Last weekend, my oldest son and I had the opportunity to have an overnight trip together. His soccer team was playing two games a couple states away and I had the chance to be the one to take him for a change. As things worked out, we ended up going to Mass at a church close to home that has a Sunday evening Mass. My son and husband enjoy this time on a regular basis and he asked me if we could go then as well. Sunday night we sat down after the gospel ready to hear Father’s homily. He started off talking about how connected we are as a society. Through a variety of social media, we can know what any of our friends or family are doing at any given time. We can quickly send off or receive a text message and have it immediately received. We are more connected than ever. Or are we?
Father continued by saying that while it’s nice to be able to check social media or send or receive a text message, true relationships take more time and a deeper level of communication. Relating back to the gospel, he said it isn’t enough to talk quickly to Jesus each day. He admitted there are times when a quick prayer is appropriate. He continued to say that to have a true relationship with Jesus we need to have more. We need to put prayer first- a set prayer time or reflection time.
Honestly, I can’t say I received his homily well. Small prayers throughout the day I can handle; extended time with just God in prayer? How do I do that? Where do I find the time and place to be alone and quiet in prayer? Not that I don’t ever sit and pray or read devotions daily, but having a set amount of time each day without interruption seems unattainable. If I am frank, the thought of making sure I stop at a set time each day to pray causes me to feel stressed. What if I fail? What if I don’t meet that certain amount of time? Am I a failure as a child of God?
As the week has continued, his words stuck with me, turning over and over in my mind, causing my heart to be stormy and restless. It is true that a quick text here and there does not keep a friendship intact, at least not in the same way as a phone call or, even better, a get-together regularly. The issue in my mind is constantly time. How? Where? When?
On Saturday our oldest son was confirmed. Our bishop charged the Confirmandi to lead lives of prayer. He said in order to lead lives of prayer, we need to fit our life into prayer, not prayer into our life. We need to read Scripture and pray the Rosary. I felt my heart softening to the priest’s homily from the previous Sunday as I heard these words from the bishop. Somehow, his homily helped me feel the priest’s homily from Sunday was more achievable. I could hear the truth in what Father had said. It is one thing to reach out to Jesus in small spurts throughout the day as it keeps us somewhat connected to Jesus. However, it isn’t enough. To continue to stoke the fire that Jesus puts in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, we need to find the time to really relate to Him, to listen to Him, make our prayer a two-way street and not just a quick, “Jesus, help me!” as we go through our day. That’s one part of prayer, not the whole picture.
Today’s homily helped to finish driving the point home: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” John 15:16. Father said as we reflect on Jesus’ words in today’s gospel and let them truly sink into our hearts and souls, we spend less time fussing about our own projects and plans and more time adjusting and surrendering to God’s plan for us. Truly living these words means we leave our tiny plan and world and enter into God’s greater plan. When we allow God to choose us, to take us – even where we may not want to go, we begin to see ourselves as an ingredient with a role in God’s plan and not as the center of our own plans. We begin to really see and live the truth that God chose me.