Inclusive Text- Readings- Jeremiah 7: 23-28 / Psalm 95: 1-2, 6-9 / Luke 11: 14-23
Sisters and brothers, who is it that we rely on for our strength? Do we put our desire for strength in other humans or do we come and place our trust in the one who created us? Sometimes trust in others whether it is close friends or family can be good, but what happens to our trust when those individuals may put us down? This may not always happen but it can because we are only human. What happens to the trust we put in the Creator? Have we found ourselves disappointed?
It seems that it is us who can disappoint God which we know that is never the case. God sees and knows our potential but yet is always patient and gracious towards us and allows us to find our way. Hopefully with God’s help, we can find a way to be able to listen to God’s voice. Listening with the ear of our heart as St. Benedict reminds us. We may be waiting for the lightning bolt to show us what to do, but if we truly quiet our hearts and mind than we can get a glimpse of the whisper of what God is actually trying to tell us.
You have heard it said, God’s delay is not God’s denial as we are reminded by so much in the first and second testament writings. I sometimes believe that if we live without expectation then we will be truly blessed because we will never be disappointed.
rev. Michael Theogene
Over the many years I have served as a priest, one thing that always amazes me is that no one can really look ahead and see what lies ahead for them. I think today’s first and third readings tell us this fairly clearly today. First, we see Samuel sent to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse with a horn of oil to anoint the next King of Israel from among Jesse’s sons. With a sacrificial banquet prepared Jesse presents seven of his sons starting with the oldest. Samuel was drawn to the sons, and even had a favorite, but each of the seven presented were rejected by the Lord as the chosen one. Only when Samuel asked, did Jesse say my youngest is tending the sheep. Yet, the youngest and least of his children was the one chosen and who during his life and for all ages would be remembered. God chose him and remained with him through his good times and even his times of unfaithfulness for the good of Israel. Why David? Only God could say.
Next we come to man born blind in the gospel today. He like the homeless and other victims of our society that we so often pass and really do not see as we busily pursue our lives, even today in our modern times. Unlike his disciples who were quick to equate his blindness to sins of his parents, Jesus paused and said this man was chosen to show Christ as light of the world. Sickness, blindness maladies had nothing to do with sin. The man before him had an intrinsic value, and so it is for every human being in God’s creation. Once again the weak, the person set aside is chosen to be a lesson for God’s kingdom. Again we are reminded, no part of creation is insignificant.
The real lesson for us today, is that God does as he wills. He chooses whom he wants and sometimes confounds us by whom he chooses. It is why his church is a community and in Baptism we all share in the priesthood of his cross and resurrection. His Spirit works through the whole body of the church from the least to the greatest. Yet, in actuality there is really only one Great one, and this is the Body of Christ. This is why we must remain open to the Spirit, open to one another in all things. Christ speaks to all of us in many ways. Whether we be the least or possibly the greatest we need always to be open to the Spirit and hear his Word.
Inclusive Text- Reading- Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9 / Psalm 147: 12-13, 15-16, 19-20 / Matthew 5: 17-19
Friends, we have a responsibility, no in fact it is our duty and obligation to ensure that we do not fool ourselves when trying to be honest with others. Let us not fool ourselves when it comes to specific care and instruction of those who are placed in our paths. I think we need to be careful, knowing our own boundaries, when interacting with others. Yes, love is a risk, relationships are a risk, and yes, unfortunately love leaves a scare.
We know what we have seen and heard. We believe and yet I find that at times I don’t need to defend God. God is more than capable in defending God’s self. If we stay and remain faithful to the conversation, than more is revealed as we journey further in the conversation. It is the same with others. Look at the times when you might have been so influenced by someone and how you reacted. Look at the times when you might have influenced someone, were we careful with that person? Did we provide adequate care and instruction? If in a position of authority, did I abuse my position over a subordinate at work or in church?
