Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God (Lk 6:12).
In the midst of a busy ministry, Jesus spent time alone with God in prayer. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus often did so before making important decisions, as in today’s reading that recorded the choosing of his Apostles. Prayer is an important, foundational principle to experiencing and knowing God as well as discerning his will for living a fully human life.
The Mystery of God is not a problem to be solved. In our language today, we often use mystery and problem interchangeably, as, “I lost my keys, it is such a mystery.” Strictly speaking, the loss of keys is a problem that can be solved. We can backtrack our steps, and through a process of elimination, the problem becomes smaller until we solve the whereabouts of the missing keys. We cannot solve or prove God exists as if he is a problem to be solved. This is because God is not a being, not even the supreme being. God is a mystery that transcends any finite dimension of reality. We have nothing to measure him by, we cannot prove his existence, nor can we solve him as we would a problem.
Yet we can come to know God intimately just as Jesus did. Even though he is transcendent, beyond our reach and comprehension, he is at the same time closer to us than we are to ourselves. We come to know God through his invitation, and as we enter into the mystery of his reality through developing a relationship with him, we come to know him. He does not become smaller, but more vast, always beyond our comprehension. His mystery is luminous as if we were in a completely dark room and someone turned on and shined a flashlight into our eyes. We wince from its brightness, yet in time, our eyes adjust and we eventually are able to see what was beyond our ability apart from the light. Jesus wants us to experience and embrace the mystery of the radiance and warmth of his Father’s light and love.
Jesus called each apostle by name. He calls us by name too and invites us to pray with him as he prayed when he walked this earth. Since JoAnn’s death, already a week ago now, I have been completing the necessary things that need to be done and our kids and I have been supporting each other each step of the way. In my time alone, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer.
I have not gained any insight as to why JoAnn suffered and lost her life to pancreatic cancer. I do feel a peace that she is with God now, while at the same time a sorrow that we are no longer together. Like suffering an amputation, I will heal and with time and space I am sure that God will bring about a greater good. He is walking with me, leading and guiding me I am sure, as sure as I am that my life will never be the same.
We can come to know God, though we will never fully comprehend him or necessarily his ways because we are finite beings. Our lives are busy and full, even with good things, yet, if we are not making time to spend with God alone as Jesus did, we will run out of gas, we will make decisions that may appear to be good, but will lead us astray and away from the fulfillment of our vocation and experience of God. Through making time for prayer with him, we will discern his will for our lives, we will receive comfort, strength to endure the challenges we face, and be drawn ever deeper into his mystery to experience the intimacy of communion and relationship we have been created for.
Painting: James Tissot – Jesus Goes Up Alone on a Mountain to Pray, 1886-1894