By Br. Jude David
Taken from Journey 2012 - a publication of the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary
Feeding a World Hungering for Intimacy
I was recently sitting in a secondary catechism class at the parish that I am attached to this year and the topic for that day was on prayer. The topic was being presented from the perspective of the Lord's Prayer and how we should know the prayer and pray the prayer as Catholics. Whilst listening to the students, I felt a stirring in my heart to ask the students an important question that turned out to become central theme for my own reflection this year. I asked the teenagers present who Jesus was and many could give the right answer that he is God or the "Son of God". I went on to ask them, "If Jesus was God, why did he need to pray?"
Many remained silent at this question. Some whispered that he needed to ask the Father for what he wanted. Those who are more familiar with scripture would know that Jesus has also said that the Father has handed over all authority to him (cf. Jn 3:35). Why then did Jesus have to pray? The most important, yet so often overlooked reason why Jesus prayed was because it was his means of intimacy with his Father.
Most of us have been brought up thinking that prayer is a duty or obligation and whilst we started off with this notion of prayer as kids, we have sadly never really outgrown it. Prayer that is reduced to merely Christian obligation or a means of asking for favours takes away the essential dimension of love that is at the heart of Christian prayer. God reveals himself in Jesus Christ to invite mankind into a profound intimacy with him. God, who is love, invites us to love by entering into this communion of love with him.
There is an insatiable hunger for intimacy in the hearts of men and women which has become more glaring and alarming today with it being expressed in various forms, such as sexual promiscuity, pornography and even an obsession with technology that camouflages the deep inner longing to love and be loved. This deep longing of the human heart points to the fundamental intimacy we are each created for - intimacy with our Creator through Jesus Christ which flows into a self-giving intimacy with others.
We as a Church must pay heed to this crisis of intimacy that many amongst us are facing and we need to be signposts to lead people back into this most fundamental intimacy with God through prayer. For such intimacy would certainly rejuvenate the faith of many which has waned and must be part of the programme of the New Evangelization we are called to embark on in this "Year of Faith". May many come to say with St. Augustine, "My heart has been restless, O God, until it rests in you!"