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February 2006

... he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed. (Mark 1:35)

What a full day Jesus had had that Saturday in the town of Capernaum! He had spoken in the synagogue and astonished everyone with his teaching. He had freed a man from an unclean spirit. After leaving the synagogue he had gone to Simon and Andrew’s house where he had healed Simon’s mother-in-law. Then, in the evening, after sunset, all the sick and the possessed had been brought to him and he had cured many of those who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons. (see Mark 1: 32-34)

After such a demanding day and night, the next morning, when it was still dark, Jesus got up and left the house.

... he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

He felt homesick for heaven. It was from there that he had come, to reveal God’s love to us, to open the way to heaven for us, to share in everything of our lives. He had journeyed along the roads of Palestine to teach the crowds, to cure diseases and illnesses of every kind, and to train his disciples.

But the life-giving power, that flowed like ‘rivers of living water’ from within him (John 7: 37-38), came from his constant relationship with the Father. He and the Father know each other, love each other, are in each other, are perfectly one. (see John 10: 15, 30, 38)

The Father is ‘Abba,’ which means ‘daddy,’ the dad he could turn to with infinite trust and boundless love.

... he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

Since the Son of God had come to earth for us, he was not content to be the only one to have this privileged kind of prayer. By dying for us and redeeming us, he made us children of God, his own brothers and sisters.

Therefore we too can use his divine invocation, ‘Abba, Father,’ with all it implies: certainty of his protection, security, blind trust in his love, divine consolation, strength and ardour – the ardour that burns in a heart sure of being loved.

Once we have entered into the silence of our ‘room’ (see Matt. 6: 6), the inner room of our soul, we can then talk with the Father, adore him, tell him we love him, thank him, ask him to forgive us, entrust to him all our needs and those of the whole world, as well as our dreams and hopes… What cannot be said to someone we know loves us immensely and is all-powerful?

And we can speak with the Word, with Jesus. Above all, we can listen to him and let him say once again to us: ‘Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid!’ (Mark 6: 50), ‘I am with you always, to the end of the age’ (Matt. 28: 20), and hear him invite us: ‘Come, follow me’ (Matt. 19:21), ‘Forgive… seventy-seven times’ (see Matt. 18: 22), ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ (Matt. 7: 12)

These times of prayer can be lengthy, or brief and frequent moments throughout the day, almost like a glance of love in his direction, murmuring: ‘You are my only good’ (see Ps 16:2), ‘I am doing this for you.’

We cannot do without prayer. We cannot live without breathing, and praying is the breath of the soul, the expression of our love for God.

After this conversation, this relationship of communion and love, we are refreshed, ready to face our daily lives with new strength and confidence. We also find our relationships with others and with things are more true.

... he rose and went out to a lonely place, and there he prayed.

If we do not close the shutters of the soul in recollection, then you, Lord, cannot keep company with us as your love would sometimes want. But once we have detached ourselves from everything to be recollected in you, we would never turn back, so sweet to the soul is union with you and so worthless all the rest.

Those who sincerely love you are often aware of you, Lord, in the silence of their room, in the depths of their heart, and every time this feeling moves the soul as if touched to the quick. They thank you for being so near, for being so Everything, the One who gives meaning to life and to death.

They thank you, but often know neither how to do it, nor how to say it. They know only that you love them and that they love you and that there is nothing else so sweet here on earth, nothing that can even come close to it. What they feel in their souls when you appear is heaven and, ‘If heaven is anything like this,’ they say, ‘oh, how beautiful it is!’

They thank you, Lord, for the whole of their lives, for having brought them this far. And if there still exist shadows without which could cloud their paradise-in-advance, when you show yourself everything becomes remote and distant, it does not exist.

You exist.

This is how it is.

Chiara Lubich

 

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