· The Catechesis of Benedict XVI at the General Audience ·
Forgiveness, hope and entrustment: these are the three words that make Jesus' invocation in the imminence of death a demanding indication for “our prayer” and “also open it to serene trust”, making us understand that “we shall never fall from God's hands”. It is the meaning of the reflection that Benedict XVI, continuing his meditation on Jesus' prayer on the Cross, proposed this morning, Wednesday, 15 February, to the faithful gathered in the Paul VI Hall for the customary General Audience.
Reflecting on the narrative proposed by Luke's Gospel, the Pope highlighted the evocative interweaving of invocations that the dying Jesus addresses to the Father, with the acceptance of the supplication addressed to him by the repentant sinner. The first aspect of this invocation concerns forgiveness. Jesus intercedes and asks forgiveness for his torturers “because they know not what they do” and so makes ignorance, “not knowing”, the Pontiff explained, “a reason for his request for the Father's forgiveness, because it leaves the way open to conversion”. Thus he suggested once again the comparison between prayer and forgiveness.
The second word on which the Pope invited reflection concerned hope. It is inherent in the answer to the prayer of one of the two men who were crucified with him: “Remember me when you come in your kingly power”; “Today you will be with me in Paradise”, in the dialogue between the good thief and Christ. Through this answer, Benedict XVI noted, Jesus “conveys the firm hope that God's goodness can also touch us, even in the very last moment of life, and that sincere prayer, even after a wrong life, encounters the open arms of the good Father”.
Lastly, that extreme and total cry with which Christ, at the moment of his supreme suffering, entrusts himself totally to God: “Father, into your hand I commit my spirit”. These words express “the full awareness”, Benedict XVI underlined, “that he had not been abandoned”. Consequently they testify to his full and unlimited trust in God's love. And thus Jesus' prayer, as he faced death – “dramatic, though it is for every human being” – was imbued with “that deep calmness that is born from trust in the Father and from the desire to commend oneself totally to him”.
The lesson to be learned, the Pope said, is therefore the one that comes from love, which “invites us to make the difficult gesture of prayer” always knowing how to forgive even those “who wrong us, who have injured us”.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 22, 2020
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