Jesus at Prayer
“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…” With these words in Sunday’s Gospel Jesus erupts into prayer. Its power and spontaneity flowed from a moment of self-transcendence. The love of God overflowed in him and expanded his heart with a generosity that made him promise, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” Here we glimpse the real and unadulterated Jesus, God’s only Son given to the world that we might live with God’s own life – cf. John 3:16.
Jesus’ words in this Gospel passage seem to say: ‘Come and follow me and I will show you how to live your life so you will be truly happy and content, and discover peace – even in the midst of troubled times.’ It’s really important to read the Gospels on a regular basis in order to get a grounding in who Jesus is and what he means when he speaks. Reading the scriptures is meant to be a kind of prayer, a semi-contemplative experience.
Our understanding of prayer is coloured by our childhood education about heaven as a ‘place we go to after we die.’ And our schooling about prayer has left us with the impression that prayer is ‘telling God what we want.’ Our religious education had serious limitations. It was designed for children and falls far behind our other levels of growth and development.
Fr. John Main is a Benedictine monk who has spent his life helping people to pray in a semi-contemplative way. I offer you this lovely quote from his book, Community of Love. “The experience of prayer is the experience of the liberating consequences of transcendence. Prayer is transcendence realized. What happens in prayer is that the love of Christ is set free in our hearts. All the illusions and images that restrict or distort it are transcended. It is a work of finding and realizing our own human freedom, our freedom from desire, from sin, from illusion. Only if we are free and restored to our divine likeness can we know the love of Christ.
“Our freedom is the condition of our being real, being in harmonious contact with the ground of our being, our source and origin. The ground of our being is reached only in the movement of other-centeredness, of transcendence. Following that movement led by the Spirit, we enter the experience of becoming wholly real within God’s own free-flowing and all-embracing reality.”
“The world is charged with the splendour of God” – Gerard Manly Hopkins.
Fr. QQ – 7/2/2020