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Courageous prayer

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

The following is a synthesis of the homily Pope Francis delivered this morning during the Holy Mass he celebrated in the Chapel of Santa Marta.

This morning Pope Francis drew upon the Gospel of the day taken from the evangelist Luke (11:5-13), in which the Lord teaches his disciples the importance of persistent prayer.

Pope Francis described the passage as the “parable of the of the intrusive, importune friend,” who goes by night to ask his friend for bread for another friend who had just arrived at his home and to whom he had nothing to offer. “With this request,” Pope Francis noted, “the friend had to get up out of bed and give him the bread”. He noted: “Jesus speaks to us about this on another occasion: in the parable of the widow who went day after day to to the corrupt judge who wouldn't listen to her and didn't want to listen to her … she was so importune, she bothered him so much that finally, for the sake of getting rid of her, so that she wouldn't pester him any more, he gave her justice, he gave her what she was asking”.

He continued: “This makes us think about our own prayer. How do we pray? Do we pray piously and calmly out of habit or do we place ourselves courageously before the Lord to ask for grace, to ask for what we are praying for?”. Our attitude and disposition is very important, Pope Francis said, because “prayer that is not courageous is not real prayer”. When we pray, we need “the courage to trust that the Lord is listening to us, we need the courage to knock at the door... The Lord himself says it: 'everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened'”.

Do we pray in this way, the Holy Father asked, or do we limit ourselves to saying “Lord, I need help; give me the grace”? In short, “do we get involved in prayer? Do we know how to knock at the door of God's heart?”.

Pope Francis replied by turning to the conclusion of today's Gospel. “Jesus tells us: 'What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give'”. Then Pope Francis stopped and said: “and then we expect to hear 'he will give good things to you' … but no,” he continued, “he doesn't say that! He says that he will give 'the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'. And this is something tremendous”.

“When we pray courageously,” he then explained, “the Lord not only gives us grace; he gives us his very self in the grace,” because “the Lord never gives or sends a grace by post: he brings it, he is grace!”

Pope Francis concluded: “Today in prayer, in the collect [of the Mass] we asked the Lord to give us even what in prayer we do not know how to ask for. And what is it that we do not know how to ask for? For him! We ask for a grace, but we do not know how to say to him: you come and bring it to me. We know that a grace is always brought to us by him; he comes and gives it to us. Let us not make a bad impression and take the grace without acknowledging that the one who brings it, the one who gives it to us, is the Lord”.

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