CACINA

Homily December 6, 2015 2nd Sunday of Advent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on December 1, 2015

christ-in-the-desert-18721-e1276316336416Our readings today go back to the time the Jews were captives in Babylon and come forward to Jesus’ time when they were captives of the Romans in their own country. Baruch and John in Luke talk of the desert and Lord and things becoming right. The Lord is coming, wait and all will be right. John goes to the desert to call for a change of heart, for repentance, preparation for the day of the Lord. Throughout the centuries, each one presented its own angst as humanity struggled and other Babylons or Romes rose and fell inflicting harm and pain throughout the world. Today babylonthe world struggles and fears the terror driven forces spreading violence and terror and fear. Our reaction is to fight, to cut off and shun any who are from foreign places.
But John said make a way, the Lord is coming. That was over 2000 years ago, let us not forget, Christ came. He died, but he made the way straight, he opened the path. He has given his love to the world, he has embraced all. Our way is his way, to shun violence, hatred to love even when not loved in return. The futility of violencenations and empires is that they fade to history, but the voice, the love of Christ continues on and keeps encouraging us to know and find what is of real value.

Our news is full of war, terror, bombings, and our poisonous climate, all producing fear and promises and resolutions that are as bad as the dangers sometimes. What has happened to caring and looking out for all. In a time when the world has been reduced to more intimate and closer relationships, the misunderstandings and hatred and fear and resentments are robbing the present time the message of Christ brought forth in that remote time and place long ago. That is what Advent means, a reminder of waiting, but also a need to know He Has Come, but 27sunwhat have we done. His love made a difference, but has ours? We are called to action, to love, to do here and now in our own way, in our own corner. Paul says love never fails, and truly it doesn’t, but realize that sometimes it hurts. It asks and seeks us to give ourselves individually and fully, and that can be hard as we know only one person ever had perfect love and that was Christ Himself. So remember the waiting of old, but remember He is here now and we are called every day.

Homily November 29, 2015 First Sunday of Advent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on November 25, 2015

Jesus Christ's Second ComingOnce again we begin a new church year, and we rapidly approach Christmas and all the celebration that entails. Advent is meant to remind us and renew our resolve and commitment. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Thessalonians today, the importance of love not only among ourselves but for all. Even in the earliest days of the church he was reminding his disciples that love wasn’t limited or meant to be constrained to only those we knew or had relationships with. As God’s love has no bounds, so our love should have no bounds. It should embrace everyone we meet, excluding no one as God himself embraces all. Yet, how cricketdiane-2009-sea-glory-ocean-wavesis this so, in a world so fractured and divided and even violent? So much misunderstanding, hatred, and selfishness and so many other things permeate the world today, that living a Christian life seems so hard. Yet, as Christians, don’t we see that the biggest sign of our love was the Cross? God’s love came into the world, a man himself, Jesus the Son of God. He came into a fractured broken world to bring and show and embrace all with God’s love. That love was boundless and remains so even today. He loved and even forgave those who betrayed his love, even those who put him to death. Throughout his life, he loved, he counseled, he forgave, but never judged. Ultimately, we must remember there is one and only really one judge and that is myself. Each person and only that person knows their relationship with God and how that relationship effects the love and relationships they have.
Surely, a person can live a life never deviating from the so called straight crossand narrow, following rules and laws etc, but as Paul says, what is it without love. Who we are is in our heart and mind and soul and only we ourselves and God can know intimately whats there, but ultimately we make the choice of who and what we are, and like it or not are the ultimate judge of our success or failure to love as we are called.

But, let us not get discouraged, as love is not always perfect, at least not yet. All of us can and do at times fall short and need to work with others to ask forgiveness and progress. Love is something that grows and progresses day by day, year by year. Let us not forget Christ’s love and the Cross that forever exhibits that love.

Homily November 22, 2015 Feast of Christ the King

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, ethics, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on November 17, 2015

ctk christ pilateThe feast of Christ the King is a relatively new feast on the calendar. Coming in 1925 at the behest of Pius XI. The 1920’s were a period of secularism, disrespect of authority and religion, and the rise or strengthening of dictatorships throughout the world. Human rights and the ability to worship and just the freedom of individuals was a concern. Even the independence of the Church and Pius XI was under siege from the time the Vatican had lost governance over the Papal States. It was a call by Pius to leaders and believers alike to realize that religion and faith were not necessarily an intimate part of politics and ruling of nations. Personal dignity and freedom given by God was something contained in every person and should be left to grow and bring each person to his final way of life.

