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It’s Lent again. Is it just me or was it only a couple of months since the last Lent? I must admit I don’t look forward to Lent. Lent is a time of giving up things and the theme is penance. On Ash Wednesday we were invited to face up to the fact that we are dust and are going to return to dust. Now that’s not a happy thought.
The first problem I face is deciding what to give up. I give up red wine, all alcohol actually but I only have a glass of wine (it’s supposed to be good for the heart.) My wife gives up sweets and cakes, so those are out as well since they are not brought into the house. The whole giving up business can create its own problems. I read that Theresa May, our Prime Minister has given up crisps. She got a really bad press for that; all too easy the critics say. Michael Gove went further in an article in The Times. He pointed out that this was a Catholic tradition and it showed that Mrs. May was the first Catholic Prime Minister of the U.K.
He wasn’t saying this was good. He was arguing that Brexit was essentially a Protestant thing and Mrs. May should not be trusted to go through with it. Mrs. May is actually an Anglican but obviously some think she seems a bit dodgy. So it seems that giving up something up for Lent leaves us open to anti-Catholic rhetoric, even if we are not a Catholic.
Now there’s a problem right away. There’s a great temptation to compete with one another on who does the most difficult giving up. I wonder if Theresa May’s critics have given up anything? I must admit I admire her for going public about Lent. I suppose she was asked and had to think of something quickly but it’s unusual for any politician to admit to any Christian action these days. Politicians have been ridiculed for expressing their belief in God.
Carol Monaghan, M.P. for Glasgow North West turned up to her select committee meeting on Ash Wednesday with her ashes on her forehead. Other members could not believe she wanted to appear with this symbol as the meeting was being broadcast on television. Perhaps they found the idea of publicly marking oneself as a sinner, for that’s what we are doing, was a step too far.
What if I had a class of wine tonight, have I failed Lent? Pope Francis would tell me that I have the wrong idea of Lent. Lent is a time of penance; but penance with a purpose. On Ash Wednesday the Pope was comparing the atmosphere of selfishness and downright lies in our society with the atmospheric pollution in our cities. The E.U. has threatened to fine us for exceeding air pollution levels, levels which cause premature deaths. We tend not to notice the pollution as we are breathing it every day. Similarly we do not notice the poisonous atmosphere of sin we inhabit because it’s always there.
Pope Francis tells us that Lent is a time when we can cut out this spiritual pollution and learn to breathe again. My giving up red wine is an exercise for my spiritual health, not a test. If I can give up my indulgence and put the money I would spend on that to some good cause then I’m fulfilling the requirements of penance and almsgiving all in one go; a two for one offer as Tesco might put it. There are plenty of opportunities to use the money wisely; SCIAF’s Wee Blue Box is sitting on our table.
I will try to adopt a more positive approach to this Lent. If I take a long hard look at myself and list all my failings I’m sure I will end up with a massive to do list. I don’t think I’ll be able to sort out all of those faults in six weeks. I think I’ll need to do a wee bit at a time. Where should I start?
The Gospel reading this morning was very short and to the point.
Luke 6:36 – 38
There you have it do not judge and do not condemn. Well, that lets me out then. Oh yes? Can I be sure that I’m not guilty of judging and, indeed, condemning others? Perhaps I am guilty of judging others when I get annoyed by something they do or say. Do I condemn others? Do I write them off as not worth bothering about? Maybe I need to take that close look at my behaviour.
While picking out all my faults I should keep in mind where I’m going with all this. I am going, we are all going towards Easter. Easter is the great celebration of the Church. We are celebrating our salvation. We are celebrating that turning point in history when Jesus, by his suffering and dying on the cross, made it possible for us to attain Heaven.
Now if I am going to be judged in the way I judge other people then I’d better start creating a sympathetic judgement for myself. I have to start to be more understanding of all those people who annoy me. There’s a Lenten task that puts abstaining from red wine into the shade. Perhaps I need to try to put myself in their shoes as they say. If I could see things from their perspective then perhaps I would not be so grumpy.
Well, that’s made up my mind. I’m going to make a greater effort in what’s left of Lent to spring clean myself. I’ll try to move my focus away from the trivial things of this world and set my sights on the next one. Instead of taking Donald Trump’s tweets seriously (that way leads to insanity) I’ll try to take the Holy Father’s words more seriously. When he talks of being tolerant of people in unorthodox marriages and reaching out to strangers I’ll do my best to ‘get with the programme’.
