Bookmark and Share

The Son addresses the Father in prayer

Catechesis by Pope John Paul II on Jesus Christ
General Audience, Wednesday 22 July 1987 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish  

"1. Jesus Christ is the Son intimately united to the Father; the Son who lives completely for the Father (cf. Jn 6:57); the Son whose entire earthly existence is given to the Father without reserve. These themes developed in the preceding reflections are closely linked to that of Jesus' prayer. It is precisely in prayer that we find particularly expressed the fact that the Son is intimately united to the Father, that he has given himself to the Father, and is directed to him with his whole human existence. This means that the theme of Jesus' prayer is already contained implicitly in the previous themes so that it can rightly be said that Jesus of Nazareth "prayed always without losing heart" (cf. Lk 18:1). Prayer was the life of his soul, and his whole life was prayer. Human history knows of no other personage who was so fully—and in such a way—absorbed in prayer with God, as was Jesus of Nazareth, Son of Man, and at the same time Son of God, "one in Being with the Father."

2. There are passages in the Gospels which emphasize the prayer of Jesus, stating explicitly that "Jesus prayed." This occurred at different moments of the day and night and on various occasions. The following are some of them. "In the morning, long before dawn, he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed" (Mk 1:35). He did so not only at the beginning of the day (the morning prayer), but also during the day and in the evening, and especially at night. We read: "Great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed" (Lk 5:15-16). And again: "When he had dismissed the crowds he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone" (Mt 14:23).

3. The evangelists stress the fact that prayer accompanied events of special importance in Christ's life. "When all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened" (Lk 3:21). Then follows the description of the theophany which took place during the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. Similarly prayer was the introduction to the theophany on the mountain of the transfiguration. "He took with him Peter and John and James, and went up the mountain to pray. And, as he was praying, the appearance of his countenance was altered" (Lk 9:28-29).

4. Prayer also constituted the preparation for important decisions and played a part at moments of great significance for Christ's messianic mission. Thus, at the commencement of his public ministry, he retired into the desert to fast and pray (cf. Mt 4:1-11, and parallel passages). Again, before the choice of the apostles, "Jesus went out into the hills to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles" (Lk 6:12-13). Likewise, before Peter's confession of faith near Caesarea Philippi we read: "Now it happened that as he was praying alone the disciples were with him, and he asked them, 'Who do the people say that I am?' And Peter answered, 'The Christ of God'" (Lk 9:18-20).

5. The prayer before the resurrection of Lazarus is profoundly touching. "And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that you sent me'" (Jn 11:41-42).

6. The prayer during the Last Supper (the so-called priestly prayer), should be quoted in full. We shall consider at least the passages not already quoted in the previous reflections. First, "Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, '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). Jesus prayed for that which is the essential purpose of his mission, the glory of God and the salvation of humanity. Then he added, "This is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work which you gave me to do; and now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory which I had with you before the world was made" (Jn 17:3-5).

7. Continuing his prayer, the Son as it were gives an account to his Father of his earthly mission. "I have manifested your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world; they were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you" (Jn 17:6-7). Then he added, "I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours" (Jn 17:9). They are those who have accepted Christ's word, those who have believed that the Father had sent him. Jesus prayed especially for those, because "they are in the world, and I am coming to you" (Jn 17:11). He prayed that "they may be one," that "none of them be lost" (and here the Master mentioned "the son of perdition"), that "they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves" (cf. Jn 17:13). In view of his departure, while his disciples will have to remain in the world and be exposed to hatred because "they are not of the world," just like their Master, Jesus prayed: "I do not ask you to take them out of the world but to guard them from the evil one" (Jn 17:15).

8. Still during the prayer in the cenacle Jesus asked on behalf of the disciples: "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth" (Jn 17:17-19). Later Jesus includes in the same prayer the future generations of his disciples. He prayed especially for unity, so that "the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" (Jn 17:23). Toward the end of his prayer, Jesus returned to the principal thoughts mentioned previously, emphasizing still more their importance. In this context he asked for all those whom the Father "has given" him that "they may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world" (Jn 17:14).

