Friday, February 6, 2015

Withdrawing to pray

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
February 8, 2015

Mark 1:29-39

Amid his intense activity as an itinerant prophet, Jesus always takes care of his communication with God in silence and solitude. The gospels have preserved the memory of one of his customs that made a deep impression -- Jesus used to withdraw at night to pray.

The episode Mark tells us about helps us to know what prayer meant for Jesus. The day before had been a hard day. Jesus "had cured many who were sick". The success was great. Capernaum was shaken up. "The whole town gathered around Jesus." Everyone was talking about him.

That same night, "at dawn" -- between three and six in the morning, Jesus gets up and, without warning his disciples, withdraws to an open place. "There he began to pray." He needs to be alone with his Father. He doesn't want to let himself be confused by the success. He is only seeking the Father's will -- to know well the way he has to go.

Surprised by his absence, Simon and his companions run to look for him. They don't hesitate to interrupt his dialogue with God. They just want to keep him. "Everyone is looking for you." But Jesus doesn't let himself be programmed from outside. He only thinks about his Father's plan. Nothing and nobody will turn him from his path.

He has no interest in staying around to enjoy his success in Capernaum. He won't yield to people's enthusiasm. There are villages that have not yet heard the Good News of God. "Let us preach there also."

One of the most positive features in contemporary Christianity is seeing how the need to care more about communication with God, silence and meditation, is awakening. The most lucid and responsible Christians want to drag today's Church towards living in a more contemplative way.

It's urgent. Christians, in general, no longer know how to be alone with the Father. Theologians, preachers and catechists talk a lot about God, but seldom speak with Him. Jesus' custom has long been forgotten. In the parishes, there are many work meetings but we don't know how to retreat to rest in the presence of God and be filled with His peace.

We are fewer and fewer to do more things. Our risk is falling into activism, burn out and inner emptiness. However, our problem isn't having a lot of problems but not having the necessary spiritual strength to face them.

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