"The words of
his mouth I have treasured in my heart"
In the gospel story of "Martha and
Mary" Mary is seated at the feet of Jesus listening to him speak. Jesus tells
an anxious and worried Martha,
need of only one thing"
the presence of Jesus, Mary's interiority might be summed up by these words
found in The Book of Job: "The words of his mouth I have treasured in my
heart" (Job 23:12B). When Jesus speaks it is from the fullness of his heart;
for, he is the Word--the Living Word--the Saving Word of the Father. We
read in the prologue of the Gospel of John, "From his fullness we have
all received"(John 1:16). For intercessors, first and foremost, it is about
receiving from Jesus. Mary is fully engaged "at his feet", her heart
receptive to "The mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge"(Col. 2:2B-3); for, "Where your
treasure is, there also will your heart be"(Mt. 6:21).
In the Gospel of Matthew (Mt.
13:44-46), we read of a person who finds a treasure in a field and sells all
to possess it; Likewise, we read of a merchant who finds a 'pearl of great
price' and goes and sells all that he has to possess it--letting go
of all for the sake of the one! God promises us:
will give you treasures out of the darkness, and riches that have
been hidden away, That you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who
calls you be your name" (Is. 45:3).
time of intense listening at the feet of Jesus is meant to be extremely
intimate and personal. It is the "hidden life": "Your life is hidden with
Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). In this Heart to heart encounter, "we receive some
of the hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17) of his life-giving word. Jesus "reveals deep
and hidden things" (Dn. 2:22)--"God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden" (1 Cor. 2:7).
In this time of active listening, we echo the desire of the psalm writer, "In
my inmost being teach me wisdom"(Ps. 51:8). Here, Jesus knows us by name; here,
he calls us by name. There is need of only one thing: Jesus is our desperate
In The Letter to the Colossians, St.
Paul says it this way: "Christ is everything in all of you" (Col.
3:11B[N.A.B., 1970]); and , "For to me life is Christ" (Phil. 1:21).
Isaiah 55:3 says, "Listen that you may have life". Jesus is the Life
of an intercessor! First of all, we are called to inner stillness in his
presence. Action follows upon being. One cannot offer life unless one first
receives life (one cannot offer in union with Jesus unless one first receives
in union with Jesus). The necessary starting point of the
missionary-intercessory call of the Lamb (the charism of communal,
contemplative intercessory prayer) is our being in Christ "at his feet"--that
we "might be with him" (Mk. 3:14) and, "Listen to him" (Mk. 9:7).
Jesus says that there is need of only one
thing. In Psalm 27:4, the psalm writer says it this way:
I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the
days of my life, to gaze on the Lord's beauty, to visit his
verse describes the hunger in a human heart, eager to encounter the beauty of
the living and true God found in a contemplative gaze--an insatiable longing to
be in God's presence. Jesus invites us to: "Remain in me, as I remain in
you" (John 15:4); and, "The faithful shall abide with him in love" (Wis.
3:9). St. Paul states it this way in Phil. 3:13-14:
thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies
ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward
calling, in Christ Jesus."
of the meanings of the word, pursuit, is 'to engage in a vocation'. An
essential element of each Christian vocation is a seeking of Jesus with all of
"I will rise
then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings Iwill seek
him whom my heart loves"
our cities, towns, neighborhoods, parishes and families need to see the active
pursuit--the sacred quest--of more hungry "seekers of him whom my heart
loves" in their midst!
St. Paul, Jesus is the goal, the prize--the one! Jesus is the
What is a priority? A priority is a
relationship of, or something of, importance and urgency. The root meaning of
the word, priority, is "first". In 1 John 4:19 we read, "We love, because he first
loved us." For God, humanity comes first. We are God's priority. We are God's
"first thirst": "Prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts
that we may thirst for him" (CCC 2560): "For he satisfied the thirsty" (Ps.
107:9). Love gives precedence, priority, to who or what is most valued. God
wants love to be the first priority for intercessors because "God is love". In
The Book of Revelation, the Church at Ephesus is chastised for having lost its
initial zeal: "You have lost the love you had at first" (Rev. 2:4).
Jesus wants everyone to share in his own single-heartedness and
single-mindedness for the Father. ForJesus, there is only one thing:
"Behold, I come to do your will, O God" (Heb.10:7), "So that they may all be
one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that
the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).
St. Paul, through his profound
conversion, began to reprioritize his life. In an already-cited passage,
he speaks of forgetting what lies behind" (Phil. 3:14) ("because of the
supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.") (Phil. 3:14) In Luke's
Gospel, Jesus addresses what must be left behind:
to another he said, "Follow me". But he replied, "Lord, let me go first
and bury my father. But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But
you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. " And another said, "I will follow
you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." Jesus
answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what
was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59-62).
in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks emphatically concerning the ordering of
a disciple's life:
loves father or mother more than me isnot worthy of me, and
whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"
invites us to let go of inordinate attachments and relationships that
would have us compromise the "call of the king" upon our lives. Seen in a
positive light: "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; The old things have
passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17); and, "Behold, I
make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Intercessors must be spiritually "fit"
('ready, prepared, acceptable for a purpose') to engage the "plow" of
intercessory pleading by remaining focused on Jesus "the leader and perfecter
of faith" (Heb. 12:2) at all times. At a moment's notice--at the prompting of
the Spirit--we must be ready to "Break up for yourselves a new field" (Hosea
10:2): To pray for anyone or any situation in need of prayer.
Is Jesus truly my "first thirst"?
Are there any inordinate attachments to persons or realities in my life that
sometimes compromise my relationship with the Lord?