Francis' Mass intention: For families facing economic struggles due to pandemic.
“Let us pray today for those persons who are beginning to experience economic problems because of the pandemic, because they cannot work.” This was Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the morning Mass he celebrated March 23 at the Casa Santa Marta. “All of this affects the family.”
During his homily, he spoke of the faith, perseverance and courage necessary to pray well.
Pope Francis reflected on the Gospel of the healing of the official’s son in Cana in Galilee (John 4:43-54).
After asking Jesus to cure his son, “the Lord reproves him a bit – reproves everyone – but him as well: ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.’ Instead of staying silent, the functionary continues, saying ‘Lord, come down before my child dies.'”
He then receives the assurance from the Lord that his child would live, the pope said.
Faith is the first requirement for “true prayer,” Pope Francis said.
Many times prayer is only words, from the mouth… but it doesn’t come from the faith in the heart, or [even] from a weak faith. Let’s think of another father, the father of the possessed son, when Jesus responds, ‘Everything is possible for one who believes,’; the father, as he says clearly, ‘I believe, but increase my faith.’Faith in prayer; to pray with faith…. both when we pray outside [a church] as when we come here and the Lord is there. Do I have faith or is prayer a routine? We have to be careful in prayer: let us not fall into routine, without the awarenesses that the Lord is there, that I’m speaking with the Lord, and that he is able to resolve our problems. The first condition for true prayer is faith.
The second requirement, the pope said, is perseverance. Jesus himself teaches us this, he said.
Some people ask and then the grace doesn’t come. They don’t have this perseverance because deep down they don’t need it or they don’t have faith.
He then cited the parables in which Jesus teaches us perseverance: the person who woke up his neighbor in the middle of the night for bread, and the widow before the unjust judge, as other examples.
Faith and perseverance go together because if you have faith you’re sure that the Lord will give you what you are asking. If the Lord makes you wait, knock and knock and knock. In the end the Lord gives the grace.
If the Lord makes us wait, the pope said, He does so “for our own good.” “He takes prayer seriously,” Pope Francis said.
God wants us to pray courageously. This is the third requirement, the pope said.
‘Is courage necessary to pray?’ someone might think. To remain before the Lord: yes, it’s necessary. … It’s almost, almost, I don’t want to say a heresy, but almost as if we’re threatening the Lord. Moses’ courage before God when God wanted to destroy the people…. Abraham’s courage when he negotiates the salvation of Sodom. ‘What if there are 30? What if there are 20?’ Courage.This virtue of courage is very much needed, not only for apostolic works, but also for prayer.
The pope then concluded his homily reflecting on what we are all experiencing in these days.
Faith, perseverance and courage. In these days, it’s necessary to pray more. Imagine if we were to pray like this. With faith – that the Lord can intervene; with perseverance and with courage. The Lord never deceives. He makes us wait. He takes His time. But he never deceives. Faith, perseverance and courage.