Is Christ a King? Certainly he is, but not in any real sense that that word conjures up in our imagination. Perhaps, through the centuries, men, even good men have tried to create a kingdom on earth, but such as we know is not meant to be. Christ was God made man who came to offer himself that we all would be embraced and brought on a path to to his Father in a kingdom about which we only know that God awaits in his eternal love. ctk homelessWe are part of that kingdom now, but only if we live and are like Christ was. Christ was a servant, he loved, he gave of himself, in fact his very life he laid down so that all of us could have eternal life.

His kingdom on earth, were the roads, the mountains, the fields, the seas, but more the disciples, the people who listened, who reached out. His service, his love, his giving set him apart, and is what sets apart his followers, as people know them by their love. hungryGrandeur, pomposity, power are not the marks of this King. And finally, even today we need to be reminded like is more than politics and money and power, but should really be about people. Did Jesus not tells us to “love one another.”

Homily November 15, 2015 at Holy Trinity Parish for the 33rd Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time

Homily for the 34th Sunday in Ordinary Time- Christ the King, Year B 2015 (Nov. 22)

Posted in Christianity, homily, inspirational, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on November 15, 2015

Homily for the Thirty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time- Christ the King, Year B 2015 (Nov. 22)

Our theme today is best expressed in the Responsorial Psalm antiphon: “The Lord is King; he is robed in majesty”. This last Sunday of the church year we look at the now and at the future when the kingdom of heaven, here now but veiled, will be seen in all its glory as the King of the kingdom of heaven comes to claim his throne – a throne that will be everlasting and that shall never be destroyed. It is the same kingdom of heaven that the Gospels tells us about over and over.

We start with Daniel’s dream six hundred years before Christ. He uses the term “son of man.” The term “the Son of Man” is a Biblical term that we hear a lot in the Gospels and in a sense it just means “a human being”, someone born of a human. The term is used a great many times in the Gospels, and it has been suggested that it is just a poetic way of saying “myself”.  If you google the term it will tell you that interpretation of this term, son of man, has been divided and there is no one agreed-upon answer to what it means.

It first appears in the Book of Daniel, but it is specified there for the person coming with the clouds of heaven is one “like” a son of man. Looking backwards into the Bible, for Christians, this is an obvious reference to Christ who is both human and divine. He is the son of man, meaning a human being, but he is also Son of God, which allows him to come with the clouds of heaven and be given dominion, glory and kingship. To me, this is an early reference to Christ as an incarnated God. Whether we completely understand the term or not, however, it is clear that Daniel’s vision today is one where this heavenly human was made by God king of all peoples, and that he should be served by all nations, all peoples, in all languages. This was the vision of Daniel hundreds of years before the coming of Christ. It was a vision that came true.

When we get to the New Testament we hear the terms ‘son of man’ and ‘son of God’ quite often.

The kingship of Jesus was something that the Gospel writers  and Paul talked about and tried to prove often in their writings. It also had messianic overtones because the Hebrews believed through the prophets that there would be a great king to rise up from the line of King David who would save them by conquering all other lands. He would be the king of kings. While all of this came true, it didn’t happen in the way that they thought. There was no armed King who would conquer lands and lead them through war and revolution to this new kingdom.

Instead, they got a different kind of king, but a king no less. The last book of the Bible, Revelations, is particularly appropriate for reading today because it is all about endings – the ending of earthly kingdoms, the end of time as we know it, the end of Jesus being apart from us for he comes again. The Book of Revelation echoes much of the vision of Daniel, and so we see Christ coming in the clouds. He began all things with his Word and he will now end all things as we know it. He is Alpha and Omega, A and Z, beginning and end. Just as in Daniel our response to Jesus is to give him glory and dominion forever. We know that he has redeemed us and that he loves us beyond any sense of love that we may ourselves know and understand.

