Saturday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 22, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Ruth – Chapter 2 verses 1- 3, 8-11 & Chapter 4 verses 13-17 / Psalm 128 verses 1-5 /
Matthew – Chapter 23 verses 1-12
Friends, oh, my goodness that’s it again. There is nothing I can say more that is not said best by the Master, Jesus. Just some thoughts of how the scripture touched me today. “They love respectable greetings in public, and being called ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, avoid the title ‘Rabbi.’ For One is your Teacher, and you are all sisters and brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your ‘Mother’ or ‘Father.’ Only One is your parent – the One in heaven. Avoid being called leaders. Only One is your Leader, the Messiah.”
Friends, recently on retreat at a monastery, I observed an Auxiliary Roman Catholic Bishop, who I am aware of, at the monastery also on retreat. I was impressed that this individual was not, at any time, in any clerical garb or sit in any place of prominence. The Bishop was, for all intent and purposes stated, a person, a human being as all of us seeking the way to God. When I introduced myself to the gentlemen, I think he was surprised that anyone recognized him. I was most impressed by that.
This had also brought to mind, when my wife and I were in the Roman tradition, our home community had two Roman Catholic deacons, who as I observed would serve there mass as deacons, at later masses, but would either come and sit by themselves or attend with their spouses, never giving the suggestion that they were any different. They were different to some degree but not separate from the rest of us.
When I worked for a city agency where I was a community affairs person working as a religious outreach specialist, I worked for the agency I was representing to the city’s vast and grassroots religious and clerical community. I once had to attend a meeting in a city in Connecticut where I was helping, along with my supervisor to help build a program similar to our city’s relations with said religious leaders.
Accompanied by a well known Baptist pastor of a well known congregation, needless to say, between the three of us, he noticed how my supervisor was treating me. He observed my supervisors insecurity and his need for prominence and the need to be addressed by his rank/title.
Weather I agreed with it or not, that pastor told me that my supervisor was my master and that only for this time or when I dealt with him, was when I had to give him obedience and no other time. This reminds me of the Rule of Saint Benedict. The rule gives me the ability to give up my will, not out of control of others or myself, but in the control, I exercise my free will to be able to decide my nature which in essence makes me free.
Sisters and brothers in our society today, we ourselves give in sometimes to wanting that place of honor or title. What we achieve yes is good, as long we offer it to God for the betterment of humanity. We have to be very careful and aware even at the slightest times we give in to this. We have to be mindful of our ego and pride. How we address others can make a difference on how we may help bring someone to the path of God’s love or we can be the ones helping to turn them away. It’s about humility and the reward that we do for others. We should not want the thank you or the acknowledgement that what I did for you today, allows me now to run the other’s life. I do this, I do that, I work in this shelter, I do that. We can accept praise, but be humble in regards to it. (We must also be mindful of having a false sense of pride)
We need not remind others what we have done for them. Friends we are only as good as the last act we performed. It is not about reminding others of what we have done but has that act of love brought them closer to God. Peace
michael (aka- rev. Theogene)
Friday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 21, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Ruth – Chapter 1 verses 1, 3-6, 14-16, & 22 / Psalm 146 verses 5-10 /
Matthew – Chapter 22 verses 34-40
Friends, that’s it. These scripture readings seem to say it all. It’s all about the unconditional love that God has for us. The love shown to us by God is a deep immensity that we try to imitate. A love that is shown in the same way Jesus shared in his love to the Father. We can most definitely find this difficult at times. We see the example of Ruth towards her mother-in-law Naomi. In this same instance God does the same with us. Wherever we go, wherever we dwell and where we will die, Jesus ensures us that God will always be with us. To come to worship God in God’s presence everywhere and anywhere, God meets us where we are. God touches us when we least expect it. Hopefully, if we are really doing what is required of us and loving our family our neighbor as we would ourselves, sums up the entire Bible, in my opinion. Being challenged to love unconditionally, even those whom we may have conflicts with is what the message is about. The God who comes to us in the good and bad, when sad, depressed, and lonely, excitedly happy and overjoyed, God suffers and laughs with all of creation. God will always be with us, on our side, just the way we are, not the way we think we should be. God will take care of whatever has to change in us. All we have to do is say “yes Lord” and God will do the rest.
rev. Michael Theogene
Thursday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 20, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Judges – Chapter 11 verses 29-39 / Psalm 40 verses 4-9 /
Matthew – Chapter 22 verses 1-14
Friends, although the readings seem to be harsh, the message I get from them is that Jesus shows us that God deals with us compassionately and we should be dealing compassionately with others. God invites us to be in relationship with God. Our relationship with God can be seen through so many different lights. God always takes the opportunity to reach out to us speaking to us through people, situations or events. God relentlessly seeks us. It is not God, for God’s sake that we pray and seek God, but it is for our sake, for our salvation that we pray to God. We pray to God by any of the many different paths that bring us to the Light. God yearns for us to be part of God’s creation, as a parent wishes to be involved with their child. The Creator of course leaves us with free will. The Great Source of all Being, the lover of the living. Here is a story that was told to me by my First Testament studies professor. He shared that there was a Rabbi that was talking to God. The Rabbi asked God, “God do you pray?” God responded that “…of course God prays.” … “I pray that my need for mercy is outweighed by my need for justice.” Sisters and brothers let us deal with each other mercifully, truly living the kingdom now and not later.
