Sunday, 7 August 2011

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, Shaftesbury and Blandford 9am

I’ve just had a very busy week –away with 11 of the parish youth at the Faith Summer Session. And most of us feel we live busy lives. I know that even retired people, like my parents, find the day rushes by despite what they had planned to do with it. Everyone seems to be overworking.
What do we need to do when we have too much to do?
Well, in today’s Gospel, we see Jesus give a rather unusual example: He sent the crowds away. Those crowds were probably full of people who all wanted a little bit more of His time, but He sent them away, and “He went up into the hills by Himself to pray” (Mt 12:24). He didn’t always send the crowds away, but we do hear of Him repeatedly telling His apostles that they needed to come away for awhile.

The key point, however, is WHAT Jesus went up the mountain to do.
He didn’t go up there because there was a fine restaurant there.
He didn’t go up there because there was a good pub or a nice teashop.
He went up the mountain to show us the importance of putting aside time to pray.
And those of us who live on this Shastonian hilltop might well recall that Scripture repeatedly writes of the mountaintop as the place to be with God. I’m sure that King Alfred had significant military reasons to build the Abbey here, but the hilltop location is also a traditional place to feel closer to God.
Thus our first reading recounted how Elijah was on Mt Horeb when God came to him not in thunder, or noise, not in the hustle and bustle of busy life, but in silence, the “small breeze”. And it was also up the mountain that God appeared to Moses (Mt Sinai indentified as the same mountain as Horeb).

So Jesus, even though He was busy, busier even than you and me, went aside to pray. And this should remind us that we need to do the same. We need to give TIME to God in prayer.
Now, this is a difficult thing to do, especially when life seems busy enough already.
But, actually, the busy-ness of life is very much one of the reasons we SHOULD pray, not why we should not!
The great Pope John Paul II wrote on this when he said, “Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ!... Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human.” (Dies Domini (1998), n.7)
When we give time to Christ we give Him a chance to enter our lives and give us what we need in them, and we give ourselves the chance to re-focus our activity.

Our presence at Sunday Mass in a minimum, but it does not exhaust what we need to give God in prayer. While there may not be a specific command of WHICH prayers we should pray daily, we DO have a duty to pray to Him daily. Things like:
A morning offering –in which we briefly offer the day ahead to the Lord, for His glory, according to His will, and ask His help to live it.
A night examination of conscience –in which we briefly close our day as we will close our lives, being examined on how we lived: asking God for forgiveness for our failings, resolving to live better tomorrow, and asking His help to do so.
Aspirations –to make brief prayers to Him during the day: “thank you that the supermarket line is not long today”, or, “help me be patient as I wait in this line”.
Daily Mass –I know I’m not always here to provide Mass for you, but usually I am, and that it is a true privilege, a real opportunity: to unite ourselves with the perfect prayer Christ left us, to join ourselves to the eternal sacrifice of the Mass.
Eucharistic Adoration –every week our Lord is exposed on this altar for an hour to be adored. There are great graces available then. He wishes to speak to your heart.
Tabernacle -Visits to the Blessed Sacrament: the porch is open every day, to come and visit the Lord present. On your way to and from shopping or work.
Rosary –after every weekday Mass, even if you can’t get to Mass. Its the prayer our Mother has repeatedly asked of us.

There are a lot of retired people in Shaftesbury, and even though retirement can be full, I’d encourage you to fill it a little more with God.
We have but ONE life in which to get to know the Lord, and after this comes the judgement. And when He asks ‘Do you love me?’ He will be asking ‘Did you love me?’ Did you spend time with me?
So, we need to pray. We need to go up the mountain with the Lord.
“Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ!... Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained” (Dies Domini (1998), n.7).

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