In his morning homily at Mass Tuesday, Pope Francis once again insisted on the need for Christians to make time for prayer and Bible reading, putting aside other things.
The Pope said that Christians need to keep their gaze fixed on Jesus. “Take 15 minutes in your home,” Francis said. “Pick up the Gospel, read a short passage, and imagine what was going on there and talk about it with Jesus. That way your gaze will be fixed on Jesus rather than on a soap opera,” he said.
The Pope brushed aside the excuse, “I have so much to do,” insisting that anyone can make time for prayer.
“Listen more to Jesus and less to your neighbor’s gossip,” he said.
Francis offered practical advice to his hearers about how to pray and contemplate. “Remember your past,” he said. “Remember all the many graces you have received from the Lord.” Today, for example, he said, “try taking 10 or 15 minutes, no more, read the Gospel, imagine and say something to Jesus. And nothing more.”
“That way your knowledge of Jesus will be greater and your hope will grow. Do not forget, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. That’s what the prayer of contemplation is for,” he said.
Taking the example of the Gospel passage of the day, the Pope offered an application of what he was saying. “How do I contemplate with the Gospel today?” he asked. “I see that Jesus was in the midst of a large crowd. Five times this passage uses the word ‘crowd.’ But didn’t Jesus ever rest? It seems he was always with the crowds. Most of Jesus’ life was spent on the road, with the crowd.”
“Jesus was continually in the midst of people,” Francis said. “Look at Jesus like this, contemplate Jesus and imagine Jesus. And then say to Jesus whatever you have in mind to tell Him.”
“Jesus realizes that a sick woman in the crowd has touched Him,” the Pope said. “Jesus not only understands the crowd, He feels the crowd. He feels the heartbeat of each of us, of everyone. He cares for each and every one, always!” he said.
“The same when the ruler of the synagogue goes to tell him that his daughter is seriously ill and He leaves everything to take care of this,” Francis continued. “Jesus arrives at the house and women are crying because the little girl is dead, but the Lord tells them to be quiet and people mock Him. Here, we see the patience of Jesus,” he said.
“What I’ve done with this Gospel,” the Pope said, “is the prayer of contemplation: take the Gospel, read and imagine the scene, imagine what happens and talk to Jesus, as it comes from the heart,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.