Friday, January 10, 2014

Deserted Places

By Melanie Rigney
Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. (1 John 5:12)
Praise the Lord, Jerusalem. (Psalm 147:12a)
(After the leper Jesus healed went to the priest), the report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. (Luke 5:15-16)

Lord, give me the courage to pull away from the crowds from time to time to focus on You.

There’s a famous scene from 1987’s Barfly, starring Faye Dunaway (Wanda) and Mickey Rourke (Henry) that takes place as the pair meet in a bar:

Wanda: I can’t stand people. I hate them.
Henry: Oh yeah?
Wanda: You hate them?
Henry: No, but I seem to feel better when they’re not around.

You have to wonder if the fully human part of Jesus didn’t feel that way at times: the crowds who wanted so much of him, those he healed who couldn’t honor the simplest requests not to talk about his miracles, the apostles who were sometimes dense and at other times jockeying for position. We know he loved them all in the way parents love their children. And yet, he seems to have craved time alone to pray, as today’s Gospel reading and other passages show. Perhaps in some ways, like Henry, he felt better from time to time when the others were not around.

We honor the commandments and follow Christ’s teaching when we gather in community to pray and sing and celebrate and mourn, or to provide the needy with food and clothing and shelter and encouragement and love. We share in Cursillo group reunions and other prayer groups what our closest moments to Christ were, what we’re studying in the Bible or other spiritual resources, and what we’re doing to evangelize or serve. But for some of us, the hardest, most difficult times are those when we talk with God with no one else around, in a quiet, deserted place. It’s often our last priority.

It can be a bit intimidating to stop doing and start listening. But if we are brave enough to sit quietly with the Lord, we too may find that we can feel great when all our attention is focused on Him.

Visit an adoration chapel this week, or find a time in a sanctuary or chapel when no one else is there. How does the experience affect your conversation with God?

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