A guest homily this week!
Poor Deacon Tony. He spent time, effort, and prayer for inspiration, only to discover just a few days before the weekend that the Bishops of England and Wales have issued a Pastoral Letter for this coming weekend.
I am pleased to host his homily on this website.
Our second reading today is taken from the letter of St James.
It is an extract from the only letter to Christian people he wrote.
I personally like the letter from St James, they are easy to understand and have a practical approach to many of today’s problems.
If you read it you will see how full of common sense it is, and how true it is today as it was when it was first written; probably about fifty years or so after the first Good Friday.
James seems to have that ability of getting straight to the point and is able to explain it in words that anyone can understand.
Just look again at the beginning of our second reading. James tells us "Wherever you find jealousy and ambition you will find disharmony, and wicked things of every kind being done."
Now I am sure no one can argue against that, "Wherever you find jealousy and ambition you will find disharmony”
In the previous verse he adds the word 'selfish' to ambition.
Ambition by itself is a good thing — we all have ambitions and the desire to get on and do well — but if that ambition is only motivated by what we can get out of it for ourselves, with no thought for others then it becomes wrong, and results only in a lack of harmony and all kinds of other evils.
Today he is talking about our relationships with others; not just about our relationships with our family and friends but with everyone, both at home and across the world.
Today our world is so much smaller.
As the news over the past few weeks, of Syria and Afghanistan has shown the world is getting smaller and smaller. News that not too many years ago would take weeks or even months to reach us is now instant. It is on our TV screens as it happens across the world. Today we see the refugee crisis day by day, minute by minute and it all adds up to our worries, our discontent and the ambitions for ourselves, our family and for our country.
Sometimes our worries and concerns may manifests into a deep felt concern for others or on the other hand manifest into prejudice or may be just pure selfish ambition.
We see the refugees fleeing from Syria and Afghanistan, fleeing from their homes and countries destroyed by war and terrorism. All they want is a new life in the west and safety for themselves and for their families.
I’m sure that people, both adults and children, sick and the elderly who are prepared to walk, yes walk from Syria through Serbia and on to Austria and Germany are NOT economic migrants, they are fighting for their lives and for their families. Now that that route is closed they are walking through Croatia to the West.
For us here in the West it’s all we can do to walk to the car to get wherever we want.
Yes we do have concerns and ambitions for our country and for our children, but we shouldn’t make these issues just selfish concerns. We can only hope that if we were in the same position as the refugees, someone or some country would hold out a hand of friendship and be there to help us.
As individuals we are powerless and must rely on World Leaders to come up with a solution and quickly for each country and especially for the refugees who are fleeing for their lives and their futures when all many are finding is Police lines, pepper spray and water cannon.
Everything in our lives today depends on the way one nation gets on with the next, and the way one each person here gets on with his or her neighbour.
James gives us a few guidelines — they apply to me as a deacon, to a doctor, a teacher, a father and mother, a brother and sister. It is up to us to take note of them and then try to apply them when the occasion arises.
The first thing, as James tells us at the end of the reading today is - We have to pray properly and not pray for our own selfish needs.
We have to pray that we will not get fanatical or prejudiced, that our prayers and concerns are both for the refugees and for our own good. That we will guard against unbalanced ambitions instead of a reasoned conviction.
The refugee crisis is causing arguments across the world, in our own countries, in our own communities and probably in our own families and so James advices us; try and not to be bitter. Many discussions end with tempers lost and tears shed. Ideas are talked through sensibly and quietly and finish up in a shouting match. In an argument don’t think of those holding opposite views as enemies but rather as friends to be persuaded.
James warns about having selfish ambitious that we cannot satisfy.
To finish I want to pray a prayer that Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote for her sisters,
and really for us, to help us understand what really we need to be concerned with in life:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.