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Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20 General Audience

Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20 General Audience

Pope Francis   27.05.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace     Catechesis: 4. The Prayer of the Just      Genesis 3: 4: 5: 6:

Pope Francis Prayer of the Just 27.05.20

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

Let us dedicate today's catechesis to the prayer of the just. 

God's plan towards humanity is for the good, but in our every day lives we experience the presence of evil: it is an everyday experience. The first chapters of the book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human life. Adam and Eve (cf. Gen 3: 1-7) doubt God's good intentions, thinking they are dealing with a jealous god who prevents their happiness. Hence the rebellion: they no longer believe in a generous Creator, who desires their happiness. Their hearts, yielding to the temptation of the evil one, are taken in by the delirium of omnipotence: "When you eat the fruit of the tree, you will become like God" (cf. v. 5). And this is the temptation: this is the ambition that enters the heart. But the experience goes in the opposite direction: their eyes open and they discover that they are naked (see 7), they don't have anything. Don't forget this: the tempter is a bad payer, he pays badly.

Evil becomes even more disruptive with the second human generation, it is stronger: it is the story of Cain and Abel (cf. Gen 4: 1-16). Cain is envious of his brother: that is the worm of envy; Although he is the eldest son, he sees Abel as a rival, one who undermines his primacy. Evil is in his heart and Cain cannot control it. Evil begins to enter the heart: his thoughts are always to look with evil at the other, with suspicion. And this also happens with the thought: "He is bad, he will hurt me". And this thought enters into his heart ... And so the story of the first fraternity ends in a murder. I think, today, of human fraternity .... wars everywhere.

Cain's descendants develop crafts and arts, but violence also develops, expressed by the sinister song of Lamech, which sounds like a hymn of revenge: "I have killed a man for wounding me and a boy for bruising me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy-seven times"(Gen 4:23-24). Revenge: "You did it, you will pay for it." But that's not what the judge says, I say it. And I judge the situation. And so evil spreads like wildfire, to the point of occupying the whole picture: "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of men was on earth and that every intimate intent of their hearts was nothing but evil, always." The great frescoes of the universal flood and the tower of Babel reveal that there was a need for a new beginning, as well as a new creation, which would have its fulfilment in Jesus Christ.

Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another story is also written, less apparent, much more humble and devout, which represents the redemption of hope. Even though almost everyone behaves atrociously, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people capable of praying to God with sincerity, able to write the destiny of man in a different way . Abel offers God a sacrifice of first-fruits. After his death, Adam and Eve had a third child, Seth, from whom Enosh was born, meaning mortal, and it is said: "At that time people began to invoke the Lord by name" (4: 26). Then Enoch appears, a man who "walks with God" and who is taken up into heaven (cf. 5: 22,24). And finally there is the story of Noah, a just man who "walked with God" (6: 9), before whom God withholds his plan to destroy humanity (cf. 6,7-8).

Reading these stories, one gets the impression that prayer is an embankment, and man's refuge from the wave of evil that grows in the world. On closer inspection, we also pray to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: "Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions." The prayers of the first pages of the Bible are men who work for peace: in fact, prayer, when it is authentic, liberates from the instincts of violence and is a gaze toward God, so that he might return to take care of the heart of man. We read in the Catechism: "This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions"(CCC,2569). Prayer cultivates flower beds of rebirth in places where human hatred has only been able to sow a desert. And prayer is powerful, because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life, and he renews us.

That is why the God's lordship passes through the chain of these men and women, who are often misunderstood or marginalized in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to the power of God that these servants attract with their prayers. They are a chain that is not at all noisy, rarely making the headlines, yet it is so important in restoring confidence to the world! I remember the story of a man: an important head of government, not of this time, of bygone times. An atheist who had no sense of religion in his heart, but as a child he heard his grandmother praying, and this remained in his heart. And at a difficult time in his life, that memory came back to his heart and said, "But Grandma prayed ...". So he began to pray with his grandmother's formulas, and there he found Jesus. Prayer is a chain of life, always: so many men and women who pray, sow life. Prayer sows life, small prayer: that is why it is so important to teach children to pray. It pains me when I find children who can't make the sign of the cross. They must be taught to do the sign of the cross well, because it is the first prayer. It is important that children learn to pray. Then, perhaps, they will be forgotten, take another path; but the first prayers learned as a child remain in the heart, because they are a seed of life, the seed of dialogue with God.

God's path and God's story has passed down through them: it has passed through the remnant of humanity that has not conformed to the law of the strongest, but has asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh (cf. Ezek 36: 26). And this helps prayer: because prayer opens the door to God, transforming our hearts so often of stone, into hearts of flesh. And it takes so much humanity, and with humanity you pray well.