We sometimes can be so easily influenced by others as well as us impacting others. Through personal counseling or spiritual direction, let us always take the opportunity to take a step back, reexamine the situation and become mindful of how we can hurt others in our lives hopefully before it’s too late.
rev. Michael Theogene
Inclusive Text- Readings – Daniel 3: 25, 34-43 / Psalm 25:4-5AB, 6 and 7BC, 8-9 / Matthew 18: 21-35
We hear over and over again of how often we should forgive. So, how often should we forgive? It’s always easier said than done, isn’t it? Just as we hear of the various stages of grief so it is the same with forgiveness. I believe there are stages of forgiveness. It may not always be so easy to forgive. At times we may come out of ourselves and forgive the simple wrongs done to us by others, but how about those big hurts? The big hurts, the ones that may require a little more time to process and discern.
We may have been hurt by a parent, a loved one, and close friend, an ex-spouse, ex-boyfriend / girlfriend, co-worker, a work supervisor or by whoever, who hurt me? Who hurt us?
It is in that same like manner that when we come to that time of forgiveness, as with grieving, it has no time table. It can take that instantaneous moment or it may need to take a day or two or perhaps it can take years. The bottom line is that not to take too much of the time you think you might need. We may not have enough as at times, especially with those big hurts, as we continue to let fester in our minds and souls focusing on the traumatic hurt, preventing us from living, from moving on.
There are many books out there on how to forgive and they say many good things. Friends, when we forgive it might be for the moment when we know what the right thing to do is. We might remember from time to time the reminder of the big hurt that comes to mind, but like anything else, it’s our job to embrace it, sit with it for a brief moment and then move on as best as we can.
The idea as Jesus reminds us so often, as he continues to do so today, is to forgive because God forgives us. When we don’t forgive in its many forms whatever the situation is or may have been, then it is us to think and act like God as if we were God ourselves not allowing the overflowing pains of forgiveness which will lead to joy in some way.
I am always amazed by the many stories of forgiveness that have arisen in our world. Sister Camille D’Arienzo, a Religious Sister of Mercy in Brooklyn, NY, has done a great deal of work on forgiveness. From families forgiving individuals who hurt loved ones through violent crimes to the process of coming to some forgiveness of the innocents taken away from love ones by priests who were to shepherd the flock and not attack the flock as ravenous wolves.
Yeah, forgiveness can be tough at times, from the minor to the major. Who is it that I need to forgive that I have found difficult to forgive? Am I worried so much about being right? Does it really matter? What steps am I going to take in order to begin the steps toward healing?
rev. Michael Theogene
Inclusive Text- Readings- Genesis 37: 3-4, 12-13A, 17B-28A / Psalm 105: 16-21 / Matthew 21: 33-43, 45-46
Thursday- Jeremiah 17: 5-10 / Psalm 1: 1-4, 6 / Luke 16: 19-31
Wednesday- Jeremiah 18: 18-20 / Psalm 31: 5-6, 14-16 / Matthew 20: 17-28
Wednesday’s Gospel brings out how human we all are. We love God but somehow feel because we acknowledge our belief in God that we deserve a high place in the Kingdom. And what happens? We are told that if we want to be “great” we must be the servant. Most of us have grown up with the idea that in order to be successful we must attain power and wealth. What Jesus is saying about being a servant is the opposite of this. Where is the power in service? We are clouded by the world’s material success. Look and see who has been the one whose story of love and service has survived over 2000 years. That is the true meaning of success, to love yourself, to be the one willing because we are so in love with God, as Jesus is to serve whenever and wherever we can, with joy and no expectations of reward. Jesus was criticized and mocked because of his humility, love and mercy and served no matter what. Are we willing to follow that path?
Friends, additionally how do we humble ourselves? Do we fail to see our self-worth? Do we feel that we are better than others? Why did the rich man fail to see how he treated Lazares? Was it because he was afraid that he saw his prejudice and lack of love for all? Who do we see when we look at others? Who is it we see when looking at ourselves?
The landowner tried to work with the tenants but was rejected. Many attempts were repeatedly made but rejection followed. When that person we want to hear from most continues to stare us in the face penetrating us body and soul to our core, is it ourselves who we are looking at? What is it that we need to face and stop running away from? Who is that we reject? Who has rejected us?
rev. Michael Theogene
I think that most of us take for granted the water we use and drink on a daily basis. For us it is so easy and accessible, we only need to go to the next room to get it. How many of us remember that the human body is 55 to 60 percent water? Without water, a person is going to die. Lack of water is a real crisis in parts of the world today. The first reading relates a crisis among the Jews today. All of a sudden they regretted their freedom because they didn’t have any water. With Moses intervention, they received their water. A lesson here would be that sometimes a solution to one problem will create another. Faith requires a certain steadfastness and remaining true to a commitment.
