(Vatican Radio) The dialogue between God on Moses Mount Sinai contained in the first reading of the daily liturgy was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at Thursday morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta. God wants to punish His people because they have created an idol, the golden calf. Emer McCarthy reports:
Moses prays to the Lord to think again. Pope Francis said “this prayer is a real struggle with God. A struggle [on the part of ] the leader of a people to save his people, who are the people of God . Moses speaks freely in front of the Lord and in doing so teaches us how to pray without fear, freely, even with insistence. Moses insists. He is courageous. Prayer must also be a “negotiation with God”, to which we bring our “arguments”. Moses eventually convinces God and the reading says that “the Lord repented of the evil that he had threatened to do to His people”. “But – the Pope asked – who changed here? Has the Lord changed? I think not”.
“Moses is the one who has changed, because Moses believed that the Lord would do this, he believed that the Lord would have destroyed the people and he searches, he tries to remember, how good the Lord has been to His people, how he led them from slavery in Egypt and guided them with a promise. With these arguments, he tries to convince God, but in doing so, he rediscovers the memory of his people, and God’s mercy. This Moses, who was afraid, afraid that God would do this thing, in the end comes down from the mountain with a something great in his heart: Our God is merciful. He knows how to forgive. He can go back on His decisions. He is a Father”.
Moses knew all of this – Pope Francis observes – “but he vaguely knew it. Instead he rediscovers it in prayer. This is what prayer does to us: it changes our heart”.
“Prayer changes us our heart. It helps us better understand our God. This is why it is important to speak with the Lord, not with empty words – Jesus says: ‘As pagans do’. No, no, talk with [Him about] reality: ‘Look , Lord, I have this problem, in my family, with my child, with this, with that … What can you do? You cannot leave me like this!’. This is prayer! Does this prayer take a long time? Yes, it takes time”.
It takes the time we need to get to know God better,[the same time we take] with a friend, because Moses – the Bible says – prays to the Lord like one friend speaking to another:
“The Bible says that Moses spoke to God face to face, as a friend. This is how our prayer must be: free, insistent, with arguments. Even rebuking the Lord a little’: ‘You promised me this but you didn’t do it… ‘ , just like talking with a friend. Open your heart to this prayer. Moses came down from the Mount invigorated: ‘ I have known more of the Lord ‘ , and with that strength given him by prayer, he resumed the task of leading his people to the Promised Land. Because prayer invigorates: it is invigorating. May the Lord give us all this grace, because prayer is a grace”.
“The Holy Spirit is in every prayer” – the Pope concluded. “You cannot pray without the Holy Spirit . It is He who prays in us, He makes us change our heart, it is He who teaches us to call God ‘Father’. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path”