“You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life.“
Do we go to Jesus to have life? Where do we go to encounter Jesus?
Of course, we do so through the celebration of the Mass. Of course, we do so through the reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist.
But, particularly in this time when we are physically separated from Mass and the sacraments, where do we go to encounter our Lord?
Through our daily prayer. Yes, that prayer can include memorized prayer. It can include repetition like the Jesus Prayer of the Orthodox Church (“Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner”). Often, and especially in times of great trial, those prayers that we learned long ago are the ones that get us through.
But prayer really comes from the longings of our heart. We can see this longing expressed in some of the Psalms, but especially at the beginning of Psalm 63.
O God, you are my God—
it is you I seek!
For you my body yearns;
for you my soul thirsts,
In a land parched, lifeless,
and without water.
I look to you in the sanctuary
to see your power and glory.
For your love is better than life;
my lips shall ever praise you!
Real prayer comes from the depths of our heart. Saint John Henry Newman knew this well. His episcopal motto was “Cor ad cor loquitur.” Heart speaks to heart. It is not just that we speak from our heart. Perhaps more importantly, it is that we listen with all our heart. And it is in our heart that we meet the Lord.
When we come to Jesus in prayer, we open ourselves to the gift of life.
Do we long for this encounter of the heart? Do we make it a priority to set aside time each day for this encounter?