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This Week's Reflection

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Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 676: The importance of prayer : A reflection Job, 1st Corinthians and The Gospel of Mark  (Jb 7:1-4, 6-7, 1 Cor 9:16-19, 22-23, Mk 1:29-39)

 

[Job]

1 Is not life on earth a drudgery, its days like those of a hireling? 2 Like a slave who longs for the shade, a hireling who waits for wages, 3 So I have been assigned months of futility, and troubled nights have been counted off for me.

 

4 When I lie down I say, “When shall I arise?” then the night drags on; I am filled with restlessness until the dawn. 6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle; they come to an end without hope. 7 Remember that my life is like the wind my eye will not see happiness again.

[1 Corinthians]

16 If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! 17 If I do so willingly, I have a recompense, but if unwillingly, then I have been entrusted with a stewardship.

 

18 What then is my recompense? That, when I preach, I offer the gospel free of charge so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

 

19 Although I am free in regard to all, I have made myself a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.

 

22 To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.

 

23 All this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

[Mark]

29 On leaving the synagogue he entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. 31 He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

 

32When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. 33 The whole town was gathered at the door. 34 He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

 

35 Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

36 Simon and those who were with him pursued him 37and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”

 

38 He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

 

39 So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.

Job and Paul, Simon and his mother-in-law: they each had their own life experiences, and we heard a little about each of them in this morning’s readings. But what’s even more important than their experiences is what they made of them in the presence of God, and to say that is to speak of prayer. Prayer is the thread that unites all of our life experiences, and in that sense, each of the readings this morning has something to say about prayer.

 

Prayer, like life itself, begins with God, who enables Job to say everything he does in the book of Job, including his gentle reminder to God in the first reading: Remember that my life is like the wind, or, as The Message Bible translates it, “God, don’t forget that I’m only a puff of air!” That was how God inspired Job to pray, but God’s answer was hidden in the fact that Job said something to God at all. That made it a prayer, and the fact that the prayer was recorded in the bible shows that God encourages us to keep praying throughout everything that happens to us, just as Job did. Prayer is never a monologue; it’s always a dialogue, even if the person praying and the God who answers are both silent.

 

In the Gospel we have an example of vocal prayer and also, I think, of silent prayer. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. There’s a note of solicitude and hope in their voices, and just sharing their desire with Jesus is already a form of prayer. But the great example of silent prayer (after Jesus himself) is Simon’s mother-in-law, in bed with a fever. She teaches us that when the tongue is unable to express itself, the heart can do so, and the eyes can speak by their tears. Her prayer took the form of an unspoken appeal that went straight to the heart of Jesus. (And here I would say that we can be so busy seeing the miracles as signs that we forget to think of them as works of love).

 

At any rate, Jesus could not resist the silent prayer of this woman. He approached, grasped her hand, and bestowed his strength on her weakness, healing her as he would heal each of us. She had already been a woman of prayer, but when Jesus healed her out of love for her, her prayer became a dialogue of love. The dialogue did not cease when her silent prayer was answered, it only took another form. We are told, and she waited on them. When the love of God really takes hold of a person, as it did with this woman, it clothes not only the intellect but all the senses, and the whole person becomes a hand that serves and an ear that listens, and only our refusal to love can separate us from our dialogue with God.

 

St Paul too had already been a man of prayer like Job. But when Jesus called him by name on the road to Damascus, his prayer became a dialogue of love. The love of Christ overwhelms us, he was later to write, perhaps with that experience in mind. And as with Simon’s mother-in-law, God’s love in Christ clothed not only Paul’s intellect but all his senses, and the whole person became a hand that writes and a tongue that speaks: If I preach the gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me - a work of love, like the miracles of Jesus. Nothing in the world can separate Paul from his dialogue of love with God, neither his lack of payment for preaching the gospel, nor the weakness of others in responding to it. He still keeps on praying for the sake of the gospel, so that I too may have a share in it.

 

Job and Paul, Simon and his mother-in-law: all of these people are persons of prayer. They presented themselves to God the Father with confidence, knowing that they were constantly being invited and drawn to their Creator. We can even say that they - and we - were created for prayer, for sharing in God’s love. We have only to allow the love of God to overwhelm us, to break down our hardheartedness and unconscious prayerlessness.

 

And how can our spirit not break into prayer when we contemplate the immensity of the love of God, which drove him to humble himself and allow himself to be broken, first on the cross, and then in every Eucharist?

“Take and eat”, he says. “My Lord and my God”, we pray.

 

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for always being there so that we have someone who loves and cares about us to share our joys and concerns with.

Quote from a Saint: “Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” – St. John Chrysostom

Questions for reflection:

  1. How is your prayer life? Do you pray daily? Do you have a specific time that you pray? Are there times when you forget to pray?

  2. Do you talk to God in both the difficult times, like Job, and also when things are going well for you in order to thank Him for the graces and gifts that he showers upon you?

  3. When you do pray do you include silence to allow God a chance to speak to you or do you use your prayer time to vent and not give time for the Lord to respond?

  4. Do you practice both vocal and silent prayer? How are the fruits of these two types of prayer different? Which do you prefer and why?

  5. Have you ever considered that the miracles that Jesus did were acts of love? Does this change how you think about them? Reread some of Christ’s miracles and meditate upon them as being acts of love.

  6. Have you ever experienced prayer as a “Dialogue of Love” like St. Paul did?

  7. Has Christ’s love ever overwhelmed you? If so, meditate upon the experience and give thanks for such a grace. If not, is there something in your prayer life that you can change to open yourself up to receiving this grace?

  8. Are you open to being overwhelmed by the Love of God or does it make you uncomfortable?

--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo, CfP

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