Deacon Jim Olson’s Homily
March 15, 2021
244 3-15-21 4th WOL John 4:43-54 27.1
27 PERSONAL PRAYER
When Jesus had a need for prayer, He found a place to pray in, which was usually off by
Himself away from other people. There are many passages in the Gospel narrating that Jesus
has withdrawn from the crowds and has gone on His own to pray. And this is more clearly
thrown into relief at the more important moments of His public ministry: at His Baptism at the
election of the Apostles, on the occasion of the first multiplication of the loves, at the
transfiguration. It was a normal thing for Jesus to do: At times He spent the whole night in
an intimate conversion with His Father. The Apostles were filled with life and love when they
saw Christ pray. How it helps us too!
During this Lenten period, we could perhaps concentrate especially on a scene we
contemplate in the Rosary: the agony of Jesus in the Garden. Immediately before giving
Himself in the Passion, the Lord makes for the Garden of Gethsemane with the apostles.
Jesus must often have prayed there, for Luke says: Now He went out as His custom was, to
Mount Olivet. But this time Jesus’ prayer would be special: for His agony had arrived. Jesus
tells them: Pray that you may not enter into temptation. Before withdrawing a little to pray,
Jesus knows that they are soon to be subjected to the temptation of scandal on seeing the
Master taken captive. He had already announced it at the last supper; but now He warns
them that unless they are found vigilant and praying, they will not pass the test.
Prayer is indispensable for us, for if we neglect our dealings with God, little by little our
spiritual life begins to languish. If you abandon prayer you may at first live on spiritual
reserves and, after that, by cheating. On the other hand, prayer unites us to God, and He
tells us: without me you can do nothing. It is good to pray with perseverance, never
vacillating. We have to speak with Him a great deal, insistently, in the various circumstances
of our lives.
With the example of His own life, the Lord teaches us what our fundamental approach
has to be: a continuous filial dialogue with God. And mental prayer, in my view, is nothing
but friendly intercourse, and frequent solitary conversation, with Him Who we know loves us.
We must always try to have presence of God and to contemplate the mysteries of our Faith.
This dialogue with God should not be interrupted. But even further, it ought to be carried on
in the midst of all our activities. And what is indispensable is that it should be more intense
during those periods we dedicate each day to mental prayer: we meditate, and we speak in
His presence, knowing that He truly sees us and hears us. The need for prayer, together with
the importance of charity, is one of the points most stressed by our Lord in His ministry.