rev. Michael Theogene
Wednesday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 19, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Judges – Chapter 9 verses 6-15 / Psalm 21 verses 2-7 /
Matthew – Chapter 20 verses 1-16
Dear friends, we see that Jesus shows us the example that blessed is the one who lives without expectation, for they won’t be disappointed. We see this so much in the secular world. Even in my place of employment, I hear coworkers say that they should be paid more comparing themselves with workers of equal status who they feel have less work obligations then they do. Instead of being so jealous or resentful, we should rejoice in the fact, that yes our neighbor has been granted something equal or better than us. This reinforces Gods unconditional love for all of us and helps us to be open for the many blessings that are waiting for us. This is what makes us children of the Kingdom of God that is here and now.
rev. Michael Theogene
Tuesday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 18, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Judges – Chapter 6 verses 11-24 / Psalm 85 verses 8 & 10-13 /
Matthew – Chapter 19 verses 23-30
Dear friends, God speaks to us over and over again through people or situations. God wishes to give us God’s peace. God’s peace surpasses all understanding beyond our own knowledge. Peace comes with letting go of our idea of what true peace is. It is within. When we let all the walls down and listen to the small voice within, peace gently enters our heart.
If we are truly poor in spirit, worldly possessions will not faze us. We will be able to share everything we have without feeling we need those things. If we place all our hope in material things then we will never understand about the kingdom of heaven. It is easy to say, but letting go of our possessions is difficult for most people because it is a false security. Holding on to things, people, places, ideas etc, prevent us from truly being poor in spirit. When Jesus was talking about the rich person’s difficulty attaining heaven, he was not saying we couldn’t have things, he was saying that if we let those possessions rule our life; they would block us from having true peace. So let us open our hearts and free ourselves of all that prevents us from loving and sharing.
rev. Michael Theogene
Monday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 17, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Judges – Chapter 2 verses 11-19 / Psalm 106 verses 34-37, 39-40, 43 & 44 /
Matthew – Chapter 19 verses 16-22
Friends, I don’t know about you, but I have asked myself that very question of myself from time to time. I never seem to get a response either of myself or from somewhere else. What must we do to inherit eternal life? What must I do in order to be good? If we have been doing the required works of what we believe is expected of us, then what must we do then to be complete?
I think it goes beyond what is presented before us. In Jesus’ infinite wisdom he spoke of these things as a stepping stone, probably knowing full well that it would always eventually include more things. Of course, if we do not love God by not loving our neighbor, or giving up what keeps us loving fully, (i.e. possessions) then we ought to work on it. We have to find the necessary tools in order to work with.
I think sometimes it’s us who can’t give up our old ways, our old thoughts, and our old self. I think it can be me sometimes sayings I can’t change now, I am not ready, I will change later. A lot of us sometime say that we are not ready now. We are so afraid to change, we are so afraid of the unknown, we choose to stay the way we are.
In my life, I am finishing school course work that has taken me six years. I was going to be on the ten year plan. I certainly was not going to complete it as most do in three to four. I remember even while working secular employment, the pressures and deadlines for assignments were difficult. In my earlier years in this study, I would get so paralyzed in writing a major paper, would end up not doing it, asking for an extension and then suffering still in doing the assignment. All I did was delay my suffering. I would become so fearful in doing the paper that I hurt myself and others around me.
My wife has taught me a saying that she would always say to her students. Fear, what is fear? Fear, F.E.A.R. is false evidence appearing real. It is when we allow fear to enter our lives and take hold, paralyzing us, keeping us away from all that is good is when we are not doing what is required of us. Doing the corporal works of mercy, fully loving ourselves and others, living with compassion and mercy and being non judgmental is then and only then that we truly give up ourselves. Not just hearing this, but doing this as best we can is why we don’t go away sad.
