Pope Francis continues his catechesis on the Lord’s Prayer at the Wednesday General Audience, reminding us that we need to avoid hypocrisy and remain open to God’s will.
Pope Francis began his catechesis by saying how St. Matthew’s Gospel strategically places the text of the Our Father “at the centre of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with the Beatitudes”. This location is significant because it condenses the fundamental aspects of Jesus’ message, he said.
In the Beatitudes, Jesus awards the gift of happiness to categories of people who in His time, and our own, “were not very highly regarded”, said the Pope: “the poor, the meek, the merciful, the humble of heart”. The peacemakers who, until then, were on the margins of history, become “builders of the Kingdom of God”. It is from here, said Pope Francis, that “the newness of the Gospel emerges”. The Law is not to be abolished, but requires a new interpretation, finding its fulfilment in the Gospel of love and reconciliation. “The Gospel challenges us”, said the Pope, “the Gospel is revolutionary”.
Love has no boundaries
This is the “great secret” behind the Sermon on the Mount, continued Pope Francis: “Be children of your Father who is in Heaven”. God asks us to invoke Him with the name of “Father”, to let ourselves be renewed by His power, “to reflect a ray of His goodness for a world thirsting for good news”. As sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of our Heavenly Father, Jesus invites us to love our enemies, because “love has no boundaries”.
Beware the prayer of the hypocrites
Before giving us the “Our Father”, said Pope Francis, Jesus warns us of two obstacles to prayer. He does so by distancing Himself from two groups of His time: the hypocrites and the pagans. We do not pray in order to be “admired by others”, said the Pope. Rather than just an outward show without inward conversion, Christian prayer has “no credible witness other that its own conscience”. It is a continuous “dialogue with Father”.
Beware the prayer of the pagans
The second group is that of the pagans, who pray with formality and wordiness, presenting their petitions without a spirit of quiet openness to God’s will. Pope Francis suggested that silent prayer is often enough, placing oneself “under the gaze of God, remembering His love as a Father”. Jesus tells us to pray like children to a Father “who knows what we need before we even ask”.
God needs nothing
“It is beautiful to think that our God does not need sacrifices to win His favour”, concluded Pope Francis. “Our God needs nothing: in prayer He asks only that we keep open a channel of communication with Him so we can recognise we are always His beloved children. Because He loves us so much”.
With thanks to Vatican News, where this article originally appeared.