The pope highlighted how much Jesus prayed in the Gospels, particularly before big moments in his life, such as calling the Apostles and the Last Supper.
“The great turning points of Jesus’ mission are always preceded by prayer, but not just in passing, by intense, prolonged prayer. There is always prayer in those moments,” he said.
The pope also noted that “prayer on behalf of His friends continually reappears in the life of Jesus.”
“The Apostles sometimes become a cause of concern for Him, but Jesus, as He received them from the Father, after prayer, thus He carries them in His heart, even in their errors, even when they fall. In all this, we discover how Jesus was both teacher and friend, always willing to wait patiently for the conversion of the disciple.”
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At the beginning of the audience, the pope walked around the small courtyard greeting pilgrims. He received gifts, including an icon and a large painting. He offered blessings, signed a white miter, and stopped to pray with a woman who brought a photo of a loved one.
Seagulls flew over the window-covered courtyard as the pope spoke at the audience, and it was also possible to hear the Italian Air Force’s aerobatic unit, Frecce Tricolori, as it flew over Rome with the colors of the Italian flag to mark the 75th anniversary of the Italian Republic.
The address was the 36th reflection in the pope’s cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May 2020 and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.
“It is impressive to know that at that moment, during the time of weakness, Jesus’ love does not cease,” Pope Francis said.
He continued: “‘But Father, if I am in mortal sin, does Jesus love me?’ - ‘Yes’ - ‘And does Jesus continue to pray for me?’ - ‘Yes’ - ‘But if I have done the worst things, and more, committed so many sins … does Jesus continue [to pray]?’ - ‘Yes.’”
“Jesus’ love, Jesus’ prayer for each one of us does not cease. It does not cease, but rather becomes more intense, and we are at the center of his prayer.”
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.