Paul gives us a series of images for our being 'in Christ'. We are to walk in Him, we are to be rooted in Him, and we are to be built up in Him, established in the faith and abounding in thanksgiving. The image of walking is found elsewhere, in Ephesians 5:2 for example. It means to live and to move, to proceed from day to day, to persevere in a way of living and acting. Walking is neither standing nor running: it means to maintain a steady course.
To be rooted is a contrasting image, taken from the natural world. It is difficult to walk and be rooted at the same time but this is what we are to do: have our roots in Christ as we walk in Him. The roots provide food and water for the organism. They give it a secure place in the world, a firm hold on things, feet on the ground.
The third image is taken from the world of construction: we are to be built up in Him. It is a common image for the Church as a whole which is often described as a building or house or even as a temple. Here Paul speaks to individual Christians, the 'living stones who make a spiritual house' as Peter puts it in his first letter (1 Pet 2:5). Each believer is constructed on Christ who is the foundation, the corner stone, the enduring support and the overall plan of the entire edifice.
When we turn to the Gospel we can bring these images with us and ask 'who does Jesus walk in? where is Jesus rooted? on whom is Jesus constructing his life?' The answer is immediately clear: 'he spent the whole night in prayer to God'. More than any of the other evangelists, Luke reminds us again and again about the prayer of Jesus. His relationship with the Father is the air he breathes. He walks always in that atmosphere. His life and mission are rooted in the Father's will ('my food is to do the will of my Father who sent me', Jn 4:34). There is no other foundation for his life than the love the Father has for him and the love he has for the Father.
The relationship of Jesus and the Father is the source, root and foundation of His life, and His life is the source, root and foundation of our lives. Elsewhere Paul puts it this way: 'you are Christ's and Christ is God's' (1 Cor 3:23). In the calling of the apostles recounted in today's gospel we begin to see how this relationship with Christ and with God is to take shape within human relationships. The apostles are taken up into the mission of Jesus. As soon as they are called, the fruit of that night of prayer, they are faced with the apostolic task: a large gathering of disciples and a great crowd of people who want to hear Jesus, to be cured of their illnesses and to be freed from unclean spirits.
The people wanted - and still want - to touch Jesus because power comes from him to cure us all. It happens now through His Church, in the sacraments it celebrates, the faith it preaches, and the charity it practises. This is most clearly experienced in the lives of the saints, the people who do these things best, walking in Christ, rooted and built up in Him, established in the faith and abounding in thanksgiving. We pray that God will raise up saints for our time in the Body of Christ. We pray that by His grace we may be counted among them.