In the Gospel of Saint Luke we find Jesus taking time out from His busy teaching and healing ministry in order to be with his Heavenly Father. He withdrew to quiet places, such as the desert and the mountains, to be by Himself in communion with His Father. Sometimes He took with Him His Disciples, away from the crowds, to teach them some of the greatest truths we treasure in the Bible, including the Sermon on the Mount.

As human beings, composed of body and soul, we need quiet time to commune with ourselves and with our heavenly Father. I refer to a deeper level of communion, person to person, to an existential communication, the “I-Thou” relationship.  In this personal relationship, we set aside the superficial masks we wear in our formal daily public associations. We converse with our true self. We allow it to reveal to us all its strengths and weaknesses, all its fears and glorious victories.

Our inner self is authentic and opens itself up to the presence of God, asking in humility to commune with Him. It feels its sinfulness as a creature before the Holiness of God, the “Holy Other.” It receives forgiveness and acceptance from Him, like the Prodigal Son, and rejoices in God’s presence. It is united ineffably with Him, receiving an incredible amount of energy and strength and an indescribable joy.

Saint Paul opens a small window of his life in his Letters to the Churches in order to allow us to see the depth of his personal relationship to the Lord. He experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit in his heart, accompanying him in his missionary work. For this reason, he was able to say, “I no longer live myself; Christ lives in me.” Because of this personal communion with God, the adverse exterior circumstances and persecutions could not take away the joy in his heart. When we are united with the Lord in this personal, authentic way, we can face the hardships, the “hard knocks of life” in a calm and peaceful way, like Job of the Old Testament.

The secular, professional world has acknowledged the need for periodic withdrawal from the everyday demands of the workplace. For this reason, it provides periods for relaxation, for seminars, for “brainstorming,” and for quiet time.

If we do not heed the needs of our body and spirit and burn the candle on both ends, then we will become sick physically, emotionally, or both. The doctor will then order a compulsory rest for us so that we can come to our senses and recover.

Some people do not want to face their true self. They follow the route of escapism:  They use drugs, alcohol, or even illicit sex to cover up their true inner need, to fill their emptiness. Unfortunately, they do not see the great harm they do to themselves and to the people around them until it is too late. Thus, they may miss the purpose of their life, their true goal.  They commit sin, amartia, which literally means “missing the mark,” and they wander aimlessly through life.

Metanoia, the change of our mind, the return to our true self, brings us back to our senses, to our true self.

Let us rediscover our true self in the depth of our heart; be true to ourselves and return in repentance to the presence of God, to our Heavenly Father.