9. Truly Jesus' "priestly prayer" is the synthesis of God's self-revelation in the Son which is at the heart of the Gospels. The Son speaks to the Father in the name of that unity which exists between them. "You, Father, are in me and I in you" (Jn 17:21). At the same time he prays that the fruits of the salvific mission for which he came into the world may be spread among men and women. Thus he reveals the mystery of the Church, which arises from his salvific mission, and he prays for its future development in the midst of the world. He opens up the perspective of glory, to which all those who accept his word are called together with him.

10. In the prayers of the Last Supper Jesus speaks to the Father as his consubstantial Son, but in the prayer of Gethsemane, which follows shortly afterward, the fact that he is Son of Man is especially evident. "My heart is filled with sorrow to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake" (Mk 14:34), he said to his followers as he entered the Garden of Olives. Once alone, he fell to the ground and the words of his prayer reveal the depth of his suffering. He kept saying, "Abba (O Father), you have the power to do all things. Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you would have it, not as I" (Mk 14:36).

11. It seems that the Letter to the Hebrews refers particularly to this prayer in Gethsemane when it says, "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 here the author of the Letter adds that "he was heard for his godly fear" (Heb 5:7). Yes, even the prayer of Gethsemane was heard, since in it also—together with the whole truth of the human attitude toward suffering—there is perceived above all Jesus' union with the Father in the will to redeem the world, which is at the origin of his salvific mission.

12. Certainly Jesus prayed on the various occasions determined by Israel's religious tradition and law, as when, at the age of twelve, he went up with his parents to the Temple of Jerusalem (cf. Lk 2:41 ff.); or when, as the evangelists tell us, he went "to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day" (cf. Lk 4:16). However, what the Gospels tell us about Christ's personal prayer is worthy of special attention. The Church has never forgotten it and she finds in Christ's personal dialogue with the Father the source, the inspiration and the power of her own prayer. The mystery of the Son, who lives totally for the Father and in intimate union with him, is expressed in the most personal way in Jesus at prayer.

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

Ai gruppi di fedeli di espressione francese

Chers Frères et Sśurs, puisse la prière du Christ inspirer notre propre prière, qui doit animer et nourrir en permanence notre union intime avec Dieu!

Ce souhait, je l’adresse à tous les pèlerins de langue française ici présents, en saluant plus spécialement les Sśurs de la Divine Providence de Saint -Jean-de-Bassel, auxquelles la célébration de leur jubilé d’argent de profession donnera certainement un nouvel élan de ferveur religieuse; les Tertiaires franciscains de Bitche, qui fętent les cinquante ans de leur fraternité séculière; les jeunes filles de l’Action catholique fémine luxembourgeoise, que je recommande à la Mère du Christ pour qu’elle rende fructueux leur apostolat.

* * *

Je suis heureux d’accueillir les pèlerins de la Côte d’Ivoire, qui viennent prier sur la tombe des Apôtres Pierre et Paul avant d’aller fortifier leur foi en Terre Sainte puis à Lourdes. Puisse ce séjour romain, chers amis, vous faire mieux prendre conscience de votre appartenance à l’Eglise universelle, et vous donner le désir de répandre autour de vous la Bonne Nouvelle de l’Evangile!

Enfin, je félicite les jeunes qui sous les auspices de l'UNESCO participent au “Raid méditerranéen” et parcourent divers pays en patins à roulettes, démontrant ainsi les saines vertus du sport et contribuant au rapprochement des individus et des peuples par une meilleure connaissance mutuelle. En vous souhaitant à tous de bonnes vacances, je vous bénis de grand cśur.

Ai fedeli di espressione linguistica inglese

I offer a warm welcome to all the pilgrims and visitors present at this audience. My cordial greeting goes to the group of Marist Brothers from Johannesburg, South Africa, and to the Servite Friars taking part in a renewal programme. May your celebration of this Marian Year inspire you to an ever greater love for Mary, who as the "Handmaid of the Lord" co-operates in the work of salvation accomplished by Christ her Son.

