I pride myself in being a good Christian; I sing at mass, visit the lonely and sick, and give to charities, etc. I do all these things, I believe, for all the right reason: Love of God, neighbor and self, but still, all these acts are insufficient in having a relationship with God. At first, I did many of these things because I truly felt a call and desire to do them; I also saw the wonderful effects I had on others, but like all things done repeatedly, all these good and loving actions become meaningless very quickly. Sooner or later, all these things just become another item on the “to do” list and all the meaning and inspiration are forgotten. Fatigue and the sense of being “burnt out” make these beautiful acts burdensome. In this state, the gifts of peace and joy are lost. So what can we do?
Some of my favorite passages in the Gospel include the parts that talk about Jesus going off to pray. Here is one I really love: “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds, And after he dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray” (Matthew 14: 22-23).
In context: before this event, Jesus had withdrew into a deserted place by himself after hearing about John the Baptist’s death, but the crowds followed along with the disciples. He saw them and had compassion, so he cured them, and performed many miracles, but as the evening came, the disciples wanted to send the people away so they could eat. Jesus commanded the disciples to feed the 5000 people instead. The quotation immediately follows the feeding of the 5000 people.
For me, not only is Jesus going off to pray over the death of John the Baptist, but also, I believe that he must’ve been tired over all the miracles he had to perform and serving 5000 people! Jesus had a human body! He got angry, irritated with the Pharisees, so getting tired is not too far off an idea.
He retreated for a moment. In isolation, he prayed to his Father.
Prayer slows us down for a few moments during the day. It can calm us and give rest to our body and soul. We reorganize our thoughts and God can remind us the reasons we are doing everything that we do. However, the most important thing is that we talk to God and grow in deeper relationship with him. The more we come to talk to God, the more we realize that we are not in a slave and master relationship, that we are not his slaves and that He in fact can do everything without us. In fact, at times in our life, he will ask us to do less and less so that we can focus more on resting and conversing with him.
For the busy Christian, I leave you with Luke’s account of Martha:
“Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10: 38-42).
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