Praying and Serving

Luke 6: 12-16
Eph 2:19-22 / Psa 19

Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
(Luke 6:12)

Pray intensely with heart and mind,
For God’s wisdom to guide our way;
If serving Him we’re so inclined,
A hundredfold will be our pay.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles: Simon (whom He named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16)

Reflection

Early on in His ministry, our Lord was already multi-tasking. He was healing the sick and casting out demons everywhere He went, and preaching in the different synagogues of Judea. At the same time, He was also calling those who would become His apostles, like Simon the fisherman and Levi the tax collector. He also had to contend with the Pharisees and scribes who questioned Him about a number of things like fasting and healing on the Sabbath. Jesus knew His limitations, and there was not enough time to organize the people who would continue His work when the time came for Him to go back to the Father in heaven. It was for this reason that He secluded Himself to a mountainside in order to seek guidance and strength from His Father in contemplative prayer.

Jesus spent the whole night praying to God! Why did Jesus, Who is Himself God, take so much time with His Father? Perhaps because He wanted to be sure His choice of apostles fitted perfectly with the Father’s plan of salvation. Jesus after all was also a man, and He needed the Father’s encouragement and discernment in choosing well. It must have been a difficult job, knowing that He was choosing a group of mostly unlettered fishermen, and one whom He knew would betray Him. Picking Judas as a member of His core group of leaders was the first step He would take on His way to Calvary.

Our Lord teaches us two important things in today’s Gospel. The first is the value of praying hard and long. He spent the whole night in prayer because His choice of the core leaders of His Church would determine its growth and future. How about us? Why do we find it so hard to spend more time in prayer, even when we are pleading for God’s help in times of troubles or difficulties? It is because the devil tries his best to distract us from this vital source of life. He knows better than we do that prayer is good for our soul. And whatever is good for our soul is hateful to him. Our Lord has taught us the value of prayer. Let us make Him our Model and pray constantly, incessantly, as if everything depends on it.

The other important lesson that Christ teaches us today is about who is qualified or worthy to serve in His Church or community. In the call to mission, God makes no distinction. As the old saying goes, it is not our ability but our availability that is important to Him. The apostles were chosen because they made following Jesus their priority. This is our only qualification if we want to be a follower of Jesus. It is wise to recall the words of St. Paul, “Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong; God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God.” (1Cor.1:26-29) If we must boast, let us boast about the goodness of the Lord Who has called us to serve.

Father God, our Lord Jesus taught us the value of spending more time in prayer. Help us to focus on You, dear God, when we pray, so that we may know Your will in our hearts. Thank You for making us worthy to serve You in our Church and in our community. Amen.

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