Standing On the Rock Week 2: The Church is One in Christ through Prayer
This is the second week of our August series, which is about finding firm footing in Christ and in the Church. At the beginning of today’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33), St. Matthew tells us that Jesus went up into the hills by himself to pray. He had just finished a very long day teaching the crowds, healing the sick, and performing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. At the beginning of that day he had received the news about John the Baptist’s death (14:13). At the time, he had wanted to go off alone to pray, perhaps to mourn the loss of John, but the crowds wouldn’t let him. Now we see that although he delayed his time of prayer out of compassion for the crowds, he didn’t skip it altogether, even though he must have been exhausted. Now as the sun sets, he climbs up the mountain to pray, and he doesn’t appear again until about 3 o’clock in the morning – six hours later (14:23-25). We know from other Gospel passages that Jesus frequently went off alone to pray. Isn’t that kind of strange? Jesus was God, true God from true God, as we profess in the Creed. So, why would he have to dedicate large chunks of time to pray? He did so because he was also true man, the Word made flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus had two natures, divine and human; and because he was human, he needed to pray. Human nature is not meant to go it alone. As the Catechism tells us, “Man was created to live in communion with God, in whom he finds happiness” (CCC #45), and no one can have communion with God without a life of prayer. Most of us are like Peter. If Peter in that moment in his life had the faith and that oneness with God that comes from prayer, when Jesus called him to walk across the water, then he would have maybe succeeded (14:28-31). Today Jesus is teaching us to keep first things first; if he who is the Son of God needed time alone in prayer, all of us need to carve out that daily time (adapted from www.epriest.com). Questions for Small Groups:
How does your faith help you to deal with divisions in your life and in society?
Have you ever been called like Peter to take a leap of faith in the midst of the storm? Did you succeed?
Do you feel one with God? How does your prayer help to shape your communion with God and with others?
On a scale from one to ten, how is your prayer life right now?