Pope: Jesus prayed for me, for each of us, and he continues to do so
The priestly prayer of Jesus was the theme of the last catechesis for the general audience dedicated to prayer. “Even in the most painful of our sufferings, we are never alone”. “This seems to me the most beautiful thing to remember, concluding this cycle of catechesis dedicated to the theme of prayer.”
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Jesus prayed for each of us and continues to do so. "The priestly prayer of Jesus" was the topic of which Pope Francis general audience today, the last one dedicated to the long cycle of catechesis on prayer.
Once again it was held in the courtyard of San Damaso and even today, for almost half an hour, Francis passed among those present, including a noisy group of Salesian nuns, two brides in white dresses, numerous priests and seminarians. He blessed rosaries, images and some statuettes, signed an infinity of books, parchments and photographs, exchanged jokes, donned skullcaps, posed for a few selfies. He also received a Swiss football fan's scarf. And behind those present a banner depicting the Pope giving a blessing.
In his speech, Francis emphasized that "Jesus' prayer is intense, it is unique and becomes the model of prayer". " The Gospels testify how Jesus' prayer became even more intense and dense at the hour of his passion and death. These culminating events of His life constitute the central core of Christian preaching: those last hours lived by Jesus in Jerusalem are the heart of the Gospel not only because the Evangelists reserve proportionally greater space to this narrative, but also because the event of His death and resurrection - like a flash of lightning - sheds light on the rest of Jesus' life. He was not a philanthropist who took care of human suffering and illness: He was and is much more. In Him there is not only goodness: there is something more, there is salvation, and not an episodic salvation - the type that might save me from an illness or a moment of despair - but total salvation, messianic salvation, that gives hope in the definitive victory of life over death.”
“Jesus also prays on the cross, obscurely shrouded in the silence of God. And yet once again the word “Father” emerges from His lips. It is the most ardent prayer, because on the cross Jesus is the absolute intercessor: He prays for others, He prays for everyone, even for those who have condemned Him, even though no-one apart from a poor delinquent takes His side. Everyone was against Him or indifferent, only that criminal recognised the power. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23: 34). In the midst of the drama, in the excruciating pain of soul and body, Jesus prays with the words of the psalms; with the poor of the world, especially those forgotten by all, He pronounces the tragic words of Psalm 22: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 2). He felt abandonment, and He prayed. The cross is the fulfilment of the gift of the Father, who offers love, that is, our salvation is fulfilled. And also, once, He calls Him “My God”, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”: that is, everything, everything is prayer, in the three hours of the Cross.”
“Jesus therefore prays in the decisive hours of His passion and death. And with the resurrection, the Father will the prayer. The prayer of Jesus is intense, the prayer of Jesus is unique, and is also becomes the model for our prayer. Jesus prayed for everyone: He even prayed for me, for each one of you. Every one of you can say: “Jesus, on the cross, prayed for me”. He prayed. Jesus can say to every one of us: “I prayed for you at the Last Supper, and on the wood of the Cross”. Even in the most painful of our sufferings, we are never alone. The prayer of Jesus is with us. “And now, Father, here, we who are listening to this, does Jesus pray for us?” Yes, He continues to pray so that His word may help us keep going forward. But pray, and remember that He prays for us.”
“And this seems to me the most beautiful thing to remember. This is the final catechesis of this cycle on prayer: remember the grace that we do not only pray, but that, so to speak, we have been “prayed for”, we have already been received in Jesus’ dialogue with the Father, in communion with the Holy Spirit. Jesus prays for me: each one of us can take this to heart. We must not forget. Even in the worst moments. We are already welcomed into Jesus’ dialogue with the Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit. We were willed by Christ Jesus, and even in the hour of His passion, death and resurrection, everything was offered for us. And so, with prayer and with life, there remains only to have courage and hope, and with this courage and hope, to to feel the prayer of Jesus strongly and to keep on going: so that our life may be one of giving glory to God in the knowledge that He prays for me to the Father, that Jesus prays for me.”
"Prayer - he later affirmed in the greeting to the Poles - is a vital necessity, because it is the breath of the soul; everything in life is the fruit of it. As is prayer, so is life: the state of our soul and our works. May the personal and intimate conversation with Christ help you to always be close to God, to find the answer to all your questions and to the problems that torment you”.
At the end of the audience, in greeting to the Italian faithful, Francis wished "that the summer period may be a time of serenity and a beautiful opportunity to contemplate God in His masterpiece of creation".