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 March 11, 2018-the 4th Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, change, christian, Faith, gospel, inspirational, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 9, 2018

4lentOnce again like last week our attention is directed towards respect for the temple and sanctuary..We see the abuses of the temple and the messengers and prophets sent by God to them to correct them. We see as punishment God inflicted them with to be conquered and carried off to Babylon. Their banishment lasted seventy years.4lent3

4lent5In the gospel, we see Nicodemus come to Jesus in the night and seek to learn from Him. Here we see Jesus proclaim his death and resurrection and that those who believe in him may have eternal life. And so it is that those who believe and are baptised received God’s mercy and love and have eternal life. It doesn’t mean we will not die, but that we share eternal life now and will transition a different form in the future. The only problem is that some will not accept 4lent6the light of life but instead choose the darkness of evil staying in the dark and rejecting God’s mercy. It is in the dark and darkness that evil thrives and bad things come into our world. Only one thing in history has stifled evil and only when believers believe in its power, the power of the crucified savior. Throughout history, we see many examples of the fight between light and darkness, good and evil. Jesus has saved us and the constant reminder to all of us is the cross that we see everywhere.

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

A New Look at Original Sin

Posted in Christianity, forgiveness, grace, Original Sin, redemption, Romans chapter 5, scripture, Uncategorized by Rev. Martha on February 25, 2018

This is based on Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching from Dec. 3,’08, using the 5th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which “traces the basic outlines of original sin”.

Very briefly, this is what St. Paul wrote: Through one person (Adam) sin entered the world, and through sin, judgment/death/ condemnation came to all people. But the free gift of God’s grace and the gift (for a sinless person to die willingly at the hands of sinful people) that came from one man (Jesus) were not like Adam’s sin. Adam’s one sin brought punishment to all, but Christ makes us right with God, so that all can live.   For if by that one person’s sin all died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of Christ overflow and abound for all. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more. The sin of one person caused death to be king over all, but all who accept God’s abundant grace and forgiveness are kings of life because of the one person, Jesus Christ.

The focus is not so much that sin entered the world when the 1st humans disobeyed God and lost the grace of holiness they were give at creation. The focus, then, is that Jesus Christ came to redeem/ justify/acquit us (commercial/theological/legal). God’s grace was abundantly showered upon humanity.”

The dogma of original sin is inseparable from and absolutely connected to the dogma of salvation and freedom in Christ. We should never consider the sin of Adam and of humankind without understanding it in the context of justification in Christ, the Pope said. There would have been no need for redemption by Jesus unless there was sin. On Easter we say, “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

As proof of original sin, the Pope said, “On the one hand we know we must do good, and in our inner selves this is what we desire, yet at the same time we feel an impulse to do the opposite, to follow the path of egoism, of violence, to do only what we enjoy even though we know that this means working against good, against God and against our fellow man. St. Paul wrote, (Romans 7:15) “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory but fact.  “The power of evil in the heart and history of humankind is undeniable.”

This makes evil appear normal to us.   “This contradiction of mankind, of our history, must provoke and bring out the desire of redemption.” “In politics,” the Pope remarked, “everyone speaks of the need to change the world, to create a more just world. This is an expression of the desire that there be liberation from the contradiction that we experience in ourselves.” Were we “hard wired” with both good and evil with us?   Are we inherently contradictory? NO!

“The faith tells us that there are not two principles, one good and one evil. There is only one principle, which is God the Creator, and God is solely good, without shadow of evil. Neither are human beings a mix of good and evil. The human being as such is good. “This is the joyful announcement of the faith: there is but one source, a source of good, the Creator, and for this reason, life, too, is good.

“There is also a mystery of darkness, which does not arise from the source of being, it is not original. Evil arises from created freedom, a freedom that has been abused,” Benedict XVI said. “How has this happened? It remains unclear. Evil is not logical. Only God and goodness are logical, only they are light. Evil remains a mystery.”

“It remains a mystery of darkness, of night. But there is immediately added a mystery of light. Evil arises from a subordinate (lesser) source; God with His light is stronger. For this reason evil can be overcome, for this reason the creature, man, is curable.” “Man is not only curable but is in fact cured. God introduced the cure. God personally entered history and, to counteract the permanent source of evil, placed a source of pure good: Christ crucified and risen, the “New Adam” who “opposes the foul river of evil with a river of light.”

The dark night of evil is still strong. Together we pray: Come Jesus; come, give strength to the light and to the good; come where dishonesty, ignorance of God, violence and injustice dominate; come, Lord Jesus, give strength to the good in the world and help us to be bearers of your light, workers of peace, witnesses of truth. Come Lord Jesus!”     Amen


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

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