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Jesus is the model of prayer

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
Castel Gandolfo, Wednesday 24 August 1988 - in Italian & Spanish  

"1. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer. The center and summit of his mission, that is, the work of the redemption, includes also this aspect: he became the perfect model of man's salvific transformation. Indeed, all the preceding catecheses in this series have been developed from the perspective of the redemption. We have seen that Jesus announced the Gospel of God's kingdom. But we have also learned from him that the kingdom definitively enters human history only in the redemption through the cross and resurrection. Now he "will hand over" this kingdom to the apostles, so that it may last and be developed in the world's history by means of the Church. The redemption carries in itself the messianic liberation of man, who passes from the slavery of sin to life in the freedom of God's children.

2. Jesus Christ is the perfect model of this life, as we have learned from the apostolic writings quoted in the previous catechesis.

He is the Son who is consubstantial with the Father, united with him in the divinity ("I and the Father are one," Jn 10:31). By means of all which "he did and taught" (cf. Acts 1:1), Jesus is the only model of filial life directed toward, and united with, the Father. Referring to this model, and reflecting him in our conscience and conduct, we can develop in ourselves a similar form and direction of a "Christlike" life, in which the true "freedom of God's children" (cf. Rom 8:21) is expressed and realized.

3. Actually, the whole life of Jesus of Nazareth was directed toward the Father, as we have noted many times. This already appears in the answer given by the twelve-year-old Jesus to his parents on the occasion of the finding in the Temple: "Did you not know that I must be busy with my Father's affairs?" (Lk 2:49). Toward the end of his life, on the first day of the passion, "when he knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father" (Jn 13:1), that same Jesus was to say to the apostles, "I go to prepare a place for you; and when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.... In my Father's house are many rooms" (Jn 14:2-3).

4. From beginning to end this theocentric direction in Jesus' life and action was clear and univocal. He led his followers to the Father, creating a clear model of life oriented toward the Father. "I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love." Jesus considers abiding in the Father's love, that is, fulfilling his will, to be his food: "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work" (Jn 4:34). Thus does he speak to his disciples at Jacob's well at Sychar. Before that, in the course of his conversation with the Samaritan woman, he had indicated that this "food" should become the spiritual heritage of his disciples and followers: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him" (Jn 4:23).

5. The "true adorers" are, first of all, those who imitate Christ in what he does, and he does everything in imitation of the Father: "The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me" (Jn 5:36). Also, "The Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise" (Jn 5:19).

In this way we find a perfect basis for the Apostle's words, according to which we are called to imitate Christ (cf. 1 Cor 11:1; 1 Thess 1:6), and consequently, God himself: "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children" (Eph 5:1). The "Christlike" life is at the same time a life like that of God, in the fullest sense of the word.

6. The concept of Christ's "food," which throughout his life was to fulfill the Father's will, introduces us to the mystery of his obedience which went as far as death on a cross. Indeed, it was a bitter food, as appears especially during the prayer in Gethsemane, and afterward during the course of his whole passion and agony on the cross: "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will" (Mk 14:36). To understand this obedience and why this "food" had to be so bitter, it is necessary to look at the whole story of man on earth, marked by sin, or rather by disobedience toward God, Creator and Father. Therefore, "the Son who makes us free" (cf. Jn 8:36), makes us free by means of his obedience unto death. He did it, showing to the very end his submission full of love: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46). In this self-offering, in this total "self-abandonment" to the Father, the simultaneous divine union of the Son with the Father ("I and the Father are one," Jn 10:31) is affirmed above the whole story of human disobedience. This expresses what we can describe as the central outline of the imitation to which man is called in Christ: "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother" (Mt 12:50; cf. Mk 3:35).

