32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

– by Bishop Marty Shanahan – 

Oil lamp…blow it out…

One never knows when it will happen do we?

The older I get, the more I come to appreciate my Buddhist friends who continually remind me that their journey in faith is what they refer to as a “practice”.

A practice in mindfulness, awareness, and presence.

And I am reminded of the instructions and questions that we ask of the parents of an infant being baptized: Do you promise to raise this child in the practice of the faith?

Lately I have heard a lot of speculation about the current state of our world and…

…the political climate of the nations

…the geographical disasters

…the outrageous killings that have taken place in just the past few years alone

Tragedy seems to befall us almost everywhere.

The question for us – as 21st Century Christians – is, how does it mean we should be living?

As I look at the Sacred Scriptures and I examine our Tradition, I know one thing for sure; we must not live our lives in fear.

I do not find listening to preachers of doom and the end of times to be very helpful in my spiritual life, because I end up questioning and fearful.

I mean, I do not want to get to the end times and be like the bridesmaids, whose lamps have gone out, and have God say, “I do not know you!”

That is the point at which I believe our faith becomes very active and alive.

God does know us.

God has called each and every one of us by name.

I baptize you, Mark….
I baptize you, Lisa…
I Baptize you Jim…

…in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

God has called each and every one of us by name.

Each of us, in our own unique way, with our own unique gifts, and our own unique talents.

That is what the sacraments do; they remind us that God has called us each by name.

Baptized, anointed, called, and invited to this feast.

Here in this Eucharist, every person is welcomed…

Every person is affirmed…

And the door to eternity is once again propped open by faith.

You see, I think we gather each and every week to remind ourselves, and each other, that in deed and in fact, each of us is a child of God.

And we light each other’s lamps once again, and we encourage one another once again, that we can live as loving, faith-filled examples of God’s presence on earth – even with all our faults and failings.

You know, I often hear complaints in the work place about our Muslim brothers and sisters, and how they have to stop and pray five times a day.

I try to remind folks that this same practice is a part of the Christian tradition as well; it is just that we have not lived into the practice for many years.

Maybe some of you are old enough to remember the Angelus Bells. Years ago, almost every Catholic Church would ring their bells at 9, Noon, and 5 or 6 pm, to remind folks to pray. That tradition has dropped off the radar in these modern times.

But, most of our active Muslim brothers and sisters stop five times a day to pray – for three to five minutes – and we complain.

I wonder what it would be like if Christians joined with them once again in this practice.

I leave you today with this thought:

I had the opportunity a few weeks back to ask one of the Imam’s who comes to offer Jumah services on Friday at the prison. I asked him, “So tell me why do you pray five times a day?”

He looked right at me and said, “To remind myself that I am loved by God!”

You see my friends, it is not God who needs our prayers – it is each of us who need our prayers – to remind us…

You are my beloved, and on you my favor rests!

I wonder how often we stop to pray?

– Bishop Marty