“As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to serve them. That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mk 1: 29-35)
I love getting this glimpse into both the “private” and “public” life of the enormously-popular and busy Jesus of Nazareth, in our Church's reading for this Thursday. He spends “private” time with close friends, in the home of Simon and Andrew. But even there, He is of service, doing “His thing” and healing Simon’s mother-in-law (who then, in her turn, is of service to Him, as friends are to one another). And even there, “the whole town” imposes upon His “private” time, gathering at the door.
So, when does such a popular-and-busy Man find time for solitary prayer? In the early morning, “while it was still dark.” Did the God-Man, Who is “of one essence with the Father,” really “need” to do this? Well, yes, I think He “needed” to do this, – not for Himself, but for us; to show us how, even amidst a busy schedule, we might get creative and carve out some alone-time with God, perhaps when everyone else is still sleeping, or when everyone else is otherwise-occupied. Let me go and do likewise, as best I can, in a schedule far less busy than the one my Lord endured in our midst, but one complicated by our 24/7 Internet-culture. Let me switch off my mobile-devices for a while today, letting others be otherwise-occupied, and me be occupied in some “solitary place” of heartfelt, quiet prayer, for just a while.