7. In his life, totally oriented "toward the Father" and deeply united to him, Jesus Christ is the model also of our prayer, of our life of mental and vocal prayer. He not only taught us to pray, principally in the Our Father (cf. Mt 6:9 f.), but the example of his prayer offers us an essential occasion to reveal his bond and union with the Father. One can say that in his prayer the fact that "no one knows the Son except the Father" and "no one knows the Father except the Son" (cf. Mt 11:27; Lk 10:22) is confirmed in a very special way.

Let us recall the more important occasions in his life of prayer. Jesus spent much time in prayer (cf. Lk 6:12; 11:1), especially during the night, seeking places suitable for this (cf. Mk 1:35; Mt 14:23; Lk 6:12). By prayer he prepared himself for baptism in the Jordan (Lk 3:21), and to appoint the twelve apostles (cf. Lk 6:12-13). Through the prayer in Gethsemane he prepared himself to face the passion and death on the cross (cf. Lk 22:42). The agony on Calvary was borne completely through prayer: from Psalm 22:1, "My God, why have you forsaken me?" to "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk 23:34), to the final act of abandonment: "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46). Yes, in life and in death, Jesus was a model of prayer.

8. Concerning Christ's prayer, we read in the Letter to the Hebrews that "in the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered" (Heb 5:7-8). This statement signifies that Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled the Father's will, God's eternal design concerning the world's redemption at the price of the supreme sacrifice for love. According to John's Gospel this sacrifice was not only a glorification of the Father by the Son. It was also a glorification of the Son, in accordance with the words of the priestly prayer of the upper room: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh to give eternal life to all whom you have given him" (Jn 17:1-2). This is what was fulfilled on the cross. The resurrection after three days confirmed and expressed the glory with which "the Father glorified the Son" (cf. Jn 17:1). Christ's whole life of obedience and filial devotion was based on his prayer, which therefore gained for him the final glorification.

9. This spirit of a loving, obedient, and devoted child stands out also from the episode already recalled, when the disciples requested Jesus "to teach them to pray" (cf. Lk 11:1-2). He passed on to them, and to all the generations of their followers, a prayer which commences with that verbal and conceptual synthesis which is so expressive: "Our Father." These words manifest Christ's spirit directed as a Son toward the Father and engaged to the very end with "the Father's affairs" (Lk 2:49). In giving us this prayer for all times, Jesus has passed on to us, in and with it, a model of life united in a filial way to the Father. If we are to make our own this model for our life, in particular, if we are to participate in the mystery of the redemption by imitating Christ, it is necessary that we do not cease to pray to the Father as Jesus has taught us.


After the Catechesis, Pope John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in various languages

A gruppi di espressione linguistica francese

JE SALUE CORDIALEMENT les personnes de langue française venues à cette audience. En particulier, j’adresse mes encouragements aux Sœurs de Saint-Paul de Chartres qui font une session de renouveau spirituel à Rome: que l’Apôtre Paul vous soutienne dans votre vie religieuse, dans vos services quotidiens et votre activité missionnaire!

* * *

JE DIS AMICALEMENT mes vœux aux jeunes, notamment ceux du Groupement d’Activités catholiques internationales, et les scouts de Saint-Lupicin. Que l’expérience de votre pèlerinage vous entraîne à prendre résolument la suite du Christ et à participer activement à la vie de son Eglise!

A tous, je donne volontiers ma Bénédiction Apostolique.

Ai gruppi di lingua inglese 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I GREET MOST cordially the English-speaking visitors present at today’s audience. In particular, I welcome those who have entertained us with their musical talents: the “Vocalista Sonora” from Indonesia and the Choristers of Saint Cecilia from Dublin, Ireland. I offer special greetings to the group of Catholic and Orthodox priests from southern India. Likewise, I am pleased to welcome the Ecumenical Society of the Blessed Virgin Mary from England. My greetings go to the Chinese Catholic Pilgrimage from the United States and to the group of Filipino and American doctors and nurses.

