Saturday, 5 September 2009

As white as...

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

James 1:22

‘keep oneself unstained by the world’

‘Dirty Old Town?’

It is easy to see all that is wrong with the world. You have only to turn on the television to see terrifying pictures of what is going on all around us. And even the so-called entertainment often seems cruel and demeaning. The radio, the internet, the newspapers have the same focus – we question the decency and behaviour of others. We ask ourselves ‘what is the world coming to?’

Just reading that paragraph makes me feel old. I remember being young enough to be able to laugh off such comments, to wonder why anyone would spend their time worrying about things that did not concern them and that they could do nothing about. Because my life was fine, the lives of those around me were fine. My world was very small.

If you had said to me then ‘keep yourself unstained by the world’, I would have said ‘I do. I don’t get involved in anything illegal, I take care of myself, I love my family, I am doing my best in my work. I don’t think God would have many complaints about me.’ Little knowing that the stains were creeping in. What was my world coming to?

Because the world was starting to affect me; to direct how I thought, how I behaved. Making me believe that I was important; that my happiness, success, prosperity was a priority. I’m a cradle Catholic; I have been to church; I have listened to the Gospel; I have been confirmed as a follower of Jesus Christ; I proudly wore a cross and chain but I was not clothed in Christ. My clothes were reflections of what and who I wanted the world to see.

And I can use the excuse that at least I am not as bad as…; not as greedy as…; not as selfish as… but that is just an excuse. Because that means that I am not as good as I should be; not as sharing as I should be; not as compassionate as I should be.

The world accepts that some people suffer and some don’t; the world accepts that there are things you can’t change so don’t bother; the world accepts that some are better than others because that’s how it is; these are the stains we can carry on our hearts.

Jesus loves each person uniquely – or, as I said once, uni-equally. How do you think he managed to end up with such a variety of apostles? His Kingdom is built on service and humility. That’s what I should have been taught as a Christian and that’s how I should live. Knowing that somewhere under the stains of worldly stuff there should be the white garment of baptism – the sign that we have been reborn – the sign that we are not of this world.


‘Whiter than white?’

Let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen. We will never be the perfect Christian. Which is just as well, because the minute we start thinking ourselves perfect – we can be sure we are not.

But we should be aware of what is happening to us; what our influences are; where we get our role models, our attitudes, our judgement of others.

Then we have to measure them against what our faith asks of us. And pray for the guidance and support to makes changes where change is needed.

This won’t be just once in our lives but over and over again. Which is good, because that makes prayer useful; makes it real; makes it do what it is supposed to do - transform us and bring us closer to God.

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen


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