So, the first two readings today are prophetic, dream-like and visionary, full of high theology and difficult metaphor and symbolism. But when we get to the Gospel we turn to simplicity itself. Jesus is on trial, presumably for blasphemy because he equated himself with God, and for claiming that he was a king in his own right. Pilate is very direct and asks him specifically about it. “Are you the king of the Jews?”. In other accounts, Jesus is silent, but in John, he answers Pilate at first in the negative because he is more than a king of just the Jews. He answers with the truth: “My kingdom is not from this world.” The kings of the world are temporal, area-bound kings. Jesus is spiritual king receiving his power from God and from his obedience to the Father, and thus his kingdom is over all people and all things.

Then Jesus says that the whole reason he was born and came into the world was to testify to the truth, to which Pilate infamously and possibly sarcastically replies, “What is truth”. For John, the truth is God. He is the essence of truth, and going back to the opening of John’s Gospel we remember that God sent his Word, which would then have to be truth itself. So we, as humans,  can only know the truth by listening to Jesus. The kingship presented by John then is knowing that we are loved, held, cared for, saved, and chosen by a Triune God that we willingly want to serve and thank for the blessings he has bestowed. That we have been freed from our sins by his blood! as Revelations announces today, and which we celebrate as a community each week in remembrance of him.

As we end our church year we need to put kingship, so foreign to Americans, into the perspective of our needing to be grateful and to serve a Creator who is Truth and Love and all Good Things. Having our Thanksgiving so close to this feast is a wonderful reminder also of what we need to be thankful for – physical things, of course – harvest, sunsets, health, family – but also, of what he has done for us in the spiritual realm by humbling himself by becoming human, loving us enough to die for us, destroying the effects of death so that we can live eternally, and all without our having done anything to merit it or deserve it. So much to be thankful for! So let us give thanks to this spiritual King who will someday be a physical resurrected King of the earth as it meets heaven and close our church year with awesome images of the end of the world instead of all the ‘fearful’ terrifying ones we get in the media. Christ is our King, Christ is our Truth, and we know God, by knowing Him.

Just a few things to ponder and really Good News to close out our church year!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[Prepare for next year! Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, is available from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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Homily November 15, 2015 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, inspirational, saints, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on November 11, 2015

33sToday’s readings are similar to the readings at the end of every church year. Apocalyptic and Cataclysmic renderings of events and descriptions used to render a certain fear and consternation of the coming of end times and Jesus’ second coming. As believing Christians, we have faith, certainly, and a sense of uneasiness that at times we fall short of the perfect love we should have, but if we remain positive and work toward that love of Christ, why should we have fear? Christ is with us now. We actively share his body and blood in the Eucharist. He has sent his Spirit among us to guide and help us along the way. At the end of our path, he awaits, loving and welcoming us to be with him and his Father. All of us ultimately meet him, and the end of life, be it individually or collectively is the achievement of life and a new beginning of a whole life which we can not now know but we know it has been prepared for us by our faith. God’s love is an embrace surrounding all of humanity 33sufrom the beginning to the end. Christ’s call to all and his love and concern that all have the chance and opportunity to know and love and share God’s beneficence, should make us more comfortable as we approach our final union with him.

Love is certainly a much greater motivator than fear, although fear is sometimes a better short term solution. But seriously consider, what relationship lasts or is fruitful if it is based on fear alone. In our society, does fear of punishment stop people from doing wrong and evil things? Love at least make people stop and think and consider how and why things are good or evil. That is not to say that people can not make mistakes or wrong decisions, but ultimately only God knows each and every person for who they are and what they do, and he alone can only judge their love or lack thereof.

33sundaMark wrote his gospel about the year 60. We can see in his and other wrings of the time, that the early community expected Jesus’ return to be imminent. The fall of Jerusalem was a real sense of an apocalyptic end to them. Yet Jesus has yet to come. Every century, every age almost has issued warnings and almost pleas for the end. Yet, Jesus said only his Father knows that time, and truly all of humanity will one day be together in God’s embrace and will only then know fully the love of God.