It’s worth remembering at this time that Jesus went through all his suffering and dying to save people who were not Catholics, not particularly good and some were downright bad. That is still the mission of the Church. We are here to bring sinners (including me) to Christ and through Christ to Heaven. Now when it comes to the final judgement and I have to account for myself, what am I to say in mitigation for my sins? I think that helping to bring a sinner to Jesus will go down much better than I always put money in the plate and I never kept bad company.
It’s Lent. How do you feel about it? Is it painful or pointless? Does it make you feel guilty of hopeful? Read my take on this Lent in The Scottish Catholic Observer published today. Get yours today or in your local parish this weekend.
If they sell out – don’t worry the full text will appear here next week. (Reading it could be a penance!)
This article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 24th February 2017.
The other day at Mass I learned it was the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It made me think of the number of feast days we have for Our Lady. I wondered why there were so many. Then I realised that she is the prime example of vocation. She was called by God for a special purpose and provides us with a template to follow.
When I was a wee boy we would often have visits from relations. There was often a wee auntie who would ask me if I thought I had a vocation. My blank face would prompt the follow up question, “Would you like to be a priest?” In fact I was more interested in becoming a cowboy like the ones in the Saturday morning cinema.
We often pray for vocations. This has become more important in a time when every diocese is running with fewer and fewer priests and religious orders are dwindling. That’s the story in the rich countries but in Africa and Asia there is no shortage of vocations to the religious life.
I think vocation is not properly understood today. We might have the expectation of an angel appearing before us with a personal message from God and pointing us in His direction. I don’t think that happens. I have two cousins who are nuns. They were based in England when one of them was instructed to go to America to serve there. Realising that she might never be back here they both came to stay with us for a few days in order to visit family before departing.
My younger daughter, finding it hard to understand how someone could give up a life and happiness, was full of questions. One of the sisters explained that her parents had opposed her vocation. They asked her to wait for a year and during that time they showered her with ‘good things’, a car, fine clothes and so on. At the end of that year she gave it all up and entered the order.
My daughter was amazed to see that my cousin carried all her possessions in one small carry-on bag. She really has no worldly goods. Strangely, you will never encounter a happier person. She is content with a life serving the poor, a life with a purpose.
It seems a bit strange that some should be singled out for a life of purpose, a life that can bring fulfilment. But surely that is not the case. God sees a purpose in every life. How often have you been to a funeral Mass where someone reads out a list of the achievements of the deceased? I can remember listening to lists of successes in business, property and holidays. I have heard of how a person’s worth can be measured in terms of worldly success. I think they always miss the point.
There is nothing wrong with owning your own home, your car and the things you need for life’s requirements. However, I don’t think these things are your purpose in life. We are living in a society where accumulation of wealth is the measure of a person. Leaders of big businesses are awarded bonuses of millions of pounds each year. Footballers can be paid more in a week than most people earn in a year. The divide between rich and poor is becoming greater with every budget statement.
It seems to be all about money. We all need money to pay the bills, buy the food, clothes, and pay the rent. What about all the rest? Actually we see less and less of money. Bills are paid straight from the bank. Salaries go into the bank. The money, for the most part, is just a number on a statement. I think that’s why billionaires buy large yachts moored in the Mediterranean and rarely used and large houses that nobody ever lives in. It’s the only way they can see their wealth. Adding a few zeroes on their bank account doesn’t convey any sense of richness. Having something concrete, even if they never use it, can reassure them that they are a success.
Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men of the nineteenth century, is quoted as saying “A man who dies rich dies disgraced.” Carnegie gave away his fortune to build libraries and invest in universities because he realised that the accumulation of wealth for its own sake was meaningless. So what does give meaning to our lives? We can look to doctors and nurses who treat the sick and sustain life and see a real purpose. In looking to others who serve we often use the term vocation again. So it’s not just priests and religious who have a vocation. In fact we all have a vocation; we are all called by God for one purpose or another.
I remember reading an article about public health where the author pointed out that it’s not doctors and nurses who save most lives. It’s the men who build and maintain the sewerage systems who do most in the fight against disease. Just look to countries where there are no sewage systems for confirmation of that. This is repeated throughout human endeavour. Famous architects are credited with the building of iconic buildings but not a stone would be laid on a stone without the skilled artisans who bring plans to reality. Nothing happens without those unnamed, uncelebrated people who work.
