Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [Pope Benedict XVI] From a retreat preached at the Vatican, 1983
“My Lord, our King, you alone are God. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you” (Est 4,14)
In the Gospel Jesus invites us to pray: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you”. Jesus’ words here are very valuable because they express the true relationship between God and man and answer to a fundamental difficulty in the history of religions and in our personal lives. Is it right and proper to ask God for things? Isn’t the only response that answers to God’s transcendence and greatness to glorify, adore and give him thanks in a prayer that will, for this reason, be disinterested?
Jesus pays no attention to this fear. Jesus does not teach a religion for the wholly disinterested elite. The understanding of God that Jesus teaches us is something else: his God is very human, a God who is good and powerful. Jesus’ religion is very human, very simple � it is a religion for the simple: “I give praise to you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to children” (Mt 11,25). Children, those who have need of God’s help and tell him so, understand the truth far better than the learned who, by not accepting petitionary prayer and only allowing disinterested praise of God, construct a self-sufficiency for man that does not correspond to his dependence, as expressed in Esther’s words: “Come to my help!” (4,14). Behind the noble attitude of not wanting to disturb God with our little woes hides the doubt: ‘Has God the power to respond to the realities of our life? Can God change the situation and enter into the reality of our earthly life?’…
But if God doesn’t act, if he doesn’t have power over the concrete events of our lives, how could God still be God? And if God is love, won’t love discover a way of answering the hopes of one who loves? If God is love, and if he is unable to help us in our actual lives, then love would not be the ultimate power at work in the world.