In the middle of his intense activity as a wandering prophet, Jesus always made sure to stay in communication with God in silence and solitude. The Gospel writers have kept the remembrance of this habit because it left such a deep impression: Jesus often went out during the night to pray.
The episode that Mark relates helps us to get to know what prayer means to Jesus. That evening had been a difficult shift. Jesus «had cured many who were sick». His success was stupendous. Capernaum was shaken: «The whole town came crowding» around Jesus. Everyone was talking about him.
That same night, «in the morning», between the hours of three and six, Jesus gets up and without telling his disciples goes out to the open country and «prayed there». He needs to be alone with his Father. He doesn’t want to get caught up in success. He only seeks the Father’s will: he wants to know well the path he must walk.
Surprised by his absence, Simon and his companions run to find him. They undoubtedly interrupted his dialogue with God. They just want to get him back: «Everybody is looking for you». But Jesus doesn’t let himself get controlled from without. He only thinks about his Father’s project. No one or nothing will lead him away from his path.
He’s not interested in sticking around to enjoy his success in Capernaum. He doesn’t fall into their popular enthusiasm. There are towns that still haven’t heard the Good News of God: «Let us go elsewhere…so that I can proclaim the message there too».
One of the most positive aspects of contemporary Christianity is seeing how we are waking up to the need to cultivate better communication with God, in silence and meditation. The more lucid and responsible Christians want to lead today’s Church to live in a more contemplative way.
This is urgent. We Christians in general don’t know how to be alone with the Father. Theologians, preachers and catechists speak about God a lot, but we speak little with God. Jesus’ habit was forgotten for a long time. In parishes they have many working meetings, but we don’t know how to go out to rest in God’s presence and be filled with God’s peace.
More and more we are less and less in being able to do anything. The danger is falling into activism, burnout and interior emptiness. However, our problem isn’t having so many problems, but not having the spiritual energy that’s needed to meet those problems.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf