By Kabir Masters
In the readings today, we keep hearing the words COMPASSION, HUMILITY, and LOVE. How do we incorporate these gifts into our lives? How do we live Jesus' words? We may worship weekly, say all the right words and prayers during service, and greet each other in the name of Christ. But, as we leave our church service every Sunday, how does this continue in our lives?
I grew up Muslim in a liberal, cosmopolitan family without a huge emphasis on prayers and church, but mom prayed at home, and I regularly attended religious events with her. However, my father always insisted…. "Do good in life. Give of yourself. Never bring anyone down… help them up…" My father belonged to the Lion's Club in Calcutta, India. We would feed the poor children weekly (a sort of porridge for breakfast). I would sometimes (reluctantly) go with him. My father insisted that I feed them, and when I did, I saw the look of intense gratitude in the eyes of the children. When we gave them an unexpected mango as a treat, the joy in their eyes was unforgettable. When we went to Mother Teresa's residence, we could see the unconditional love and service given to those who needed care. I have never forgotten those moments when I saw the JOY and THANKS in those eyes—unspoken appreciation in response to a simple act of kindness on our part.
I grew up in an environment with multiple religions. We heard the Hindu temple bells simultaneously as the Muslim "Azaan" (call to prayer) and the church bells. We had Hindu, Jain, Muslim (Shia, Bohri, Sunni, Ismaili), Christian, and Buddhist friends and neighbors. There was no conflict or condemnation among us! We played with each other, socialized, and visited each other's houses for treats and good wishes on festival days. We would burst crackers at our Hindu friend's houses on Diwali, and they would visit us for Eid. How happy and uncomplicated those childhood memories are for me. I am saddened these days when I see the forces that try to divide us versus unite us…
In India…." SERVICE" or "SEVAA" is an integral part of society. You have to help others as part of your religion. It is mandatory. There are literally hundreds of philanthropic organizations that serve the poor and needy. No questions asked; just get in line and accept with folded hands of Namaste or gratitude.
Regardless of religion or background… we have to give of ourselves. We must be thankful for the blessings in our lives- spoken and unspoken. We are privileged. We are wealthy… WE CAN GIVE!
I got baptized in the Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del., but have since been confirmed in the Episcopal Church. My father's words have stayed with me throughout my life.
Giving is not only defined by a check in the offering plate. For us at Ascension… giving could be showing up with water for Sandbranch residents, a lasagna or two for Austin Street, providing produce for the Food Pantry, or bicycles for Refugee families. Giving can also be a warm hug, a smile, and a welcome to a stranger coming to service for the first time!
The only way to remain on Jesus' path is to give of ourselves. … only by giving of ourselves, talents, and "wealth"…can Jesus replenish our empty baskets with His unconditional love, forgiveness, and compassion. The reading Kabir’s reflection references is Philippians 2: 1-13
Kabir and Steven have been together for 22 years and legally married since 2018. They were the first same-sex couple to be blessed through the renewal of vows at St. Thomas the Apostle by Mthr. Joy Daley. They were members of The Episcopal Church of St. Thomas the Apostle for the past 20+ years and now are happy members of Ascension. Kabir grew up in Calcutta, India, and has been in the US since 1988. He likes to cook, garden, and is fond of introducing others to Indian cuisine! He does financial and accounting consulting and has siblings in Houston and Calcutta.
Steven grew up in Hawaii/Kwajalein (US Marshall Islands) and has a background in Ballet. Upon retiring from dance and attaining a degree in Medical Laboratory Medicine, he worked for Parkland Hospital in the Point of Care Technology dept. from which he retired in 2022 after 33 years of service. He likes to work in the Community Garden at Ascension, ride his Peloton, bake bread, and travel. They have one dog Dano, and two Siamese cats, Maile and Zara.