By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis began his Wednesday General Audience noting that the event must “unfortunately” be held once again in the library of the Apostolic Palace without the presence of the faithful.
He called it a reminder of the importance of respecting the directives laid out by political and health authorities.
He also invited everyone to pray for those who are ill with Covid-19 and for the medical personnel working hard to treat them.
"Let us offer the Lord this distance between us, for the good of all," he said. "And let us think often about the ill, those who are already considered left behind. Let us think about doctors, nurses, volunteers, and the many people who are working with the sick right now, who risk their lives but do it out of love, their vocation, and love for their neighbor. Let us pray for them."
The Pope then continued his catechesis on Jesus’ example of prayer.
“Jesus’ prayer is a mysterious reality, of which we intuit only something, but which allows us to interpret His entire mission from the right perspective.”
Jesus, added the Pope, immersed Himself often in intimacy with God the Father, “in the Love that every soul thirsts for.”
Rudder that guides His course
Pope Francis focused his reflections on a passage in the Gospel of Mark (1:32,34-38), in which Jesus heals many sick people late one evening before rising early to pray in a deserted place alone.
After the disciples find Jesus to say the whole village of Capernaum is looking for Him, Jesus declares that He must preach to the other towns as well.
This, said the Pope, means that Jesus lets God guide His path, and not the desires and adulation of others.
He went on to draw four lessons from Jesus’ witness of prayer.
Dawning of the day
Jesus, said Pope Francis, teaches us above all that prayer should be “the first desire of the day.”
However, Jesus demonstrates the need to be obedient and to listen, since prayer is first of all “an encounter with God.”
“The problems of everyday life, then, do not become obstacles, but appeals from God Himself to listen to and encounter those who are in front of us.”
Secondly, said the Pope, Jesus teaches us that prayer is an art that must be practiced “with insistence.”
Though anyone can pray sporadically, Jesus reminds us that prayer requires discipline, practice, and constant effort.
“Consistent prayer produces a progressive transformation, makes us strong in times of tribulation, gives us the grace to be supported by Him who loves us and always protects us.”
Solitary and silent
Thirdly, Jesus’ prayer is always solitary.
“Those who pray do not escape from the world, but prefer deserted places.”
In the silence of prayer, said Pope Francis, our innermost desires and truths emerge into the light.
But most importantly, he added, silence is where God speaks. “Every person needs a space for him- or herself, to be able to cultivate the inner life, where actions find meaning.”
To and fro in God
Finally, Pope Francis said, prayer as taught by Jesus is the place where we find that “everything comes from God and returns to Him.”
He noted that prayer helps us to rediscover “the right dimension in our relationship with God, our Father, and with all creation.”
Peace and joy, concluded the Pope, is what we will find if we follow Jesus’ example of prayer.