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Homily for the Feast of Pentecost Sunday, June 4, 2017

pent1Pentecost Sunday is a day as important as Easter and Christmas. What we celebrate is the coming of the Holy Spirit to Jesus’ followers and his new church. Our readings today tell us this is so, but at the same time we see different traditions and renderings of it. John places it on Easter night itself with Jesus appearance that first evening. Luke places it 50 days later. What we do know is that the early followers saw Jesus after his Resurrection and that in those times Jesus brought or sent his Holy Spirit to his Church and to the people of it. pent2Luke and John saw the Holy Spirit as a powerful force in the church and community and for its members. The enthusiasm of the disciples and the spread and growth of the community was something they clearly attributed to the Holy Spirit. Even today we see and experience the Holy Spirit in the church and in our parishes and communities. Christianity continues today not because men believe and work to keep it alive, but because the Holy Spirit keeps the Word alive. Humanity, unfortunately, has made a mess as we can see in the splits and divisions. Yet, in spite of that, Christ’s word continues to be present because his Spirit remains on the earth.

pent4The real lesson today of the Holy Spirit is to be open, to listen, to follow the promptings given out of sincere prayer. Like Christ, the Spirit moves and prompts us to move on to the way forward to His Father. As the world moves on, the Spirit prompts us to move with it. Over centuries of difficult learning the church and humanity has gradually learned the need to be open and to grow with the times and the unfolding of the wonders of creation as we get to know them better. Christ said the Spirit would teach them everything they would need to know, but first we must be open and listen and discern what the Spirit is helping us to understand. It is the Spirit who brings us to Jesus’ path to the Father. Like any path, it needs to be fresh and clear and ready for travel. Jesus led the way, and the Spirit keeps it prepared for us.

June 26, 2016 Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 26, 2016

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish June 19, 2016, the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Homily June 19, 2016 the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 16, 2016

12 sunIn today’s gospel, Jesus asks “Who do you say that I am?” When Peter said “the Christ of God”, Jesus scolded them. Why did he scold when such an important revelation had been made to them? Simply, they did not understand what it meant, they only had a glimpse of Jesus’ mission and knew nothing of what was to come. Jesus was the Christ, the prophet, the one to come, but no one knew or was ready to fully understand what was the role and mission of Jesus to suffer and die. His humanity and holiness they knew and felt, but his divinity and the saving suffering mission he had was a darkness they didn’t know. The revelation of who he was had to unfold as he preached and worked among the people, gradually showing, revealing and teaching even his own disciples who he was.

12 sun 3Even today, we come to know and experience Jesus in different ways and at different times of our lives. Our faith and commitment is something that grows and expands and deepens as our lives and experience goes on. Jesus and the Spirit work in our lives and speak in various ways. I don’t know anyone who has direct communication yet so often in life prayer and the Spirit leads us in the right direction. A spiritual life can be joyful and fulfilling or at times it can seem dry and humdrum. Faith and prayer and constancy leads us to an ultimately full and encompassing prayer life. While religion is personal, Jesus called us to his family to his community. Love, care and concern are important to all believers as we worship in the Lord and share his sacraments. 12 sun 2Suffering, sickness, violence, evil in the world can seem so overwhelming, that only with an anchor in our faith and love of Jesus in community and prayer, can we weather the world and what lies in it. Christ is with us and speaks and acts in our lives and actions if we only give in to the love with open mind and hearts and share it with others and not be concerned with anything but that others are God’s children called to be saved like each of us. Scolding? Yes Jesus scolded because they knew but didn’t understand. Hopefully we know and we never cease trying to understand, so we are ready to love and give as he did.

Homily May 29, 2016 The Body and Blood of Christ

euch5Growing up in the United States, one thing we all can say for the most part is that food is plentiful and gotten by most of us. Sure there are those among us who because of circumstances do not receive or get what they need, but food is plentiful because of our work ethic and technology. We do import food but at the same time we export it also. But, my point today, is that no matter where we go, every human being has one basic need if he or she is going to survive, and that is food. Since the beginning of time, we humans have come together and sought out food to sustain our lives. Generally families would share their food together as they share their daily lives. In modern times, families coming together for a common meal has become less frequent as schedules have become complicated and times to be together seem to be harder to arrange. Yet, there remains in our culture the desire to be family and share time and conversation and food together. euch1At important times and events, it seems we always arrange to gather around food. It is one thing that seems to bring a certain ease for conversation and interaction.

If we look back at the early church, in the earliest times they met in the homes of believers which were large enough to bring everyone together. Their sharing of the faith always started with a meal and then a celebration of the Eucharist, a sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ. It was the same context and setting that Christ set when he gave us the Eucharist at His Last Supper on that night He knew would be his last with His disciples before he died. What He gave, was His very self, a food with a visible form of bread and wine, but actually His very Body and 5 easterBlood, a food to feed us spiritually and keep us strong and robust for a long and tedious journey to His Father. Certainly, he sent his Spirit to assist us, but as God gave us family, Jesus gave us each other in the church and calls us to his special meal that draws us together in his love and provides the nourishment and strength to continue on in all the struggles we encounter. A human is not meant to be alone, even as God himself, we are meant to love, to relate and reach out and grow together as one. Our Food and Drink for our spiritual journey is unlike any ever given. While worshipers of the past partook of the sacrifices they offered, what they ate was not fulfilling spiritually. Our food is living flesh and blood, the living Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. So, as we reach out and hit the refrigerator or call for delivery or seek out some place to eat, Let us not forget that there is a more basic and desirable food that brings us here.

