Monday, January 25, 2010

Praying For Pope Benedict XVI

As faithful Catholics we are duty bound to pray for the Pope, our spiritual father and visible head of the whole Church on earth. And that prayer is so very important since, not only does it surely bring graces from above upon the Holy Father, but it also reminds us of the great family of faith to which we belong as Catholics – a family which is watched over by the Successor of St. Peter. In the homily of his Mass of Inauguration, way back in 2005, Pope Benedict asked us to pray for him in the following words: “Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves”.

In his letters St. Paul ask the same thing of the communities he was writing to; asking for their continued prayers so that he could better serve the Gospel. He asks the community at Ephesus: pray “for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
And how many times does Paul write too of the difficulties he had to face and of those difficulties being overcome?

In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14:19-20) we see the great fruit of those prayers made on his behalf. Paul is stoned and left for dead and yet somehow he is given the strength and courage to go back into the very city which had tried to kill him, in order to preach the Good News. An action like that had to have been more effective than a hundred sermons. People must have been impressed by that kind of fearlessness and they must have asked themselves where Paul got that courage.

Though Paul is a man of peace, weak and poor, he doesn’t run away for fear of those who might harm him. He knows that he possesses something far more powerful than hatred, insults, and the ever present threat of death. To conquer hatred he is armed with love, to counter the insults he speaks in love, and to overcome death he has the all powerful love of the Christ. As the Holy Father said in that 1st homily: “It is not power, but love that redeems us!

It is Paul’s relationship with Jesus Christ and the unceasing prayers of the people of God that sustained him and enabled him to face the wolves who would seek to destroy God’s work and devour God’s flock. In the same way, it will be a strong relationship with the same Christ and the unceasing prayers of God’s people today, your prayers and mine, that will sustain Pope Benedict XVI as he fulfils his mission as Shepherd of the Church - Servant of the Servants of God. Let us take up his request, made right back at the beginning of his Petrine Ministry, and join our prayers with those of our brothers and sisters in heaven on his behalf.

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