'Do not forget: Jesus is praying for you'
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Pope Francis said Wednesday that just as Jesus prayed for his friends while on earth, he also prays for each person eternally before the Father in heaven.
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"We must always keep this in mind: Jesus prays for me. He is praying now before the Father and makes Him see the wounds He carried with Him, to show the Father the price of our salvation, it is the love that He holds for us," the pope said on June 2.
Speaking from Vatican City's San Damaso Courtyard, Pope Francis encouraged pilgrims at his general audience and those watching via live stream to remember in the face of difficulty, or even in a time of distraction, that Jesus is praying for them.
"Do not forget: Jesus is praying for me. Now? Now. In the moment of trial, in the moment of sin, even in that sin, Jesus is praying for me with so much love," he said.
The pope also looked ahead to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi this week and prayed that the feast day would deepen awareness of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
"May you find in the Eucharist a mystery of love and glory, that source of grace and light that illuminates the paths of life," Pope Francis said in his message to Italian-speaking pilgrims.
He told the elderly, young people, the sick, and newlyweds that the Body and Blood of Christ is a support in the midst of suffering and a pledge of eternal life.
"Let us not forget that what sustains each of us in life is Jesus' prayer for every one of us, with our name and surname, before the Father, showing Him the wounds that are the price of our salvation," Francis said.
Looking up from his prepared text to speak to the crowd, the pope said: "Once, a good bishop told me that in a very bad moment in his life, a very, very, very great trial, in which all was in darkness, he looked up in the basilica and saw this phrase written: 'I, Peter, will pray for you.' And this gave him strength and consolation."
"It is necessary to pray more intensely, every time the road takes an uphill turn," he advised.
The pope highlighted how much Jesus prayed in the Gospels, particularly before big moments in his life, such as calling the Apostles and the Last Supper.
"The great turning points of Jesus' mission are always preceded by prayer, but not just in passing, by intense, prolonged prayer. There is always prayer in those moments," he said.
The pope also noted that "prayer on behalf of His friends continually reappears in the life of Jesus."
"The Apostles sometimes become a cause of concern for Him, but Jesus, as He received them from the Father, after prayer, thus He carries them in His heart, even in their errors, even when they fall. In all this, we discover how Jesus was both teacher and friend, always willing to wait patiently for the conversion of the disciple."
At the beginning of the audience, the pope walked around the small courtyard greeting pilgrims. He received gifts, including an icon and a large painting. He offered blessings, signed a white miter, and stopped to pray with a woman who brought a photo of a loved one.
Seagulls flew over the window-covered courtyard as the pope spoke at the audience, and it was also possible to hear the Italian Air Force's aerobatic unit, Frecce Tricolori, as it flew over Rome with the colors of the Italian flag to mark the 75th anniversary of the Italian Republic.
The address was the 36th reflection in the pope's cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May 2020 and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.
"It is impressive to know that at that moment, during the time of weakness, Jesus' love does not cease," Pope Francis said.
He continued: "'But Father, if I am in mortal sin, does Jesus love me?' - 'Yes' - 'And does Jesus continue to pray for me?' - 'Yes' - 'But if I have done the worst things, and more, committed so many sins ... does Jesus continue [to pray]?' - 'Yes.'"
"Jesus' love, Jesus' prayer for each one of us does not cease. It does not cease, but rather becomes more intense, and we are at the center of his prayer."
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