I am happy to welcome the choir from the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool; a group of Filipino pilgrims; and from Malta, the members of Catholic Action and a pilgrimage of the sick and handicapped, led by their Archbishop. I am also pleased to greet a group of Ukrainian students from the United States. And upon all the individuals and groups from various countries of the English-speaking world I invoke God’s blessing of joy and peace.

Ai gruppi di lingua tedesca

Liebe Brüder und Schwestern, mit einem herzlichen Willkommensgruß zu dieser Audienz empfehle ich heute den betenden Jesus eurer persönlichen Betrachtung und Nachahmung. Christus ermahnt auch uns ausdrücklich im Evangelium, ”daß wir allezeit beten und darin nicht nachlassen sollen“. Diese Einladung Jesu richte ich heute besonders an die Gruppe der Schwestern des göttlichen Erlösers, die in Rom zu ihrem Generalkapitel versammelt sind. Gerade bei Ordensleuten muß das ständige Gebet die Seele ihres täglichen Lebens und Wirkens sein. Von Herzen erteile ich euch und allen Pilgern deutscher Sprache meinen besonderen Apostolischen Segen.

Ai numerosi fedeli di lingua spagnola

Me es grato dirigir mi más cordial saludo de bienvenida a todos los peregrinos y visitantes de lengua espańola.

Deseo en particular saludar a la peregrinación proveniente de Puerto Rico, encabezada por el Seńor Cardenal Aponte Martínez, Arzobispo de San Juan; así como a la Obra Misionera “Ekumene” de Jesucristo Sacerdote y Divino Maestro.

Igualmente saludo a las peregrinaciones parroquiales y escolares procedentes de Castrejón de la Peńa, Elorrio, Salvador de Muchamiel, Torrelavega, Arriate, Alcoy y Castellón.

Finalmente, a los componentes del Coro de la Universidad de Costa Rica, a los alumnos de la Facultad de Derecho de Cáceres, a los participantes en el curso organizado por el Centro Internacional de Turín y al grupo de jóvenes mexicanas.

A todos imparto con afecto la Bendición Apostólica.

A gruppi di lingua portoghese

Ao saudar todos os ouvintes de lingua portuguesa, quero dar as boas-vindas ao numeroso grupo de fiéis paroquianos de Santa Maria, da Covilhã, em Portugal: que a vinda a Roma avive a vossa fé e que vos acompanhe sempre a protecção da Padroeira da vossa comunidade, aliás de todo o Portufal, “Terra de Santa Maria”!

* * *

Outra saudação especial vai para os Senhores Oficiais, Cadetes e Tripulantes do Navio-Escola “Brasil”, vindos da pátria brasileira.

Fizestes questão de vir a Roma: que Roma vos deixe, como lembrança perene, estas duas coisas: a fé em Cristo é farol que vos levará sempre a um porto seguro; e, provenientes de um País cuja maior riqueza é representada pelo seu patrimônio religioso e moral, fazei desse patrimônio fator de fraternidade e de paz entre os homens.

E com o brio, a coragem e generosidade que exige a vossa escolha de vida, que vos guie, nas vossas rotas pelo mundo, a “Estrela da Manha”, Nossa Senhora, e vos dispense sua proteção! A vós e às vossas famílias dou, de coração, a Bęnção Apostólica.

