Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. He came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea, Jerusalem, and the coast of Tyre and Sidon. They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all in the crowd were trying to touch him, for power came out from him and healed all of them.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer with God.” I am always struck with wonder and amazement when the Gospels speak of the prayer of Jesus. If there is anyone for whom prayer might seem superfluous, it is He. Is not the Son always in the presence of the Father, and do they not share the same divine nature and power? Yet here Jesus departs by himself and spends the entire night in vigil. What utterings and groans passed his lips during those still hours? I cannot know– I can only marvel.
“When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose 12, whom he also named Apostles.” The juxtaposition of prayer and action here is no mere coincidence. When Jesus makes an important decision or takes a course of action, he first prays. He seeks God’s counsel and hands over his entire will to the will of the Father.
But what a strange choice the Father makes! Men of low estate, of scant ability or education, apparently bereft of real spiritual gifts: fishermen, tax-collectors, fanatics. The one, indeed, with flashes of talent is Judas, already identified here as the traitor. Were there no better men than these in Galilee? Romano Guardini writes, “On the whole, we do the apostle no service by considering him a great religious personality.
This attitude is usually the beginning of unbelief. Personal importance, spiritual creativeness, dynamic faith are not decisive in his life. What counts is that Jesus Christ has called him, pressed his seal upon him, and sent him forth.” The apostles, for all their bumbling, misunderstanding and cowardice, accomplish in the end the Lord’s purposes. Let us pray that our lives will do likewise.
—Sam Conedera, S.J.
Lord, whenever you make an important decision, you pray to the Father. You seek God’s counsel and surrender your will to your Father’s will. If only we could consistently follow your example. Too often we give away our time to accommodate that which is not nearly as important as our relationship with you. Let today be different. I trust that the minutes I dedicate to you will indeed keep my life focused on what really matters. There is no greater use of my time than to stay in communication with you!
—The Jesuit Prayer Team