Homily for the 33rdSunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Nov. 15)

Posted in Christianity, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr. Ron Stephens on November 8, 2015

Homily for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Nov. 15)

I would like to begin today with he short passage from the last chapter of the book of the prophet Daniel. We don’t often get to read Daniel in our liturgies the way they have been laid out, but this week and next we hear two passages from this apocalyptic prophet. The Book of Daniel is a rather strange book in the Old Testament. The first half of it is three really good stories and is an easy read, but the second half is mystic, dream-like, confusing and often about things that have not yet happened that Daniel saw in his visions.

Today’s selection is from the last chapter and is a piece often read at funerals. It shows a distinct change in the theological thinking of the Hebrews because, up to this point, the Jews didn’t have much to say about an after-life. They had a place that we hear about in the Psalm today, Sheol, a place where the dead were gathered with their families. There here-and-now was the important thing, what the Psalmist calls “the path of life”. This after-death place was a vague holding place many Jews believed in, but with Daniel we encounter something new. In this reading Michael, the prince of angels, presumably, will rise up at the end of time during some sort of world-wide catastrophe. At this point, there will be a resurrection of the dead. However, it doesn’t say everybody, but many will rise. There will apparently be some sort of judgment because some of those risen will have everlasting life and others will have everlasting shame. The main thrust of the reading though goes to those who have maintained wisdom and those who have influenced others to be righteous. They will be the real stars! In fact that is exactly the metaphor Daniel uses – shining like the brightness of the sky… like stars forever and ever.

As we near the end of the church year next Sunday, the thought of the liturgy usually turns to the end of time and what the Bible has to say about it. And so, we begin with Daniel’s vision of the last days and then move to Jesus’ own description of that time as Mark writes it.

Jesus describes it in a similar way to Daniel – that there will be some sort of cataclysmic event causing a time of suffering for all people. When that happens and everything seems hopeless, The Son of Man will come from heaven manifesting great power and glory. Jesus will send his angels to collect “the elect”, those who have been judged to have followed Jesus and his two great commandments.

Jesus also indicates that there will be signs that this is going to happen and he uses a fig tree as an example. You know when a fig tree is going to bloom by looking for the signs of its blossoming, and when that happens you know that summer will soon arrive.

Similarly, we will be able, if we watch for it, to determine by signs that this event will be coming soon.

At this point, we hear Jesus say something that just seems like he didn’t know what he was talking about. He got it wrong. He says, “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place.” I can say two things about this. Just after that he says that he may be just guessing because only the Father really knows when this will happen – and he specifically says that the Son doesn’t know either.

Or… perhaps the sign of the coming judgment is Jesus’ own death and resurrection which indeed happened during that generation’s lifetime. Without Jesus death to open the kingdom of heaven, there could be no final judgment because heaven would still be closed to us. And so, when Paul says today in Hebrews: “For by a single offering [Jesus] has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” It is only through the sacrifice of Christ that we have been redeemed and that there is a possibility of our resurrection and being part of the elect who will be brought into a new world order: the complete and fulfilled kingdom of heaven.

In trying to determine what this can mean to us this week, we might turn to the Gospel acclamation today which states: “Be alert at all times, praying that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” As Christians, we need to always keep our end in view. We talk about our lives as journeys, and that is so true. But journeys have destinations. Jesus has given us a way, a path of life. In fact, the early Church uses to call themselves, not Christians, but the Way. By keeping that destination in mind, and having some vague knowledge about our end and the end of time, we need to weigh the individual daily decisions we make with the end we want in view. We need to pray for that wisdom that Daniel says we need in order to shine brightly. We need to pray that we continue to follow the path and to show others the path as well. I know that some of us do ask the question “What would Jesus have done?” when we make decisions, but it might be better to ask: am I following the law of love for God and neighbor in this decision? Am I staying on the path Jesus taught? Food for thought this week as we hear the Good News that we have been saved and that our destination is there, waiting for us to take the right path to get to it!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[Prepare for next year! Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, is available from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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Today’s Homily given at Holy Trinity Parish All Saints and All Souls November 1, 2015

Homily for the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Nov. 8)

Posted in christian, Christianity, homily, inspirational, Word by Fr. Ron Stephens on November 1, 2015

Homily for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Nov. 8)

It is pretty easy today to come up with the connection between the first and Gospel readings. Both concern the charity of widows who had very little for themselves but were willing to share what they had with those even less fortunate. I love the story in 1st Kings that we began with today because I actually find it a little humorous. Imagine the scene. This woman was a widow who was left with a child when her husband died. She was in dire straits because she had to take care of her boy and there was no way that she could earn any money. When Elijah sees her, she is out gathering twigs in order that she might have a fire to cook the very little she had left. She hoped to make a little bread with the food remaining in the house.

