Pope Francis focused on prayer during his April 17, 2019, General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. But it wasn’t prayer in general, but the prayers Jesus offered during his Passion.
The Holy Father departed from his series of commentaries on the “Our Father” and, instead, reflected on the words of prayer Jesus said to the Father during his time of suffering.
The First Prayer: After the Last Supper: The Lord “lifted up His eyes to Heaven and said: Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son — and then — glorify Thou Me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was made’ (John 17:1.5).”
“Jesus asks for glory, a request that seems paradoxical while the Passion is imminent,” the Pope said “What kind of glory is it? In the Bible, glory indicates God’s revealing Himself; it’s the distinct sign of His saving presence among men. Now Jesus is He who manifests definitively the presence and salvation of God. And He does so at Easter: raised on the cross, He is glorified (Cf. John 12:23-33).”
The Second Prayer: Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He calls the Father “Abba” – a word the Pope recalls is more like “daddy”, close and tender.
“He experiences all the anguish of what awaits Him: betrayal, contempt, suffering, and failure,” Francis explained. “In trial, Jesus teaches us to embrace the Father, because in prayer to Him there is the strength to go forward in sorrow. In toil, prayer is relief, entrustment, and comfort. In the abandonment of all, in His interior desolation, Jesus isn’t alone; He is with the Father.”
The Third Prayer: From the cross, Jesus prays, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”.
“Jesus prays for those that were wicked to Him, for His killers,” the Holy Father reminded the audience. “The Gospel specifies that this prayer happened at the moment of the crucifixion. It was probably the moment of the most acute pain when the nails were hammered into His wrists and His feet. Here, at the summit of pain, He reaches the apex of love: forgiveness comes, namely, the gift of the umpteenth power, which breaks the circle of evil.”
Pope Francis concluded his commentary by encouraging the praying of the “Our Father” during Easter:
“Praying the Our Father”in these days, we can ask for one of these graces: to live our days for the glory of God, namely, to live with love; to be able to entrust ourselves to the Father in trials and say ‘Daddy’ to the Father and find in the encounter with the Father the forgiveness and courage to forgive. Both things go together. The Father forgives us, but He gives us the courage to be able to forgive.”