Prayers work —this is where we find true hope and change…
HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS
JANUARY 12, 2016
It’s the prayer of the faithful that brings change to the Church; it’s not us popes, bishops or priests who carry the Church forward, but the Saints.
The Bible reading of the day tells the story of Hannah, a woman whom, deeply distressed by her infertility, desperately prays to the Lord to give her a child, and of Eli, a priest, who looks on vaguely from afar and superficially judges the woman as a drunkard as he can see her babbling but cannot hear her words.
Hannah was praying silently, her lips moved but her voice was not heard. Hers is the courage of a woman of faith who is weeping and grieving and asks the Lord for his grace. There are many good women in the Church, many! They place all their trust in prayer… Let us think of one of them, Saint Monica who was able, with her tears, to be granted the grace of conversion for her son, Saint Augustine. There are so many.
Eli, the priest, is a poor man towards whom he feels a certain sympathy because – he explains – “I find faults in myself that allow me to understand him well and feel close to him.”
How easily do we judge people and lack the respect to say: ‘I wonder what he has in his heart? I do not know, but I will say nothing…’ When the heart lacks compassion one always thinks evil and does not understand those who pray with pain and anguish and entrust that pain and anguish to the Lord.
Jesus knows this kind of prayer. When he was in Gethsemane and was so anguished and hurt he sweated blood, He did not accuse the Father: ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.’
Jesus responded in the same way of the woman: with meekness. Sometimes, we pray, we ask things of God, but often we do not know how to engage with the Lord, to ask for grace.
There was a man in Buenos Aires whose 9-year-old-daughter was dying in hospital. He said he spent the night at the shrine of the Virgin of Luján clinging to the gate and praying for the grace of healing. The next morning, when he returned to the hospital, his daughter was healed.
Prayer works miracles; it works miracles for Christians, whether they be faithful laypeople, priests, bishops who have lost compassion. The prayers of the faithful change the Church: it’s not us popes, bishops, priests or nuns who carry the Church forward, but Saints. Saints are those who dare to believe that God is the Lord and that He can do everything.
Translation from Vatican Radio