Now it seems pretty forward of Elijah to call out to her – first of all, she is a woman and most male strangers would not put themselves int he position of talking to a strange woman to begin with. But Elijah does and is even quite demanding by our standards. He doesn’t  introduce himself; he just asks for a little of her water, and when he sees that she is amiable to give him some, goes further and asks for a piece of bread.

Now we have talked before how important it was in this time period for travelers to ask for the help of people in villages when they were passing through, and how Jewish custom asked people to be kind to these strangers who were traveling because it was so difficult.

So the woman who would probably like to give him a piece of bread tries to explain to him that she hadn’t baked any yet, and in fact, she was just gathering wood to do so. Unfortunately, though she didn’t have much grain or much oil left. I find it almost humorous the way she adds that she was just going to bake the last of it and then sit down and die. But she probably meant it.

Elijah asks her to bake the bread with what she has left, but to trust in God that a miracle would happen and she would never empty the vessels of grain and oil till the next rainfall. If someone told you that, would you think he was crazy? The woman must have been very trusting or had a great faith in God because she went and did what he said – giving up what was to be the little she had left. But the miracle occurred!

The other story of the widow in the Gospel does not contain a miracle at all but shows a picture of someone whose faith in God is so strong that she was willing to sacrifice the little she had because it was what God had asked her to do. Tithing was specified in the Bible. If she gave that away, how would she live. She didn’t know, but she did what she felt was the right thing and left the rest to God. Jesus admires her great faith.

What he doesn’t admire so much is the great show that people were making of the large amounts that they gave. The offering of rich people was more to inflate their own egos or make them look great in the sight of others. Their motive was not pure like the poor widow’s.

The story of this widow began with an admonition to watch out for the scribes who loved to put on a show and fought to be respected and given the best place. Scribes were a later addition to Hebrew life and were men who were educated scholars whose job it was to interpret the Old Testament. Their actions show what they are really like. Jesus says that they devour widow’s houses. As if the widows of this period don’t have it bad enough, the scribes were finding ways to take their property from them for non-payment – all very legal, but leaving the widows destitute. We see examples of this all the time today when people call senior citizens on the phone and try to dupe them out of money, or when  tele-evangelists make pleas for them to give up their money for ‘better” causes or by intimidating them with guilt or fear. The Scribes apparently had the same thing down pat. Jesus remarks only that “they will receive the greater condemnation.”

It might be good to note that I don’t think Jesus was indicating that we should give more than we have to the point of suffering. He was using the woman as an example of someone who had been duped into that way of thinking by the scribes. Immediately after these verses Jesus indicates that the very thing she has been giving her money to was going to be destroyed. And the Temple was destroyed not long after.

The real sacrifice that was greater than either widow is the one talked about by Paul to the Hebrews today. Jesus didn’t just give up his livelihood, but he gave up his godhead, becoming human like us, and then gave up the very human life he had taken on in order to remove sin and bring forgiveness. What do we do that could compare with that kind of love? The widows showed love and faith in God, but Jesus went the whole way for us, Paul says.

There has been a lot of talk over the last month of the message that Pope Francis has brought to America, and I find it interesting to read what our “scribes” today have been saying about it, as they try to justify their economic way of life. But the Pope’s message was clear, Jesus’ message today is clear, and the Psalm is a wonderful summary today of the message: the Lord executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets the prisoners free, upholds the widow and orphan and brings to ruin the way of the wicked. We need to be as aware as possible of our Christian obligation to the oppressed in our society, and each of us needs to try to find our own way to help – in money, in time, in friendship, in prayer – in love!

My prayer for you this week is that we use today’s widows as examples of faith and concern for others and that we be very wary of becoming scribe-like ourselves, all too easy to do in our capitalistic society that can brainwash us with the wrong motives.

