Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blog # 172 Alone. Alone?

Blog # 172 Alone. Alone? The picture of Jesus that goes along with this blog appeared on the cover of one of the weekly bulletins of a Church in Chicago. As soon as I saw it it made me think and wonder about the prayer of Jesus. Several familiar texts in all four of the Gospels immediately came to mind. A constantly recurring characteristic given by the Evangelists in reference to Jesus praying is that He regularly designated a time and place where He would be alone for His prayer. This would be especially in times of major conflicts and before making important consequential decisions such as choosing the Apostles. Jesus is given as going off to the mountain or a deserted place, again to be separated, for a time, I would imagine, from the distractions and the frustration of dealing with the closedmindedness and hypocracy of some of those who opposed Him, and to address the personal pain He must have experienced in witnessing the immense need for the message He had come to share on the part of sinners, the poor and the suffering , coupled with His realization of how few there were among those who heard Him speak who seemed to understand and give themselves to loving all these people as He loved them. Here are a few samples of texts from the Gospels that came to mind for me in response to the picture of Jesus above. Matthew 14: 22-24. This text occurs after Jesus had heard of the death of John the Baptist and had miraculously fed a huge crowd of people. "Immediately afterward, while dismissing the crowds, Jesus insisted that his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side. When he had sent them away, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray, remainng there alone as evening drew on." Mark 14: 32 - 36. This text is placed in the garden of Gethsemani after the celebration of the Passover Supper on the night before Jesus died. "Sit down here while I pray", he said to his disciples...Then he began to be filled with fear and distress....He said to them. "My heart if filled with sorrow to the point of death."...He advanced a little and fell to the ground, praying that if it were possible this hour might pass him by. He kept saying, "Abba (O Father),...Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you would have it, not as I." Luke 6: 12 - 13. This text is placed after a miracle in which Jesus heals a man with a withered hand. "Then he went out to the mountain to pray, spending the night in communion with God. At daybreak he called his disciples and selected twelve of them he called his apostles." These and similar texts focus primarily on Jesus and his experience of prayer as a personal union with God the Father. Texts from John that came to me in response to these texts and then the picture of Jesus on the mountain add a different dimension to the picture. Several major texts from John clearly claim and emphasize our union with Jesus through faith and Baptism. In Blog # 173 we will consider some of the meaning and implications several texts from John have in relation to our experience of prayer and consequently of our experience of life here in the USA, already past the midway mark of 2011.

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