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Solitude in the Midst of Activity
Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, I seek you in the solitude of my heart, and I hope to find you and accompany you in your suffering. Grant me the grace to understand the mysteries you came to reveal. Open my heart to discovering you in unexpected ways.
- Solitude: This passage states that the disciples were with Jesus, yet Jesus was praying in solitude. It is possible to enter within oneself and encounter God, even in the presence of others, as Jesus did. With his recollected senses, Jesus made himself attentive to the promptings of his own conscience and the Holy Spirit. We practice meditation to be able to put aside the world and focus on being present to God. Through the daily “spiritual exercises” of recollection, prayer, and meditation we seek solitude to make room in our busy minds and hearts for Jesus.
- Prayer: Peter recognized that Jesus was more than an extraordinary man or a prophet. He knew that Jesus was the Messiah of God. How did he know? Maybe Peter had been praying alongside Jesus in those moments just before the question arose. Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:17, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” The Father had inspired Peter directly to know Jesus was the Messiah. When we want to know the truth about something, prayer is our best recourse.
- Suffering: Jesus’s message of redemption included suffering. No one avoids suffering in this life, but by following Jesus’s example, our suffering can be an act of unconditional, self-giving love. What a blessing! Whether we choose suffering (as in a fast or practice of a virtue) or whether it falls upon us unwillingly, suffering is always an opportunity to love as Jesus did. We signify our willingness to suffer whenever we make the sign of the cross. “When suffering comes, the sign of the cross is a sign of acceptance. It’s remembering that Jesus became a man and suffered for us and that we participate in Christ’s suffering. The sign of the cross says, ‘I am willing to embrace suffering to share in Christ’s suffering’” (November 22, 2004, ZENIT).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I am grateful that you have sanctified suffering, giving my little sacrifices and offerings eternal merit. Come and be with me in all of my painful experiences and strengthen me with the comfort of your loving presence.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make the sign of the cross with reverence.
For Further Reflection: 21 Things We Do When We Make the Sign of the Cross.
Written by Renee Pomarico.