Because we are Baptised in Christ, though we may be lonely – we are never alone.
The Gospel today was very beautiful and moving. We are told that after tending to the sick and the lame and casting out demons, Christ prayed… “And in the morning, a great while before day, He rose and went out to a lonely place, and there He prayed.” (Mark 1-29-39).
How beautiful is that picture to me! I can see in my mind’s eye the eagerness of such a terribly weary Christ, who rose from His humble bed in the very early hours of the morning, creeping out of the place where He slept so as not to wake anybody, seeking the Father – lovingly, hungrily, humbly.
How His yearning for the Other Persons of the Trinity must have compelled Him to rise!
Just a moment… He wanted just a moment – away from the crowds and politics and demands – quietly and alone to experience a moment of silent profound connection with the Father and the Holy Spirit through prayer. He yearned for His Beloved!
Through this humble action, Christ showed us that prayer is nothing more than words of love spoken between a child and their beloved parent – Abba – Father, Daddy.
When Christ preached that we should pray to the Father in the silence of our hearts for He is Spirit and knows what is in our hearts even before we tell Him – this is what He meant. This stark, lonely honesty. This quiet surrender. This pure and peaceful prayer in the quiet where nobody even knows where we are or what we do!
Upon reflecting on this Gospel, that word LONELY struck me as though a blow to my heart and I have not been able to stop thinking of it ever since.
I hate being alone. I truly hate it. I like to be around others. I do not like the quiet of an empty house. In fact, I think I could go so far as to say that I am afraid of being alone.
As the eldest child of a very large family, I grew up used to being surrounded by people. The worst pain of my life has been to experience loss in utter loneliness feeling that the people around me – those who love me the most – cannot understand and therefore cannot share in my pain. The weight of such a lonely, empty burden is overwhelming for me!
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.” I agree with her! I, who am surrounded by love, and yet have often felt the burden of that lonely poverty in my life.
And yet, there is something in the example that Our Loving God sets for us through the Person of Christ… Because Christ goes to a LONELY PLACE.
Saint John of the Cross said, “Silence is God's first language.”
But what does that mean? Silence?
Away from the worries of the world. That is what it means. I must take my heart and my soul away from the worries of the world and open it only to God – That is prayer!
Years ago, I used to pray the Rosary with a group of ladies at my local parish. One older lady who was part of that group told me that she had coped with her daughter being diagnosed with cancer by praying the Our Father and actually listening to the words.
When Christ was asked to teach people to pray – He gave us the Our Father – for a very good reason.
Through the Our Father, Christ was showing us all that we would need in prayer. He was literally TEACHING us how to pray.
In the Our Father we: petition God; Glorify Him; Submit to His Will; Ask for His Providence; Ask for His Protection; Ask for His Forgiveness and Promise to Forgive Others; and Remember our Eternal Life. That is all we are required to do in prayer!
Often when we pray, we feel that we are alone and that there is only silence. And yet… Nobody prayed in silence more than Christ Himself.
But there is such a lot going on in Christ’s silence!
For Christ is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. That means that when Christ goes to a lonely place to pray He is never actually alone – He is with His FAMILY – with the Father and the Holy Spirit – He is in perfect Communion with the Trinity.
And we, when we pray – as the chosen Children of God – become part of that family. For it is through Baptism that we become Temples of the Holy Spirit.
And as Temples of the Holy Spirit, though we may feel lonely, we are never alone. We too are in communion with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Just imperfectly so – because our nature is imperfect.
Imagine the day when we would be able to see what that communion truly means… On that day, in Paradise, in a lonely place of prayer – we will know that we were never ever truly alone.
For how could we ever be alone – if we are Children of God?
For with prayer, we not only stand on Holy Ground, but we become Holy Ground, where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.