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, now already two years ago, I have been spending more time in meditation and prayer.
I have not gained any insight as to why JoAnn suffered and lost her life to pancreatic cancer nor do I believe I will get an answer on this side of heaven. Over this past week of the anniversary of her death, I have experienced more sorrow regarding the pain of her loss and I believe that is a continuation of the healing of the grief and that is good. At the same time, I feel a peace that she is with God now. For me the process is like suffering an amputation, I will continue to heal but my life will not be the same. At the same time, I am more confident and aware that God is walking with me, leading and guiding me, and will bring about a greater good.
Sometimes we resist being still and spending quiet time with God because we are afraid to face the pain or aspects of ourselves that we would rather not see or admit. God sees the fullness of who we are and can be. God loves us as we are. We can be confident that as we embrace those aspects of our lives that we keep at arm’s length, we will indeed experience our suffering and pain, but we will also find healing, consolation, and reconciliation. Jesus meets us in the midst of the chaos of our lives and loves us through to the other side no matter how long the healing takes. Continuing to turn to God in prayer, we will be drawn ever deeper into the mystery of the Trinity and 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