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MONDAY HOMILY: Praying as Jesus Did

By Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds
October 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When he prayed, did Jesus, in his human nature, pause over the name of Judas?  Perhaps this was the first time that the Lord said to his Father, "if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done."

SUGAR LAND,TX (Catholic Online) - When we think about the prayer of Jesus - his intimate communion with God the Father, expressed in his human nature - several scenes of the Gospel jump to mind.  The first is at the beginning of the Lord's public ministry, after his baptism, when Jesus goes into the desert for an extended retreat of forty days.  As that ministry reaches its culmination, Jesus prays all night in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

In addition, the Gospel mentions the times when Jesus goes to the Temple to pray, or when he is in the synagogue, either participating in or leading the prayer of the local community.  Prayer suffused the life of Christ from beginning to end.

"The Son of God who became Son of the Virgin learned to pray in his human heart. He learns to pray from his mother, who kept all the great things the Almighty had done and treasured them in her heart.  He learns to pray in the words and rhythms of the prayer of his people, in the synagogue at Nazareth and the Temple at Jerusalem..

"Jesus prays before the decisive moments of his mission. He also prays before the decisive moments involving the mission of his apostles. Jesus' prayer before the events of salvation. is a humble and trusting commitment of his human will to the loving will of the Father (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2599, 2600).

Today's Feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude gives us a glimpse into the prayer life of Christ.  In the Gospel for today's Mass, St. Luke recounts how Jesus "went up to the mountain to pray" before calling the Apostles and associating them most intimately with his divine mission (cf. Luke 6:12-16).  His prayer must have been particularly intense, knowing how the Twelve would fall short and how one would betray him.

We can imagine that Jesus, in his human nature, paused over the name of Judas.  Perhaps this was the first time that the Lord said to his Father, "if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).  The calling of Judas signals that God finds a way to extend the hope of salvation to everyone, even if some reject it.

After all, Jesus also calls Peter, who denied him; and James and John, who lobbied for places of honor; and Thomas, who doubted the fact of the Resurrection.  Despite their sins and failings, however, these men accepted the grace of repentance and became dedicated evangelizers and great saints.   Like them, we should never despair that we are beyond the grace of God.  He called us in baptism, and continues to beckon him to live the life of grace.

Jesus' example should prompt in us a question.  Do I pray?  Do I consider important decisions in the presence of God, or do I rely upon my own wits and judgment?  If my prayer clarifies some aspect of God's will, do I have the courage to embrace it?

Prayer is not always easy.  Many times it is a battle, as the Catechism says.  "Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort" (CCC, no. 2725).  Even when the weight of this effort seems to limit our capacity to pray, we should not lose heart. 

How can we intensify - or even begin - to integrate the practice of prayer?  First, we must simply begin.  Second, we ought to try to set aside a definitive time and place to prayer.  This will help the practice of prayer to become a habit, something that is integrated into our life.  Third, we must realize that there is no one "method" for prayer.  Our emphasis should simply be on having a conversation with God.  Sharing our life with him; lifting up our petitions; praising and thanking him for his goodness and for the blessings that he has given us.

We should also remember that in his prayer on earth, Jesus had us in mind as well.  Although the Gospels are silent on this question, I think that it is reasonable to assume that while he was on that mountaintop, Jesus was praying for us as.  That alone should be enough to spur us on in continuing the conversation.
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Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com.

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