A man called Ali is in need of money and asks his boss to help him out. His boss sets him a challenge: if he can spend all night on the top of a mountain, he will receive a great reward; if he fails, he will have to work for free.
The story continues: When he left the shop, Ali noticed that an icy wind was blowing. He felt afraid and decided to ask his best friend, Aydi, if he thought he was mad to accept the wager. After considering the matter for a moment, Aydi answered: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll help you. Tomorrow night, when you’re sitting on top of the mountain, look straight ahead. I’ll be on the top of the mountain opposite, where I’ll keep a fire burning all night for you.
‘Look at the fire and think of our friendship; and that will keep you warm. You’ll make it through the night, and afterwards, I’ll ask you for something in return.’
Ali won the wager, got the money, and went to his friend’s house.
‘You said you wanted some sort of payment in return.’ Aydi said, ‘Yes, but it isn’t money. Promise that if ever a cold wind blows through my life, you will light the fire of friendship for me.’ Such is the mystery of Friendship - The mystery of love.
We must keep that fire alive with one another and with God. The way to keep a fire alive is to throw on another log or some coals. If you don’t, the fire goes out. Friendship is like that. We need to be putting on the fuel all the time in order for it to stay bright and warm.
This is what Jesus sets out to do with his disciples in this Sunday’s gospel. They have been out preaching and teaching like he asked them to and now they have come back. They are exhausted. So is he. So he says to them let’s find a lonely place. Let’s get away from it all to relax and just be together.
The parish has already started to empty out. Now that the children are on school holidays many have already set off for 5 or 6 weeks in Portugal, Italy, Ireland and other places. I hope all the parents too will get a break.
We all need a holiday, a time of rest and relaxation, a time to get away from the busy-ness of work and routine. As a human being Jesus knew this and so when his apostles returned from their missionary work of preaching, teaching and healing, He knew that they needed a break.
The problem was that the people did not want to be separated from Jesus and His apostles so that even when they went away on a “mini-cruise” to a place of peace and quiet, the people rushed ahead and got there first. It is hard to get away and make time for one another especially in the sort of world we live in now. But we must.
Holidays are about taking time with those we love.
So our holidays should not be a holiday from God. Indeed it is the great opportunity to have a holiday with God – Find the local church and go to Mass and see how they do things there and if they do them well come back and tell us – we can learn. Enjoy the relaxation and rest and see God in all that is good, that is given us with family friends, beautiful places etc. Take time to walk on the beach, along a country road, to be with loved ones and enjoy them. Use the space we have been given.
If you cannot get away then take time here in Pimlico – walk in Battersea Park or St James’ or go up to Hampstead Heath. Have days out with family friends.
It is about time for ourselves too. Have you ever been in this church when there is nothing on? It is very restful and quiet. Come to the church when it is empty and sit quietly especially on Wednesdays for Adoration.
This week I did a friends’ funeral and his son got up to speak at the end. Steve spoke about how one of the greatest gifts his dad had given him was the gift of his time. As children he played with them - took them to football matches. As young men he went for a drink with them and played golf with them or just sat at home listening to music with them and reminiscing. What his father had done was, he created memories for them which they are now able to hold on to and Steve and his brother will pass the stories on to their children and follow their dad’s example and give them time too.
The greatest threat to the well being of modern man and woman is busyness. Time is your most precious gift you can give anyone because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can't make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you'll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time. How do you spell love? T_I_M_E.
So this summer let’s make the most of the time we have and enjoy each other, the beautiful world we live in, and God himself who gave it all to us.
This homily was given by Canon Pat Browne in Pimlico on Sunday, 21 July 2012
(16th Sunday B)