Commentary on the Gospel of
In all four Gospels, there come times when the followers of Jesus are pictured as stating definitely that Jesus is the One, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Sent. We hear one such declaration by Peter in today’s Eucharistic liturgy. Jesus, in somewhat of a surprise, tells them strictly not to tell this to anyone else.
I could reflect upon the closing verse about Jesus’ predicting His own suffering, death and resurrection. I do not avoid this, but rather am choosing rather to ponder about Jesus’ praying in solitude. With all the various forms of prayer about which much is written and available, how would it be if we entered into His solitude! Would there be some encouragement there for our prayer?
The human intellect can hold one thought for about one single second. That is not very long. We reach for the new, the different. In relationships we expect the new or newer or latest. We can so easily become bored, even with things which once fascinated us, or persons who delighted or attracted us at one time. We hunger for the different even within the familiar, even about ourselves. “What’s new” we ask of old friends, because we are already so aware of what is old.
Perhaps even this little Daily Reflection is interesting today and maybe, for some, even for tomorrow, but not for every day. It can’t be that good. Many people experience praying as good when there is something ‘new’, something about Scripture, God, Jesus, or even themselves which they never knew before. The “good” is what is “new”. Many there are who think they are not very good at praying, because their thoughts “drift” or their imaginations take them far away from the originating verse or image or idea. It is amazing to me how quickly I get from Jesus as the Good Shepherd or Peter’s profession of faith to how I lost that big fish off my hook three weeks ago or just what am I going to say in class this afternoon. “How did I travel so quickly, so far!” I must not be much of a saint, just a good thinker or wanderer.
Ah, but as usual I digress, or wander. I have to present something new or different for you so you will think I am a good writer. I know that and I think that of myself too. So back to Jesus praying in solitude.
We bump into His humanity as we bump into our own in prayer. He may have been thinking about His disciples and just how fragile their faith was in Him and His ways and mission. His human ways may have prevented Him from rapturous union with His Father. This may have prevented Him from being so disappointed with their human fragilities. I would wish that Luke had told us just how long Jesus prayed in solitude. We wonder just how long good praying takes, maybe it is just one second here, and one there. We maybe can string a few seconds together and find contentment in our judging ourselves as good-praying folk. I wonder if Jesus evaluated His prayer and qualitatively gave Himself a grade. This is our major defect in praying and can usually result in our prayer not being enjoyable, peaceful or new!
Now here’s what’s new! What is new and different is the quality of our life after we spend time praying. That is what can be evaluated if you are into such things. The encounter comes before results just as pregnancy comes before birth. What is “new” then is the fruit of praying. Jesus was interrupted in His prayer, not just by wandering thoughts, but by wondering disciples. His relationships, His authenticity, His fidelity were the fruits of His praying in solitude. His compassionate availability was the fruit of His being so available to His humanity and His prayer.