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October 2001

The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds. (Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 35:17(20))

In the long periods of exile that the People of Israel experienced during their history, they often felt a radical sense of helplessness in the face of events that no human power was able to change. And so they learned humility, an attitude of total dependence and complete trust in God. Because Israel was a humble and poor people, on more than one occasion they found refuge in the One who had established an eternal covenant with them and who they were sure would hear their prayer.

Regarding the coming of the Messiah, they were awaiting a humble king who would enter Zion riding on a donkey, because the God of Israel is above all the 'God of the humble'. And since these expectations were fulfilled in Jesus, it is from his life and teachings that we can learn true humility, the humility that makes our prayer acceptable to the Lord.

The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.

The whole of Jesus' life is a lesson in humility. He is God, and yet first he became man in the womb of the Virgin Mary, then he became bread in the Eucharist and finally he became 'nothing' on the cross.

Jesus had said: 'Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart' (Mt 11:29). Then, in washing the feet of his disciples, he who was their master and teacher, bent down to perform the humblest of services. He had put little children before them as a pattern to follow. Then he himself entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. In the end he let himself be crucified, becoming nothing in body and in soul, in order to open heaven for us.

Why did he do all this? What motivated the Son of God?

Everything he did revealed to us his relationship with the Father, the way of loving of the Trinity, which is a mutual 'making oneself nothing' out of love, an eternal giving of self, one to the other.

Jesus pours upon humanity this Trinitarian love, that reaches its climax in the moment he gives himself completely in his passion and death. Thus God shows his power in weakness. His love uplifts the world, precisely because it puts itself in the last place, on the lowest rung of creation.

The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds.

Truly humble, then, are those who, following Jesus' example, make themselves nothing out of love for others, who stand before God in an attitude of total availability to his will, and who are so empty of themselves as to let Jesus live in them.

Their prayers will be granted because when they pronounce the word "Abba-Father", it is no longer they who are praying. It is a prayer that receives what it asks for because it is put on their lips by the Holy Spirit. The culminating point of Jesus' life was when 'he offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.' (Heb 5:7-8). His prayer was heard because it was inspired by total obedience to the will of the Father and by his complete abandonment to him.

This then is the prayer that pierces the clouds and reaches the heart of God. It is the prayer of children who rise above their wretchedness and trustingly throw themselves into the arms of the Father.

Chiara Lubich


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