Pope at Santa Marta: A lesson in contemplative prayer
(Vatican Radio) Daily contemplation of the Gospel helps us to have true hope, said Pope Francis Tuesday morning during Mass celebrated in the Casa Santa Marta chapel. In his homily, the Pope again urged people to take 10 minutes out of their day to pick up the Gospel and talk to the Lord, rather than waste it on TV soap operas or listening to other peoples’ gossip.
Focusing on the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews on hope, Pope Francis said that “keeping our gaze fixed on Jesus” is the core of hope. He stressed that if we do not listen to the Lord, we may be “optimistic or positive” people but without the hope that we learn “from contemplating Christ”.
This led the Holy Father to speak of “contemplative prayer”. The Pope said that “it is good to pray the Rosary every day”, to talk “with the Lord, when we have a problem, or the Virgin Mary or the Saints ..”. But, “contemplative prayer” is important and this can only be done “with the Gospel in hand”:
He said: “‘How do I contemplate with today’s Gospel? I see that Jesus was in the middle of the people, he was surrounded by a large crowd. Five times this passage uses the word ‘crowd’. Did Jesus ever rest? This would lead me to think: ‘Always with the crowd …’. Most of Jesus’ life was on the streets, with the crowd. Did he ever rest? Yes, once, says the Gospel, he was sleeping on the boat but the storm came and the disciples woke him. Jesus was constantly in the midst of the people. And this is how we look at Jesus, contemplate Jesus, imagine Jesus. And so I tell Jesus what comes to my mind to tell him”.
Continuing his reflection on today’s Gospel, Pope Francis spoke of how Jesus realizes that a sick woman in the crowd touched him. Jesus, the Pope said, “not only understands the crowd, he feels the crowd”, “he feels the heartbeat of each of us, everyone. He cares for each and every one of us, always!”.
The case of the chief of the synagogue who goes “to speak to him of his daughter who was seriously ill” is similar: [Jesus] leaves everything to takes care of the matter. The Pope went on to depict the scene: Jesus arrives in the home, the women are crying because the little girl is dead, but the Lord tells them to be calm and they scorn him. Here, the Pope said, we see “the patience of Jesus.”
And then after the resurrection of the child, instead of saying “Praise be God!”, Jesus tells them: “Please give her something to eat”. Pope Francis noted “Jesus always thinks of the little things.”
The Pope then pointed out “What I have just done with this Gospel is a prayer of contemplation: take up the Gospel, read and imagine the scene, imagine what happens and talk to Jesus, from the heart”:
“And with this we allow hope to grow, because we have our gaze fixed, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We should all carry out this contemplative prayer. ‘But I have so much to do!’. At home, 15 minutes, pick up the Gospel, a small passage, imagine what happened and talk with Jesus about it. So your gaze will be fixed on Jesus and not so much on a TV soap opera, for example. Your ears will be focused on the words of Jesus and not so much on your neighborhood gossip … “.
“This is how contemplative prayer helps us in hope. Living the substance of the Gospel. Always pray”.
Pope Francis invited people to “pray your prayers, pray the rosary, talk with the Lord, but also carry out this contemplative prayer keeping your gaze fixed on Jesus”. Hope comes from this prayer, he said, adding “our Christian life unfolds in that context, between memory and hope”:
“Memory of our past journey, memory of so many graces received from the Lord. And hope, looking at the Lord, who is the only one who can give me hope. And in order to gaze at the Lord, to know the Lord, we pick up the Gospel and carry out this contemplative prayer. Today, for example, try for 10 minutes – 15, no more – to read the Gospel, picture it and say something to Jesus. And nothing more. And so your knowledge of Jesus will be bigger and your hope will grow. Do not forget, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. And in order to do this contemplative prayer”.