ON the Feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude, celebrated on October 28, we are presented with the gospel episode where Christ spent the whole night praying in a mountain and when done, he proceeded to choose his twelve apostles. (cfr. Lk 6,12-16).
Somehow, we can make the conclusion that the choice of the apostles which was meant to cooperate and continue the work of redemption with Christ, that is, to carry out the essential task of doing apostolate all throughout time, must be the fruit of his prayer.
Christ must be telling us that for us to discern the need to do apostolate, let alone, to be effective and fruitful in it, we should also pray. Only then can we get the same spirit that drove Christ to go all the way of offering his life for the salvation of mankind.
If we really have a good prayer, one where we truly have an intimate encounter with God, we for sure would come out of it burning with zeal for love and concern for the others. Somehow, we would catch the fire behind these words of Christ: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Lk 12,49).
Yes, real prayer has that effect. If, on the contrary, we come out of it just thinking of our own selves, or worse, feeling low and dry, then we are not actually praying. Prayer will always sharpen our mindfulness and thoughtfulness of the others.
Prayer is by definition an act of love. And love in turn is always self-perpetuating. It never stops giving itself to God. As St. Francis de Sales would put it, “The measure of love is to love without measure.”
And because of our love for God, then our prayer which is an act of love for God will always lead us to love others. That is always the trajectory of a true, love-inspired prayer. Its vertical aspect never leaves behind the horizontal aspect.
Yes, if our prayer is real and done out of love, we will always come out of it burning with the zeal of love. We have to be wary of the danger to fall easily into complacency, lukewarmness, mediocrity. We should always be on the lookout for these perils.
We need to fill our mind and heart with love, and all that love brings—goodness, patience, understanding and compassion, mercy, gratuitous acts of service, generosity and magnanimity.
Yes, there’s effort involved here. Great, tremendous effort, in fact. But all this stands first of all on the ‘terra firma’ that is God’s grace, which is always given to us in abundance if we care to ask and receive it. Nothing human, no matter how well done, would prosper unless it is infused also with God’s grace.
We have to be wary of conforming ourselves, whether openly or subtly, intentionally or mindlessly, to worldly ways, to mere social trends, or to some inertia generated merely physically, hormonally, economically, politically, culturally, historically, etc.
We need to be most aware and sensitive to these dangers which are so common as to be part of what we call normal in life. Let’s train ourselves to smell out their symptoms and their approaches as soon as they arise. And then be quick to resist them.
May we always feel the urge to do apostolate in any given situation!