Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham
Feast Day: 24th September
Mass Homily for 25th Sunday Yr.3.
LET PRAYERS BE OFFERED……
The essential lesson of the parable of the unjust steward is that we should know how to cultivate friends for ourselves who will be able to intercede for us before the Lord when we are in need of his mercy. Jesus’ lesson is stark and simple. He doesn’t elaborate on how we are to cultivate these friends beyond telling us one of the ways viz to be generous with our money in helping others.
But there are, of course, many other ways we can help our neighbour in his need. We can be generous with our time, and our compassion, for instance. Especially can we help others with our prayers. And so often it is the only thing we can do for them.
For so many people religion is just a matter of treating others as one would have others treat oneself. That includes a bit of alms giving of course, but the concept of prayer doesn’t even enter into their heads.
St Paul, however, in today’s first reading instructs the new Bishop Timothy on this very important aspect of the life of the Church. He tells him that: first of all, prayers must be offered for everyone – petitions, intercessions and thanksgiving – and especially for kings and others in authority.
Paul teaches here that the Church must not only teach her children to pray but must recognise herself as the officially appointed Mediator and Organ of Prayer for the intentions of all of God’s People.
There is much more to prayer than just entering into our chamber and praying in secret, praiseworthy and recommended by the Lord himself though that be. But this same Lord also said that where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
I would like to use this teaching of St Paul to take a closer look at the place of the monastic life in the Church. The whole Church is, of course, a praying Church. But how many individual members of the Church play much of a role in this praying-life of the Church? Therefore it is most fitting and most spiritually beautiful that the Church search among her children for those who will dedicate their whole lives in a very special way to a life of prayer, of thanksgiving and of intercession. The Church finds such souls in those who feel called to the monastic life particularly. She commissions them to undertake the solemn obligation of the daily choral Office in her name and on behalf of all her children.
This is a great calling indeed and is well described in that lovely hymn we have at Thursday Vespers. I will just conclude by reading it for you.
The day thou gavest, Lord, is ended.
To thee our morning hymns ascended,
Thy praise shall sanctify our rest.
We thank thee that thy Church unsleeping
While earth rolls onward into light,
Through all the world her watch is keeping
And rests not now by day or night,
As o’er each continent and island
The dawn leads on another day,
The voice of prayer is never silent,
Nor dies the strain of praise away.
The sun that bids us rest is waking
Our brethren ’neath the western sky,
And hour by hour fresh lips are making
Thy wondrous doings heard on high.
Like earth’s proud empires, pass away
Thy Kingdom stands and grows for ever
Till all thy creatures own thy sway.
In listing the intentions for which the Church must pray, Paul mentions particularly “Kings and those in authority”. We might be tempted to think: “What good are my prayers going to be when it comes to influencing men in positions like Vladimir Putin of Russia or George Bush of the United States”? But our faith must persuade us that the world is not governed by Putin or Bush. Even such powerful men are merely pawns in a hidden struggle between the evil powers of the upper air, as Paul terms it, and God’s own angels of light.