CACINA

Homily at Sts Francis and Clare, Wilton Manors, Fl on April 21, 2018 the 4th Sunday of Easter.

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, Easter, Faith, gospel, homily, love, religion, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on April 22, 2018

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Homily at Holy Trinity Parish, Herndon, Va on April 22, 2018, the 4th Sunday of Easter

The Metanoia Road

3rd Sunday of Easter, 4-15-18

Acts 3: 13-15,17-19; Psalm 4: 2-9; 1John 2: 1-5, Luke 24: 35-48

I will go out on a limb a little here, and hope that most everyone knows the story in Luke about “the Road to Emmaus”. It’s all in the very last chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Luke tells about a group of at least 5 women finding the tomb open and empty on Easter morning. They told the apostles, but the men did not believe them. That same day, two of Jesus’ followers left Jerusalem and started out, feeling sad and discouraged, on the 7 mile walk to Emmaus. Jesus joined them on their walk, but they didn’t recognize him. Jesus then interpreted the scriptures to them, explaining all that Moses and the many prophets had fore-told about him.

When they arrived at Emmaus, the men eagerly invited him to sit down to eat with them. But when Jesus took the bread and blessed it, they suddenly recognized him, and he disappeared. Usually we end the story with the verse “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked and opened to us the scriptures?” But that is not the end of the story. Our Gospel today is what immediately follows.

Much of the time Jesus spent on earth, as the “historical Jesus” in the Gospels, he spent physically moving about. In a different way, he moved people around a lot too. He moved them from pain and disability to health. He moved people from doubt to belief. He moved people from confusion to clarity. He moved people from sin to grace and mercy. He moved those fishermen right into being fishers of people.

I would define a church as a group of people who want to be moved to love more, to be kinder and more compassionate, to being more generous, to better understanding the Risen Christ in their own lives. And when people choose to make their church a place of that type of movement, something else happens. People want to help other people, people outside of their church group, to move closer to Christ and make all those other good moves, too. And all the people begin to understand that this journey we are on moves along easier with a better understanding of Scripture. It just makes sense to follow Jesus’ lead on this!

So when the two men return to Jerusalem from Emmaus, they share their experience with the Risen Lord with the apostles and other disciples, when suddenly Jesus appears in the room. They don’t understand; they are terrified and Jesus has to show them his hands and feet and have them touch him, and he eats some fish in front of them to prove he is real. And once again, he explains the scriptures. He continues this time, and reminds them that he had told them it was their job now to teach repentance, for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all the nations.

But we have a language problem. “Repent” seems to imply that we have already done something wrong, regret it, and now want to behave differently. But Biblically, this is not all there is to it. In the gospels, the Greek word used for repentance is metanoia. Literally this means to do an about face, to turn around, to face in an entirely new direction.

So, metanoia means to move us beyond our present mindset, beyond our present way of thinking.  To repent is to let the soul, which is the image and likeness of God within us, re-configure us so that we are so overwhelmed with compassion and love that indeed we do turn and change how we think, how we understand, how we order our priorities, and how we react.  We must move past regret focused on our mistakes, and respond like Peter, in our first reading.  He meets some of those men who coerced Pilate into killing an innocent Jesus merely to make the social, economic, and political structure of the day benefit them a little longer.

Amazingly, Peter was so filled with compassion and love that he would joyfully lead them to repent and have their sins wiped away. The Catholic Church leadership was traditionally rooted in Peter, who clearly understood deeply and acted out “All Are Welcome Here – even the murderers of Jesus.”   It is a tradition to be proud of, and continued; to welcome man or woman, clean or addict, poor or rich, whatever color or race or sexual orientation, political affiliation, education level, ignorance quotient and so on and so on.  Only metanoia-style repentance can produce that level of welcome.

By now it is becoming clear that Jesus’ followers have to change. They no longer can be just followers of Jesus. They must begin to preach the Good News of Forgiveness and New Life in Christ. For mature Christians, Scripture and the Eucharist are sources of the necessary strength and connection with Jesus. That is what Jesus left his disciples. But many people today have never studied Scripture or been taught the meaning of the Eucharist. And those people will be the next generation of the church only if we want them to join us on our journey down the metanoia road.

Think about how those disciples felt that night, together with the Risen Christ. What is it they will go and do as a result of this experience? They will build a new “Way” for believers to worship and act out in faith. How were their lives different than before? They become bold and articulate, eager for difficult challenges. The life journey of those two men going to Emmaus Easter Day was certainly very different than the one they had planned. Spiritual leadership is about taking people on a journey, and every single Christian must participate fully in spiritual leadership before their joy will be full. What will be your first step on this journey? Where will you begin?