In reality we all have a vocation, perhaps more than one. We are all created for a purpose. Human society is like a building and we are the bricks that make it up. Some parts of the building are seen and others are hidden from view but the fanciest bit of carved stone on a facade is no more important that the stones hidden in the foundations. Without the hidden foundations the building would soon collapse.
Perhaps we should stop praying for vocations and start praying for discernment. We all have a vocation but mostly we don’t recognise it. If we can’t see the vocation we can’t respond to it. But the implications of what I’m saying go further than that. We are all called by God for a purpose. That may be a calling to be a husband or wife, parent to children. That is a sacred calling and should be treated as such. We are scandalised to hear of a priest who does not take his vocation seriously but seldom apply the same standards to our own vocation.
So let’s start praying for the ability to recognise our vocation for what it is. Let’s start living out each day as a sacred calling where everything we do for each other is part of God’s plan for mankind. Taking this seriously brings us grace in everything we do. The morning offering prayer we learned as a child is simply a recognition of this.
I need to concentrate on doing what I do well. I can forget any dreams of playing for Celtic and scoring the winning goal. Any glory I will achieve will be in the simple things I do each day for my fellow humans, done in God’s name.
Well. do you? What kind of vocation? What does that question mean anyway?
Read my thoughts on the matter in my column published today in the Scottish Catholic Observer. You can get a copy in your local parish -don’t delay.
If you are too late – don’t worry I’ll print the full text here next week but it’s much better on paper.
The following article was published in the Scottish Catholic Observer on Friday 27th january 2017.
Well, I’ve just about recovered from Christmas and New Year. I hope you have too. I really enjoyed Christmas this time. I found the liturgy very uplifting and I think it made me think about family. Christmas is that kind of feast. This has been a strange Christmas. I could say 2016 has been a strange year. Looking back on it we might see it as the ‘Post Truth’ year. The simple truth in our Christmas celebration was a welcome break in that.
Christmas has had a struggle to keep its identity. What we know as the birth of the Saviour has become a commercial binge time. We seem to have gone from giving simple gifts as a sign of our caring to running up debt to splash out on stuff nobody really needs. Even here truth is being pushed out of the way. They even want to remove the word Christmas. They say we could be insulting people by wishing them ‘Happy Christmas’. Well, I’ve been insulted from time to time but never by anyone wishing me well.
The New Year celebrations are a different thing. I suppose I’ve never really understood what there is to celebrate about getting older, counting off the years ‘till it’s time to go. It’s the tradition of New Year resolutions that bother me. The one good thing about this is being forced to have a look at your life and figure out what you should do to improve it. That’s not as easy as it sounds and keeping resolutions beyond the first week in January is even harder. I’ll come back to that later.
Both celebrations involve getting together with family. That always raises the question of who is your family. You may have family who live so far away you rarely see them, weddings and funerals, that’s when you might catch up with them. I have cousins I would not recognise if I met them in the street. That might be because they live on the other side of the world or maybe just the other side of Glasgow.
That brings me to something I noticed in the readings this year. In one Gospel reading I noticed that John the Baptist did not recognise Jesus.
John 1:29, 34
Now I’m not sure whether John did not recognise his cousin Jesus or had not recognised that he was the Messiah. I don’t suppose it matters since John had recognised that his role in life was to prepare the way of the Lord. He did this by preaching and baptising.
John was popular among the people. He was not popular among those in authority. He was not popular among the powerful because by preaching simple truths he exposed the corruption at the heart of the authorities. That has a familiar feel to me. I have recently felt that my religious views do not fit in with those in authority. My views on Christian marriage are deemed to be homophobic and one politician has recently suggested that by not agreeing with the law of the land I must be breaking the law.
It seems to me that we are the problem because we look to an authority that is not the government, the press or the pundits. We look to God as the source of truth. That truth seems to be more and more in conflict with the law of the land. We Christians are a problem because we are casting doubt on the veracity of man-made laws. Who should we look to for the truth?
This is not a new problem. When Jesus stood before Pilate he made plain the place of truth.
John 18: 37, 38
As Pilate showed by his question, truth and politics do not always mix. As we have seen recently that is often still the case.
