Prayerful reflection on the Gospels may be considered the ideal form of prayer for Parish Pastoral Council members. The Gospels are our main source of understanding who we are as the Community of Christ’s disciples, those who follow Jesus and lead others in the following as well.
One way of focusing such reflection is to use something like Cardinal Cardijn’s simple process of discernment for leaders – See, Judge and Act. See what is going on around us in terms of pastoral issues; Judge those issues in the light of the Gospel, and what it is asking of us here and now; and determine the appropriate Action to be taken as a result. There are many other ways in which reflective prayer based on the Gospels may be framed. For example, the following passage from Mark’s Gospel might be used when there are difficult decisions to be made, or in turbulent times seeking trust in God’s plan.
On that day, when evening had come,
Jesus to his disciples, "Let us go across to the other side."
And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him.
A great windstorm arose,
and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.
But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion;
and they woke him up and said to him,
"Teacher, don't you care that we are perishing?"
He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!"
Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
He said to them,
"Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"
And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"
Jesus, Lord of all creation, word of God who both created and renewed
what you have made, we seek to understand the troubled times through
which we move. We seek to trust the decisions we make this night to
your loving care.
Many of the Gospel passages are about prayer itself and provide much thoughtful inspiration. Take this passage from Luke’s Gospel for example
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.'
And he answers from within, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.
For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish?
Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
[Luke 11: 5 – 13]
Another fruitful reflection might be on this short passage from John’s Gospel, helping us to reflect on the realities of being engaged in pastoral ministry
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘Have you not a saying, four months and then the harvest?
But I tell you, look around you, look at the fields;
Already they are white, ready for harvest!
Already the reaper is being paid his wages,
Already he is bringing in the grain for eternal life,
And thus sower and reaper rejoice together.
For here the proverb holds true, one sows and another reaps.
I send you to reap a harvest you have not worked for.
Others have worked for it, and you have entered into their labour.
Paul’s letters from prison (circa 63-65AD) give great room for reflection by Parish Pastoral Councils as well …
From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus........
To the church at Colossae
Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin
of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions - if he
comes to you, welcome him. And Jesus who is called Justus greets you.
These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you.....
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you.
Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and
to Nympha and the church in her house.....
And say to Archippus, "See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord."
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace is with you.
.....Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings
to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
.....I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the
time has come for my departure.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.....
Do your best to come to me soon, for Demas - in love with this
present world - has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;
Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.
I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
Only Luke is with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful in my ministry.
When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls - especially the parchments..
Do your best to get here before winter.
[2 Timothy 4:6-21]]