7th Tuesday of Easter
Memorial of St. Pachomius
Jesus himself prays for those who are his own. In this morning’s Gospel, he says, “Father, I pray for them, for the ones you have given me, because they are yours.” We are the ones whom the Father has given to Jesus, and we do not have to fend for ourselves when we pray; the Lord Jesus prays for us. We do of course need to pray for ourselves and for others, as we heard St. Pachomius pray in the reading at today’s Night Office. But that’s not all there is to prayer.
By revealing what goes on in prayer, the Lord is inviting us to enter through praying into the world of prayer. He’s saying that we can and should participate in the conversation between Father and Son. This conversation is the source of all prayer; it takes in the whole world of prayer.
For many of us it can be hard to know how much we should pray for ourselves, and how much for others, how much we should think of our own salvation and how much we should lose ourselves for others. If we should pray too much for others and not enough for ourselves, we could be gaining the whole world but losing our own soul. If we should pray too much for ourselves, we would be in danger of losing the Catholic spirit, which is a spirit of community, not of autonomous individuals.
But when people know that the Lord is praying for their salvation, they also know that they are included in the world of prayer and that Jesus is thinking of them, and so they can devote themselves all the more in prayer for their fellow human beings. It’s true that we should not neglect our own salvation, but monks especially should do this more by fighting our faults than by speaking about ourselves in prayer. To avoid evil and strive for good is also a form of prayer.
With the Lord’s grace we should remove whatever displeases him in ourselves and let him dwell in us. That’s all that is necessary, because Jesus is praying for us. In Holy Communion he enters into us where we have prepared a space for him, and presents us to the Father as those who are his own. And so his prayer for individual Christians is a gift that he gives both to us and to the Father.
It’s a tribute to the humility of Jesus that at every communion he enters into those who receive, in order to present them to the Father from within their souls, even though by doing that he gets involved with so much inadequacy. But then, love does such things.