Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Prayer break time
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Nov. 10, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
To “walk” with Jesus and his disciples as they make their way to Jerusalem is a constant challenge to greater openness to sharing in God’s unfolding plan of salvation. That is indeed the spiritual journey through which we have been led by means of the Sunday Gospels selected by the Church for the prayer and reflection of the Catholic community throughout the world during these remaining weeks of Ordinary Time on the liturgical calendar. Week after week, we have had opportunity to learn from the instructions and parables of Jesus the demands of discipleship. We must take up our cross each day and follow him. As his followers, we have nowhere to lay our heads.
There is an urgency to the message we bear in Jesus’ name. Discipleship must be a priority in our lives and there cannot be any excuses for not following the Lord now. These are but a few of the challenges the disciples have received while on their journey to Jerusalem. Jesus seems to change the focus and pushes the business of discipleship to the level of the heart. Not that discipleship begins with good intentions. We all know where good intentions lead, don’t we? After several passages which note the demands of discipleship, Jesus advises his disciples – and each of us, too – of the necessity of praying constantly and not losing heart.
For the busy and preoccupied disciple, the central question about prayer can become whether or not God is listening to us or – in our darkest moments of doubt – whether God answers prayer at all. If our heart-to-heart relationship with God is not sufficiently profound and mature, we will tend to treat God as a great vendor of graces and mini-miracles which we demand at the drop of our prayer-coins.
It’s not that the immature disciple is selfish or greedy.
For anyone who honestly attempts to learn from Jesus and follow in his way of service, there is certainly more than enough to pray about! Every hour of the day could be filled with prayers for those we have met and their needs. The disciple sees the brokenness of the world perhaps more keenly than others. We not only see it but are rather busy doing our part to effect its conversion. But without heart and vision, we can become overwhelmed and frustrated.
As important as it is, our own efforts at service – even those rooted in discipleship – are not the end-all of our spiritual life. Have we not heard that the result of work without prayer is sweat and a tired body? In our journey with Jesus toward the glory of Jerusalem, he seems to stop us in out tracks and remind us so. His disciples need to pray constantly and not lose heart. Jesus obviously is not asking us to pack our day with the constant flow of prayers. Certainly there must be specific times in every day for the disciple to spend in explicit prayer. The excuse that “my work is my prayer” is a cry that gains nothing with the Lord. What concerns Jesus is that his disciples see and experience all things as embraced by the loving and saving presence of God. What we do as disciples must be born of that awareness and, in a sense, return to it.
That is the vision which must burn in our hearts and inspire our busy-ness. God is so much bigger than our needs. Turning our minds and hearts to God in prayer keeps all that we do in perspective, whether it be saving nations at world summits or doing the dishes. Jesus seems to be reminding us that it matters less what we are doing or even what our legitimate needs may be. We will become overwhelmed by both if we do not realize that somehow God’s love carries it all and gives it all meaning. Our humble and constant prayer must be that our comparatively small efforts truly are one with the mind and heart of the One whom we seek to serve.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane. His book, Catholics
Believe, is available from Harcourt Religion Publishers.)
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