“May Our Lady help us to keep our hearts awake to welcome this time of grace that God is offering us,” prayed the Holy Father on March 13, the ninth anniversary of his pontificate.
Noting that the Gospel of Luke reveals that Peter, James and John had fallen asleep before the transfiguration of Jesus, Pope Francis urged the faithful during his Angelus reflection on Sunday to call on the Holy Spirit to awaken their desire to pray.
“The drowsiness of the three disciples seems to be a discordant note. The same apostles then fall asleep in Gethsemane, during the anguished prayer of Jesus, who had asked them to watch (Mark 14, 37-41). This drowsiness in such important moments is surprising,” the pope observed on March 13, the ninth anniversary of his pontificate, before a large crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
“However, if we read carefully, we see that Peter, John and James fall asleep before the start of the Transfiguration, that is, while Jesus is praying. It will be the same in Gethsemane. It is obviously a prayer that continued for some time, in silence and concentration. One can think that at the beginning they too prayed, until fatigue prevailed, ”he continued.
Pope Francis observed that as followers of Jesus, we are subject to the same weaknesses as the apostles and often miss the opportunity to converse with God at important times in our lives.
“Perhaps in the evening, when we would like to pray, spend time with Jesus after a day of hustle and bustle; or when it is time to exchange a few words with the family and we no longer have the strength: We would like to be more awake, attentive, participative, so as not to miss precious opportunities, but we cannot, or we we are doing it somehow, but badly,” he said.
“The high season of Lent is an opportunity in this respect,” Pope Francis continued. “It is a time when God wants to wake us up from our inner lethargy, from this drowsiness that does not allow the Spirit to express itself. For — let us keep this in mind — keeping the heart awake does not only depend on us: it is a grace and must be requested.
“The three disciples in the Gospel show it: they were good, they had followed Jesus up the mountain, but in their own strength they could not stay awake. It happens to us too. »
The good news is that the Holy Spirit wants to help us do what we cannot do on our own.
“To like [the apostles]we too need the light of God which makes us see things differently: it attracts us, awakens us, revives in us the desire and the strength to pray, to look within and to devote time to others,” said the pope.
“We can overcome bodily fatigue with the strength of God’s Spirit. And when we can’t get over that, we have to say to the Holy Spirit, “Help us, come, come, Holy Spirit.” Help me: I want to meet Jesus, I want to be attentive, awake. Ask the Holy Spirit to wake us from this sleep that prevents us from praying.
In conclusion, Pope Francis posed a simple challenge.
“In this time of Lent, after the work of each day, it will do us good not to turn off the light in the bedroom without putting ourselves in the light of God: pray a little before sleeping”, he said. urged.
“Let the Lord have the chance to surprise us and awaken our hearts. We can do this, for example, by opening the Gospel and letting ourselves be amazed by the Word of God, because Scripture enlightens our steps and inflames our hearts. Or we can look at Jesus crucified and marvel at the infinite love of God, who never tires of us and has the power to transfigure our days, to give them new meaning, new unexpected light,” he said. he declares.
“May the Virgin May help us to keep our hearts awake to welcome this time of grace that God offers us.