I AM PARTICULARLY happy to greet the group of Coptic faithful led by Bishop Amba Taadros, who have come to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. From earliest times, the Churches of Alexandria and Rome have enjoyed a special relationship of brotherhood and love. And so I warmly welcome you today and I assure you of my prayers that the next meeting in October of the International Commission between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Church will help to make true progress towards full communion.

To all the pilgrims and visitors I offer a hearty welcome, including those from Malaysia and Singapore. May our Saviour and Lord bless you with his peace and joy.

Ad alcuni pellegrini della Chiesa Cattolica di Honjo, in Giappone

Diletti parrocchiani della parrocchia Honjo di Tokyo. Siate i benvenuti a questo incontro.

HO SENTITO DIRE che la vostra parrocchia è assai attiva e compie molte opere di bene a favore dei parrocchiani. Sappiate allargare sempre più il cerchio del vostro lavoro di cristiani impegnati affinché, sotto lo sguardo benedicente della Madonna, il Regno di Cristo venga presto in Giappone.

Con questo desiderio Vi imparto paternamente la mia Benedizione Apostolica.

Ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca

MIT DIESER GEISTLICHEN Erinnerung, die ich eurer weiteren Betrachtung anvertraue, grüße ich alle deutschsprachigen Besucher von Herzen, unter ihnen eine Gruppe von Schwestern aus verschiedenen Ländern, die ihr Glaubens - und Ordensleben hier in Rom vertiefen und erneuern. Euch allen gelten meine besten Segenswünsche!

Ai numerosissimi pellegrini provenienti da Paesi di lingua spagnola

Amadísimos hermanos y hermanas.

DIRIJO AHORA mi más cordial saludo a los sacerdotes, religiosos y religiosas, así como a los numerosos peregrinos de América Latina y España, presentes en esta Audiencia. Asimismo me es particularmente grato saludar a las Religiosas “Siervas del Sagrado Corazón”, a las cuales invito a seguir siempre, al igual que la Bienaventurada Virgen María, la luz diáfana y constante del Señor en su silencioso y meritorio servicio a la Iglesia.

* * *

NO PUEDE FALTAR en esta circunstancia mi saludo afectuoso a los diversos grupos llegados de Venezuela, Colombia y Argentina. Como colofón espiritual de este encuentro, os exhorto a vosotros y a las demás personas de habla castellana a mantener firme vuestra fe y amor a Dios, que nos ha dado a su único Hijo, y a permanecer en todo momento fieles a las promesas del bautismo.

A todos imparto mi Bendición Apostólica.

A diversi gruppi di espressione linguistica portoghese

Caríssimos irmãos e irmãs de língua portuguesa,

SAÚDO CORDIALMENTE todas as pessoas de língua portuguesa que me escutam, com votos de graça e paz em Cristo Senhor.

Em particular, aos grupos de peregrinos presentes, de Braga, de Valado dos Frades e dos Religiosos Franciscanos estudantes de Filosofia e Teologia, de Portugal desejo todo o bem! E que a vinda a Roma, aos túmulos dos Apóstolos São Pedro e São Paulo, vos fortaleça na caminhada de fé, seguindo a Cristo, em constante aderência a Deus na vide e assiduidade na oração. Com a minha Bênção a todos.

