Homily for June 12th, 2016 the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, homily, religion, saints, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 9, 2016

11 sun 3One thing I think most of us like to feel is that everything is good and we are doing well. We like to feel we are on a course and all is well. However, what we have to remember is that none of us is perfect. No one is without sin, none of us is unbroken. One thing we must face in life is that failure is possible and will probably present itself to us at some point in life. God in his love for us forgives if we seek it out, but we must be able to accept and receive that forgiveness and learn to return and share that love. The brokenness of our life and nature is only overcome in the love God give. Life and choice can present us with life changing choices and bring about whole new ways of living 11 sun2and advancing in life. It is like one writer, Fr Ron Rollheiser said, you can’t unscramble an egg. We make choices that can be permanent and life changing. Like the egg it can’t be changed. But, the egg is still able to be eaten and still satisfies our hunger, and in even in dire times and changed circumstances, God’s love is present and will lead and protect us as we go. Even though we have made mistakes and bad choices, possibly sinful ones, God’s love can bring about wholesomeness true life to these situations. Sure we all have expectations and plans, but we must and should be ready to give into God’s love and his Spirit when our own brokenness makes us unable to live up to those expectations and gives us new things in our life.

In today’s readings, David and the woman in the gospel both were 11 sun 4forgiven and God’s love took over. That is what must be important in our own lives that we sincerely ask for forgiveness and respond to God’s love by sharing and giving to others. In this way, our lives will be truly transformed and we can come to a life of contentment and peace in a wholesome journey to the Lord.

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 12)

Posted in Uncategorized by Fr. Ron Stephens on June 9, 2016

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (June 12)

Today is all about that unpleasant topic – sin! If you are like me, you don’t like to be always reminded that you are a sinner, that all men and women are sinners and that we tend to be ungrateful creatures of our our Creator God. I know that for a number of years before I became a priest myself, that was the kind of message i heard every week from the pulpit and would leave Mass feeling guilty and certainly not full of joy.

The problem is that that message is, like Nathan’s message to David today, all true. We are sinners, who seem to fall back into sin even when we don’t want to. But…and here is the important part – this is only half the message. The other half of the equation is the mercy and forgiveness of our God. Even David, who had committed a dreadful sin in the eyes of God was told by Nathan that God has “put away [his] sin. [He] shall not die.”

It bothers me so much today when people dwell only on the sin and ignore the forgiveness that is offered to us time and again. As you know, I end every sermon with the mention of Good News. Being told you are a sinner, realizing you are a sinner, falling again into sin….this is not Good News. That’s the bad news! The Good News is that God is willing to forgive and forget countless times. All we need to do is be sorry, confess our sin and God’s mercy will come to us in abundance.

David’s sin in the first story was great in so many ways. He murdered a man, but if that weren’t bad enough, he did it because of pride, not wanting it to be found out that he had made the man’s wife pregnant. So many of us do things that we try to cover up because of our pride. But God knows all, and we should never think we are hiding it from God.  In a way, David was lucky because God sent a prophet, Nathan, to make him realize his sin was not hidden. It was like God was giving him a second chance. We, too, have prophets inside us – called a conscience – which works in somewhat the same way if we let it.

The Psalm today, Psalm 32, is all about acknowledging one’s sins and not hiding them. Only then will God forgive the guilt of our sin, the psalmist says. Since David also wrote this psalm, no one knew better than he what the Lord had forgiven. If you have to hide, he says, hide in the lord and be preserved from sinning again. The Psalm ends also with Good News: Be glad in the Lord and rejoice…and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.” And surely that is Good News that should never leave our hearts.

Paul today talks about justification which can be a confusing and difficult topic. If I might simplify it, justification means that God has, through the death of Christ, taken away the guilt and penalty of our sins and made everything right again. So it is very much what we have been talking about, but something that happens not just individually but to all men and women. Christ died to make us right and not just to forgive sin, but to open up again the kingdom of heaven to each of us. It is really remarkable Good News and news that should raise us up and make us feel so loved.

