During his homily at Casa Santa Marta on January 16th, Pope Francis spoke profoundly about a three-word prayer found directly in scripture that he believes draws the Lord’s attention.
While recounting the story of the leper in Mark 1:40-45, Pope Francis highlighted the leper’s request to Jesus as a key we too could and should utilize as we approach His throne: “And a leper came to Him beseeching Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.'”
It’s there, in those three humble yet confident words, “if you will,” that Pope Francis believes God’s attention is most drawn to. In other words, he’s saying that it’s a prayer that pleases the Father because it’s a prayer that exudes faith in God’s goodness and in His inherent desire to heal, always. It’s this aroma of faith that is most pleasing to God, just as it was to Jesus in Mark chapter one.
Explaining further, Pope Francis said, “It is a challenge, but also an act of confidence” to essentially say, ‘I know that [God] can do it, and so I entrust myself to Him.’”
“Francis suggested that we often repeat this little prayer—“if you will”—throughout the day, because Jesus is a God of compassion, who involves Himself in our sorrows, in the problems of others,” Aletia writes.
Seeking God under the banner of “if you will” isn’t a foundation of doubt like it might sound. On the contrary, it’s a bold declaration that God reigns and that we as His children and followers surrender to His perfect will, timing and ability, full of trust and eager for a deeper infilling of His Kingdom here and now, on earth as it is in heaven.
Mark 1:40-45, full reading:
And a leper came to Him beseeching Him, and kneeling said to Him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And He sternly charged him, and sent him away at once, and said to him, ‘See that you say nothing to any one; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.’ But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in the country; and people came to Him from every quarter.