John recognised Jesus in his role a Messiah rather than a cousin. Some things are more important than blood ties. Our real family is God’s family. We call God Our Father and we refer to Mary as our mother. We are part of that family whose purpose is to bear witness to the truth. In a sense we are to continue the work of John the Baptist in preparing the world to meet Jesus.
John the Baptist has been described as a wild looking fellow with wild hair, dressed in animal skins and living in the desert foraging for food. He had removed himself from society and its trappings to point out where it was going wrong.
Now I have been described as a bit of a scruffy dresser. My hair, when I still had some, was never described as being stylish. I don’t think that puts me in the same class as John the Baptist but perhaps I should be taking a leaf out of his book. I could be argued that rather than being annoyed by politicians rejecting my views, I should really be pleased. Perhaps I’m doing something right?
The past year has shown us politicians both here and in America making up truths as they went along. When challenged they rejected the idea that they should believe in truth but claimed that truth was what they believed. Commentators have pointed out that Donald Trump’s supporters accepted him because he said what they believed, whether there was any evidence to support it or not.
Who should we believe? Those who promise us hundreds of millions to be spent on the NHS every week rather than sending it to Europe (and then deny saying it) or Jesus who gave his life for the truth? I think we now have a clear purpose. We should be proclaiming the truth to a society that seems to have lost the very concept of truth. We need to continue to reject falsehood and lies. We should be seen as the new John the Baptist.
Of course that will make us unpopular in official circles. We can take reassurance from that Jesus said that the world hated him and so it will hate us too. The world crucified Jesus so we must be doing something right if we are rejected too.
That might give me the answer to my New Year’s Resolution problem. I could resolve to be just like John the Baptist and insist on the truth, reject the lies our society increasingly relies on and take the consequences. I won’t be moving out to the desert (some might suggest that Coatbridge is a good substitute) nor will I be dressing in animal skins. I wonder if we could make a difference. Perhaps if we habitually pointed out the truth when we are presented with lies the message might get through.
My January column is published today in the Scottish Catholic Observer. I’m starting out on a new year – 2017. What will change for me this year?
Get your copy at your local parish this weekend. If supplies have run out do not despair – the full text will appear here next week.
I’ve been in the loft today to bring down the Christmas decorations and the Crib. The crib was always an important part of our Christmas, an important thing for our children. It tells a story of a joyful occasion when God sent his Son to be one of us. Now we have grandchildren the story is still important in our house.
I think it was a smart move on God’s part to send us Jesus as a baby rather than an adult. Who could fail to welcome a new baby? The arrival of an adult would not produce the same feelings of joy as a new baby. Of course this was no ordinary baby. This was the Christ child, come as the saviour of mankind. This was the child come to give us a future, an eternity with God.
The Crib is full of symbolism. Jesus is born in a stable with an animal feeding trough for a bed. God sends His Son to us in poverty. His first visitors are the poor shepherds, alerted by an angelic choir. This birth has been foretold by prophets. A sign in the sky, a star, guides three kings on their search for the holy child. These kings or wise men pay homage to the child; thus the child is king of kings.
The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are potent symbols of the kingly and divine nature of the child and the medical properties of myrrh attest to a violent end. The symbolism of the Crib prepares us for the role Jesus is to play in our salvation.
There is a dark side to the story. King Herod decides to kill the child out of jealousy. He doesn’t want another king to usurp his place. This is the first rejection of God’s salvation and it is played out in the violence of the massacre of the innocents. Loving parents, Mary and Joseph abandon everything and take the child into exile in Egypt. Jesus starts life as a refugee.
For children this is a lovely story. They sing “Little donkey” and imagine Joseph leading the donkey with Mary and the holy child on its back. They think of Mary cuddling the child close as the donkey takes the strain. The reality must have been a bit more stressful than that. I’s a nice image for a child but I’m not a child anymore; though my wife might suggest that my behaviour sometimes belies that fact. While I might enjoy playing hide and seek with my grandchildren I must force myself to take an adult view of the journey into Egypt.
The holy refugee family must have experienced the fear of being caught and must have worried about their uncertain future. This Christmas there are many families in that same part of the world experiencing the same worries and fears. The flight of refugees from danger in Syria and African countries is now a crisis that even threatens Europe. Thousands have dies in the Mediterranean, drowned in a vain attempt to reach a new, safe life.
