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When it seems as if God does not hear

· At the General Audience the Pope talks about the prayer of Jesus as he faces death ·

Rigone: Solidarity and aid for peoples hit by freeze in Europe

At the General Audience of Wednesday, 8 February, the Pope launched an appeal  for the people hit by the exceptional wave of cold weather which in the past few days has affected several regions of Europe. Expressing his concern about the “great hardship” and “enormous damage” caused by the bad weather, Benedict XVI asked for prayers for the victims and their relatives. At the same time, he expressed his closeness to all “the people affected by these tragic events”, and recommended “solidarity, so that they may be given generous help”.

The Pope's invitation came at the end of his weekly meeting with the faithful in the Paul VI Audience Hall. It was a gathering which the Pope, continuing his catecheses on prayer, dedicated to the cry of Jesus on the Cross, “at the moment when he faces death” and seems to experience “abandonment, the absence of God”. In fact, the Holy Father explained, “he is utterly certain of the closeness of the Father  who approves this supreme act of love, of the total gift of himself, although his voice from on high is not heard, as it was on other occasions”.

Human beings too, in difficulty and suffering, at times experience the apparent  “absence of God”. But “when it seems that God does not hear” the Pontiff urged, “we must not fear to entrust to him the whole burden we are carrying in our heart, we must not fear to cry out to him in our suffering”. Indeed, even at the moment when he is living through the human drama of death, Jesus does not give in to despair. Rather, he “takes upon himself the sin of his people”, and “that of all men and women who are suffering from the oppression of evil”, bringing “all this to God's heart in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the Resurrection”.

In Jesus' prayer on the Cross, therefore, “are contained the extreme trust and abandonment into the hands of God, even when he seems absent, even when he seems to be silent, complying with a plan incomprehensible to us”.  Hence the Pope's invitation to entrust “to God our daily crosses, in the certainty that he is present and hears us”. It is in fact in prayer itself that we must learn to “surmount the barriers of our “ego” and of our problems and to open ourselves to the needs and sufferings of others”. Jesus' experience teaches us to “pray with love for all our many brothers and sisters who are oppressed by the weight of daily life, who are living through difficult moments, who are in pain, who have no word of comfort, so that they too may feel the love of God who never abandons us.

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