Meditation March 25, 2018 Palm Sunday

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, Faith, homily, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 23, 2018

lent 6After reading the passion, we can see the cruelty and evil that is in the world come out. Even today we see harsh and even cruel punishment. Torture and even death still today are used to intimidate and control. Christ came with a message opposite to humanity’s dark side so to speak, preaching God’s love and mercy and forgiveness. His message lent 6-2endured, but the battle rages on between good and evil. So often the question is asked “why is there evil in the world?” yet do we ever ask what we do to prevent it. As we enter our holy days, let us remember that yes the Lord suffered, and died. Also that he was lent 6-3Human and divine. Yet his death and resurrection remain a mystery that will be revealed at our own death and rising. Today, I urge you to focus on the reading of the passion the you have previously heard and below is the link to the reading itself.

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032518.cfm

Homily the 3rd Sunday of Lent at Sts Francis and Clare parish, Wilton Manors, Florida

It’s Not the Money!

Posted in christian, Christianity, gospel, homily, inspirational, John Chapter 2, Money, Uncategorized, Value by Rev. Martha on March 3, 2018

3rd Sunday of Lent 3-4-18

Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; Ps 19: 8-11, 1 Corth 1:22-25; John 2: 13-25

I strongly suspect that Jesus’ attitude about money and the accumulation of wealth was very different from the attitudes prevalent in America today.  Remember that Jesus was an itinerary preacher in the 1st Century in Judea – or as we know it, Israel.  We know that he owned no property and seemly had nothing more than the clothes on his back.  In Matthew 8:20, he says, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.”   He said that in the context of the price of discipleship.  In other words, he had made a choice.  He could have decided to be a craftsman.  Current scholars think that Joseph was not just a crude carpenter, but a skilled artisan who might have worked on some of the larger Roman buildings of the day.  It would have been a good paying job, a respected occupation with steady work.  Jesus was never shy to tell us that discipleship is a choice, and there were social and economic costs associated with discipleship.

But while Jesus did not choose to pursue money, he was fully aware of the cost of what money can do to us. He carefully seemed to avoid having any money at all.  Remember when, in Matthew 17: 24-27, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter about Jesus paying the tax.  Jesus tells Peter to catch a fish, and Peter finds a coin that will be enough to pay the tax for himself and Jesus.  I doubt that Jesus’ clothing had pockets at all.

When Jesus watched the people make their contributions in the temple, Mark 12: 41-44, he remarked, “…this poor widow has put in (two pennies), more than all those who have given (greater amounts) to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” He was not impressed with the amount of money which was given, but rather the sacrifice.  Jesus knew that 2 cents is more than $1,000 when it is all you have.

And finally, in Matthew 22: 20-22, the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus by asking if it was lawful to pay the Roman census tax. His reply was, ““Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” You may say that we owe everything to God, or that that we should pay our taxes, but however you choose to interpret this brilliantly vague response, you know that Jesus was not awake nights worried about money or taxes. Money did not make his top 10 list of important things in life.

With all this being said, I find it hard to focus on the way the money changers in the temple exchanged currency. No doubt they were charging unfair rates.  The historical writings from the 1st century record the political and financial maneuvering and bribes that went into being given permission to have one of those merchant stalls in the temple.  That part of the story would be understandable, at least to us, despite being rather despicable.  Still, it was the same as bank fees and exchange rates for currency in much of our world.  So what was it that set Jesus off?

What was the gross sin of the money changers and the sellers of sheep, oxen and doves? Well, where were they doing business?  For that you need to know something about the temple.  The Outer Court of the Temple in Jerusalem allowed anyone to come in and pray and learn about God.  Only here could Jews converse with non-Jews and foreigners without being ritually unclean.  Only here could faithful Jews tell others about their God, their faith, and beliefs.  It was a place where what we call “evangelism” could take place.  Instead, the noise and the ruckus of the animals and the shameless profiteering prevented any serious conversation or meditation.

The merchants were not only stealing money from people by their excessive rates, but more importantly, they were stealing the knowledge of God from people who had come to learn. They were preventing people from coming to know God, and from praying.  Jesus told us in Luke 19: 10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”  So the sin of the merchants was to purposely prevent The Mission of God’s son.  The sin was to, for a little money, come between God and his children.  In Matthew 18:6, we find this description of the sin: “If anyone causes one of …those who believe in me…to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” No wonder Jesus was so angry.