The Gospel speaks of water today, most especially, “living water”. Living water is life-giving, thirst filling water refreshing body and soul. This life giving water Jesus speaks of is for the soul and for the giving of eternal life to all. All humanity seeks and looks for a fulfillment of their life and reason and understanding for living. Christ living water is God’s love coming and embracing women and men to come to an eternal life with God. The living waters of Baptism fills up the Spirit and forever slakes the thirst of the believer. Regardless of whether there was ever a Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus still gave us the living waters of Baptism and opened us up to a pathway to his Father. Taking stock of our faith and Baptism is a good way to prepare for our upcoming Easter celebration.
Inclusive Text- Readings= Isaiah 1:10, 16-20 / Psalm 50: 8-9, 16BC-17, 21 &23 / Matthew 23: 1-12
My friends, who is it in our lives that we elevate to such a high standing or position? Who is it that we make god in our life? As I have also said in the past, it pretty much comes down to one thing, relationships. Relationships with others and our own relationships especially when it comes down to our images of the Creator in our life practices.
Friends, unfortunately in other parts of my work, I have seen people who are in relationships, in particular with an intimate partner or spouse, elevate that partner to a high status as if no one else existed and that person could do no wrong. In essence they make that person a god. What happens when that person, upsets you or disagrees with what you are thinking or saying? Sisters and brothers, we have to be mindful of the way we interact with the people who are brought into our lives. I am not saying that we shouldn’t trust those who are close to us or walk on egg shells for fear of upsetting them. The love we give and measure out has a responsibility to it from both parties. Whether it is a close friend, pastor, teacher, spouse, partner or supervisor, there is a duty that we are held accountable for our actions. Parents who love their children love each child equally yet differently. There are no favorites among them.
We have to become aware of not hurting people without compromising our morals and values. Jesus never did that, he was true to himself. Whether we think we know consciously or unconsciously, deep down we know. There is another part to this as well. We must know our part in it. When we have been hurt, what was our role in it? Were we on another agenda? What happens when you thought they understood your position and then your world is turned upside down when they do the opposite of what you thought? Even with that you say to yourself I will follow what they say anyway.
Friends it is simple that one can swear never to be influenced, but when you are in the middle of it, you surprise yourself. Others may even blame you for it stating that it was your idea for it and now you are to blame for all the upheaval that takes place. Whatever it is, whatever it was, we have all been there and need to forgive others and forgive our self. We need to take the responsibility of what was done and move on. Becoming more and more aware of our self in this journey is more than half the battle.
Let us remember that it is in the example of God’s servant Jesus that we strive to be true servants of God, not by being taken advantage of but by the true nature of offering up our spirits to the One who loved us first by humble service to others but that does not mean to compromise our morals and values.
rev. Michael Theogene
Inclusive Text- Readings- Deuteronomy 9: 4B-10 / Psalm 79: 8 ,9, 11 & 13 / Luke 6: 36-38
Friends, how often do we judge? We spend the time judging others more than we judge ourselves. Why is that? Do we feel that making ourselves just as powerful as God entitles us to do this? Do we think that by making ourselves more judgmental is going to change the behavior of those we are judging? Do we judge our self with just as much authority?
When we do this, and I am sure we do, we become so self-righteous that we focus only on what we are placing on the person and our self. It is as if we forget the person as a whole and narrow in solely on the fault at hand.
What is the message we wish to convey when interacting with our sisters and brothers? Do we want to show judgment or do we wish to show mercy?
My former first testament professor in seminary would tell this story.
One day a Rabbi had met with God and asked God, if God had prayed. The Rabbi was so adamant to prove to God that he had prayed continuously and couldn’t believe that God the Creator would even need to pray.
The Rabbi, who was so persistent, would finally hear from God. God answered the Rabbi saying “Yes, I do pray! I pray that my need for mercy outweighs my need for judgement.”
rev. Michael Theogene