I was reading a book the other night and I came across this quote from the monk Thomas Merton:
“Those who attempt to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening their own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity for love, will not have anything to give others. They will communicate nothing but the contagion of their own obsessions.”
That’s probably a good description of why Jesus withdrew into the wilderness after His baptism – to “deepen his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity and capacity for love”, and why at intervals in the Gospels we come across verses like Mark 1:35
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”
Praying is about a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very core of your being and to see there what you would rather remained hidden and to touch things that you would rather leave untouched. Why would you really want to do that?
Perhaps because, like Jesus we recognise that all that we do, requires the Grace of God and being attentive to God’s will. So of course we need to keep tuning in to that so that in our attempts to love our neighbour we don’t simply “communicate nothing but the contagion of our own obsessions.”