relationship with God, with prayer that is not occasional but constant, full of faith, capable of illuminating our lives, as Jesus taught us. And let us ask him to enable us to communicate to people who are close to us, to those whom we meet on our way, the joy of the encounter with the Lord, Light for our existence. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I greet the distinguished delegations from various countries taking part in the meeting promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme: No Justice without Life. I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present, including those from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, I address an affectionate thought to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear young people, I invite you to rediscover intimacy with Christ in the spiritual atmosphere of Advent, setting yourselves to learn at the school of the Virgin Mary. I recommend you, dear sick people, to spend this period of more intense expectation and prayer offering your sufferings for the world’s salvation to the Lord who comes. Lastly, I urge you, dear newlyweds, to build authentic Christian families, drawing inspiration from the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth to which we look in particular during this season of preparation for Christmas.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 7 December 2011 - The “jewel” of the Cry of Exultation

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Evangelists Matthew and Luke (cf.
Mt 11,25-30 and Lc 10,21-22) have handed down to us a “jewel” of Jesus’ prayer that is often called the Cry of Exultation or the Cry of Messianic Exultation. It is a prayer of thanksgiving and praise, as we have heard. In the original Greek of the Gospels the word with which this jubilation begins and which expresses Jesus’ attitude in addressing the Father is exomologoumai, which is often translated with “I praise” (cf. Mt 11,25 and Lc 10,21). However, in the New Testament writings this term indicates mainly two things: the first is “to confess” fully — for example, John the Baptist asked those who went to him to be baptized to recognize their every sin (cf. Mt 3,6); the second thing is “to be in agreement”. Therefore, the words with which Jesus begins his prayer contain his full recognition of the Father’s action and at the same time, his being in total, conscious and joyful agreement with this way of acting, with the Father’s plan. The “Cry of Exultation” is the apex of a journey of prayer in which Jesus’ profound and close communion with the life of the Father in the Holy Spirit clearly emerges and his divine sonship is revealed.

Jesus addresses God by calling him “Father”. This word expresses Jesus’ awareness and certainty of being “the Son” in intimate and constant communion with him, and this is the central focus and source of every one of Jesus’ prayers. We see it clearly in the last part of the hymn which illuminates the entire text. Jesus said: “All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Lc 10,22). Jesus was therefore affirming that only “the Son” truly knows the Father.

All the knowledge that people have of each other — we all experience this in our human relationships — entails involvement, a certain inner bond between the one who knows and the one who is known, at a more or less profound level: we cannot know anyone without a communion of being. In the Cry of Exultation — as in all his prayers — Jesus shows that true knowledge of God presupposes communion with him. Only by being in communion with the other can I begin to know him; and so it is with God: only if I am in true contact, if I am in communion with him, can I also know him. True knowledge, therefore, is reserved to the “Son”, the Only Begotten One who is in the bosom of the Father since eternity (cf. Jn 1,18), in perfect unity with him. The Son alone truly knows God, since he is in an intimate communion of being; only the Son can truly reveal who God is.

The name “Father” is followed by a second title, “Lord of heaven and earth”. With these words, Jesus sums up faith in creation and echoes the first words of Sacred Scripture: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1,1).

In praying, he recalls the great biblical narrative of the history of God’s love for man that begins with the act of creation. Jesus fits into this love story, he is its culmination and its fulfilment. Sacred Scripture is illumined through his experience of prayer and lives again in its fullest breadth: the proclamation of the mystery of God and the response of man transformed. Yet, through the expression: “Lord of heaven and earth”, we can also recognize that in Jesus, the Revealer of the Father, the possibility for man to reach God is reopened.

Let us now ask ourselves: to whom does the Son want to reveal God’s mysteries? At the beginning of the Hymn Jesus expresses his joy because the Father’s will is to keep these things hidden from the learned and the wise and to reveal them to little ones (cf. Lc 10,21). Thus in his prayer, Jesus manifests his communion with the Father’s decision to disclose his mysteries to the simple of heart: the Son’s will is one with the Father’s.

Divine revelation is not brought about in accordance with earthly logic, which holds that cultured and powerful people possess important knowledge and pass it on to simpler people, to little ones. God used a quite different approach: those to whom his communication was addressed were, precisely, “babes”. This is the Father’s will, and the Son shares it with him joyfully. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “His exclamation, ‘Yes, Father!’ expresses the depth of his heart, his adherence to the Father’s ‘good pleasure,’ echoing his mother’s ‘Fiat’ at the time of his conception and prefiguring what he will say to the Father in his agony. The whole prayer of Jesus is contained in this loving adherence of his human heart to the ‘mystery of the will’ of the Father (Ep 1,9)” (CEC 2603).

