Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Praying for "those who do us wrong," so that "God's light can permeate their hearts" and relying totally on God, in the certainty that "no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God, those hands that created us, support us and accompany us on the journey of life, because guided by an infinite and faithful love". The prayer of the dying Jesus teaches - " challenging indications to our prayers, but also open them to a quiet confidence and a firm hope " - to which, again today, Benedict XVI dedicated his general audience with the six thousand people present.
In what the Pope has called his "school prayer", he offered a reflection on Luke's account of the dying Jesus. There are three "words" in which "the first and third are explicitly addressed to the Father and the second to the good thief crucified with him." In the latter, said Benedict XVI, Jesus "gives the firm hope that the goodness of God can touch us even at the last moment of life and that sincere prayer, even after a life of wrong, meets the open arms of the good Father who awaits the return of his son. "
In the first "word", "immediately after being nailed on the cross and while the soldiers are dividing his garments," Jesus asks, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." It is an "intercession," Jesus "in person carries out what he had taught in the Sermon on the Mount when he said: " But to you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you". "Now, from the cross, He not only forgives his executioners, but speaks directly to the Father interceding on their behalf." Jesus "asks forgiveness, but also offers a reading of what is happening." " He gives that ignorance, - the Pope said - as the reason for the request for forgiveness from the Father, for this ignorance leaves the way open to conversion, as is the case in the words that the centurion spoke at Jesus' death: " This man was innocent beyond doubt", he was the Son of God". "
The second is a "word of hope." "The good thief returns to his senses and repents, he realizes that he is in front of the Son of God" whom he asks to remember him, "when you come into your kingdom." In his response "today will be with me in Paradise" Jesus " of entering directly into communion with the Father and of reopening the path for the man to God's Heaven."
The third "word" of the Gospel of Luke: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit"; and when he had said this he breathed his last." Some aspects of this narrative are different than say, those of Mark and Matthew. "The three hours of darkness are not described in Mark, while Matthew they are connected with a different set of apocalyptic events, such as the earthquake, the opening of graves, the dead raised to life (cf. Mt 27.51-53). In Luke, the hours of darkness are caused by the eclipse of the sun, but at that moment is the veil of the temple is also torn. In this way Luke's account has two signs, in some way parallel, in heaven and in the temple. The sky loses its light, the land sinks, while in the temple, the place of God's presence, tears the veil that protects the shrine. The death of Jesus is explicitly characterized as a cosmic and liturgical event, in particular, it marks the beginning of a new worship in a temple not built by men, because it is the very Body of Jesus dead and risen, that brings together the people and they are joined in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. "
"The prayer of Jesus, at this moment:" Into thy hands I commend my spirit "are the words of Psalm 31, " but not a quote, rather a firm decision. These words are a prayer of 'custody', full of confidence in the love of God. The prayer of Jesus before his death is tragic as it is for every man, but at the same time, it is pervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to Him. "