For the last three weeks, or really since I returned home in August of this year, after a six-month sojourn in the US, I was inundated with other people’s business.
Dear brothers and sisters, if we listen we can hear the cry of humanity. If we look, we can see the state of humanity, across the world.
I remembered when I went to Texas last year; I had not seen my mother-in-law in almost ten years, as I was home in T&T most of the time, whilst my husband was in Iraq, for eight of those ten years. She turned to me and said, as the ambulance drove off with my father-in-law in it, “I was praying to God to send me help, and I never knew, that it would be you who God would send. I will be relying on you heavily”….and so she did! My father-in-law passed away six months later, and it was me she relied upon, although her seven children, including my husband and his family were around.
Another time, I met a neighbour who was five or six houses from me. She was selling a beautiful desk from her garage sale. I bought it and she began to praise God and we started to talk about God. She told me that she wanted to learn the Word, the Bible, so much.
I said to her that I have been doing that for some years, and if she likes I will come over and share with her. Later on, she opened up and told me how she used to be very close to God, held prayer meetings at her home, but she stopped because her daughter went on drugs, and for ten years she begged God to cure her. But her prayers went unanswered, so she stopped seeking God. She lost her faith.
We subsequently met every week at her home; she later invited other friends to join us. As I spoke in English, she translated in Spanish. Language was never a barrier, and we related to one another in the spirit and always had a wonderful time in the presence of God. There I was, a Trini, with Mexican-American women, all one in God! Once you are willing and available, God makes things happen!
And here I am back home today with my 95-year-old mum, doing the same, and realising how much we need to be with our elder folk, as their friends pass away and their visitors naturally diminish. Even family becomes scarce, as the word ‘busy’ has become the buzz word in Trinidad. Yet the need remains, for companionship, love, prayers and the Word, Masses and Communion.
A brother-in-law of mine sent a message recently saying “Make sure and enjoy your life”. Sadly, some of us see sacrifice and the Will of God, as something hard, boring, unsatisfying, lonely, but to those who live a life of God, it is joy and peace. These examples, of which there are many more, makes today’s Gospel so relevant.
God has called us to live an extraordinary life, a life that exhibits the second commandment, ‘To love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ The Gospel today tells us that our judgement and penalty will be harsh if we do not carry out this commandment.
A commandment is not just something that was given to us through Moses. The word itself means that whether we like it or not, we are commanded to do this, that and the other. It is God who commands, so that we can live a peaceable and holy life, as children of God, so that His Will be carried out on earth.
In the Gospel passage, the righteous was shocked, as they were not aware that they were following God’s commandments. Why weren’t they aware, I asked myself? The answer came to me that perhaps God was not referring to literal acts of charity. They could not recall, for He was talking of something far deeper. He was talking of the spiritual needs of the soul.
And if we are in right standing with God, we will be able to touch lives, by feeding them with spiritual food and drink, and clothe them spiritually, with the love, the mercy, the grace and the blessings of God and the precious blood of Jesus.
The Gospel reflections for November were by Jemma Allong-Redman, founder of A Way of Living in Christ International, a spiritual support group for adults; the artistic director of the Southern Christian Drama Ministry, and a television co-host. She is a parishioner of St Peter’s RC Church, Pointe-a-Pierre, and St Mary Magdalene RC Church, Houston, Texas.