On leaving the synagogue, Jesus went to the home of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. As Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with fever, they immediately told him about her. Jesus went to her and, taking her by the hand, raised her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. That evening, at sundown, people brought to Jesus all the sick and those who had evil spirits: the whole town was pressing around the door. Jesus healed many who had various diseases, and drove out many demons; but he did not let them speak, for they knew who he was.
Very early in the morning, before daylight, Jesus went off to a lonely place where he prayed. Simon and the others went out also, searching for him; and when they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Let us go to the nearby villages so that I may preach there too; for that is why I came.”
So Jesus set out to preach in all the synagogues throughout Galilee; he also cast out demons.
Both of today’s readings present someone placing himself in a position which will render communication with God possible: young Samuel in a nocturnal listening to God‘s voice in the Temple sanctuary and Jesus in an early morning encounter with God “in a lonely place.” Does God really favor this sort of situation (aloneness) to communicate himself to us? All the spiritual masters insist that, without a lot of solitary time spent with God, no voice of God is likely to be heard. And that is basically true. Why the qualification “basically?” Because, in truth, this is what seems to be God’s preferred way of proceeding.
Let us imagine Ben, a man of God whom we consider wonderfully guided by God in all his actions. Does Ben pray regularly? Yes, he spends at least an entire hour communing with God every day. Does God speak to him then? Ben will answer that, as a rule, his hour of prayer is one long arid distraction during which nothing much happens—certainly no voice from Heaven. But during the day Ben is aware that the Spirit is gently inspiring him to do this or not to do that, to say this or not to say that. And so, God does speak to Ben, but only after Ben has “wasted” time in “listening” to Him through long silences, and that voice of God is deferred until after prayer time. Strange, isn’t it?
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