In prayer we must be courageous and discover the true grace that is given us: God Himself. That was the Pope’s message at Thursday’s morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta.
At the heart of the homily was Jesus’ insistence, in the day’s Gospel, that we pray with trusting insistence. The parable of the importunate friend, the friend who obtains what he desires thanks to his insistence, gave Pope Francis the opportunity to reflect on the quality of our prayer:
“This makes us think, in our prayer: how do we pray? Do we pray like this, out of habit, piously but unbothered, or do we put ourselves forward with courage before the Lord to ask for the grace, to ask for what we’re praying for? Courage in prayer: a prayer that is not courageous is not a real prayer. The courage to trust that the Lord listens to us, the courage to knock on the door . . . The Lord says: ‘For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’ But you have to ask, seek, and knock.”
“Do we get ourselves involved in prayer,” the Pope asked. “Do we know to knock at the heart of God?” In the Gospel Jesus says, “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” This, the Pope said, “is a great thing”:
“When we pray courageously, the Lord gives us the grace, but He also gives us Himself in the grace: the Holy Spirit, that is, Himself! The Lord never gives or sends a grace by mail: never! He brings it Himself! What we ask for is a little bit like [laughing] . . . it is the envelope that grace is wrapped in. But the true grace is Him, Who comes to bring it to me. It’s Him. Our prayer, if it is courageous, receives what it asks for, but also that which is more important: the Lord.”
In the Gospel, the Pope noted, “some people receive the grace and then go away”: of the ten lepers healed by Jesus, only once returned to thank him. Even the blind man of Jericho found the Lord in the healing, and praised God. But we must pray “with the courage of faith” Pope Francis insisted, prompting us to ask even for those things that prayer does not dare hope for — that is, God Himself:
“We ask for a grace, but we don’t dare say, ‘But come Yourself to bring it to me.’ We know that a grace is always brought by Him: It is He Himself who comes and brings it to us. Let us not embarrass ourselves by taking the grace and not recognizing Him who brings it to us, Him who gives it to us: The Lord. That the Lord may give us the grace of giving us Himself, always, in every grace. And that we might recognize Him, and that we might praise Him as did the sick people in the Gospel who were healed. So that, in that grace, we might find the Lord.”
The mystery of the Cross, a mystery of love, can only be understood in prayer. Pray and weep, kneeling before the Cross.