I find it hard to understand why people would put their children’s lives at such risk. That’s because my grandchildren are living in a safe, loving environment. King Herod’s role has been taken over by others who are jealous of their role and status in the world. People with real power; people who should know better are bombing and shelling more children that Herod ever killed. How can I hope to understand the fear that drives refugees to journey to a Europe where nobody is trying to kill you?
Sadly, those who are successful find themselves in a continent where children are not as safe as they assumed. It seems like every day that we hear stories of children being abused in the Church, in schools, in sports activities and even in the BBC. We hear that abuse has been going on for decades and we wonder what kind of place this is. It seems like those in authority have shamefully neglected their responsibilities to children.
I’m part of the Safeguarding team in our parish. The Church is now facing up to reality and putting in place a structure to defend the vulnerable. It’s high time the rest of society was doing the same. But surely we must do more than that. Surely we must change the culture of abuse in our society. If abuse of children and the vulnerable was tolerated by those in authority it can only reflect the attitude to people in general. If we refuse to value the lives of people, be they children, the poor, the old or those with special needs then abuse of these can be seen to be acceptable. It is only when we value all human life, even the unborn, that we will begin to stamp out abuse.
When a political opponent makes a good argument we can rubbish it by pointing out they have a physical deformity or they breed salamanders or some other thing that makes them less than us. If they are less than us we can abuse them and that’s ok. But that’s a dishonest argument and distorts our political life. If we want truthful debate and live in a society where truth is a guiding principle (this seems to be an old fashioned idea today) then we must accept and promote the truth that all people are of equal value.
So what to give the children for Christmas? It could be the latest big thing. It could be Star Wars, that’s big again. It could be Batman, Iron Man and the rest of the gang; my three year old grandsons are avid followers of them. These will fade away in their turn to be replaced with a new big thing for next Christmas. The compelling thing about these superheroes is that they fight for justice. They step in to defend the people where governments fail. I wonder if that’s what attracts children to them. They appeal to a child’s natural sense of justice.
Perhaps that’s what we should be hoping to give our children for Christmas. Do we need to become the superheroes of our age? Can we defend those people society abuses? Perhaps we should be more vocal about the injustice of attacking the unemployed, describing them as scroungers and cutting the benefits paid to the poor. Should we be asking questions of our parliamentary representatives about how we deal with those refugees who are seeking a safer existence for their children?
Now you might ask if that’s not asking the Church to become political. That’s a good point and some politicians have suggested we should keep our noses out of politics and stick to Sundays in church. But we are part of the Universal Church. The Church is for everyone in the world. We are all part of Christ’s family and have responsibilities for each other.
Imagine a world where every person is valued. Dare to hope for a world where everyone has the right be live in safety. I think that would be a wonderful Christmas present for my grandsons. I can’t go out to a shop and buy it. There is no online store that can deliver it. I could start slowly. I could begin with me and see if I can change my ways to make me more open to the people who are not like me and begin to see them as just as valuable as me.
That’s my road to superherodom (I just invented that word) this Christmas, what about you?
My December column should appear in this weekend’s Scottish Catholic Observer. I thought I’d be topical and write about Christmas. What does Christmas mean to you? What is the Christmas message and who is it for?
What are you getting from Santa?
Full text here next week, all going well.
November is the month when we usually focus on remembering the dead. As a nation we have just been commemorating the deaths of the military in two world wars and numerous smaller conflicts. As usual this brings about sharp debate about wearing the poppy. Woe betide the T.V. personality who fails to display the poppy on screen. It was extended this year to condemn the puppet that did wear a poppy. It seems public display is the order of the day.
For Catholics this is a month of prayer for the dead. We compile our November lists and our deceased relatives and friends can be formally remembered in masses each day. The uninformed observer might ask why we bother as the deceased are, of course, dead. The answer is that we know they are dead but they are not gone. In God’s eyes we are all one. Death is merely a step out of this life into the next. As a wee boy I learned that we are praying for the dead that they might get into Heaven.
