Gospel Matthew 14:22-33
After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
"It is a ghost," they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid."
Peter said to him in reply,
"Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water."
He said, "Come."
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
"Truly, you are the Son of God."
+ Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them, the fire of your love. Amen
"He went up on the mountain by himself to pray." The crowds had left and our Lord had sent the disciples ahead of him in a boat and yet our Lord goes up, on the mountain by himself to pray. He chose to journey up the mountain why? Why didn't Jesus just stay where he was and find a place alone and pray there, why did he go up on the mountain? As I was pondering this, a memory came into my mind of Mother Teresa and her words when I was a young novice, she said: "Sisters, Take the trouble to pray and pray well." At the time, I recall asking myself the question of what it meant to 'pray well. Jesus went up the mountain alone, to pray. Ponder this ascent up the mountain, alone. The image that rises in my heart is the ascent up the mountain is also a deliberate departure from the things 'below.' This is a choice of the heart that loves. The heart that loves, desires to know the thoughts of the other. The heart that loves, desires communion, union, dialogue, oneness. The heart that loves, longs to bring into union what is not 'one' with the beloved, what is separated, what is distant, what is not in harmony. This ascent up the mountain draws a parallel for me, of what it means to leave 'self' and the worldly way of thinking, or perhaps simply one's plans and desires, which may be good in themselves, but are not God's plans. This ascent up the mountain is a deliberate, willful breaking free from all that 'fetters me' and blocks my vision of God's way, God's will, God's way of thinking, what blocks my vision of God. It means I must 'leave something' and that something is not only others, that something is I must leave quite oftentimes, is myself, in order to BE with Jesus, to contemplate His Beauty. I love this quote from St. Bernard: "The first stage of contemplation is; to constantly consider what God wants, what is pleasing to Him, and what is acceptable in his eyes." To 'pray well' perhaps could be said in some ways is bringing one's heart into His presence, allowing him to draw one closer and then, to bring the mind and heart into a oneness with Him to seek to see things as he does, this place of wisdom and love is the place of encounter, and union with Him.
What must I 'send away', dismiss, and leave in order to truly 'pray well', praying with an open heart, present to the Lord?
Prayer: Lord, increase my faith and teach me to pray, as you taught your disciples. Amen