Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.
Pope Francis said complaining to God in times of suffering can be a prayer, but cautioned not to exaggerate our difficulties in front of those undergoing major tragedies.
“Our life is too easy, our complaints are overdramatized,” the pontiff told those in the Vatican’s Saint Martha house.
“Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have almost lost all memory, almost lost all hope – who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves, (our complaints are) nothing!”
The Holy Father noted how Job’s prayer in the first reading seems to be a curse after having lost everything, and “his body had become a plague, a disgusting plague.”
“He had lost all patience and he says these things. They are ugly! But he was always accustomed to speak the truth and this is the truth that he feels at that moment,” the pontiff said, noting how the prophet Jeremiah also cursed the day in which he was born.
“But is this man blaspheming? This is my question: Is this man who is so very alone, blaspheming? Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains – ‘Father, why have You forsaken me?’ This is the mystery.”
Pope Francis then said he has listened to many “who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why?”
When he encounters these people, who often rebel against God, Pope Francis said he tells them: “Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer. It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: ‘Why have You forsaken me!'”
Prayer means being truthful before God, he said, adding that we should all “pray with reality” because “true prayer comes from the heart, from the moment that we are living in.”
The pope observed how many are in the same situation as Job who “do not understand what has happened to them, or why”, and there are “many brothers and sisters who have no hope.”
“Just think of the tragedies, the great tragedies, for example, of these brothers and sisters of ours who because they are Christians were driven out of their homes and left with nothing: ‘But, Lord, I have believed in you. Why? Is believing in you a curse, Lord?’”
Pope Francis also drew attention to the elderly, the sick and the many lonely people in hospitals, assuring that the Church constantly offers prayers to all who walk in darkness.
“The Church prays! She takes this pain upon herself and prays,” he said.
There are even some who are angry with God who refuse to go to Mass over some trifling complaint with the Lord, the pope noted.
Pope Francis compared these difficulties in prayer to those had by Saint Therese of Lisieux, who celebrates her feast day on Oct. 1. Sick with tuberculosis at the end of her life, the saint struggled to keep her thoughts on God despite serious doubts that emerged in her heart.
“We all go through this situation, we experience this situation. There are so many people who think it all ends in nothing. Yet Saint Therese prayed and asked for strength to persevere in the dark. This is called entering into patience.”
Bringing to mind the many who have lost everything or live in exile, the Pope explained that “Jesus walked this path: from sunset on the Mount of Olives to the last word from the Cross: ‘Father, why have you forsaken me!”
Pope Francis concluded his homily by giving two suggestions, which can help us in moments of darkness, the first being “to prepare ourselves for when the darkness comes.”
Secondly, we should “Pray, pray as the Church prays; pray with the Church for so many brothers and sisters who suffer exile from themselves, who are in darkness and suffering, without hope at hand.”
This, he said, “is the prayer of the Church for these Suffering Jesus’ who are everywhere.”
By Elise Harris
Catholic News Agency