CACINA

First Sunday in Lent (February 18, 2018)

Inclusive Lectionary Text

Readings: Genesis Chapter 9 verses 8-15 / Psalm 25 verses 4-9 / 1 Peter 3:18-22 /

Mark Chapter 1 verses 12-15

Friends, as we must remember in light of recent events, we must hold fast and secure to the thought that our God has not and will not forsake us in light of these recent tragedies. The 17 lives lost in Parkland, Florida, a horrific tragedy as someone said to me recently, “we have become so desensitize to it’. As many have voiced, when is this going to stop? Not taking away from this, but it brings to mind all those who die each and every day due to some kind of violence. Violence in our major streets, violence done to women, people dying in worn torn countries, when does it end? Also past mass shootings in our country that have occurred at concerts, night clubs and schools. Everyone everywhere is asking that same old question, “Why?”

Watching the local and national news, I have been very impressed by the young students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas H.S. who, not only going through this tragedy, but have become student ambassadors for change. This is not only for themselves and the community but for the country. They are trying to make a difference the best way they can or know how.  They are challenging not only themselves, but politicians on all levels.

I agree, as some of you may be thinking, not one entity or individual or party is to be blamed but the blame, the onus is on all of us. We all have a part in it. Maybe we all have allowed it. God has promised to shield us by not letting such occurrences happen from God’s standpoint. The rainbow has been the covenant that we are God’s and God belongs to us. The rainbow has not protected us from each other, has it? Where there is complacent behavior, disaster is sure to follow. When and where it comes or in what form doesn’t matter, but it finds its way to us.

This does not mean that we must live on pins and needles but to be mindful more than ever before of the climate we are in today. As the psalms tell us God’s ways will ultimately prevail. Sisters and brothers we must continue to be faithful not only to God but to ourselves and others.

One student in particular David Hogg has been a vocal voice, if you have noticed him on the news circuit. A student at the school, David obviously has not been complacent. It doesn’t matter where they all were before but they have all unfortunately become immersed into this debate. To me David has shown outstanding leadership by working as a team in organizing along with other students and parents taking a positive action to make change. In the scriptures, it shows that the example we are to be following as a community. Is the example of Jesus, doing, living and working together in community making a difference. Even Jesus himself knew that he couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do it alone. He needed the help of others and God.

rev. Michael Theogene

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Homily at Holy Trinity on February 11, 2018- the 6th Sunday in Ordinary time

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The Long and Short of Mark 1

6th Sunday Ordinary time, 2-11-18

Lev 13:1-2, 44-46; Ps: 32:1-2, 5, 11; 1 Cor 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45

This is the last Sunday before the start of Lent. For the last three weeks, we have had sequential readings from the Gospel of Mark.  In fact, we have read nearly all of Chapter 1.  Mark has given us a great deal of information about Jesus, the purpose and style of his mission, his unique authority to teach and heal, and his intensity and power.  Today, I want to recap these readings, because I believe they are an excellent entry into Lent as well as a very solid base for expanding the ministry of Holy Trinity.

The first 14 verses of Mark tell us about the baptism of Jesus and his time of temptation in the desert. Jesus’ first words recorded by Mark are, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” You will remember that when the ashes are placed on your forehead on Ash Wednesday,  one or both of these things are said, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  (Now we know where that came from.) The second one is not as familiar, maybe because it seems a little vague; we may not be sure what is being asked of us.

If someone calls you and says, “I have good news – our baby boy was born this morning,” you understand that not only is the message good news, but the baby himself is good news. The Jews had waited about 1,000 years for the arrival of the Messiah.  Now, Mark tells us, the Messiah, Jesus, is teaching and healing and present with his people.  Not only do we find the announcement good, but Jesus’ message is good news, as is his very self.  “Gos” means good and “Spel” means story, or news.   Jesus, and all he says and does, is the gospel.   We are to repent and shed our sin along with shedding the attitude of waiting.

Jesus acts this out by calling Simon, Andrew, James and John from their fishing nets, and “immediately” they leave their boats and go with him.   For them to do that was very counter-cultural, even disrespectful of their family, and, frankly, just plan weird, even for us.  When is that last time you put down your pen on your desk and walked away from your job?  Can you imagine the power in Jesus’ command to, “Come with me”?  Have you ever felt anything like that?  Has God ever put that kind of message in your heart?  What would you do to enliven and built up Holy Trinity if that happened to you?

And then, Jesus, along with his followers, went to the synagogue. Jesus teaches there, “as one having authority”…and not just as a scribe, or scholar.  He commands an unclean spirit to leave a man, and it does.  Everyone is astonished and amazed.  Interesting, isn’t it – the unclean spirits know and obey Jesus in an instant, and we, well, often not so much.  Is it because we haven’t grasped what he asks us to do?  Or do we not know him well enough?

Jesus is then on his way to Simon/Peter’s house the same day. He restores Peter’s mother in-law to health; not only health, but a position of dignity and even fame.  As a widow in declining health, she is a burden on the family and is fearful for the future.  Jesus (immediately) “helpers her up”, says Mark.  What an understatement!

She is able to be a hostess who exceeds the high bar of Mediterranean hospitality. The house becomes the site of all kinds of healings, and her own healing will be known as long as the Bible is read.  Her life had been changed, forever different.  Do you doubt that Jesus could change Holy Trinity into a thriving place of worship and impact the community?

Next, Jesus touches a leper and says, “Be made clean.” This story is full of implications. First, the story came to us in Greek, and Greek uses verbs in ways that we don’t.  In this case, “Be made clean” means, “Someone else will make you clean.”  In other words, God is doing the healing.  Jesus is not claiming this power as his own, just as he does not offer to heal the widow, but helps her move away from the sick bed.  It is a great portrayal of Jesus as the obedient and humble son acting as the conduit of God’s power.  We can be the conduit of God’s power, which is often found in humble prayer, worship, and obedience.

Second, just as “a cold” can mean many possible illnesses, a “leper” in that day could have many different skin conditions. But they all had one thing in common: the person had ugly sores on their body.  Any type of physical disfiguration was suspect then, and made the person “ritually unclean”.  No animal with any physical imperfections could be used for sacrifice in the temple.  Likewise, no person with sores could worship in the temple.  To add insult to injury, the cause of illness was presumed to be sin. The person was blamed for their own illness, and they were viewed as moral pollution in the community.

Because it was seen as a “sin” issue, the Priest banished lepers and declared them healed. The isolation and blame could be worse than the sores.  This leper somehow knows and believes in Jesus.  Jesus, evidently, was a cafeteria Jew, because he followed the Jewish law in Leviticus and sent the leper to the priest; but he touched the leper in pity, thereby breaking another law as he restored the man to wholeness.  Jesus put himself at risk of being mobbed by suffering people in hopes of healing.  He told the leper to be silent, not wanting a reputation as a miracle man/ wonder worker.  Remember, he came to urge repentance and belief.  He knew his goal.  What is our goal, here in this parish?

So, to be like Jesus, we must be short on presumption and long on pity. We must be dependent on God’s power and know it.  We must use God’s eyes to see past the sores on skin and see the sores of the heart.  We must focus on our goal and honor the directives of God, not culture.  With prayerful discernment we must be prepared to act for the glory of God when we are called.  Old presumptions may require repentance, and belief may need to be strengthened.  Our path forward as a church may bring us change, but we can trust it will be “Good News”.