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Father Muench Says...

‘He went off by himself to pray’

January 19, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Jesus prayed. Many might wonder why Jesus would need to pray. However, several times the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus prayed. Just a few days ago, the assigned weekday Gospel reading told us a story from the early days of Jesus’ public ministry. And Jesus prays.

The Gospel from St. Mark tells us that Jesus went to Capernaum with his apostles. There, he goes to the synagogue to teach and preach. Afterwards, in the evening, many sick and needy are brought to Jesus, and he heals many of them. Then we are told that the next morning, Jesus got up early. He went off by himself to pray.

I believe that Jesus understood the importance and value for a time of silence and solitude to pray – his way to prepare for the ministry for the day. Such a time gives a person the strength, the courage and the opportunity to recognize all that he wished to teach – to teach his message. The Gospel tells us his initial message: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

The Gospel story goes on to tell us that during that morning the apostles came to find Jesus. They want him to speak to the people. Jesus tells them that he is ready to move on now. He is anxious to visit other villages to teach and preach in their synagogues. He found in prayer the power, readiness and wisdom to spread the word throughout all of Galilee.

Jesus laid the foundation for us to realize the importance of prayer for all of us as followers of the Lord. So, let us talk a little about prayer today.

We pray so we can get to know the Lord Jesus and to know ourselves better as his followers. Prayer is our opportunity to prepare ourselves, as Jesus did, to live each day as well as we can. Prayer is our way to allow the Lord to guide us, to show us the way. I believe that the Lord fills each day with opportunities and challenges so we can do something, something great, something that will truly make our world a better place. I believe that there are even opportunities that guide us to work miracles.

I truly believe this. As a rule, most think of miracles as spectacular. I believe that often, maybe each day, there are innumerable incidents in our lives – in the lives of each one of us – that are miracles. There is no other word for it. It might be a simple as saying the right thing at the right time – a miracle every time. It might be that we do something to make another happy, happier than ever before. As simple as this sounds, this is truly a miracle. I want you to know that I have seen some spectacular miracles as well.

This takes prayer – prayer that makes us aware of the opportunities that the Lord places in our lives today. However, such awareness demands prayer, quiet prayer and times of silence. This is the kind of prayer that is transformative. We are made into new and alive disciples of the Lord. We will truly discover how to become a saint. In prayer, we begin to realize just who God is, just how much God loves us and just how God leads us each day.

There is a word for this: vocation. We have been called and chosen by the Lord. When Jesus was ready for his public ministry, he called Peter and Andrew, James and John to follow him. Now he calls you and me to follow him. Truly this is a miracle.

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