I know many people have already written about this particular homily, but I confess I did a happy dance when I read about it, so I had to share. On Tuesday at one of his typical morning homilies at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis spoke about the fruitfulness of praise.
The pope’s homily focused on the first reading, in which David dances exuberantly before the Lord, and the people celebrate along with him upon the return of the Ark of the Covenant. Pope Francis said that “David danced with all his might” with a prayer of praise that “led him to move beyond all composure,” and “this was precisely a prayer of praise.”
An emotional, heartfelt expression of prayer from David such as this was something quite beautiful, according to Pope Francis.
“’But Father! This is for the Renewal of the Spirit folks, not for all Christians!’” Pope Francis said, anticipating resistance. Instead, he insisted, “No: prayer of praise is a Christian prayer, for all of us.”
And there it is. Petition. Thanksgiving. Adoration. Pope Francis noted that we understand these three forms of prayer fairly well. But a prayer of praise can leave us weak at the knees or stiff-arming the absurdity.
Why is that? Is it the lack of formality or spontaneity? Perhaps. Praise can be difficult, as it does require a level of vulnerability. But as Pope Francis said, it is time to “come out of your shell” and pray a prayer of praise.
What exactly is praise? Pope Francis defined it rather eloquently: “This is the prayer of praise: we praise God for his greatness, because He is great. We say beautiful things to Him, because we are happy for His greatness. … Praising God is completely gratis. [In it] we do not ask [Him to give us anything]: we do not express gratitude for anything [He has given]; we praise [Him]!”
Ultimately, this is how we are called to love the Lord: not for what he has done for us and not for how he makes us feel, but simply for who he is.
Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.