This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily today at Casa Santa Marta.
Today’s readings, which both recount God giving the gift of life to barren women, are a testament to God giving us life in our own sterility. “From the impossibility to give life, life comes,” he said.
“The Lord intervenes in the life of this woman to tell us: ‘I am able to give life’, the Pope said. “Even in the prophets there is the image of the desert, the deserted earth incapable of making a tree grow, a fruit, to make anything grow. ‘But the desert will be like a forest - the Prophets say - it will be great, it will flourish.’ But can the desert flourish? Yes. Can the sterile woman give life? Yes. That promise of the Lord: I can! I can, from the dryness, from your dryness, make life grow, salvation! From aridity I can make fruit grow!”
The intervention of God, he continued, is what makes us fruitful and takes us on the road of sanctity, not our own strength or will. The Holy Father highlighted two things necessary for the Lord to act.
“First: [we must] recognize our dryness, our incapacity to give life. Recognize this. Second, to ask: ‘Lord, I want to be fruitful. I want my life to give life, that my faith be fruitful and go forward and I can give it to others.’ ‘Lord I am sterile. I can’t. You can. I am a desert. I can’t. You Can.’”
Pope Francis went on to say that this time before the Christmas celebration is an appropriate time to ask God for this grace. However, there is one essential element to this prayer to the Lord: humility.
“Humility is necessary for fertility,” the Pope said.The humility to tell the Lord: ‘Lord, I am sterile, I am a desert’ and repeat in these days that beautiful antiphon that the Church makes us pray: ‘Oh Son of David, oh Adonai, oh Wisdom - today - oh root of Jesse, oh Emmanuel, come give us life, come save us, because only You can. I alone can’t!’
This humility, the Pope concluded, will prepare us to receive the grace “to flourish, to give fruit and to give life.”