Pope: we need courageous Christians who know how to say: 'We cannot do this’
General audience returns, after months, to the Paul VI hall. Prayer "is not a private session with the Lord to give your soul a makeover: no, this is not prayer. This is pretend prayer. Prayer is a confrontation with God and allowing ourselves to be sent to serve others. The test of prayer is concrete love for one's neighbour. And vice versa".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Prayer gives consolation and peace, but also strength and courage to "not live in dichotomy". Moreover, "we greatly need believers, zealous Christians, who act in front of people who have managerial responsibilities with the courage of Elijah to say: 'We cannot do this, this is murder!'".
This week’s general audience returned, after months, to the Paul VI hall and the catechesis was again dedicated to the theme of prayer, which "is not a private session with the Lord to give your soul a makeover: no, this is not prayer. This is pretend prayer. Prayer is a confrontation with God and allowing ourselves to be sent to serve others. The test of prayer is concrete love for one's neighbour. And vice versa: believers act in the world after having first kept silent and prayed; otherwise their action is impulsive, it is devoid of discernment, it is a frantic running without a goal. And when believers do this, they do so many injustices because they did not go to the Lord first to pray, to discern what they should do”.
Pope Francis arrived in the Paul VI Hall around 8.45am and walked the central corridor, stopping several times to exchange greetings, bless rosaries, photos and other objects brought by the faithful, and sign autographs. He also signed a copy of his encyclical Fratelli tutti, brought to him by a young couple. Finally he took his place at the foot of the steps, surrounded by a group of families.
In his speech, Francis spoke of the prophet Elijah, who also appears in the Gospel “alongside Jesus, together with Moses, at the moment of the Transfiguration (cf. Mt 17,3). Jesus himself refers to his figure to accredit the testimony of John the Baptist (cf. Mt 17,10-13) ”.
He is "one of the most compelling characters in all of Sacred Scripture", "he suddenly appears, in a mysterious way, coming from a small, completely marginal village (cf. 1 Kings 17,1); and at the end he will leave the scene, under the eyes of the disciple Elisha, on a chariot of fire that takes him to heaven (cf. 2 Kings 2,11-12)”.
This "man of crystalline faith", "upright, incapable of petty compromises", is "the example of all people of faith who know temptations and sufferings, but do not fall short of the ideal for which they were born. Prayer is the lymph that constantly feeds his existence. For this reason he is one of the most dear characters to the monastic tradition, so much so that some have elected him as the spiritual father of life consecrated to God”.
"Elijah is the man of God, who stands as the defender of the primacy of the Most High. Yet, he too is forced to deal with his own frailties. It is difficult to say which experiences were most useful to him: whether the defeat of the false prophets on Mount Carmel (cf.1 Kings 18: 20-40), or the bewilderment in which he realizes that he is 'no better than his fathers' (cf.1 Kings 19, 4). In the soul of those who pray, the sense of their own weakness is more precious than moments of exaltation, when it seems that life is a procession of victories and successes. This is a reality that is found in many other biblical vocations, even in the New Testament, we think for example of St. Peter and St. Paul. Elijah is the man of a contemplative life and, at the same time, of an active life, concerned with the events of his time, capable of lashing out at the king and queen, after they had had Naboth killed to take possession of his vineyard (cf. Kings 21: 1-24). Thus he shows us that there must be no dichotomy in the life of those who pray: one stands before the Lord and goes to meet the brothers to whom he is sent”.
“This is Elijah's story, but it seems written for all of us. At the close of day we may sometimes feel useless and alone. It is then that prayer will come and knock on the door of our heart. We can all collect a piece of Elijah's cloak. And even if we do something wrong, or feel threatened and frightened, by returning to God with prayer, then serenity and peace will also return as if by a miracle”.
In the greetings to the faithful of the various languages, Francis repeatedly recalled that today the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated. Thus, he invited the Arabic-speaking faithful "to pray the rosary, and to carry it in your hands or in your pockets. The recitation of the rosary is the most beautiful prayer we can offer to the Virgin Mary; it is a contemplation on the stages of the life of Jesus the Saviour with his Mother Mary and is a weapon that protects us from evils and temptations ". “Our Lady – he concluded in his greeting to Polish pilgrims - in her apparitions often urged the recitation of the Rosary, especially in the face of threats looming over the world. Even today, in this time of pandemic, it is necessary to hold the rosary in our hands, praying for us, for our loved ones and for all mankind”.