We have a much larger “Court” than the Outer Court of the Temple where we can pray, and meditate, and talk about God with those who are seeking the divine.  We have much of our nation where it is permissible to talk with people who want to learn, to have their questions answered.  It is a wonderful privilege.  It, of course, is also a responsibility.  How do we present God?  Such conversations have recently felt more polarized, more political.  God, of course, is not political.  God is a God of love for the poor, a defender of children and those who are unable to provide for themselves.  God is the healer of the broken-hearted, those who have been used and abused.  God is not a God of religion, but a God of faith and trust and truth.   Are we ready to have these conversations in a tender way, with the attitude of a servant of God?

Many thanks to BJ on The River Walk blog for this perspective.

A New Look at Original Sin

Posted in Christianity, forgiveness, grace, Original Sin, redemption, Romans chapter 5, scripture, Uncategorized by Rev. Martha on February 25, 2018

This is based on Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching from Dec. 3,’08, using the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which “traces the basic outlines of original sin”.

Very briefly, this is what St. Paul wrote: Through one person (Adam) sin entered the world, and through sin, judgment/death/ condemnation came to all people. But the free gift of God’s grace and the gift (for a sinless person to die willingly at the hands of sinful people) that came from one man (Jesus) were not like Adam’s sin. Adam’s one sin brought punishment to all, but Christ makes us right with God, so that all can live.   For if by that one person’s sin all died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of Christ overflow and abound for all. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more. The sin of one person caused death to be king over all, but all who accept God’s abundant grace and forgiveness are kings of life because of the one person, Jesus Christ.

The focus is not so much that sin entered the world when the 1st humans disobeyed God and lost the grace of holiness they were give at creation. The focus, then, is that Jesus Christ came to redeem/ justify/acquit us (commercial/theological/legal). God’s grace was abundantly showered upon humanity.”

The dogma of original sin is inseparable from and absolutely connected to the dogma of salvation and freedom in Christ. We should never consider the sin of Adam and of humankind without understanding it in the context of justification in Christ, the Pope said. There would have been no need for redemption by Jesus unless there was sin. On Easter we say, “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

As proof of original sin, the Pope said, “On the one hand we know we must do good, and in our inner selves this is what we desire, yet at the same time we feel an impulse to do the opposite, to follow the path of egoism, of violence, to do only what we enjoy even though we know that this means working against good, against God and against our fellow man. St. Paul wrote, (Romans 7:15) “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory but fact.  “The power of evil in the heart and history of humankind is undeniable.”

This makes evil appear normal to us.   “This contradiction of mankind, of our history, must provoke and bring out the desire of redemption.” “In politics,” the Pope remarked, “everyone speaks of the need to change the world, to create a more just world. This is an expression of the desire that there be liberation from the contradiction that we experience in ourselves.” Were we “hard wired” with both good and evil with us?   Are we inherently contradictory? NO!

“The faith tells us that there are not two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle, which is God the Creator, and God is solely good, without shadow of evil. Neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good. “This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason, life, too, is good.

“There is also a mystery of darkness, which does not arise from the source of being, it is not original. Evil arises from created freedom, a freedom that has been abused,” Benedict XVI said. “How has this happened? It remains unclear. Evil is not logical. Only God and goodness are logical, only they are light. Evil remains a mystery.”

“It remains a mystery of darkness, of night. But there is immediately added a mystery of light. Evil arises from a subordinate (lesser) source; God with His light is stronger. For this reason evil can be overcome, for this reason the creature, man, is curable.” “Man is not only curable but is in fact cured. God introduced the cure. God personally entered history and, to counteract the permanent source of evil, placed a source of pure good: Christ crucified and risen, the “New Adam” who “opposes the foul river of evil with a river of light.”

The dark night of evil is still strong. Together we pray: Come Jesus; come, give strength to the light and to the good; come where dishonesty, ignorance of God, violence and injustice dominate; come, Lord Jesus, give strength to the good in the world and help us to be bearers of your light, workers of peace, witnesses of truth. Come Lord Jesus!”     Amen

 

Thursday of the First Week of Lent (February 22, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Esther C:  verses 12, 14-16, 23-25 / Psalm 138 verses 2-3, 7-8 /

Matthew Chapter 7 verses 7-12

Sisters and brothers, what is it that we should ask for? Should we ask for a million dollars? Are we able to really ask for whatever it is that we would like? Jesus put it out there, so why can’t I have it? What is it that we really are asking for or should be asking for?