And this is the Good News of Jesus, Mark, the widows and Francis I remind you of today!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[Prepare for next year! Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, is available from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Oct 25)

Posted in christian, Christianity, homily, inspirational, Word by Fr. Ron Stephens on October 18, 2015

Homily for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B 2015 (Oct 25)

     Our Psalm response today is “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” That seems to pick up on the dominant theme of the readings today. So many times these days we turn to the Lord when we are in trouble or when we have something to ask for. With today’s readings, we reflect not on our needs but on the gifts that have been given us. When we have bad days as all of us do occasionally, we can wallow in the sadness or fear or anger, or we can choose to look at the one good thing about the day – the one positive in an otherwise awful day.

     This seems to be what God is reminding Jeremiah and his people about today. The Jewish people had been scattered, they no longer had a place to worship in which God dwelled. They were separated from their families, they were in a foreign land and they lost much of their freedom. It could be pretty gloomy. A few weeks ago we heard the psalm that said: “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.”

But instead of this depression, God points out a few good things and wants them instead to “sing aloud” and “raise shouts”. Despite the fact hat they sinned and were punished by being sent away, the good news was that God never gave up on them, that God still loved them, that God still saw himself as their father, and he will save them. This, despite all the wrongs they had done against God!

     So God makes a few promises here in Jeremiah: he will “lead them back” home again, no matter how far away they are. And not just the healthy and strong ones, but the blind, the lame, the pregnant. He will take care of them all. So think about that when you get depressed!

     The Psalm then shows us how God did carry out that promise to them. It says: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion… then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy”.  The promise is still there for us as well. In the last verse we hear: “Those who go out weeping…shall come home with shouts of joy.” All we need do is to look at the positives God will do for us and has done instead of being negative and filling our lives with worry.

     Similarly in the Gospel today we read of Bartimaeus, a blind man, who had every reason to be depressed and miserable. But Bartimaeus had heard word of Jesus and the healings and he believed Jesus to be the Messiah. We know that because he uses the term Son of David which was a code for Messiah. The others around him who went to see Jesus did not seem to have such a belief. They may have been there for the celebrity – to see what this Jesus was all about. They even tried to get Bartimaeus to shut up. But they didn’t succeed. Bartimaeus knew what he wanted and he knew who could give it to him, so he shouted all the louder. We might take note of this ourselves when we want something very badly and are not getting it from God.  Maybe we have to not give up and, indeed, shout even louder!

     When Jesus heard Bartimaeus he stopped walking and asked for Bartimaeus to be brought to him. I love the directness of both Jesus and the blind man. They don’t waste any time or any words. Both know what they want. Jesus doesn’t make small talk; he comes right to the point. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asks. Bartimaeus is just as direct: I want to see again. And Jesus cures him. Just like that! Jesus also says that what has made him well is his great faith. Earlier he had told the disciples that faith can move mountains. Well, blindness is certainly a mountain to move!

We also notice that when Bartimaeus could see, he didn’t run off, but that his faith and his belief in the Jesus as Messiah caused him to become a follower of Jesus. He “followed Jesus on the way.” The “way” was one of the first names given to Jesus’ teachings. Bartimaeus didn’t spend his time depressed because he was blind, but he took action and concentrated on the positive that there was a healer.

     The Epistle today focuses on Christ as the high priest – the one person who could go into he Holy of Holies and speak to God on our behalf, offer gifts and make sin sacrifices. In our attempts to focus on what God has done for us, we must call to mind what it means that God sent his only Son as a human like us, and so he knows what we are up against in our daily lives. He was up against it, too. So we need to focus on how wonderful God has been to us, how caring, how forgiving, to give us this gift of himself!

     Let us take the time this week to focus on the good things in our life that God has provided, not on the bad things going on. There will always be negatives in our lives – that’s what it means to be human, to grow older, to be tempted. Instead, let us look at the good things God has done for us, the good things that present themselves to us each day – the smile from a neighbor, the help from a store clerk, the play of a child, the sun in our face. They are there if we concentrate on them, and just maybe, it will carry over into our lives and the lives of others, making this world even closer to that kingdom of God that Jesus preached about.

     And this is the joyful Good News I want you to think about this week!.

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[Prepare for next year! Volume 3 (Luke) of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, is available from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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