Prayer of Contemplation and Meditation


Readings: Is 53:10- 11/Ps 33:4-5,18-19,20, 27/ Heb 4:14-16/Mk 10: 35-45 or 10:42-45

Introduction: In this edition we shall continue with our discussion on prayer of contemplation and meditation on the homily.


A. When God now begins to communicate Himself to the soul, no longer through the senses, as before, by means of reflections which joined and sundered its knowledge, but by pure spirit, into which consecutive reflections enter not… Then at this point of the growth process of prayerlife only, “the Spirit of prayer “infused by the Holy Spirit mysteriously works in the praying Christians, while their soul, which John of the Cross called ‘exterior and interior’ senses of the lower part of the soul” of prayer must be kept quiet and silent lest their activity hampers the infusion of this prayer by the Holy Spirit.

B.“The way in which they are to conduct themselves in this night of senses is to devote themselves not to reasoning and meditation… What they must do is merely to leave the soul free and disencumbered and at rest from all knowledge and thought… contenting themselves with merely a peaceful and loving attention toward God, and being without anxiety, without the ability and without the desire to have experience of Him or to perceive Him. For all these yearnings disquiet and distract the soul from the peaceful quiet and sweet contemplation which is here granted to it (St John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk 1, ch 10, 4 trans and edit by E. Allison Peers (Garden City, NY: Image Books Doubleday, 1958) pp. 70-71 (to be continued).

Theme: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.

Starter Anecdote:
Many people through wishing to be great have failed to be good. Jesus put it this way: “Whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

1. In our first reading from Deutero-Isaiah, the Servant of God, was promised prosperity (Is 52: 13-14) but he never enjoyed this victory during his lifetime. Yet this promise is again proclaimed, “the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (53:10) God allowed his Servant to undergo suffering because he had a strong, determined love for him. The Servant is sacrificed for the willful sin of the Priests and the people. So this heavy sin consciousness of Israel influences the cult, so that from the Exile onward, penitential liturgies commonly occurred ((Zach 7-8; Ps 50 or 51). Now God announces the resurrection of the nation; in view of the Gentiles’ faith (53:1-9), a worldwide renewal is proclaimed. The bodily resurrection of the individual will not be revealed until later (Dn 12:1-3; 2Mc 7: 11-29). Hence, through his suffering or by acquiring knowledge, that is, by a full experiential union with his suffering, sinful people shall be justified. He will share his own goodness with them and thus fulfill all divine promises (Is 40:14; Rom 3:26).

2. Our second reading taken from the letter to the Hebrews, is about Jesus’ Priesthood, which is far superior to the Jewish high priest. This is because Jesus has passed through the heavens. Thus, God has revealed His saving purpose in respect to us through the coming of Jesus and the “eternal redemption” (9:12) achieved through his death and exaltation. Christ is God’s last word to the world, hence, revelation in him is complete, final and homogeneous. Thus, he is to be heir of all things, through whom God created the worlds; visible and invisible. As a son, he plays the role of redeemer and mediator of creation. Jesus being heir was not an event outside time, previous to the incarnation; it took place when he entered glory after his passion ( Rom 8:17). The Son being the heir means his inheriting the “more excellent name” that he received after his humiliation (cf Phil 2:6, 11). Jesus was faithful to God just as Moses was in God’s household of the New and Old Israel respectively. Though Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, he did not succumb to sin, this is the only difference between him and his followers. These temptations of Jesus did not occur only once (eg Mt4:1-11) but were a constant accompaniment of Jesus’ life(Lk22:28). There is no basis in the statement that Jesus “did not know certain suggestions to evil or inclinations to sin which originated in a corrupted nature (Gen 3). The victory of Christ over sin gives us the confident access to God that has been assured through the redemptive work of Jesus. “Through him, the true high priest, God’s throne has become the throne of grace.”

3. In the gospel according to Mark, James and John asked Jesus to give them places of honour in his kingdom. But Jesus sternly reprimanded them for misunderstanding him so cruelly. This ends, moreover, in the conflict between the brothers and the other disciples, which gives Jesus cause to explain to them that the way of the world where the rulers of the nations lord it over their subjects is not the way of the kingdom of God, where people live in the service of one another. Once again Jesus pointed out to them that they cannot be his disciples unless they follow in his footsteps: “For even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve, and to surrender his life as a ransom for many.

Reflection: Christians believe in two worlds; the visible and the invisible. Gentiles or unbelievers practice two leadership principles: they lord it over others, that is, throw their weight around, and they exercise authority, or literally, play the tyrant. By contrast, in the kingdom of God, the one who is first takes the lead in serving others.

Source:RevFr. Emmanuel Quarshie

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