“In the days of His last Passover, we therefore find Jesus fully immersed in prayer,” the pope said. “He prays dramatically in the garden of Gethsemane, we heard, assailed by mortal anguish. And yet Jesus, precisely in that moment, addresses God as ‘Abba,’ Father. This word, in Aramaic, which was Jesus’ language, expresses intimacy and trust. Just as He feels the darkness gather around Him, Jesus breaks through it with that little word: Abba!”
“Jesus also prays on the cross, obscurely shrouded in the silence of God. And yet once again the word ‘Father’ emerges from his lips,” he said.
According to Francis, “it is the most ardent prayer, because on the cross Jesus is the absolute intercessor: He prays for others, he prays for all, even for those who have condemned him, even though no one apart from a poor delinquent takes his side. Everyone was against him or indifferent, only that criminal recognized the power.”
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“‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.’ In the midst of the drama, in the excruciating pain of soul and body, Jesus prays with the words of the psalms,” he said, “with the poor of the world, especially those forgotten by all, he pronounces the tragic words of Psalm 22: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”
Pope Francis said that “the cross is the fulfillment of the gift of the Father, who offers the unreserved love of his Son as the price of our salvation: Jesus, laden with all the sin of the world, descends into the abyss of separation from God. Yet, still he turns to him invoking: ‘My God!’ Jesus remains immersed in his sonship even at that extreme moment, until his last breath, when he says: ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’”
“Jesus therefore prays in the decisive hours of his passion and death. With the resurrection, the Father will answer His prayer,” the pope reflected.
“The prayer of Jesus is intense,” he added. “The prayer of Jesus is unique and also becomes the model of our prayer. Jesus prayed for everyone. Jesus prayed for me and for each of you. Each of us can say: On the cross, Jesus prayed for me. He prayed.”
Hannah Brockhaus is Catholic News Agency's senior Rome correspondent. She grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, and has a degree in English from Truman State University in Missouri.