Pope Speaks of Something Greater Than Answered Prayers

Says God’s Most Valuable Gift Is the Gift of His Friendship

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says God’s greatest answer to prayer is the gift of His friendship and presence.

The Pope said this today at the general audience, as he continued his reflection on Jesus’ prayer. Today, he took up two accounts from the Gospel: when Jesus prayed before healing the deaf and mute man, and his prayer at Lazarus’ tomb.

After his insightful commentaries on both of these narratives, the Holy Father brought forth lessons for our own prayer.

«Each one of us is called to understand that in the prayer of petition to the Lord, we must not expect an immediate fulfillment of our requests, of our will; rather, we must entrust ourselves to the Father’s Will, interpreting each event within the perspective of his glory, of his design of love, which is often mysterious to our eyes,» the Pontiff encouraged.

He said that in our prayer, «petition, praise and thanksgiving should coalesce, even when it seems to us that God is not responding to our concrete expectations.»

«Abandonment to God’s love, which precedes and accompanies us always, is one of the attitudes at the heart of our conversation with him,» he reminded.

The Bishop of Rome cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its commentary on Jesus’ prayer at the raising of Lazarus: «Jesus’ prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits Himself to the One who in giving gives Himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; He is the ‘treasure’; in Him abides His Son’s heart; the gift is given ‘as well’”(Matthew 6:21 and 6:33) (2604).

Benedict XVI commented, «This seems to me to be very important: before the gift is given, to adhere to him who gives; the Giver is more precious than the gift.»

He said that beyond the things that God might give us, «the greatest gift he can give us is his friendship, his presence, his love. He is the precious treasure we should ask for and treasure always.»

The Pontiff added: «The two prayers of Jesus that we have meditated upon — which accompany the curing of the deaf-mute and the raising of Lazarus — reveal that the deep bond between the love of God and the love of neighbor must enter into our prayer also. In Jesus, true God and true man, attention to the other — especially to the needy and the suffering — being moved before the sorrow of a beloved family, leads him to turn to the Father, in that fundamental relationship that guides the whole of his life. But the opposite is also true: communion with the Father, constant dialogue with him, drives Jesus to be uniquely attentive to the concrete situations of man in order to bring to them the consolation and love of God. The relationship with our fellow men leads us to the relationship with God, and [our relationship] with God leads us anew to our neighbor.»

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