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  • Sarah Raad

Withdraw

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.” (John 6:14).

Jesus Goes Up Alone Onto a Mountain to Pray (James Tissot)

I was thinking about a story that a parish priest told during a homily many many years ago, when I was just a little girl…


The priest had been the parish priest of a parish when a man – with a serious mental illness – had broken into the church and burned it down in an act of angry vandalism and as some sort of misguided act of vengeance against his Catholic mother-in-law. After this terrible event, the bishop asked this priest to visit the criminal in gaol and to forgive him for the crime that he had committed.


The priest – in recounting the story – humorously told of how he imagined the scene would unfold. He said that he agreed to do as the bishop bid, but he imagined it would happen in public – with much fanfare. He imagined there would be newspapers and television crews and publicity. He imagined – so he told us in his homily – that people would picture him as some sort of saint who had humbly followed the steps of Christ and set a wonderful example for Catholics. After all – he reasoned – the media had reported on the crime itself, so surely it could be expected that there would be an interest in the aftermath…


The reality – that priest revealed – was very different from what he had imagined. In fact, that priest entered the gaol through the visitor’s door, and he was completely ignored (except for the security checks). There was no person there to witness this heroic act of charity that he was about to undertake and the only people who knew that forgiveness had taken place that day were the criminal himself, the priest and the bishop.

And I have been reflecting – fondly – on that story and on that priest’s own rueful realisations about the heroism of charity as I have been reflecting on Christ’s actions in the Gospel after multiplying the loaves and fish…

“After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, ‘Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make Him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.” (John 6:14)


You see, Christ ran away from the GLORY. He withdrew from it. He came into the world to serve and was not interested in staying on earth as a mere Earthly King, because He knew that heroic charity takes place quietly and in secret.


And I have been reflecting on this, because it takes great faith to do our Father’s work in secret. It is easy to stand at the head of the line and lead the way in acts of charity because everyone can watch you and admire your work. But when we act in secret and only our Father knows what we do, then we are pleasing to Our Blessed Lord.


And so I pray that if they intended to come and make me a Queen by force that I should receive the Grace to withdraw to a mountain by myself as my Beloved did… That is what I pray…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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