Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him.
The first sentence of today’s Gospel passage shouldn’t be overlooked. “Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him.” This might seem like an odd statement, perhaps even contradictory. But from the larger canvas on which all four Gospel accounts are drawn, we see several times a portrait of Jesus as one who prays intensely, at length, in solitude, and often. That His disciples were with Him doesn’t mean that they were all engaged in prayer together, but that they had the occasion to witness Jesus in this intense, solitary prayer with His Father.
The point of this first sentence within the context of today’s Gospel passage, however, is heard in what Jesus says next. “Who do the crowds say that I am?” After they offer the view of the crowds, Jesus asks, “But who do you say that I am?” After they give their own view, Jesus offers His view of His own identity. This portrait of Himself as the “Suffering Servant” who will be raised on the third day was most likely the content of His prayer moments earlier. There is no doubt about Jesus accepting this call from the Father. But the disciples’ reactions show that most of them could not accept Jesus in His suffering, or in their own suffering as His disciples. We might make an examination of conscience, asking if we ourselves are like these disciples.