Reflection for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent (March 22, 2017)

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

Reflection for Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent (March 21, 2017)

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

Fr. Treglio of the Parish of Saints Francis and Clare- Sunday of the Third Week of Lent

Reflection for Friday of the Second Week of Lent (March 17, 2017)

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

Reflection for Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent (March14, 2017)

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

Reflection for Monday of the Second Week in Lent (March 13, 2017)

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

Second Sunday of Lent- Fr. Joe Spina from the Parish of Sts. Francis and Clare

Friday of the First Week of Lent (March 10, 2017)

Inclusive Text- Readings- Ezekiel 18:21-28 / Psalm 130: 1-7A, 7BC-8 / Matthew 5: 20-26

Friends, I think what Jesus is saying to the disciples and to us today is that we should be careful of our ego’s becoming too big. Be careful of how we interact with others. Mindful that there isn’t anyone or anything who is above us and that we need not place ourselves below anyone. When it comes to the Kingdom, we are all equal sisters and brothers in the eyes of God. There couldn’t be one thing that would cause God to keep us from entering the Kingdom.   However, it is us who can prevent ourselves from truly becoming Kingdom people.

Recently, I was talking with a woman who was very upset about her current job situation. She was complaining about herself being treated unfairly at work by her boss. She stated to me that she wished that her boss would get into a car accident and perish. The woman obviously was distraught, and her feelings were very harsh. The woman was very knowledgeable of sacred scripture in the Bible.  She says she is a Christian. However she is so blinded by her current situation that she feels she is at the end of her rope and can no longer cope.  Although she introduces herself as a person of faith, her negative wish, I shared with her about a time I had felt the same way.  As I tried to simply listen and have her own her feelings, I proceeded to have her explain herself if she was up to it.

She and I were able to explore her feelings. We spoke and came to the understanding that we have the power to curse or to bless. The woman took the time to explore her feelings and she came to the realization not to give people the power to control her.  Whether the person or persons who are hurting us know consciously or unconsciously what they are doing, it is us who give permission to allow these people to control us. These persons are often victims of abuse.  There is a saying “hurt people, will hurt people”.

My former pastor and friend from the Roman tradition at one time challenged the whole entire Diocese of Brooklyn. He said if we believed in the God of love and forgiveness then Hitler is in heaven. He went on to say this does not excuse the atrocities that Hitler committed. Sisters and brothers this does not give us the right to do whatever it is we feel like doing without any consequences, but to know that if we believe in the redeeming and ultra-magnificence of the God of all creation we too can be able to give everyone who has wronged us a chance to redeem themselves.   Would we not want the same opportunity? If we stop trying to be God and let God be God there are always second chances, if we truly come to God who is ever waiting with arms opened wide to give us ultimate Joy.

rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Thursday of the First Week in Lent (March 9, 2017)

Inclusive Text – Reading Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25 / Psalm 138: 1-2AB, 2CDE-3, 7C-8 / Matthew 7: 7-12

Friends, we are entitled to so much. We know that our Creator God has not forsaken us and has not abandoned us. We know that as we seek to place ourselves in the loving care of our God, how can the God of all look to diminish what God has created. We know the things that are and aren’t good for us. God on God’s part seeks to always remain in conversation with us. I think our part is to just remain faithful to the conversation process. To trust, listen, and pray, as we do to listen more deeply with the ear of our heart. Let us not grow weary and trust that God is always with us. I recently read the book, “The Shack” written by William Paul Young. My friend, this book is a powerful book on the awesome and un-restrictive scope of the power and reach of God’s love. The movie on this book is currently playing in movie theaters. I recommend reading the book first, if you are able to then go see the movie. I promise you, you will not be disappointed as God doesn’t disappoint.

rev. Theogene

Reflection for Tuesday /Wednesday of the First Week of Lent (March 7 and 8, 2017)

Inclusive Text – Readings: Isaiah 55: 10-11 / Psalms 34: 4-7, 16-19 / Matthew 6: 7-15

In Tuesdays reading Jesus gives us the Our Father.

“Creator God, Abba, God- Mother and Father, Papa ….” What is your name for God?

Sisters and Brothers yesterday we read Jesus telling his disciples how one doesn’t have to have fancy elaborate words to talk to God

I attended a day retreat by my former beloved pastor and friend, who officiated at my wedding.    He held a day retreat on the Our Father. In that one day alone I found it to be a day of self-realization. My pastor went on to explain that the Our Father could be stretched out into a whole week to give the participant ample time to reflect on each line of the Lord’s Prayer. To me it speaks about living in the now, the present moment. How it reminds us in all that we do, hear and see how we are to give self-awareness to the God who created us and how our God reciprocates that love.  The Our Father reveals the realization of creation before us, thanks for what has been given to us, and for the bread not yet received. It speaks of forgiveness which is so hard for us to forgive others, let alone to be able to forgive ourselves.  If we can’t forgive, even if it takes years hopefully we reach that moment of forgiveness when we can finally release the chains that will untether from this world, not remaining stuck, preparing our hearts In this present reality and for  the existence to come when we pass from this world to the next.  If we look for the will of the Most High to be done, we have to engage in the process of conversation with God. We need to be faithful to the conversation even when we feel that it may be too much for now. Even when we may feel that way it is up to us, even after the pause if need be to pick up the conversation again.   ….and lead us not into temptation.

Jonah 3: 1-10 / Psalms 51: 3-4, 12-13, 18-19 / Luke 11: 29-32

In Wednesday’s reading Jesus talks about how the people want a sign.

We cannot see the sign because we keep ourselves bound, who is it that we need to untether as the hurt, the wrong that was done to us keeps playing over and over again in our minds? Isn’t it us who needs to free ourselves of these shackles?  Whose presence is it that we need to keep and be reminded of? It’s right in front of us.  What do we need to let go of? Could it be anger, fear resentment, jealousy and anything that is preventing us from seeing the sign of how much God loves us?

rev. Michael Theogene