Ai numerosi pellegrini provenienti dalla Polonia

POZDRAWIAM SERDECZNIE wszystkie grupy: pielgrzymów z parafii Kozy, archidiecezja krakowska; duszpasterstwo akademickie ojców dominikanów, Warszawa; z parafii św. Małgorzaty, Nowy Sącz; z parafii św. Jerzego, Biłgoraj; pielgrzymów z diecezji siedleckiej; z parafii św. Antoniego, Gdańsk-Brzezie; pielgrzymkę międzydekanalną z Rawska Pomorskiego; pielgrzymkę międzyparafialną z Bydgoszczy; ze Swiebodzina, diecezja gorzowska, z parafii Matki Bożej Królowej Polski; również z diecezji gorzowskiej pielgrzymkę Oazy Rodzin trzeciego stopnia; pielgrzymkę dekanatu św. Rocha z Poznania; z Wrocławia - pielgrzymów z parafii św. Augustyna; pielgrzymów dekanatu oławskiego, archidiecezja wrocławska; z parafii Matki Bożej Różáncowej w Radwanicach, archidiecezja wrocławska; współpracowników misyjnych księży pallotynów z całej Polski; Klub inteligencji Katolickiej z Warszawy; przedstawicieli Polskiego Stowarzyszenia Kulturalnego im. Józefa Bema na Węgrzech; grupę esperantystów z Płocka; grupę Związku Nauczycielstwa Polskiego z Warszawy; grupę policjantów polskiego pochodzenia z rodzinami z Nowego Jorku; z diecezji szczecińskokamieńskiej, z parafii Przemienienia Pańskiego w Mieszkowicach; z Wrocławia, z parafii św. Michała, księża salezjanie; prócz tego uczestników grup turystycznych Almatur - Opole; Logostour - Rzeszów; PTTK - Poznań; Orbis, Turysta, Pekaes z różnych miast . . . Starajmy się tą modlitwą “Ojcze nasz” wspierać wszystkich naszych bliskich, zwłaszcza naszych rodaków, w ciągu tego miesiąca, w ciągu tych dni. Mówiłem o tym już w niedzielę, a pojutrze mamy uroczystość Matki Bożej Częstochowskiej. Polecimy te wszystkie trudne sprawy naszego polskiego życia naszej Matce i Królowej.

Ad alcuni gruppi di fedeli di lingua italiana

DESIDERO PORGERE il mio cordiale saluto a tutti i pellegrini di lingua italiana, ed in particolare alle numerose Suore che frequentano la Settimana Biblica, organizzata dalla Associazione Biblica Italiana, per approfondire la “Lettera agli Ebrei”.

Esprimo il mio compiacimento per tale iniziativa, auspicando per tutte le Religiose partecipanti al corso un incremento della loro fede nel mistero del Sacerdozio di Cristo, e ciò anche per un migliore servizio ecclesiale che esse svolgono nei vari campi dell’apostolato.

A tutti la mia Benedizione.

Ai giovani

DESIDERO ORA rivolgere il mio saluto a voi, cari giovani, insieme con l’invito a utilizzare il periodo estivo per un ulteriore arricchimento della mente e nuove ascensioni nello spirito. Può succedere che, in questa stagione, si effettuino scalate anche ardue sulle montagne, ma, a volte spiritualmente e moralmente si scenda in basso, verso i fondali inquinati, mettendo da parte gli imperativi del dovere.

Non sia così per voi. Non venite mai meno ai vostri impegni verso Dio, e così non verrete neppure meno agli impegni verso gli altri e verso voi stessi. Ritemprate le vostre forze fisiche, senza debilitare le energie più nobili dello spirito. Fate in modo che l’estate non sia solo un periodo di spensieratezza, ma anche di gioia e di elevazione.

Vi benedico di cuore.

Agli ammalati

UN PENSIERO particolarmente affettuoso a voi, carissimi malati, per cui la sofferenza non ha tregua, ed anzi, proprio in questo periodo di calura, conosce in certi casi un aggravamento. Per voi non ci sono ferie. Ma se considerate il dolore fisico e morale, quale veramente è, inserito nel tessuto di un disegno di amore e carico d’incalcolabili frutti per voi stessi, per la Chiesa, per il mondo, potete misurarne tutta la preziosità. Pensate che Dio vi è sempre vicino; Egli mostra preferenza per coloro che hanno più bisogno del suo aiuto. Anch’io mi sento vicino a voi e vi chiedo di offrire le vostre sofferenze per la Chiesa, per i sacerdoti, per la perseveranza dei buoni e la conversione di quanti sono lontani dal Signore.

Vi do la mia particolare Benedizione.