The invocation that we address to God in the “Our Father” derives from this: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”: together with Christ and in Christ we too ask to enter into harmony with the Father’s will, thereby also becoming his children. Thus Jesus, in this “Cry of Exultation”, expresses his will to involve in his own filial knowledge of God all those whom the Father wishes to become sharers in it; and those who welcome this gift are the “little ones”.

But what does “being little” and simple mean? What is the “littleness” that opens man to filial intimacy with God so as to receive his will? What must the fundamental attitude of our prayer be? Let us look at “The Sermon on the Mount”, in which Jesus says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt 5,8). It is purity of heart that permits us to recognize the face of God in Jesus Christ; it is having a simple heart like the heart of a child, free from the presumption of those who withdraw into themselves, thinking they have no need of anyone, not even God.

It is also interesting to notice the occasion on which Jesus breaks into this hymn to the Father. In Matthew’s Gospel narrative it is joyful because, in spite of opposition and rejection, there are “little ones” who accept his word and open themselves to the gift of faith in him. The “Cry of Exultation” is in fact preceded by the contrast between the praise of John the Baptist — one of the “little ones” who recognized God’s action in Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 11,2-19) — and the reprimand for the disbelief of the lake cities “where most of his mighty works had been performed” (cf. Mt 11,20-24).

Hence Matthew saw the Exultation in relation to the words with which Jesus noted the effectiveness of his word and action: “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news of the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offence at me” (Mt 11,4-6).

St Luke also presented the Cry of Exultation in connection with a moment of development in the proclamation of the Gospel. Jesus sent out the “seventy-two” others (Lc 10,1) and they departed fearful of the possible failure of their mission. Luke also emphasized the rejection encountered in the cities where the Lord had preached and had worked miracles. Nonetheless the seventy-two disciples returned full of joy because their mission had met with success; they realized that human infirmities are overcome with the power of Jesus’ word. Jesus shared their pleasure: “in that same hour”, at that very moment, he rejoiced.

There are still two elements that I would like to underline. Luke the Evangelist introduces the prayer with the annotation: Jesus “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Lc 10,21). Jesus rejoiced from the depths of his being, in what counted most: his unique communion of knowledge and love with the Father, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. By involving us in his sonship, Jesus invites us too to open ourselves to the light of the Holy Spirit, since — as the Apostle Paul affirms — “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words… according to the will of God” (Rm 8,26-27), and reveals the Father’s love to us.

In Matthew’s Gospel, following the Cry of Exultation, we find one of Jesus’ most heartfelt appeals: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11,28). Jesus asks us to go to him, for he is true Wisdom, to him who is “gentle and lowly in heart”. He offers us “his yoke”, the way of the wisdom of the Gospel which is neither a doctrine to be learned nor an ethical system but rather a Person to follow: he himself, the Only Begotten Son in perfect communion with the Father.

Dear brothers and sisters, we have experienced for a moment the wealth of this prayer of Jesus. With the gift of his Spirit we too can turn to God in prayer with the confidence of children, calling him by the name Father, “Abba”. However, we must have the heart of little ones, of the “poor in spirit” (Mt 5,3) in order to recognize that we are not self-sufficient, that we are unable to build our lives on our own but need God, that we need to encounter him, to listen to him, to speak to him. Prayer opens us to receiving the gift of God, his wisdom, which is Jesus himself, in order to do the Father’s will in our lives and thus to find rest in the hardships of our journey. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I offer a warm welcome to the Missionaries of Charity and their families. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present, including the various pilgrimage groups from the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, I address an affectionate thought to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception which we shall be celebrating tomorrow reminds us of Mary’s special adherence to God’s saving plan. Preserved from every shadow of sin to be the all-holy dwelling place of the incarnate Word, she always entrusted herself totally to the Lord. Dear young people, strive to imitate her with pure and limpid hearts, letting yourselves be moulded by God who also wishes “to do great things” in you (cf. Lc 1,49). Dear sick people, with Mary’s help may you always trust in the Lord, who knows your suffering and by uniting it with his own, offers it for the salvation of the world. And you, dear newlyweds, who wish to build your home on the grace of God, make your home a hearth of love and piety, in imitation of that of Nazareth.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 14 December 2011 - The prayer of Jesus linked to His miraculous healing action

Audiences 2005-2013 23111