Recently I heard a Navajo man saying that Native Americans are very different from Christians in terms of their beliefs, because Christians are preoccupied with death – what comes after life – and Navajos place their attention in life.
I believe the man is wrong. It is true that in this month’s lectures there is talk about being vigilant during life to be prepared for the coming of the Lord. But the most important thing is that God asks us for conversion of the heart, the soul and of life to the things of God, by putting to death all that is bad and leaving behind things and money. We should not be glued to the things; they are illusions and do not have eternal value.
If we have money, it is good to help a poor person in need, or someone who cannot find a job, or a sick person who does not have money to buy medicine. We are not living just waiting for the second coming of Jesus while doing nothing; we live life daily, hopefully in service to others. It is an active wait; we should not let the hours go by without doing something for others; trusting in God we lead our ordinary lives, imbued with Christ Jesus that transforms our gaze. Christ lives in us; Christ gives us hope; Christ forgives the wrong we have done.
Jesus Christ gave us a model for living: he showed compassion. He took time to visit Martha and Mary, teaching Mary and saying to Martha that it is necessary to do the house chores, but these should not take the time to be with Christ, with Christ family and with Christ friends. A man should not be so concerned about his job that he should stop being worrying about his wife and children, who should be his main concern.
Jesus stepped aside to pray and when his disciples so him praying, they asked him to teach them how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer comes from Christ’s experience of prayer; it is not simply an intellectual or theological form. Jesus taught us about the merciful God of Abraham who after enduring Abraham’s haggling, accepted withholding the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Our prayer should be insistent, consistent, and above all full of faith, knowing that we will not necessarily receive what we asked for, but confident that the response will be the best for us. "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." There is great power in the intercessory prayer, particularly when we transcend our own interests, assuming the dimensions of the world. Thus are the prayers of the faithful prayed every Sunday when we pray for our leaders, peace, strength for the weak and sick, etc.
We hold celebrations to remember special people and events: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, etc. Jews celebrate Passover to remember their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, hoping that God will continue giving them freedom. We, Catholics, celebrate the Eucharist to remember Jesus Christ delivered to us and to thank God for it. It is by this community prayer that we are united in faith in Jesus Christ; it is through the Eucharist that we are encouraged to live the gospel consciously and actively in the here and now and it is at the end of the Eucharist that every time we are sent to share the truth of Jesus Christ with others.
Sister Schwenzer is pastoral minister for Hispanics in the Wayne, Ontario, Yates and Seneca counties.