Prayer Is Not Enough

Once in a while I hear or see something that is so wrong that it makes me re-think the way I live.  One of those situations occurred this past Saturday night.  My family and I were on vacation in the South and we went to Mass in a local parish, where I heard one of the most upsetting homilies ever.  It bothered me right away, but as it’s been settling in with me, it gets worse and worse.

When speaking about the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles—the one where the whole community was sharing their stuff and no one had need of anything…because they were sharing—the Deacon said that today, this was not a practical concept.  He called it, “the honeymoon phase” of the Church.  He said that it was all well and good that that happened at one time in our history, but since we live differently now, we don’t need to do that anymore.  We can just pray for each other.  I’m sure if one pressed him on the issue, he’d take it back, but it was not a cool thing to say from the pulpit.

Now, don’t get me wrong—prayer is good—but it’s not nearly enough.  Jesus didn’t say in the judgment of the nations, “When I was hungry, you prayed for me.  When I was thirsty, you prayed for me.”  He said, “you gave me to eat…” and “you gave me to drink.” (Mt 25: 31-46) Jesus preached radical charity; unflinching love.  This cop-out idea of a “honeymoon phase” sounds more like the lukewarm folks that God said He’d “vomit out” of his mouth in Revelation.

It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have—there isn’t a person alive who doesn’t have something they can share.  If we, as a Christian community, don’t believe that we ought to be living lives of radical charity, and sharing what we have with people who need what we have, then we have to ask ourselves what Christ we are worshiping.  Well, that crazy statement made me uncomfortable enough to question how I’m living; and if I’m saying that very thing with the way I live, or if I’m living the charity that Christ expects from me.  I’ll have to reflect more on it, but I know one thing—prayer is not enough.

Jen Schlameuss-Perry

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One Response to Prayer Is Not Enough

  1. Wow! This “honeymoon” period is spoken of in the workbook we lectors use to prepare for our readings. It sounds like this deacon used that same resource but stopped reading before this: “This passage is not a history lesson; it’s a beacon shining through the ages, illuminating the possibilities of Christian life. Heroism, idealism, and selflessness are all possible in that beacon’s bright light.” But I will say that the best homilies are the ones that make us think, so in that sense that southern homily you heard was Great! ;)

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