Continuing our meditation on God the Father, today we would like to
reflect on his generous and providential love. "The witness of
Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is
concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to
the great events of the world and its history" (CCC, n. 303). We can
begin with a text from the Book of Wisdom, in which divine
Providence is seen guiding a boat in the middle of the sea: "It is
your Providence, O Father, that steers its course, because you have
given it a path in the sea, and a safe way through the waves,
showing that you can save from every danger, so that even if a man
lacks skill, he may put to sea" (Wis 14:3-4).
In a psalm we find another image of the sea, ploughed by ships and
teeming with animals large and small, which recalls the nourishment
that God provides for all living things: "These all look to you, to
give them their food in due season. When you give to them, they
gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good
things" (Ps 104:27-28).
2. The image of the ship in the middle of the sea well describes our
situation before our providential Father. He, as Jesus says, "makes
his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just
and on the unjust" (Mt 5:45). However, in the light of this message
of the Father's providential love, we naturally wonder how suffering
can be explained. And it is necessary to recognize that the problem
of suffering is an enigma which perplexes human reason. Divine
Revelation helps us understand that it is not willed by God, since
it entered the world because of human sin (cf. Gn 3:16-19).
"Almighty God ..., because he is supremely good, would never allow
any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so
all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself"
(St Augustine, Enchiridion de fide, spe et caritate, 11, 3: PL 40,
236). In this regard, the reassuring words that Joseph spoke to his
brothers, who had sold him and later depended on his power, are
significant: "It was not you who sent me here but God.... As for
you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring
it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Gn
God's plans do not coincide with those of man; they are infinitely
better, but often incomprehensible to the human mind. The Book of
Proverbs says: "A man's steps are ordered by the Lord; how then can
man understand his way?" (Prv 20:24). In the New Testament, Paul
will announce this consoling principle: "In everything God works for
good with those who love him" (Rom 8:28).
3. What should be our attitude to God's providential and far-sighted
action? We certainly should not wait passively for what he sends us,
but cooperate with him in bringing to completion the work he has
begun in us. We must be eager to seek first the things of heaven.
These must come first, as Jesus said: "Seek first his kingdom and
his righteousness" (Mt 6:33). Other matters must not be the object
of excessive concern, because our heavenly Father knows our needs;
this is what Jesus teaches us when he asks his disciples for
"childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who
takes care of his children's smallest needs" (CCC, n. 305): "Do not
seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be of
anxious mind. For all the nations of the world seek these things;
and your Father knows that you need them" (Lk 12:29f.).
We are therefore called to cooperate with God in an attitude of
great trust. Jesus teaches us to ask the heavenly Father for our
daily bread (cf. Mt 6:11; Lk 11:3). If we receive it with gratitude,
we will also spontaneously remember that nothing belongs to us, and
that we must be ready to give: "Give to everyone who begs from you;
and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again" (Lk
4. The certainty that God loves us makes us trust in his fatherly
providence even in life's most difficult moments. This complete
trust in God, the providential Father, even in the midst of
adversity, is admirably expressed by St Teresa of Jesus: "Let
nothing trouble you; let nothing frighten you. Everything passes.
God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God wants for
nothing. God alone is enough" (Poems, 30).
Scripture offers us an eloquent example of total trust in God when
it tells how Abraham reached the decision to sacrifice his son
Isaac. In reality, God did not want the death of the son, but the
faith of the father. And Abraham demonstrates it completely, for
when Isaac asks him where the lamb is for the burnt offering, he
dares to answer: "God will provide" (Gn 22:8). And then he
immediately experiences the benevolent Providence of God, who saves
the young boy and rewards his faith, filling him with blessings.
Such texts must be interpreted, then, in the light of Revelation as
a whole, which reaches its fullness in Jesus Christ. He teaches us
to place great confidence in God even in the most difficult moments:
nailed to the Cross, Jesus abandons himself totally to the Father:
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (Lk 23:46). With this
attitude he raises to a sublime level what Job had summed up in his
famous words: "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed
be the name of the Lord" (Jb 1:21). Even what is humanly a
misfortune can be part of that great plan of infinite love in which
the Father provides for our salvation.
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I warmly welcome the many English-speaking pilgrims and visitors
present, especially those from England, Denmark, Tanzania, Japan and
the United States of America. Upon you and your families, I invoke
the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
After greeting the various language groups, the Holy Father said:
We would now like to offer a special prayer to the Father of Mercy
to grant the gift of peace which Kosovo and Europe, in particular,
so greatly need today.