It’s comforting for us to know that those we love are still there. I’ve always hoped and imagined that they are really in Heaven already. That brings me to the thorny question of Heaven. What or where is Heaven and what is it like? This question came to the fore in our parish recently when our Parish Priest tried to clarify our ideas of Heaven. He pointed out that despite the fact that we often point upwards to Heaven; there is no evidence of any trace of Heaven up there. He told us not to think of Heaven as a place. It was quickly reported and repeated throughout the town that the priest had said there was no Heaven.
It’s a lesson I learned many years ago, be careful what you say because some people will hear something quite different. Thinking that there is no Heaven is a serious matter. If there is life after death there must be somewhere to live and that is Heaven. Jesus promised us Heaven when he told the Apostles that his Father’s house has many mansions. The idea of mansions colours our image of heaven. It is easy for us to imagine an eternal life of luxury. This would be our reward for living a good life.
This is where my doubts arise. My doubts are on two levels. Firstly I wonder just what we can expect in Heaven. The Church has taught that we will be resurrected in our bodies glorified and imperishable. This is the reason for the recent statements about cremation and how we should treat the remains. If we will have bodies in Heaven there must be a place for those bodies. So where is Heaven?
Now I must come clean and confess that I don’t know the answer. I suspect that nobody knows the answer. Nevertheless it is a question that seems to bother us. I satisfy my own curiosity with the thought that we have a two state existence. We are flesh and blood and we are also spirit. After death my spirit will leave my body. I will still exist in my spirit. My spirit doesn’t need a place to exist. At the last day, when time comes to an end, the world will be recreated and our bodies recreated in glorified form.
Now that might not be completely accurate. It lets me move on, though, to another question. That’s the question of why is the nature of Heaven so important to us. We have the idea of Heaven being the reward for our good behaviour. There are lots of stories about how our Heaven will be determined by our earthly behaviour. I remember the story of the priest who was ushered in through the pearly gates (now where did that idea come from?) and was led past a large mansion. “Is this my place?” he asked. “No, you are further along. That one belongs to a Glasgow taxi driver.” came Saint Peter’s reply.
They came to a small hut and the priest was given the key. He was not too pleased. “Why does a taxi driver get a mansion and I only get a hut? I’ve led hundreds of people to God.” He asked.
Saint Peter replied that by his wild driving the taxi driver had caused thousands to pray every time he went out on the road. Thus he was due a greater reward.
If we try to be good simply to gain a reward are we really living by Christ’s teaching? Think about your children. One child is obedient to the parent for love of the parent. The other child obeys in order to get a chocolate bar. Which is the good child? What’s so good about shaping our behaviour to gain a reward?
This reveals a great error in our understanding. In reality we are not able to earn a place in Heaven. We can get to Heaven by Christ’s sacrifice for us and by God’s infinite mercy. If we try to live a good life we are choosing to follow Christ. That reflects the desire to share our eternal life with Him. In rejecting Christ’s teaching we are choosing not to spend our eternity with Him. We can only condemn ourselves.
There is the story of the priest giving a mission who tells the congregation to put their hands up if they want to go to Heaven. They all do. He then tells them to keep their hand up if they want to go tonight. The hands go down. Apparently we all want Heaven but not yet. The reason is, of course, that we need to die before we get there. Dying is a step into the unknown. Nobody we know has been back to tell us it’s ok so we are understandably apprehensive.
The bishops of England and Wales have recognised this problem and I read in the Catholic Herald that they have done something about it. They have launched an Instagram page which offers advice on dying well. Pictures of those who have died can be uploaded and a network of five convents and abbeys in England will offer prayers for the dead and dying people. There is a website which complements this work. You can find it here.
As we get older (let’s face it nobody is getting younger) the prospect of death and its inevitability loom larger. The T.V. adverts encourage us to prepare for that time. We can take out a life assurance policy so that our family will have money to bury us with some ceremony. We are urged to take out a pre-paid burial plan so that we can rest in the assurance we have somewhere to go.
These are all very well. It is good to prepare for the future. There are no adverts reminding us to prepare for the real event in our death. After all we will not be around for the funeral. We will be too busy meeting our Maker. Can we prepare for this interview? Just like any job interview we need to revise our life experience. How have we demonstrated our suitability? We have the opportunity to fill in any gaps in our experience of Christian living and get on better speaking terms with God.
We know the questions He will ask. “When did you feed me when I was hungry, clothe me when I was naked, give me a drink when I was thirsty? We all know the questions and perhaps we will have time to prepare some suitable answers.