Prayer and cult
Jerusalem is usually designated as “the city chosen by the Lord”, 185 “established” by him (Is ), “city of God” (Ps 87:3), “holy city” (Is 48:2), because the Lord is “in its midst” (Zp 3:17). She is promised a glorious future: assurance of divine presence “for ever” and “from age to age” (Jl 4:16-21), guaranteed protection (Is 31:4-5) as well as happiness and prosperity. Certain texts even attribute an ideal perfection to this city of cities. Above and beyond its geographical location, she becomes the pole of attraction and the axis of the world. 186
Nevertheless, the greatness of Jerusalem will not prevent evil descending on the city. Numerous prophetic messages (2 K ), symbolic actions (Ezk 4-5) and visions (8-11) announce the rejection and the destruction of the city chosen by God.
The Son gratefully recognises that everything comes from his Father’s love (Jn 3:35)
Later on, a restored Jerusalem becomes one of the great symbols of eschatological salvation: a city illumined by the Lord, 187 given a “new name” and which becomes again the “espoused” of God. 188 Jerusalem will become paradise regained with the coming of the “new heavens” and the “new earth”, 189 essentially a cultic place other (Ezk 40-48), the centre of the recreated world (Zc -17). “All the nations” will assemble there to seek arbitration from the Lord and the divine teaching which will put an end to war. 190
49. In contrast to the Old Testament, the New Testament contains no detailed legislation concerning the establishment of cultic institutions and rituals – it briefly prescribes baptism and the celebration of the Eucharist 191 – but it puts a strong emphasis on prayer.
The Gospels frequently show Jesus at prayer. He rises early to pray, even after a late night due to the influx of the sick people with their maladies (Mk 1:32,35). Sometimes he spends the whole night in prayer (Lk 6:12). He isolates himself “in desert places” to pray better (Lk 5:16), or ascends “the mountain” (Mt ). Luke shows how intense prayer prepares for or accompanies the more decisive moments of Jesus’ ministry: his baptism (Lk 3:21), the choice of the Twelve (6:12), the question of his identity posed to the Twelve (9:18), his transfiguration (9:28), his passion (-45).
The Gospels only rarely report the content of Jesus’ prayer. The little they do say shows that his prayer expressed the intimacy with his Father, whom he calls “Abba” (Mk ), a term of familiarity not found in the Judaism of the time, to invoke God. Jesus’ prayer is often one of thanksgiving, following the Jewish ber
h. 192 During the Last Supper, he “chants the Psalms” prescribed by the ritual of the great feast. 193 According to the four Gospels, he quotes eleven distinct Psalms.
At the end of the Last Supper Discourse, John puts on the lips of Jesus a long prayer of petition for himself, and for his disciples, present and future, thereby revealing how his passion is to be understood (Jn 17). The Synoptics record the suppliant prayer of Jesus at the moment of mortal sadness in Gethsemane (Mt -44 and par.), a prayer accompanied by a gracious compliance with the Father’s will (,42). On the cross, he makes his own the doleful cry of Ps 22:2, 194 or following Luke, the prayer of abandonment of Ps 31:6 (Lk ).
Alongside the prayer of Jesus, the Gospels report many demands and supplications made to Jesus, to which he generously responds, underlining at the same time the efficacy of faith. 195 Jesus gave instructions on prayer 196 and through parables encouraged perseverance in prayer. 197 He insisted on the necessity of prayer in times of trial “so as not to come into temptation” (Mt and par.).