In a recent homily on the Psalms Pope Francis said:
“There often appears a negative figure in the psalms, called the ‘wicked one’, that is he or she who lives as if God does not exist.
This is the person without any transcendent referent, whose arrogance has no limits, who fears no judgement regarding what he or she does.”
(This is not referring to a person in good conscience who, as yet does not know God but is trying to live a deeper and good life)
The psalter presents prayer as the fundamental reality of life. The reference to the absolute and to the transcendent – which the spiritual master calls the ‘holy fear of God’, and which makes us completely human, is the boundary that saves us from ourselves, preventing us from venturing into life in an innate predatory and voracious manner. Prayer is the salvation of the human being.
It is the great reminder, the great connector.
There is false prayer. Purely external prayer, e.g. done for ‘show’ or ‘pretense’. When the externals become more and more important, prayer becomes less and less authentic.
When prayer is genuine, then it allows us to contemplate reality with God. When we pray, everything acquires ‘depth’. Movements of the Holy Spirit within us acquire depth in prayer. We need to pray in our heart, not just with rote or pray like parrots. Prayer is the center of life; relations with others mature through prayer.
An old saying from early Christian Monks says, ‘blessed the one who regards every human being as God, after God.’
Those who adore God love Gods’ children, respect human beings.
Prayer is not a sedative to alleviate life’s anxieties. Prayer makes us more responsible human beings. The ‘Our Father’ is a great example of this which reminds us that it is never about ‘me’.
Not to recognize others as the image of God is a sacrilege.
The prayers of the Psalms help us not to fall into the temptation of ‘the wicked’ that is living, and perhaps also of praying, as if God does not live, and as if the poor do not exist.
(Inspired by a Homily by Pope Frances)