February 5, 2022
Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, in our readings, both Solomon and Jesus seek a quiet place to pray, reflect, recenter, and commune with God.
Solomon went to Gibeon to sacrifice there,1 Kings 3:4
because that was the most renowned high place.
Upon its altar Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings.
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night.
God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”
Solomon’s retreat is characterized by his sincere humility and gratitude. In this, his first documented encounter with God, Solomon hits a homer in relationship. God is pleased with Solomon’s self-abnegating request for only wisdom to benefit others.
O LORD, my God, you have made me, your servant,1 Kings 3:7-9
king to succeed my father David;
but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.
I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen,
a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted.
Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart
to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.
For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”
In his prayer, Solomon has been able to get himself out of the way in order to really see and hear God – to fully receive God’s Presence in his life.
In our Gospel, Jesus seeks retreat for himself and his disciples because of the pressures of their ministries and the recent gut-punch news of John the Baptist’s execution.
Turns out, they don’t really get much of a chance for a “holy chill”. As with many of us, the responsibilities are so pressing that they conspire to find us no matter what.
So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.
They hastened there on foot from all the towns
and arrived at the place before them.
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd,Mark 6: 32-34
his heart was moved with pity for them,
for they were like sheep without a shepherd;
and he began to teach them many things.
We too, like Solomon and Jesus, need times of retreat and dedicated prayer in our lives. But sometimes, our responsibilities and work follow us as we attempt to find that sacred space.
How can we free ourselves for such spiritual renewal? By planning, asking for assistance, disciplining our time and choices. But the key is that we really have to want that precious deserted place for meeting God in a special way.
These “retreats” must be a way of life for us, consistent choices to bring our busy lives before God, humbly open our hearts, and ask to see ourselves in a new and graced way.
Our “going off to rest awhile” in God can be as short as a few minutes morning and evening, or as long as a 30 day retreat. But they must be a consistent and disciplined desire of our hearts.
“Discipline” may seem like a hard word for it, especially if we think of our high school demerits when we hear that word🤪 But remember, without disciple music would be just noise, art would be just scribble, dance would be contortion, and conversation would be babble.
When you consider “discipline”, think instead of the elegant balance of a beautiful dance and let God lead, or of the sweet perfection of glorious music and let God sing to you.
Prose: A treasured thought of the Jesuit Pedro Arrupe suggests itself here:
Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
Music: These Alone Are Enough – Dan Schutte