Our prayer can bring us life. When we pray, we strengthen our relationship with Jesus, reflect on our life with the eyes of faith and we find peace in the midst of our worries. But we cannot just stay there. When we pray, we are sent to help someone, to forgive or accept forgiveness, to share what we have with those in need; in short, to be merciful. Prayer takes us to the mission of Jesus. This is what we find, for example, in the Pope’s monthly prayer intentions, in which prayer mobilizes us for the challenges of humanity and the mission of the Church.
In prayer we experience the mercy of God. What does it mean? The word “mercy,” which comes from Latin, is made up of two words joined together: “misery” and “heart.” We can say that mercy is the feeling by which someone’s misery touches another person’s heart. It is the way God loves and it is the way we are to love others. In prayer we experience God’s embrace of our weaknesses, a Father who welcomes us, forgives us and heals us. But in prayer we also experience the desire to imitate this way of loving God. “Be merciful, as your Father is merciful,” Jesus says to his disciples (Lk 6:36). St. Augustine already said that when we welcome God’s mercy, we become merciful to others. For this great saint of the early days of the Church, we are called to be merciful because, in each of us, we have received mercy from God.
Origen, a Christian author from the beginning of the Church, said that God sent his Son because he had compassion on humanity and is sorry for their suffering. Jesus, image of God, takes on the human image and becomes one of us through mercy. Therefore, when we pray to Jesus, we are being invited to do the same, to assume the miseries of our brothers and sisters with kindness and compassion. St. Justin, in the second century, following this same idea, underlines the power of prayer in works of mercy. When we pray for the just and the unjust, we obtain Christ’s mercy and imitate his way of proceeding.
Fr. Antonio S’Antana, SJ
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Portugal)