June 18, 2015
During his Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on Thursday morning, Pope Francis said Christians must understand that they cannot advance in the Christian life without the help of God. The Pope also noted that if we are to pray well, we must be prepared to forgive our brothers. The three themes of weakness, prayer, and forgiveness were at the heart of his homily.
The Holy Father began his reflection by emphasizing that we all bear a certain weakness, a weakness “we all bear after the wound of original sin.”
Without the help of the Lord we cannot go forward
We are weak, he repeated, “we slip into sin, we cannot go forward without the help of the Lord”:
“He who believes he is strong, who thinks he is capable of getting by on his own is naïve, and in the end remains a man defeated by so much weakness that he carries in himself: the weakness that brings us to ask for help from the Lord because ‘in our weakness we can do nothing without your help,’ [as] we have prayed. We cannot take a step in our Christian life without the help of the Lord, because we are weak. And he who is on the way should take care not to fall because he is weak.”
We are even weak in faith, he continued. “We all have faith,” he said, “We all want to go forward in the Christian life, but if we are not conscious of our weakness we will end up completely defeated.” There is a beautiful prayer that speaks to this: “O Lord, I know that in my weakness I can do nothing without your help.”
Our prayer has no need of too many words
The Pope then turned his thought to “prayer.” Jesus, he said, taught us to pray, “but not as the pagans” who thought they would be heard because they used many words. Pope Francis recalled the mother of Samuel who asked the Lord for the grace to have a son, and prayed by simply moved her lips. The priest that was there, he said, saw her and was convinced she was drunk and scolded her:
“She only moved her lips because she could not speak… She asked for a son. She prayed in that way, in the sight of the Lord. It is the prayer [we should make]: because we know that He is good and knows all about us and knows the things we need, we should begin to say that word: ‘Father’; which is a human word, certainly, that gives us life, but in prayer we can only say it with the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“Let us begin the prayer with the power of the Spirit who prays in us,” the Pope said, “praying in that way, simply. With open hearts in the presence of God who is the Father, and who knows, knows the things we need before we say them.”
Forgiveness is a great strength, a grace from the Lord
Finally, Pope Francis turned his attention to forgiveness, emphasizing how Jesus taught his disciples that if they did not forgive the faults of others, the Father would not forgive them.
“We can only pray well, and call God ‘Father’ if our heart is at peace with others, with our brothers. ‘But father, this person did this to me, [and] this person did this to me, [and] that person did this…’ ‘Forgive. Forgive as He forgave you.’ And so the weakness that we have, with the help of God in prayer becomes strength because forgiveness is a great strength. One needs to be strong to forgive, but this strength is a grace that we must receive from the Lord because we are weak.”