Ai gruppi di pellegrini provenienti dalla Polonia

Witam serdecznie księdza biskupa ordynariusza szczecińskiego, Kazimierza Majdańskiego; księdza biskupa Zbigniewa Kraszewskiego z Warszawy; księdza biskupa Pawła Sochę z Gorzowa (ksiądz biskup Socha jest tutaj razem z pielgrzymką, księży seniorów, zorganizowaną przez Komisję, Episkopatu do spraw Duchowieństwa); z diecezji sandomiersko-radomskiej pielgrzymkę; dekanatu jedlińskiego kołó Radomia na dziesiątą rocznicę koronacji Matki Bożej Pocieszenia w Błotnicy; pielgrzymkę, diecezjalną, z Siedlec; z parafii św. Wawrzyńca w Międzyrzecu Podlaskim, diecezja siedlecka; młodzież z diecezji łomżyńskiej; młodzież z katedry tarnowskiej; duszpasterstwo akademickie z diecezji gdańskiej; parafia Matki Bożej Królowej Różańca Świętego na Przymorzu; z diecezji opolskiej z parafii bł. Eugeniusza -Kędzierzyn-Koźle; z archidiecezji poznańskiej, parafia św. Wawrzyńca z Zanimyśla; z Legnicy, alumni i profesorowie niższego seminarium duchownego ojców franciszkanów; również z Legnicy młodzież z duszpasterstwa akademickiego i młodzież pracującą z parafii św. Jana Chrzciciela - franciszkanie; z Piły-grupę z zakładu Inwestprojekt; z Łodzi grupę studentów; z Rzeszowa grupę nauczycieli; z Giżycka grupę nauczycieli; grupę Polonii ze Stanów Zjednoczonych oraz uczestników grup turystycznych Turysty i Orbisu.

Ad un gruppo di religiose italiane

Saluto ora di gran cuore le Religiose appartenenti a diverse Congregazioni, che partecipano ad un corso di formazione permanente presso la Comunità delle Suore Dorotee di Cemmo nella Casa “Mater Ecclesiae”, in Roma; salute pure le Suore murialdine di San Giuseppe, convenute a Roma per celebrare il loro quarto Capitolo Generale e le Suore Terziarie Francescane Regolari di Ognissanti - Firenze, provenienti da varie parti d’Italia e dall’Indica, che hanno preso parte ad un corso di Esercizi Spirituali.

Carissime Sorelle! Sono lieto della vostra presenza all’Udienza e mi valgo volentieri di questo incontro per esortarvi a preservare nell’impegno da voi assunto di perfezionamento e di santificazione, per il bene della Chiesa e dei vostri Istituti. Accogliete sempre con profondo fervore e con santo entusiasmo le buone ispirazioni, che il Signore vi fa sentire nell’animo, così che la vostra testimonianza di fede e di carità possa recare un efficace contributo all’annuncio del Vangelo nel mondo di oggi.

A tutti la mia Benedizione.

Ai giovani

Un cordiale saluto desidero rivolgere a voi, giovani partecipanti a questa Udienza. Vi auguro che il periodo di vacanze e di pausa dai consueti studi scolastici, sia per voi una occasione privilegiata di riflessione, di meditazione, di preghiera, di servizio generoso e disinteressato ai fratelli più bisognosi. Vorrei in particolare raccomandarvi una assidua, metodica, attenta lettura del Vangelo, per conoscere e seguire, sempre più e sempre meglio, Gesù di Nazareth, Messia, Figlio di dio, Redentore dell’uomo. A tutti la mia Benedizione.

Agli ammalati

Anche a voi, Fratelli e Sorelle, che siete colpiti dall’infermità, voglio dedicare un affettuoso pensiero per dirvi che in voi si manifesta il mistero dell’amore misericordioso di Cristo che spia e redime. Unite le vostre sofferenze fisiche e spirituali al Crocifisso e, in Lui e con Lui, offritele al Padre celeste per coloro che sembrano sordi alla Parola di Dio, perché i loro cuori si aprano docilmente al suo invito e alla sua chiamata di grazia.

Vi benedico di cuore.

Agli sposi novelli

Non posso dimenticare voi, sposi novelli, che in questi giorni avete consacrato il vostro vicendevole amore nel sacramento del Matrimonio, di fronte a Dio e di fronte alla Chiesa. L’augurio mio, come pure di tutti i presenti, è che viviate sempre e intensamente gli impegni della vostra solenne promessa di amore e di fedeltà reciproca, e che aiutandovi l’un l’altro continuiate serenamente il vostro cammino di fede con l’aiuto della Vergine Santissima, Sposa e Madre, alla quale affido le vostre nascenti famiglie cristiane.

La mia Benedizione Apostolica vi accompagni ora e sempre!

© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana