Friday, 11 March 2016


Jesus wasn't afraid of controversy and he challenged hypocrisy when he encountered it, earning the resentment of some in authority. He healed when people in need appealed to him, but didn't do anything to promote himself. 'Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you' (Matt 11:28) is but a gentle invitation. 

He discouraged those who were healed from proclaiming their cure to all and sundry, but it was hard to prevent good reports of him circulating. In John 7, the evangelist reports that he went on pilgrimage to the Temple on his own rather than with his disciples, so as not to draw attention to himself, yet he still ended up teaching when he was there. There was no campaign plan of action in this however. He simply responded to opportunities that arose. St John in several places speaks of the element of timing in the course of Jesus' destiny, timing which is God's gift.

'For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven' (Ecclus 3:1) 

Jesus is perfectly attuned to the promise of each moment, because of his intimate communion with his heavenly Father in prayer. This can also be true of us as we enter more deeply into prayer, allow the Spirit to heal us, and renew our lives, so that we become more in harmony with God's will.

Growing into 'prayer without ceasing' takes time. Whatever way we start, we discover that some kind of routine and structure is helpful, just as eating meals and exercise regularly is beneficial. How much we pray and for how long we pray develops as we journey, and it varies in the light of circumstances and opportunity. Healthy prayer leaves us satisfied, yet eager, ready for more when the time comes.  

Prayer may not always be stimulating or exciting. Sometimes it can be an effort, hard work to keep to the task, but it will not lead us to resentment or disgust or rebellion, unless we are somehow afflicted with a spiritual ailment - the impact of being sinned against, or else not accepting responsibility for our sins. Regularly reflecting on life's passage, and examining one's conscience is necessary for honest prayer. When we know what stands in the way of intimacy with God, something can be done about it. 

God never calls upon us to tackle more than we can cope with, or learn more than we can assimilate at any time. There may be obstacles to spiritual growth of which we remain unaware for many years. Only when the time is right from God's diagnostic perspective, does the Spirit enable us to face fresh truth about ourselves. And there are many things in Jesus' teaching which, even though we know and think we understand them now, acquire fresh meaning in the light of new experience, if the time is right. As Jesus says to his disciples

' ... the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.' (John 14:26)

During his final pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Jesus pereceived what was likely to happen to him as opposition and resentment against him grew. He seeks to warn his disciples, but they fail to understand, and recognising the coming crisis he says

'Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.' (John 12:27)

A few days later, he is still struggling with himself to accept, as he prays in Gethsemane, while his betrayer came looking for him.

'Father, if it be your will, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not my will, but yours be done.'  (Luke 22:42)

But when self surrender comes, it is not in acquiesence, but an active seizing of the moment as it came to him, even though that meant suffering and death.

'Your kingdom come, your will be done ...'

No comments:

Post a Comment