The first phrase that jumps out to me in these readings is St Paul’s warning that we not be made prey of “philosophy and empty deceit”. I can think of many ways people are led astray from the truth today. Some are committed to science and believe only what can be proven through mathematical equations. Others swear by constellations and their horoscopes. Many believe that everyone has their own truth, and that as long as what you are doing makes you happy, it is good. And professed Catholics are not immune to these temptations. How many of us like to pick and choose which doctrines and dogmas of the church we are going to adhere to? “Cafeteria Catholics” have long been a part of our community.
And in a different sense, we deny certain truths of our faith every time we sin. When we sin, we are professing that fidelity to God’s law is less important than our own pride, pleasure, convenience, etc. We need to be ever-mindful of the temptations in our lives and always turn to God for his protection and grace. Yet we often make excuses not to turn to Him in prayer. I have caught myself thinking, “well I’ve already done a lot of good things this week, so I don’t think God will care if I take a break from prayer today.” When in reality, I never stop needing prayer.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus sets this example for us. The reading starts with Jesus having spent “all night in prayer”. Let’s remember that Jesus is the “fullness of Deity” and the “Head of All Rule”, as mentioned in the first reading. He is the second Person of the Trinity, and the mighty Son of God, and He goes around curing people all day long. If anyone didn’t need to pray, it would be Jesus. And yet He doesn’t say, “well I’ve healed a lot of people today, and I’m literally perfect, so I’m going to take a break from this spiritual stuff for a while”. On the contrary, He spends the whole night in prayer!
Prayer can sometimes feel like a burden to us. It can feel like something we just need to check off our to-do list so we can say we are being good Catholics. And when we are really busy, it is is often the first thing that is cut. But these readings show us how vital prayer is to our lives. Our conversations with God, or even just being in His presence, give us the strength to face obstacles and avoid temptation in our lives. Those sins I keep repeating, those temptations I easily fall into…could they be avoided if I spent more time in prayer? Wouldn’t I find it easier to live like Jesus if I spent more time with Him? The answer is of course yes.
Dear Jesus, help me pray. Give me the resolve to make spending time with you a priority in my day-to-day life. When I am tempted to push it aside because I am busy or lazy, move my heart to recognize my great need for You.