Each weekday, Father James Lyons (Wellington) will be helping us reflect on God’s Word while we are in lockdown. What is God saying to us as we globally unite to defeat Covid-19?
CHANGE OF PACE
SETTING: if you have kept newspaper items following the course of Covid-19, spread them over your prayer space. They will teach you many things.
Slow me down, Lord.
Stop me in my tracks.
Shield me from the rush that
Sweeps me off my feet and
Sends me, blind to what really matters,
Spinning through time far too fast.
Slow me down.
It might seem that this prayer has been answered. Covid-19 has brought the world to a standstill. Staying at home, going outdoors as little as possible, perhaps working offsite, has forced a change of habit, a change of pace. The rush hour traffic has ceased. The parent taxi service getting children to and from their many sports is not required. With many businesses shut, even the fast-paced tv commercials have taken a break. Much has changed.
What will happen post-pandemic? Will we simply go back to the way things were? Can we? Do we want to? In this prayer time, think about the changes touching your personal life and any benefits coming from them. How might these benefits help shape your time when the present crisis is over?
SCRIPTURE – MARK 6:30-32
The apostles rejoined Jesus and told him all they had done and taught. Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’; for there were so many coming and going that the apostles had no time even to eat. So they went off in a boat to a lonely place where they could be by themselves.
Stay with this passage for some minutes. Think about your own lifestyle prior to the lockdown – probably as busy and involved as the apostles. Can you hear Jesus inviting you to use this time of isolation as a gift – inviting you to rethink your busyness, your concerns, to re-programme your priorities?
SCRIPTURE – LUKE 10:38-42
…… Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
Use this second scripture as a further meditation. Spend some more minutes in quiet stillness. Place yourself in the scene.
- Who are you – Martha, Mary, Lazarus, one of the disciples, an onlooker?
- What do you take in from the conversation that speaks to you of your own situation?
- Jesus emphasises the importance of listening to the word of God? How might you use this time of isolation to better appreciate God’s word?
- What do you “worry and fret” about that is secondary to what should really concern you?
- “Burying” oneself in work can be a screen or a blind blocking out obligations or responsibilities, or an excuse for not facing issues. The lockdown offers a chance to examine if this applies to you.
Jesuit priest, John Reilly, comments on this episode: Jesus vindicates Mary by showing how she does what he most wants from all his disciples. She listens to his word. This does not exclude Martha’s listening also, in her own way. In the busyness and distractions of her serving, if she is a normal woman, she misses nothing of importance said by Jesus! [Praying Luke, John Reilly, St Pauls Publication, 1994, p139]
You who need no time to live
Who live beyond all time
Took flesh and lived as one of us
Dwelling in our time
You know the fuss we make of time
How we never have enough
Time’s taste enslaves the best of us
You came in time to free us
Showing love held out in service
Sees time melt away
Love lays claim to everything
All time night and day
“PRAYERS OF LIFE” by Michel Quoist is a collection of prayers relating to everyday life. Published in 1963, it linked everyday experiences to faith and turned “praying” into a real conversation with God. One of these prayers has great relevance to this day’s reflection and is reprinted here:
Lord, I have time
I went out, Lord,
People were coming and going
Walking and running
Everything was rushing, cars, lorries, the street, to whole town
People were rushing not to waste time
They were rushing after time
To catch up with time
To gain time.
Goodbye sir, excuse me, I haven’t time
I’ll come back, I can’t wait, I haven’t time
I must end this letter, I haven’t time
I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time
I can’t accept, having no time.
I can’t think, I can’t read, I’m swamped I haven’t time
I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time…..
You who are beyond time, Lord, you smile to see us fighting it.
And you know what you are doing.
You make no mistakes in your distribution of time to us.
You give each one time to do what you want us to do.
But we must not lose time, waste time, kill time,
For time is a gift that you give us,
But a perishable gift, a gift that does not keep.
Lord, I have time, I have plenty of time,
All the time that you give me….
Years, days, hours, they are all mine
Mine to fill quietly, calmly
But to fill completely, up to the brim
To offer them to you, that out of their insipid water
You may make a rich wine such as you made once in Cana…
I am not asking you, Lord, for time to do this and then that,
But your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that you give me,
What you want me to do.