Beloved in Christ,
Modern life leaves us very little room for quiet. Our lives today are increasingly busy, and we have little time for seeking peace and stillness. Modern technology brings the noisiness of our social lives into our homes, removing even the illusion of privacy and seclusion. Since the beginning of the pandemic, many of us find that even are work lives are encroaching more and more on our personal time.
It is well-known that the hectic pace of our lives today tends to cause a host of psychological issues. But it causes us spiritual issues as well. As long as our lives are filled with busy-ness, then we have left no room for Jesus Christ. As long as our schedules are packed full, then we have left no time for Jesus Christ. Many of us today are starved spiritually because there is no place in our lives for quiet alone-ness with God.
A pitcher that is empty cannot fill the cups of others. A power strip cannot give electricity to your devices unless it is plugged in to the source of that electricity. We cannot fill the lives of others with the peace and love of God unless we make the time to allow God to fill our own lives.
Two people in today's Scripture readings give us examples of this. In our Epistle reading we hear about St. Paul, who ministered to Churches throughout the world. St. Paul did not begin his ministry until after he had spent years alone with God in the desert. When Jesus Christ was first revealed to him, St. Paul's first reaction was to get away from other people are find solitude with God: "when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me...I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia," (Gal. 1:15-17). Only after being filled by God in stillness could he begin his ministry to others.
Our Gospel reading shows Jesus casting many demons out of a man from Gadara, a city to the north of Jerusalem near the Sea of Galilee. After being harrassed by the crowds of demons, he discovers the peace of alone-ness with Jesus Christ. When the people from the region came to see what had happened, they find the man "sitting at the feet of Jesus," (Luke 8:35), doing nothing other than enjoying Jesus' presence. It is only after he has spent this time with Jesus that he is sent back to his city to fill others with the good news of what Jesus had done for him.
In order to cultivate alone-ness with God, we have to take some time each day to unplug from the noise. Many people like to turn the TV on just to cover up the uncomfortable quiet. Do the opposite; take some time each day to do nothing other than sit in silence. In that silence, embrace our Lord Jesus by calling on him in your heart through prayer. Even if, in the busy-ness of our lives, we can only afford to devote five minutes each day to silent prayer, then our Lord will reward our effort. Then, when Jesus has filled us with his peace and love in the quiet of our prayer, we can be a source of peace and love for others.