November 23, 2016
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University's Department of Journalism, Media and Computing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 505

Revelations 15:1-4
Psalms 98:1, 2-3ab, 7-8, 9
Luke 21:12-19

Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer
Beginning Advent
Praying Advent Home Page

“All the nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

On a trip to India years ago, I observed a group of devout women making “pujas” in front of a statue of a Hindu god. As lighted candles flickered, they chanted and scattered flower petals. While earlier generations might have considered this idol worship, I was struck by the similarities to religious services in which I have participated.

Flash back to high school May processions. We decorated our church with garlands and sang hymns to the “queen of the angels, queen of the May.” Our devotions culminated with crowning a statue of the Blessed Virgin with fresh flowers. A bank of vigil candles burned in front of the statue.

As I watched the Hindu women at prayer, I resonated to the universal impulse to worship that John speaks about in today’s passage from Revelations.  “All the nations will come and worship before you.” Although there are great theological differences between Hinduism and Catholicism, our sense of the divine and our use of symbols like flowers and candles to express it are similar.

As a former religion reporter, I was privileged to attend services of almost every major religion – everything from Jewish Sabbath services to exuberant African American “holiness” services with vibrant singing, clapping and spontaneous exclamations of belief. I’ve gone door to door with Jehovah’s Witnesses, watched Muslims bowing to Mecca and attended Episcopal Masses that were virtually identical to Catholic worship. In all cases, I saw good people following traditions that differed from mine and from each other. However they were all worshiping God as they understood him and that’s what seems most important.

I don’t wish to imply that religious differences are inconsequential but I remember feeling that the Hindu women in south India were my sisters in spirit. 

Most important, I think God loves all people who seek to do his will, no matter what their tradition or worship practices.

So bless God however you do it and love your fellow believers whatever tradition they follow. Come together in a universal chorus of praise no matter how we name our God.

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