Daily Reflection
September 7th, 2004
Robert P. Heaney
University Chair
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At turning points in his Galilee project, the Gospels tell us that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Today’s reading comes at the end of a successful, first campaign, with many healings, some on the Sabbath, giving Jesus opportunity to proclaim that “the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”  This provoked the religious establishment; and in the verses just preceding today’s reading, we hear that the religious leaders “began to discuss ways of dealing with Jesus.” Jesus, of course, was puzzled, because they should have been the first to respond, and perhaps frightened and discouraged as well. He agonized about what he should do. Thus, the night spent in prayer.

It is helpful to understand that, in the New Testament, “prayer” almost always means petition. So, that night spent in prayer can be helpfully translated as a night spent asking his Father what he should do next. “How do you want me to deal with this?” In Luke’s version, the course that became clear to him was to name twelve of his disciples “Apostles” and to give us the Beatitudes. Full speed ahead!

You and I are concerned, like the Apostles, with doing Jesus’ Gospel project in our own times. We experience situations when we too encounter difficulties – opposition, indifference, uncertainty. We may be tempted to give up, just as Jesus must have been. We can do no better than to follow Jesus’ lead – ask God to tell us what to do. Ask over and over again, all night if necessary. As St. Paul says, “pray (that is, ask) unceasingly.” 

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