By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis on Wednesday told the faithful that prayer is the eternal expression of their dialogue of love with the Father, and he invited them to persevere in prayer at every moment of their lives.
Greeting those gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the weekly General Audience, before beginning his catechesis the Pope expressed his sorrow for not being able to come close to the faithful because of covid precautions, but assured them he was close in spirit and invited them to stay safe.
He then continued his series of catechises dedicated to prayer, reflecting on the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry that took place with His baptism in the river Jordan.
Noting that the evangelists are in agreement in attributing fundamental importance to this episode, he said they all narrate how the people came together in prayer, and pointed out that this gathering had a clearly penitential nature (Mk 1: 5; Mt 3: 8).
Jesus’ choral prayer
“Jesus’ first public act is therefore participation in a choral prayer of the people, a penitential prayer, in which everyone recognises him- or herself as a sinner,” he said.
The Pope went on to say that “This is why the Baptist wishes to oppose it, saying: “I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?” (Mt 3: 14).
But Jesus, he explained, insists because “His is an act of obedience to the will of the Father, an act of solidarity with our human condition.
Jesus, Pope Francis reiterated, “prays with the sinners of the people of God. He does not stay on the opposite side of the river, to mark His difference and distance from the disobedient people, but rather He immerses His feet in the same purifying waters.”
Thus, he explained, Jesus is not a distant God. Inaugurating His mission, He placed Himself at the forefront of a people of penitents, “opening a breach through which all of us, after Him, must have the courage to pass.”
Jesus came for all of humanity
Pope Francis said that on that day, on the bank of the river Jordan, is all of humanity, “with its unexpressed yearning for prayer.”
Above all, he continued, there is the population of sinners: “those who thought they were not beloved by God, those who did not dare cross the threshold of the temple, those who did not pray because they did not consider themselves worthy.”
But Jesus, the Pope said, came for everyone, even for them, and He begins precisely by joining them.
He then went on to explain that by praying, “Jesus opens the door to the heavens, and the Holy Spirit descends from that breach.”
We are never alone when we pray, he stressed, “Jesus prays with us!”
He told the faithful that through baptism we become brothers and sisters of Christ, and through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to share in Jesus’ own prayer, “the eternal expression of his dialogue of love with the Father.”
Throughout the whirlwind of Jesus’ life, the condemnation of the world and the hard and sorrowful experiences he endured, the Pope said, “even when hatred and persecution are unleashed around Him, Jesus is never without the refuge of a dwelling place: He dwells eternally in the Father.”
Jesus, the Pope continued, obtained for us this gift, and He invites us to pray as He prayed.
There may be times, he continued, that during prayer we feel sluggish and empty, and it may seem that life has been completely useless. It is at that time especially, the Pope explained, that we must beg that Jesus’ prayer also become our own.
Pope Francis concluded saying that “We will then hear a voice from heaven, louder than the voice rising from the depths of ourselves, whispering words of tenderness” telling us that we are the beloved children of God, the joy of the Father in heaven.