rev. Michael Theogene
Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Proverbs – Chapter 9 verses 1-6 / Psalm 34 /
Ephesians – Chapter 5 verses 15-20 / John – Chapter 6 verses 48-58
Sisters and brothers wisdom in this passage is referred to as a woman who has built her house, prepared food and drink and set a royal table. She sends out an invitation to those who are simple to come and share her food and drink and discuss how to walk the path of understanding Gods ways. The discussion continues with Paul’s guidance about how to conduct oneself by using your time well, allowing yourself to be open to the Holy Spirit, meditating on psalms, hymns spiritual songs, being joyful in your heart. He goes on to say always give thanks to God for everything. It concludes with Jesus saying He is the bread of life and we must eat his body and drink his blood in order to have life. What controversy this caused. What does it mean? I believe Jesus was trying to tell us that we must feast on the example of Jesus life. He lived every second of his life serving God. It was never about bringing attention to him. It was about how much God loves us unconditionally. Jesus wanted us to feed on his life so that we were nourished in God and in turn others can feed on our lives and experience Gods love and pass it on. So let us feast on the richness of God’s beauty and love found in others and in ourselves. We are the body and blood of Christ.
rev. Michael Theogene
Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Revelation – Chapter 11 verses 19 – Chapter 12 verses 1-6, 10 / Psalm 45 /
1 Corinthians – Chapter 15 verses 20-26 / Luke – Chapter 1 verses 39-56
Sisters and Brothers, in my opinion, you know that we will all evidently die. We probably won’t be assumed into heaven both body and soul as Mary was assumed to be. Unlike Mary, we will face death. However, when we come to the end of our physical existence, we know that our concept of death whatever it may be will disappear and that we truly will be transformed into something new. Mary was transformed by something new as she stood at the foot of the cross in deep pain witnessing the death of her son. Yet Jesus tells her that John who was standing next to her is now her son. What did he mean? I believe Jesus was telling her and the world that new life was a daily encounter. In the middle of pain and suffering we are prompted by the Spirit to see resurrection. How many times do we miss the opportunity to be renewed in God’s love each day? How many resurrections have we let die? How do we change our mind set? I know one way to change is to replace an old habit with a new one. Let us replace our concept of pain and suffering with the thought that pain and suffering lead to resurrection. Not an easy job but well worth practicing.
rev. Michael Theogene
Friday of the Nineteenth Week of the Year (August 14, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts
Readings- Joshua – Chapter 24 verses 1-13 / Psalm 136 verses 1-3, 16-18, 21-22 & 24 /
Matthew – Chapter 19 verses 3-12
Friends as we have seen time and time again the pain and grief that divorce can bring. The pain that is caused by divorce can be detrimental. As partners seek to separate, this can be most difficult especially if children are involved. Divorce is not pretty. I look back on the many friends and acquaintances we know and have seen that probably a good portion of them married for the wrong reasons, family expect them to marry, friends push the relationship, one partner may “rescue” the other from a domestic situation. I could go on and on about the reasons some marry.
We meet someone and rush into a relationship without truly getting to know each other, marry and realize we have different morals and values. One or both may try to make it work but to no avail. This type of marriage is not a marriage and it is understandable if a divorce occurs because in reality it truly was not a marriage. Some stay together and live separate lives as married singles.
An authentic marriage is one where the two meet, become friends, do a lot of discovering and sharing. Trust and truth are number one communication skills; all these evolve into a deep relationship. More important is their spiritual connection. Not religion but their belief system. Praying together and putting God in their relationship is a key factor in a successful permanent marriage. None of this is easy; it takes a daily commitment on the part of the couple to work every day to love their spouse. To get through the nitty gritty of daily life is what it is all about. A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.
rev. Michael Theogene
The last few weeks we have been listening to the Bread of life discourse in the Gospel of John. As we know, John was written after the other gospels and has some different characteristics than the 3 Synoptic gospels. John, for instance, spends several chapters on the last supper and Jesus’ washing of feet and various discourses, but he does not include the institution of the Eucharist. The discourse we have been listening to is placed at Passover, and thee bread of life discourse is John’s introduction and theology of Christ’s body and blood. It is his way of teaching and bringing about a better understanding of the Eucharist. So far we have seen the body and blood as food and nourishment for the body and as spiritual food for our journey to eternal life,
Today, Jesus emphasizes that the body and blood he is giving is actually his very flesh and his very blood. This flesh and blood is really and actually his body and blood. As bread is made of grain crushed and mixed with water and then baked at high temperature, so has the wine been made of crushed grapes and fermented to make his blood Bread as we know is a staple and nutritious for every day life and in such a way is Christ’s body crushed and life giving to us now and for our daily life and for future life to come. Wine is true drink, but actually in a way more festive and joyful for the sharing of nutritious and happy times. Together we come together and share his body and blood and together achieve a unity of mind and heart and prepare ourselves to go out and face the world as loving Christians and bring ourselves to a table and place prepared for us when we have reached the end of our time. Real food, real drink for us for now physically and spiritually , a way to face daily life. How can this be, how can it be his flesh and blood? It was asked in Christ’s time and obviously in John’s time. And even today it is asked. Faith tells us it is what Christ said it was and there has been throughout the centuries no greater gift to us. His body, his blood has been given and has been a constant from the very earliest church. It is true even to today, whoever eats his body and drinks his blood will have life and will never die.