Ordinary 12th Sunday – ALONE WITH GOD ALONE
Ordinary 12th Sunday
Zach 12: 10-11 Gal 3: 26-29 Lk 9: 18-24
ALONE WITH GOD ALONE
By regularly taking time to be with God, we can harvest innumerable benefits in our lives.
A holy man was giving a discourse on meditation to a group of people. Someone asked him, “I try to meditate, but I am much distracted. Can you please tell me how to overcome?” The holy man answered, “Let me answer your question through a story. There was a farmer who got interested in spiritual life and went to an ashram to learn meditation. The guru there gave him a few simple meditation techniques and sent to him a small hut wherein he could meditate undisturbed. The farmer came back within a few minutes saying that he could not meditate since his thought were moving toward the buffaloes in his farms – the buffaloes which he loved very much. The guru advised him to leave behind the techniques he taught to him and asked him to focus on one of the buffaloes he loved very much. The farmer went back to his hut and started his meditation. Even after two days he did not come out of his hut. The guru, on being concerned, went there and saw him engrossed in deep meditation. He gently waked him up and asked him, ‘Are you not hungry?’ The farmer said, ‘Yes! but how to come out of this room. My horns will dash against the door.’ Only then the guru realized that the farmer, by focusing on his buffalo, had become so himself.”
After saying this story, the guru began to address the questioner, “Meditation is not so much what you think, but how you focus. It is an uninterrupted focus on something to the extent that you become what you think. If you focus on God, gradually you should become so. So instead of trying to avoid distraction, learn to increase your focus.”
The very first verse of the gospel today reads “as Jesus was praying alone, the disciples were with him.” Indeed, it is a paradoxical statement. How can someone be alone when others are with him? Well! the thrust of the verse is: ‘Even though the disciples were with Jesus, he, because of his prayerful disposition, was alone with God alone. He was completely immersed in his spiritual experience that he was oblivious to all that happened around him. Jesus, by entering into a deeper relationship with God, had entered into a different plane.’
All meditations can be brought under two broad categories: (a) Meditations that help a seeker to withdraw one’s mind from the external world. These meditation employ the process of exclusion. (b) Meditations that help a person to keep one’s mind equanimous (‘indifferent’) to all that happens around. These meditations employ the process of inclusion. In both cases, a person is not under the sway of the circumstances.
Plenty has been written by spiritual masters on the importance of prayer and meditation in the life of every human being. “Meditation investigates. Contemplation wonders” says Saint Victor. Brahadaranyaka Upanisad, a major Upanisad says, “As an eagle, weary after soaring in the sky, folds its wings and flies down to rest in its nest, so does the shining Self enter the state of dreamless sleep, where one is freed from all desires.” Kabir, a very holy man of India observes, “Meditation returns you to the source.” “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quite room alone” says Blaise Pascal. Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says, “Even as a tortoise draws in its limbs, the wise can draw in their senses at will.”
Constantly trying to enter into relationship with God through prayer and meditation helps us to harvest various benefits. Let us look at two of them against the background of the readings today:
(a). When a person takes one’s spiritual life seriously and regularly spends time on prayer and meditation, s/he begins to be a force of unity. The reason is this: In meditation one is in touch with God, the source of unity. In the second reading, St. Paul says, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” All of us are aware that sin divides and God unites. Consequently people who live in sin cause a lot of strife and disunity wherever they live. But those who are in touch with God work for the unity of mankind.
People who meditate regularly are more prone to self-awareness. “Awareness of the whole process, both the conscious and the hidden, is meditation” says J. Krishnamurthy. On the contrary those, who have not gone much into themselves, are unaware. This unawareness makes them think that they are right and others are wrong. Needless to say that such an attitude leads to strife and disunity. On the contrary, when a person grows in God, one’s self-awareness begins to grow and his/her ego begins to take backseat. Thus one begins to be the agent of unity.
Self-awareness further helps a person to constantly examine oneself. Jesus’ question “Who do people say that I am?’ or ‘Who do you say that I am?’ need not be seen as a test Jesus conducted for his disciples. Rather it can be seen as his effort to understand his own self. It could be the continuation of his ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’ which he might have asked himself regularly. In Indian tradition, these two question are known as ‘transformational questions’ and, when rightly pursued, they have the potency to trigger and intensify one’s spiritual search.
(b) Entering into deep prayer helps a person to experience God’s generosity as much as possible. God spoke through Zechariah, “I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David” (the first reading). Not only on the house of David, but on every one, God bestows his gifts abundantly. But not all choose to experience them. Those who pray and meditate regularly have got better chances of experiencing God’s generosity and His love.