This beauty inspires man to pray, the pope said, quoting Psalm 8:4-5: “When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place -- what is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?”
He said: “The praying man contemplates the mystery of existence around him, sees the starry sky above him -- which astrophysics shows us today in all its immensity -- and wonders what design of love must be behind such a powerful work.”
“And, in this boundless vastness, what is man? ‘Almost nothing,’ says another Psalm: a being that is born, a being that dies, a very fragile creature. Yet in the whole universe the human being is the only creature aware of such a profusion of beauty.”
The pope said the psalmist recognizes that, compared with the vastness of the universe, man seems insignificant, yet he is called to a relationship with God.
“The relationship with God is man’s greatness: his enthronement. By nature we are almost nothing, small, but by vocation, by call, we are the children of the great King,” he said.
He continued: “This is an experience that many of us have had. If the story of life, with all its bitterness, sometimes risks suffocating the gift of prayer in us, it is enough to contemplate a starry sky, a sunset, a flower... to rekindle the spark of thanksgiving. This experience is perhaps the basis of the first page of the Bible.”
“When the great biblical account of Creation is written, the people of Israel are not going through happy days. An enemy power had occupied the land; many had been deported, and now they were slaves in Mesopotamia. There was no homeland, no temple, no social and religious life, nothing.”
“And yet, just starting from the great story of Creation, someone began to find reasons to give thanks, to praise God for existence.”
Pope Francis described prayer as “the first impetus of hope,” saying that those who pray are able to see that, despite its difficulties, life is filled with grace.
Our vocation, he said, is to be bearers of joy.