Agli sposi novelli

ANCHE A VOI, sposi novelli, un caro saluto con l’augurio che la vostra vita a due, da poco incominciata e benedetta da Dio nel Sacramento, possa essere una continua ascesa verso le vette dell’amore sulle orme della Vergine Madre.

Anche Maria disse il suo “Sì” davanti all’inviato del Signore. E “sì” disse pure Giuseppe all’invito dell’Angelo a prendere Maria come sposa. Da quel momento la loro esistenza cambiò e fu tutta per Chi li aveva scelti a vivere insieme con Lui. La loro fu una vita non facile, provata dal duro lavoro ed esposta, all’inizio, a vari pericoli e alla solitudine dell’esilio. Ma fu ricca di beatitudine: “Benedetta tu fra le donne e benedetto il frutto del tuo grembo!”.  Il loro duplice Sì fu inserito da Dio nel disegno di salvezza del mondo. E così l’Addolorata divenne l’Assunta, che tutto il mondo ha celebrato e onorato proprio in questi giorni.

Vi benedico nel nome di Maria.

Profondo dolore per le vittime del terremoto in India e in Nepal è espresso dal Papa nel corso dell’udienza odierna. Nell’elevare la sua preghiera per i poveri morti, il Santo Padre manifesta la sua solidarietà con quanti sono impegnati nella generosa opera di soccorso. Queste le sue parole.

I WISH TO TAKE this occasion to express my deep pastoral concern for all our brothers and sisters who are suffering from the earthquake in India and Nepal. I offer my fervent prayers for the victims and their families and extend my solidarity to the many individuals and organizations assisting in rescue and recovery efforts.

Della difficile situazione della Polonia il Papa parla anche oggi, al temine dell’udienza generale. Queste le sue parole.

CON LA PREGHIERA del “ Padre nostro ” cerchiamo di sostenere durante questo mese, in questi giorni, tutti i nostri cari, soprattutto i nostri connazionali. Ne ho parlato già Domenica. Dopodomani e la festa della Madonna di Czestochowa. Tutti questi difficili problemi della nostra vita polacca li affideremo alla nostra Madre e Regina.

Al termine dell’udienza generale di questa mattina il Santo Padre esprime il suo profondo dolore per le vittime causate dagli scontri etnici nel Burundi e chiede di pregare perché torni presto la pace. Queste le sue parole. 

Nei giorni scorsi, sono giunte dal Burundi notizie di scontri a carattere etnico, avvenuti nella regione settentrionale del Paese, con molte vittime ed un gran numero di persone costrette a trovare rifugio oltre frontiera.

Vi invito ad unirvi a me nella preghiera, per affidare alla misericordia di Dio le anime dei morti ed implorare conforto per quanti portano ferite nel corpo e nello spirito, per i quali auspichiamo anche fraterna solidarietà ed efficace assistenza.

La nostra invocazione ottenga dal Signore, per intercessione della Vergine Maria, che nei cuori prevalgano sentimenti di riconciliazione e di fratellanza e la pace ritorni al più presto in quella cara nazione, così che tutti i suoi figli possano ritrovare, nell’ordine e nella giustizia, la certezza di una convivenza serena e di un promettente sviluppo.

Al termine dell’udienza generale, il Santo Padre incontra in una sala privata dell’Aula Paolo VI, un gruppo di Monaci Buddisti di Shingon, ai quali rivolge un breve saluto. Queste le parole pronunciate dal Papa.

Reverendissimi Monaci Buddisti di Shingon,
Vi do il benvenuto e Vi ringrazio vivamente di aver desiderato questo incontro.

Due anni fa, quando ci siamo riuniti assieme in Assisi per pregare per la Pace del mondo, anche diversi di Voi si sono uniti alla nostra iniziativa. In collegamento ideale con quell’Incontro, vi invito a continuare a pregare, come allora, per la Pace del mondo.

Anche per questo vi sono grato e vi auguro ogni bene.

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