Homily March 18, 2018- the 5th Sunday of Lent

lent5Jeremiah today straight out tells the people the old covenant is not working and that God is going to give them a new covenant. This new covenant will be different, there will be no temple and it will be written on the heart of each believer, not centered on a place or persons. In John today, we see Jesus say that his dieing by being lifted up for all of us is the new covenant. His life, his death, his suffering is all for the glory of God and the lent5-2institution of the beginning of new covenant which we come to know as the church. But remember, our church is not a building,or a place, but within our hearts, within our communities. Jesus and his church is present when we gather in his name. The sacrifice of the new covenant was done once for all, but we continue that sacrifice when we celebrate the Eucharist. Christ’s Body and Blood becomes present for us to consume on the table we use to prepare for it. As we prepare for Easter, it good that we recall God has given us a new law, a new lent5-3covenant. But it is also a responsibility. lent5-5We are accountable for that law written on our hearts, a law of love, mercy and, yes, even forgiveness. It is a law Christ understands because he was like us as a human being, except for sin,and as divine he shares in God’s patience and love. So, we are called to look out for each other and to care. We must take to heart the words we say each Sunday “ Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

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

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish, Herndon, Va on March 4, 2018- the 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, change, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, Repent and believe, Resurrection, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 4, 2018

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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.

Homily, March 4, 2018- the 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, gospel, homily, inspirational, religion, Repent and believe, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 2, 2018

3lent 1scribes had lost their way and given into worldly things. Like the prophets before him, Jesus is calling out the establishment and serving notice the end is near for them if they do not repent and listen to the good news. The old law is about to be replaced and the one sacrifice for all and for all time is about to be replaced and the new temple is present. The Israelites had once again failed the covenant with God and now a new covenant was being started but only after cleansing the old temple. Ironically the old law and temple was replaced by the caretakers of it by 3lent4killing Jesus. Jesus replaced the old law and presented a new code or way of love or living in the love of God. He stressed that the commandments were only two, Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. In those two commandments are summed up all the law and the prophets. No longer was humanity to be burdened. The codes and laws and prescriptions of the scribes and pharisees are to be gone. Yet, even now humanity sometimes gets carried away with law and regulation. From such we need to be vigilant and remember. Jesus is our savior and has died and risen for us. He did that we might be free to love, unconstrained to find our way to Him. We must avoid placing anything that is an obstacle to God.


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

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent (February 20, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Isaiah Chapter 55 verses 10-11 / Psalm 34 verses 3-6, 15-18 /

Matthew Chapter 6 verses 7-15

Sisters and brothers as we read in today’s psalm, ‘…let us exalt God’s Name together! I sought Our God, who answered me and freed me from all my fears.’ (Psalm 34: 3-4) How do we talk to God? Do we only talk to God when there are stressors in our lives? How often do we keep the conversation going? Do we feel scared or embarrassed to talk to God?

My dear friends, for those among us that may not believe in talking to God as often or are unwilling or unsure let me simply say that it doesn’t take much. The Our Father is a universal prayer that sings the praises of the One Source. The many names of God, as we have all often heard them, show us the countless many names on how we respond to God. Jesus’ relationship with the Father shows his intimacy with knowing who he was and whose he was. Jesus showed who he belonged to. Jesus shows us that, as the Father was very close to him, in the same manner we are to make God close to us. Abba God, my dearest, my love, God as mother and father, the source of all life. In essence, daddio, dad, the Creator is how Jesus address our God.

So when we pray, do not babble like the others. Work on your intimacy even more, so when you say God, our father, our mother, Creator God, Creator Spirit, Spirit God, God- our mother and father hallowed be your name, etc..,say it with meaning, slowly reflecting on the gift that our God has given us.

As Pope Francis has recently encouraged Christians to do in especially praying the Our Father is to revise the part that says ‘…and lead us not into temptation.’ but instead to say ‘…and let us not fall into temptation…’. How can God lead us into temptation?

Remember from the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday the priest or minister while signing your forehead with ashes stated, “Remember that you are beloved and to love you shall return! Thoughts to ponder! Be blessed!

rev. Michael Theogene

Monday of the First Week of Lent (February 19, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Leviticus Chapter 19 verses 1-2, 11-18 / Psalm 19 verses 7-9, 14 /

Matthew Chapter 25 verses 31-46

Matthew 25. This reading is well known that is synonymous with all of our everyday travels and encounters.  In essence it is the corporal works of mercy and when we fail to do it for our struggling sisters and brothers, not only do we disappoint God but we are short siding ourselves. We all know that at any moment many of us are a check or two away from being homeless.  Giving away our money may not be what we all can do but we can all give our time to help whether it is a neighbor or volunteering. If we keep focused on the needs of the world around us, we can always find someone who needs our love.  Even if someone selfishly wanted our attention and really didn’t need it, we still should minister to that person. As the Venerable Mother Catherine Elizabeth McAuley (foundress of the Sisters of Mercy) said, “It is better to relieve a hundred imposters, if there be such, than to suffer one really distressed person to be sent away empty.” God bless you!

rev. Michael Theogene