As with most of us in our lives, we have family members and or friends that may be seriously ill. With the few that I have seen with my wife and close family, I would like to share one such experience.

My nephew was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For two months doctors could not figure out what was wrong with him. He was driving home from work one evening and his wife kept calling him and he kept telling her that he was only 5 minutes from home. As time went on, hours went by and as his wife kept calling, he kept stating that he was only 5 minutes away. Long story short as the police were called and his location was made known, my nephew was past the border line of the neighboring state, several hours and miles away from home. My nephew was having seizures. Many white spots were found on his brain and lungs. Through many tests after two months, they finally were able to determine what was wrong.

I think Jesus may have been explaining that we can come to the Creator, our Father for anything, but we should ask for things on a spiritual level. Asking for things, as Jesus tells us, on a heavenly basis with the hope and faith that God will hear and answer our prayers.

My nephew is doing better. He is not cured, but his attitude is one of love and acceptance. Our prayers were answered. As the illness may progress, and he may have not been physically healed, but my nephew and the families faith has been strengthened and joy is in their midst. In the midst of this sorrow, there is joy. With speech therapy to correct speech slurs and medication, our prayers were answered, not how we wanted them to be but in a deeper profound way. We were all brought to a deeper spiritual level. God’s blessings.

rev. Michael Theogene

Homily February 25, 2018- the 2nd Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Eucharist, Faith, homily, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on February 22, 2018

2lentIf we look at the middle east today, the countries there are constructs of those conflicts and the shifting sands of tribalism that was current in biblical times, even today the circle of life for these people began is family and the village and tribe. Outside of that all are strangers and looked at suspiciously. In the Bible, recall Israel as a tribe spent time in Egypt and in Babylon(Iraq today), subservient to others. The outlook on life was different 2lent1and certainly even human sacrifice was not unheard of. We must not think that humanity just arrived at the 21st century and reached a measure of civility. Evil was in the world then as it is here now. While the story of Abraham and Isaac is a revelation of faith and trust and God’s care, it is also a reminder of what our ancestors were and what we have become. That hatred and murder and brutality are still in our world makes the point that much needs to be done to bring about a true revelation of God’s will for humanity to be one in his love.

Christ came into just such a world and in his one life had the call to bring God’s word to 2lent3humanity. He knew what lay ahead of him and that his death was inevitable. Yet he knew God’s grace was a living and growing thing that would evolve and spread as time went on. Today’s gospel was meant certainly for his apostles, but his assurance also. None of us starts out on a task without first preparing and assuring our self of making progress. That is what Christ did and he began a way, a path, a journey for all to follow to his Father. Many in the world today follow Christ, yet we see that there certainly are those who don’t. Hatred, violence, mistrust, poverty or just being 2lent4helpless all lead to the ills and evil we see today.

Our faith calls us to look around and to reach out. We need be careful of exhibiting the comfort and triumphalism of the Scribes and pharisees who thought all was well and that they had all the answers. The only one with all the answers is God and he has bestowed them as he has seen fit and revealing them as he determined we were ready for them. More than anything, this is what we see in our readings today.

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Wednesday of the First Week of Lent (February 21, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Jonah Chapter 3 verses 1-10 / Psalm 51 verses 1-2, 10-11, 16-17 /

Luke Chapter 11 verses 29-32

“…because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.” (Luke 11: 29-32) Friends, as most of you may have heard, today the well-known evangelist Billy Graham passed away at the age of 99. In my brief existence of 46 years, I can remember hearing the evangelist preach doing what he did best, announcing the good news of Jesus the Christ. Rev. Graham with guidance from God, of course, brought many back to God. All who may have felt lonely, rejected, and unknown, they came to the awareness that someone loved them.

Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh to have the people change their ways. Jesus does the same, not necessarily meaning that he was greater but by having everyone understand that the kingdom of God is here now. Jesus makes clear that one can no longer wait to come to God when they are perfect, or when they have more time, or when they retire. The kingdom of God is in the here and now. One is greater here now because the mission continues. Preach the good news.

Who is it that I go to who helps me center myself back to God? Is it my priest/pastor? Is it my bishop or someone in my congregation, community or family? Who is my spiritual guide? Do I allow myself to listen to others with an open mind? Am I able to speak to others without wanting to put my own thoughts and views?  Do I refrain from being judgmental and self-righteous?

Let us be mindful that we may see the signs of our times and the prophets and prophetess walking among us. Are you leading people back to the One source?

rev. Michael Theogene