In the Gospel today we get a story which is a prime example of all the theology we have just been talking about. Jesus translates  into action this whole sin and forgiveness concept in his own wonderful way.

Jesus is dining at the home of a Pharisee. I am sure the Pharisee’s house was kosher in every way, because Pharisees were noted for their adherence to all the rules and regulations found in the Bible. But even though he was “kosher”, he didn’t include the niceties that would have been expected to have been done to distinguished guests. He didn’t have a servant wash Jesus’ feet, he didn’t welcome Jesus with a kiss, he did not perfume Jesus with ointment.

We are not told how this “sinful” woman entered the Pharisee’s house – she may have even been a servant girl. In any case, she was known by the Pharisee to be a sinner, which could have meant many things from prostitution to uncleanliness. It is never specified. In any case, the woman was moved by Jesus and took out a jar of ointment she had with her and proceeded to anoint Jesus feet after bathing them in her tears and using her hair to wipe the dust off his feet.

The Pharisee doesn’t actually say anything about this but he thinks the worst of this girl and the worst of Jesus, that he would allow a sinner to touch him, defiling him.

So Jesus, as he often des, tells a story. A very simple story. A man had two people who owed him money. One owed a lot, the other a little. The man forgives both their debts and they don’t have to pay him back. Jesus asks, “Which one will love the man more?” Obviously, the answer wold be the one who was forgiven the biggest debt.

Then Jesus forgives the girl of her sins because she has shown great love. But he puts down the Pharisee because he has shown little love for Jesus in his actions, and indicates that he is little forgiven.

The people in the room, presumably many Pharisees were astonished that Jesus was claiming to forgive sins. Notice though it is in the passive voice, “Your sins are forgiven.” He doesn’t actually say that he is forgiving them. But Jesus is more and more beginning to identify himself with God.

So Jesus and the apostles leave the house and we are told they they went about proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom of God. Finally, it is interesting to note that others began to follow him and those that were named were all women. The church would be good to examine THAT as well!

So, this week, I would like you concentrate on the forgiveness of God, and not on the guilt of our sins. It is what Jesus would want you to do. Even more, act on that forgiveness by forgiving others as you would be forgiven. Our faith translates into action. Our being forgiven translates not our ability to forgive others. That is the Christian path, the Christian way – and anyone who tells you differently is not Christian!

This is the Good News I want you to act on this week. God bless.

Ronald Stephens

Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese and St. Andrew’s Cathedral Parish

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast from the last Cycle C, is available from for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

June 10, 2016 Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily for June 5th, 2016 The 10th Sunday in ordinary Time

10 sunIn today’s readings, we meet two widows who have lost their sons. In biblical times among the Jews, it was very much a male dominated society. A widow would have very little standing in that society except for perhaps having a son to represent her household and give her a place in that society. If not, generally, the widow was expected to return to the house of her parents so she would be looked after. The prophet Elijah and Jesus act similarly and differently in the two accounts. 10 sun1First to notice is that each of them acted on their own initiative. Each seeing the distress and sorrow of the widow acted to help the widow. Elijah took the boy to his guest room and laid on him and prayed. When the child revived he returned him to his mother. Jesus, however, simply stopped the funeral procession and issued the 10 sun 2command for the young man to arise. The obvious point in the gospel was to point to the difference of authority that Jesus had over Elijah. Jesus also returned the Son to his Mother. Jesus was the more powerful prophet, he was the one who they were all waiting for. Certainly, the two stories today points to God’s love and the compassion he feels for all of us. His care of the two widows points out that he is aware and is always there for all of us at all times. Not only is he there at extreme times of sorrow and distress, but at all times.
But today as we think of the two sons, we have reason to celebrate on of our own sons, euch1Jordan, who today will receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. Jordan, today is a special day for you, a day to remember for all your life to receive Christ’s Body and Blood for the first time. It is the next step in a journey you began with your Baptism and now you begin a new and stronger lifetime relationship with the Lord as you partake and share the Eucharist with all your family and the Holy Trinity parishioners. We all congratulate and celebrate with you and your family today.