Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Waiting in Prayer

Our waiting in prayer is ultimately about powerlessness, for the mystery of God’s presence is constantly revealed even as it is hidden. If indeed we seek intimacy with this Mystery, vigilance is essential because God is always reversing things, doing it his way, sneaking in quietly through the side door, even on tiptoe, trying to engage us in unexpected ways. Mindful attentiveness is our way of being in the kingdom, because with the eyes of faith all of reality becomes increasingly transparent to the transcendent beauty of the One who is always advancing toward us.

By faith we wait and pray, because we know instinctively that there is always more. Christ’s love and attentiveness and generosity will not be outdone. For in the crucified and risen Christ Jesus, we experience God’s "modest but insistent, incessant plea for our love." This plea is in our gut; we sense its presence, its power and pull even now.

But still the, the waiting can seem so passive and so much of our praying may seem unrewarding and flat. The danger is that we’ll believe that nothing is happening. Don’t be fooled. Jesus our Lord, the divine Thief is always at the door, ready to sneak in, behind the wall trying to dig through. He rewards our attentiveness; he is attuned to our deepest yearnings, our vigilance. And if we are meant to live in incessant desire for him, it is because he is always at the threshold of our desire, longing for us more than we realize.

He is the Lord who delights to find us waiting. And in an amazing reversal, it is he our Master who, no matter what the hour, wants to wait on us his servants, and serve us not a stingy snack but an all-out feast. And so, he comes in, sets the table and invites us to recline. We know that in Jesus’ day, reclining was only for banquets, regular meals were taken seated at a table.* The message is clear: a wedding banquet is happening. The Bridegroom is here, heaven has been wedded to earth, and he wants to feed us a banquet; he himself is the Banquet.

* See Gerhard Lohfink.