“Jesus departed to the mountain to pray . . . “
These references to Jesus departing to the mountain to pray always remind me of the retreats I’ve made over the years. Though I forget little details of many other events in my life, I always seem to remember all of the details relating to my retreats. Perhaps it is due to the relaxed atmosphere, or the sometimes-intense dynamics of the prayer that occurs during them. Maybe it’s because the retreats were just for me.
No matter what the reason, I’ve always come away from a retreat feeling better prepared to make the decisions that face me in my hectic life. I’ve always thought of retreats like training camps for people of all faiths, a time to return to the fundamentals of faith, to stretch and grow. I can honestly say I’ve never had a “bad” retreat.
Back to the present. I’ve been really busy lately. In addition to all of the support work I do in the College, I’ve also had to prepare courses, write research papers, attend committee meetings, and try to keep the house from falling apart. When I first received an invitation to do an online retreat this year, I ignored it. “I’m too busy,” I thought, “if I don’t have time to do all of the other things to which I’m already committed, how am I going to also do a retreat?”
But after reading today’s Gospel (which I think was chosen just for me), I’m not so sure that I can afford NOT to do the retreat.
It is no accident that Jesus meets with His followers, “on a stretch of level ground.” A retreat puts everyone on the same level. I will be making my retreat with university administrators, with faculty members who travel the globe, with grad students trying to raise babies in one bedroom apartments, and with countless other members of the Creighton community who do the cleaning and the fixing and the serving that makes my university go.
However, this is not a closed society. In doing the online retreat, I will stand side-by-side with people from all over the world. Many of you who read these daily reflections will also be doing the retreat with me (and I with you). As Jesus preached on level ground, He will be speaking to all of us on level ground. In a sense, He’s “flattening out the world,” putting everyone on the same level.
There is one other reason I’m doing the retreat, one that I’ve quietly ignored until now: Like the throng of followers that were called to Jesus, I, too, need healing. Isn’t that why the hordes of followers came to Jesus in the first place? Jesus offered them something they could not get anywhere else. That something is what I need – what all of us need.
Be honest: Is there a space in your life that needs Jesus’ touch of healing? If you haven’t made a retreat lately (or ever), isn’t it time?
It’s daybreak. Jesus is coming down from the mountain, calling us all to be with Him on level ground. Are you going to join me?
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