Communio et missio. Communion and mission. The Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel shows us that any and all ministerial works are closely bound with communion, relationship or friendship, with the Father. After a day of healing the sick and casting out demons, the Lord Jesus rises early before dawn and goes to a deserted place to pray.
Before the pandemic, we could say that there was a significant emphasis on us doing things. We liked the rush and business because, in a way, it kept us from feeling bored, from feeling that life was a drudgery from one moment to the next. But did we allow ourselves to be with God? Did we allow God to be with us? If anything, the pandemic has brought to mind that at the core of our identity as sons and daughters of God is not primarily doing things – it is to be with God’s life: his Triune love.
If we look at the Lord Jesus today, we see him return to the very center and core of his identity and being as the Son: his communion with the Father. Even in the midst of his busy life and work, the Lord Jesus took time from his day, from his rest, to pray not because he needed to pray, but, as the medieval bishop Theophylact says, to teach us that in the midst of our lives, whether they are busy or not, we need to pray. We cannot compromise our love for God no matter what. We must renew our communion, one unity and friendship, with our heavenly Father because it is he who gives us our identity and mission.
All of our missionary activities and ministerial projects must find their source and root in communion with the Lord Jesus. Yes, many of us cannot go to Mass or receive the sacraments. But this does not mean we are cut off from Christ nor does it mean we cannot be missionary in our prayer. The Lord Jesus is still present in the midst of what seems to be an abandonment by God. He is here in this spiritually deserted place praying to the Father on our behalf, interceding for us as our high priest.
And yet, Jesus invites us to kneel down and pray with him so we may know that life is not a drudgery but an exciting unfolding of the Father’s love at every moment of our lives. Only with the Father’s divine love can we proclaim the Gospel because Jesus came to proclaim the Father’s love to us. Only the Father’s love given through the Son who pours it out on the cross that can satisfy the human heart’s longing and desire for love in the midst of this pandemic. For if there is one thing the Lord Jesus reveals, it is that our heavenly Father is present even in a deserted place.
Joseph Yuson – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
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