The Gospel according to Luke (Luke 9:18-22)
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am grateful for this opportunity to come before you in prayer. You know that I believe in you; that is why I am coming to you. However, you also know how much my faith needs to grow. I ask you for that grace to grow in my knowledge of you, to think more like you, and to trust you each day more. I also ask you to bless those souls entrusted to my prayer.
Encountering Christ: It’s interesting that Jesus was both “praying in solitude” and that “the disciples were with him.” Saint Bede explains this apparent contradiction by stating that “the Son alone is able to penetrate the incomprehensible secrets of the Father’s will.” Therefore, our Lord was always alone with the Father in the sense that only Jesus knew the Father fully and intimately. This is because He is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Son of the Father.
With that fact clearly understood, it’s also important to understand that as Jesus prayed to the Father within His human nature, something new took place. Though Jesus was eternally with the Father, His human nature was not eternally with the Father. Therefore, as the Eternal Son of God communed with the Eternal Father while living in human flesh, human nature was suddenly elevated to a height that it had never been before. Not only was the Eternal Son living in perfect union with the Father, BUT now the Eternal Son, fully human, brought His human nature into this oneness.
It seems a bit philosophical to some, but it points to a very important reality that affects us all. Through our Lord’s human prayer to the Father, we are all invited to join with Jesus and share in this divine oneness. The Son of God, as a human being, made it possible for us as humans to share in the elevation of our very lives to oneness with God the Father. And though the Son of God will always retain a unique union with the Father, we are, nonetheless, by participation, invited to share in their life.
So why is this important? One reason is that there is no greater human fulfillment we could ever achieve than to share in the prayer of the Son to the Father. Throughout our lives, we are constantly looking for fulfillment in one form or another. We want to be happy. We want enjoyment in life. We have a natural desire for happiness that we are constantly seeking to fulfill. What’s important to understand is that the greatest happiness comes by sharing in the deep human prayer of the Son to the Father. Prayer, true prayer, is the answer to our deepest desire.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for the foundational gift of faith, which has led me to recognize you as the Messiah and the Son of God. Help me to continue to conform my heart and mind to yours through prayer and the sacraments. May my words and actions be a reflection of you, so that through me, others may come to know your goodness. Aware of my weakness, I place my confidence in your grace and fidelity.
Action: Lord, today by your grace I will attentively review the specific virtues I am trying to live in imitation of you.