Always and Everywhere
Twentieth Sunday of the Year. Fr Brendan Slevin always has a song in his heart.
This is not the homily I was expecting to offer to you but as they say ‘life is what happens when your making plans’
We can take so much for granted that when something unexpected happens our whole way of doing things can be thrown up into the air. No doubt as you are reading this you give no thought to what’s going on in that box in front of you, your computer just quietly works away feeding you with all sorts of information. When, however, your computer anti-virus software decides to delete a ‘dll’ file then what was taken for granted, what was simple and ignorable, suddenly consumes your time. This then is the condition I find myself in; granted, it is not an earth shattering moment or on the level of so many disasters just waiting to befall us, but it does cause one to stop and think.
St Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians tells us to come together and sing psalms and hymns to the Lord but also to continue singing and chanting in our hearts. What a wonderful instruction, to have our hearts full of music. When we listen to music it alters our mood. It can raise our minds to something beyond us, bring alive in us memories of the past it can even bring us from despair to hope. To have that music within us, within our hearts, how much more will it consume us? So let us take heed of St Paul and keep that song of thanksgiving to the Lord resounding in our hearts, echoes on earth of the celestial choirs of angles.
There are some other benefits of singing in our hearts: it is our music, music that only we can hear rising to the throne of God. It can be a constant hymn, a constant prayer of thanksgiving wherever we are and whatever else we are doing. But above all it builds within our life a constant reminder of God. And let’s be honest with ourselves, when our life is going along all right we can so easily forget about the God who keeps us in being. When no disasters hit there is no need to beg for help. When there is nothing to fill us with joy there is not need to thank God for it. It is in the more extreme moments of life that we find ourselves paying more attention to God, the rest of the time we can take just take God’s gifts for granted.
I suppose part of the problem is remembering what we have to be grateful for, though every breath we take should be a reminder of our creator. But what about giving thanks for that which is to come, our future life without end with God?
From the earliest of times man has searched for the secret to eternal life. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, believed his physicians had found this secret and daily digested the tablets they gave him. Unfortunately as is so often the case their secret, a compound containing mercury, not only shortened his life but also affected his mental state. It is remarkable how much time, effort and expense was put into attempts at securing an afterlife. From the moment you became king in ancient Egypt you began your tomb. With King Horemheb we can see in his first tomb the moment he became king and the craftsmen stopped carving the walls as it would no longer be needed. Then in his second tomb in the valley of the kings we see the moment his body was brought in and again the craftsmen stopped working and ran out before it was sealed.
We have no need to build tombs, we need not man made structures for our future life, it is not about structures or man made things. Our preparation for eternal life is to live not to spend our life planning. With whatever befalls us good or bad let the praise of God be in our hearts. St Paul tells us ‘this may be a wicked age but your lives should redeem it’.
Instead, then, of taking so much for granted let us fill our hearts with a song of thanksgiving to the Lord ‘so that always and everywhere you are giving thanks to God who is our Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Then with our hearts full of joy we can begin to live.
So I sit here singing to the Lord in my heart, giving thanks for this small revelation via the unexpected activity of my anti-virus software.