Wednesday, 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
I have read an article that carries this title: Moving From The Stress Cycle To The Balance Cycle. Here, in outline, are the elements of the stress cycle: relentless rush, short term focus, reactive decision making, status-driven goals, outer-directed priorities. The elements of the stress cycle relate strongly to each other – one element leads to the next, and then the next. And here, also in outline, are the elements of the balance cycle: long term focus, meaning-driven goals, inner-directed priorities, vision-based decision making. The elements of the balance cycle also relate to one another.
We are given an idea regarding Jesus’ own balance cycle. Today’s gospel reading shows us Jesus performing his teaching ministry, his healing ministry, and his exorcism ministry. And it tells us that he goes from one town to another. But Jesus is not too busy with his ministry not to have time to pray and to reflect. In the middle of a hectic schedule, the gospel says: “At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.” Reflection-action-reflection, prayer-ministry-prayer, solitude-involvement-solitude. That is the balanced cycle of Jesus’ life. And that is also the cycle or pattern that we must follow in our lives.
We need to resist making unhelpful distinctions where we play off one thing against another. Prayer, for example, is not opposed to work. The need for reflection is not opposed to action. The search for solitude is not opposed to active involvement in the world or in the community. These seeming opposites belong together. They complement each other. Prayer leads to work and work needs to be done prayerfully. Reflection is the starting point of action; and action must be enlightened by reflection.
So, our prayer must not be a way of escaping from the challenges of our time, but a way of deepening our understanding of the signs of the times that we may find a Christian response to those challenges. At the same time, our action or activity in the world must not come merely from our own desire or plan. Rather, it must be the fruit of our reflection. It must be the result of discerning God’s will.