Pope Benedict XVI continued his series of reflections on Christian prayer today as he spoke about the relationship between intercessory prayer and God’s mercy throughout history.
In his third installment on prayer, Pope Benedict looked at Abraham’s example of praying for mercy.
“We now turn to sacred Scripture and its witness to the dialogue between God and man in history, a dialogue culminating in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. We can begin with the prayer with which Abraham, the father of all believers, implores God not to destroy the sinful city of Sodom.”
At Sodom, Abraham asked God not to take vengeance upon the notoriously sinful city.
“Abraham’s prayer of intercession appeals to God’s justice, begging him not to destroy the innocent with the guilty. But it also appeals to God’s mercy, which is capable of transforming evil into good through forgiveness and reconciliation.”
This aspect of prayer, said the Pope, reflects God’s unfailing mercy for his creation.
“God does not desire the death of the sinner but his conversion and liberation from sin,” he explained.
“In reply to Abraham’s prayer, God is willing to spare Sodom if 10 righteous men can be found there. Later, through the prophet Jeremiah, he promises to pardon Jerusalem if one just man can be found,” the pontiff recalled.
He concluded by saying that God’s mercy was most spectacularly manifested over 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.
“In the end, God himself becomes that just Man, in the mystery of the Incarnation. Christ’s prayer of intercession on the cross brings salvation to the world. Through him, let us pray with unfailing trust in God’s merciful love for all mankind, conscious that our prayers will be heard and answered.”
This is the third week Pope Benedict has used his Wednesday audience to teach pilgrims about Christian prayer. His previous theme – the lives of the saints – took two years to complete.