Fr Paul reads from the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah (40: 1-11) in which a voice cries: “Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord; make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low; let every cliff become a plain and the ridges a valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all humankind shall see it”.

Fr Paul continues to read from the ‘Heart of the Disciple’ booklet for our daily reflections and says we might consider the following:Grab your spade and pickaxe, it’s time to do some landscaping! Isaiah (40:1-11) is putting us to work today; level the ground, lift up the valleys, lower the hills.

The human heart has many obstacles that make it difficult for God to find his way in. These obstacles might be thought of as the hills and valleys in today’s reading. Hills and valleys can be many things, but if we give our relationship with God the time it deserves in prayer, they can be removed at least to some degree.

For example, sometimes our experience of prayer can be one of being bombarded with distractions, worries, and frustrations. In fact, sometimes it can be downright overwhelming to sit quietly with God for any length of time. Seemingly random thoughts and feelings can stand in the way of the type of divine encounter we are hoping for. While God is always present when we turn to him in prayer, our ability to recognise the fact that Jesus is there can be thwarted by what is going on in and around us.

One of the ‘hills’ that often impact in our modern day is our busy schedule. With the rise of technology and the increasing pace of progress and productivity, busy-ness is often encouraged and rewarded in society. It may be exhilarating to be busy because of its promise as a path to success or fame. But being excessively busy can easily become a barrier, not a bridge, to the life that God desires for us.

In our spiritual life, there are few things more important than the work of prayer, because it is there that we can truly discern the things that are truly meaningful. In prayer, we encounter things that prevent us from receiving God’s love. There he works with us to remove those barriers so that his love can pour down freely upon us. It’s not always easy work, but it’s worth it.

For our reflection and discussion, Pope Francis writes, “Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received” (GE, 23). Would I describe myself as a prayerful person? If the answer is ‘yes’ how would I describe my life of prayer to another? If the answer is ‘no’ what do I intend to do about that today?And we conclude with this prayer:

Loving God, You ask me to work with you to remove any barriers that keep me from truly living in you. Give me the desire to sit with you in prayer this day, simply trusting that you are at work in spite of my inability to always recognise you are there. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.