Retreating to pray
In the middle of his intense activity as a wandering prophet, Jesus always made sure to stay in communication with God in silence and solitude. The gospels have preserved the remembrance of a custom of Jesus that impressed them deeply, namely, he was wont to go off by himself at the night to pray.
The episode that Mark relates helps us to know what prayer meant to Jesus. That evening had been long and tough. Jesus had cured many who were sick with various diseases. It was a great success. Capernaum was impressed: The whole town gathered around Jesus. Everybody was talking about him.
That same night, before dawn, between the hours of three and six in the morning, Jesus gets up and without telling his disciples goes off to a deserted place, where he prays. He needs to be alone with his Father. He does not want success to stun him. He only seeks the Father’s will, to know well the road he must take.
Surprised by his absence, Simon and his companions run to look for him. They do not hesitate to interrupt his dialogue with God. They just want to have him back: Everyone is looking for you. But Jesus does not let himself get programmed from without. He only thinks of his Father’s plan. No one and nothing will keep him away from his path.
He is not at all interested in staying around to enjoy his success in Capernaum. He will not yield in the face of the enthusiasm of the populace. There are towns that have not heard yet the Good News of God: Let us go on to the nearby village that I may preach there also.
One of the most positive features of contemporary Christianity is seeing how we are waking up to the need to cultivate communication with God more, in silence and meditation. The more lucid and responsible Christians want to sway today’s Church to live more contemplatively.
This is urgent. We Christians in general do not know how to be alone with the Father. We theologians, preachers and catechists speak a lot about God, but we speak little with him. Jesus’ usual practice was forgotten long time ago. Many meetings about work are held in parishes, but we do not know how to retire to rest in God’s presence and be filled with his peace.
We are fewer every time who have to do more things. The danger before us is falling into activism, burnout and interior emptiness. Our problem, however, is not having many problems, but rather not having the necessary spiritual energy to meet them.
February 8, 2015
5 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 1, 29-39