During his homily today at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis reflected on praising God through prayer – an act, he said, that makes us fruitful.
The Holy Father drew his homily from the first reading of the day: the 2nd book of Samuel. The reading recalled the return of the Ark of the Covenant where David danced with joy in the streets. Regarding this dance, the Holy Father said that “if we close ourselves in formality, our prayer becomes cold and sterile.”
“David’s prayer of praise brought him to leave all form of composure and to dance in front of the Lord with all his strength. This is the prayer of praise!” he exclaimed. While it is easy to ask God for something or even to give thanks to God, praising God is usually left to the side, he added.
“‘But, Father, this is for those of Renewal in the Spirit (the Charismatic movement), not for all Christians.’ No, the prayer of praise is a Christian prayer for all of us!”, the Pope said.
“In Mass, every day, when we sing the Holy…This is a prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because he is great! We tell Him beautiful things, because we like that He is like that. ‘But, Father, I am not capable…I should…’. But you’re capable of shouting when your team makes a goal and not capable of singing praise to the Lord, to go out a bit from your behavior to sing this? To praise God is totally free! Let us not ask, not give thanks: praise!”
The Holy Father went on to say that we should pray “with our whole heart” like David, who was so happy for the return of the Ark that “even his body prayed with that dance.”
“A beautiful question that we can ask ourselves today is: ‘How is my prayer of praise going?” the Pope asked. “Do I know how to praise the Lord? Do I know how to praise the Lord or when I pray the Gloria or pray the Holy Holy Holy, do I do it only with my mouth and not with all my heart?’ What does David tell me, dancing here? When David enters the city, he begins another thing: a feast!”
The 77-year-old Pontiff also recalled the reaction of Michal, the daughter of King Saul, who reproached David for dancing in such a way.
“I ask myself how many times we reject good people in our heart, good people who praise the Lord as it comes to them, spontaneously, because they are not cultured, they don’t follow formal attitudes? But, to reject! And the Bible says that Michal remained sterile for the rest of her life because of this! What does the Word of God want to say here? That joy, the prayer of praise, makes us fertile!”
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis warned that those who are closed in a formality of “cold, measured prayer” will end like Michal: “sterile in their own formality.” The Holy Father invited the faithful to contemplate on the beauty of praying to God with praise.
“It would do us well to repeat the words of Psalm 23 which we have prayed today: ‘Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. The Lord strong and mighty, is the King of glory!” (J.A.E.)