Pope Francis reminded the faithful of this reality during his weekly General Audience this morning in St. Peter’s Square, as he continued his catechesis for the Holy Year of Mercy, turning to Jesus’ parable of the unjust judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8).
The Holy Father recalled that Jesus tells us that even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence. In the Lord recounting this, the Jesuit Pope explained, He encourages us to persevere in prayer to our heavenly Father, who is infinitely just and loving.
“The Lord,” the Pope suggested, “also assures us that God will not only hear our prayers, but will not delay in answering them.” In giving us this parable, Francis explained that Jesus tells us to “pray always and not lose heart.”
“All experience moments of fatigue and discouragement, especially when our prayers seem ineffective. But Jesus assures us: unlike the unjust judge, God answers His children promptly, although this does not mean necessarily doing it in the time and manner that we would like.”
“Prayer is not a magic wand! It helps to keep faith in God, to trust in Him even when we do not understand His will”
The Gospels tell us that Jesus himself prayed constantly. His own intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a model for our own: it teaches us to present our petitions with complete trust in Father’s gracious will.
Concerned about his upcoming anguish, Jesus prayed to the Father to deliver Him from the Passion, but ultimately His prayer is overtaken by trust in the Father. Although Jesus’ wish was not the Father’s will, He trusted. “The object of prayer,” the Pontiff explained, “is of secondary importance; what matters above all is the relationship with the Father.”
“This is what prayer does: it transforms the desire and model according to the will of God, whatever it is, because who prays, aspires, first of all, for union with the Father, Who is merciful love.”
The Pope then reminded those present that the parable of the unjust judge and the widow ends with a pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth”? (v. 8). Stressing that perseverance in prayer keeps our faith alive and strong, the Holy Father noted how, in our prayer, we experience the compassion of God “who, like a Father filled with love and mercy, is ever ready to come to the aid of His children.”
Pope Francis concluded, urging those gathered to ask the Lord for an unceasing, persevering faith, like that of the widow in the parable.