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish May 8, 2016 Ascension Sunday

Homily April 24, 2016 the 5th Sunday of Easter

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, homily, inspirational, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on April 19, 2016

5 easterToday’s gospel seems for a moment to be out-of-place. Suddenly we are brought back to Holy Thursday and the last supper. Judas has just left to betray Jesus, and we see he is aware of what is coming. He knows that his death is imminent and would glorify his Father. Like anyone taking leave, Jesus at that moment was troubled and concerned for his disciples. Strikingly, Jesus here in John’s gospel sums up what he has been about before his final discourses at the last supper. With such short time, He gave one command, love one another. Loving each other as he loved them is what makes them his disciples. Faith and love go hand in hand. Love is what sets a person apart and makes them stand out. In 5 easter 3earlier times when Abraham and Moses encountered Yahweh and the commandments were given, love then was the center yet over time and centuries humanity would seek the convenience of making rules and laws to make it “easy” to follow. In Jesus’ time the law had in many ways come to obscure what Yahweh originally intended and possessed an importance above and beyond the good of a person and the people themselves.

Jesus himself condemned the leaders who were bound up in ritual and rules and anything that pushed the people away from God. Their office and position had become so important to them that like their ancestors before them a prophet bringing the word of God was scorned and driven out and even killed. That is why Jesus had to emphasize his command at that most troubling moment for him. The command to love is eternal. Love was present before the world began and it will continue into eternity and never end. It is a seed planted in every being and grows and blossoms only insofar as we nourish it and fertilize and water it, so to speak. God’s love is open to all, at all times and is ready to receive us when we properly dispose ourselves for him.

5 easter 4As believers, we should work to never forget this and remember that loving means many things, but never should it mean that it places something in the believers path to God. Rank, position, function, all are eclipsed by the fact that there is one Lord, One God. We are all called to live and work and pray together for what we seek. God want love, not buildings, laws, unhappiness, or violence or hate. His mark on the earth is love and our mark and seal is that we love one another.

Homily for 4th Sunday of Easter April 17, 2016

4easterThe readings today are interesting and kind of mixed in themes. They deal with life after death, the Jews and their relationship to God and the beginning of the Apostles’ ministry in the persons of Paul and Barnabas to the Greeks and Gentile world. For centuries, the Jews considered themselves unique as the worshiped only one God, Yahweh, and were the chosen people following the prophets sent to guide them. But even in their tradition, we see that the messiah was not only to be there for the Jews, but also as Isaiah said he would be a light for the Gentiles. When Jesus came, he was rejected by the rulers and leaders of the Jewish people, and as such was subsequently seen as a scandal to them. So when Paul and Barnabas were rejected by the Jews in Antioch, they turned their ministry to the Greeks and so began the opening up of the faith to all humanity.4easter1
The second reading from Revelations, is a picture of judgment where not only the 12 tribes of Israel will be, but also “a great multitude”. After all the time and turmoil of the beginning of the church through the first century until the writings of Revelations made it clear that Christ had come for all humanity and intended his words to reach to all the ends of the earth.
Finally today, is the simple passage of the Good Shepherd. It is not the long version but the reminder that Jesus is the good shepherd who puts his life on the line for his sheep. In our world today, it is hard to understand the ways of life in the Mediterranean country in the time of Jesus. Fishermen, shepherds, village life, and in many ways tribal life. Sheep were a valued commodity and important to the ebb and flow of life itself. Caring for them was primary and the shepherd would take great lengths to 4easter4protect and care for his flock. His knowledge of them and their response to him would be very clear. Thus Jesus as the Good Shepherd means he stands as protector and provider of his flock. Jesus spoke in stories and language and values familiar to his listeners. His sayings and meanings were meant to be seen and heard and understood in light of the here and now, what we see and hear. God was a mystery, yes, but his love and understanding and forgiveness was able to be seen and grasped if only we open our hearts and minds to it. The scandal of the cross was in actuality his giving his life so that all might live. It is a simple but clear message, his resurrection and subsequent presence in his church through out the centuries leaves open the way for us. He calls us and leads us by name.

Homily for 3rd Sunday of Easter April 10, 2016

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, Faith, homily, religion, Resurrection, scripture by Fr Joe R on April 7, 2016

3rd easter 3Today’s readings help us understand the importance and the centrality of the resurrection to what it is to be a believer and lover of God. Christ’s death showed the complete love of God for his creatures but the Resurrection raised that love to heights unimaginable to humanity in the condition that their nature had taken them. Humanity at the time of Christ lived more in terms of survival and looking out for self and what was their own. Justice was harsh and “eye for an eye” was one of their rallying cries for justice. Even today this idea and reality exists in the world and certainly 3rd easter 2has led to war and violence and suffering throughout the ages. The reality of God’s love was certainly in the world before Jesus came, but his physical presence and teaching brought a whole new dimension. His message of love looking out for the poor, the downtrodden, in fact anyone unable to look out for themselves. Embedded in that love and most strongly coming forth from the resurrection was forgiveness. Love is giving and not taking. It looks out for those we meet, we come across, even those who scorn or hate or revile us. Understanding, compassion, yes, these and all the actions God’s love calls us to share. Forgiveness is not always easy. Hurts and slight can seem to be wounds to the center of our being, yet who are we to deny forgiveness, if God and our Risen Christ were able to forgive the total morass of the evil side of all humanity?3rd easter 4
What really is the benefit of revenge? Does injury to another make our injury less? Certainly, life is complicated, but we profess to believe and act out of God’s love. I do not claim the answer is simple to evil and to unjust force, but after thousands of years, shouldn’t we have learned about reason and intelligence in a world so obsessed with power and force? Love will always win out, even as Christ’s love of dying on a cross was the ultimate act of love’s triumph.

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Easter April 1, 2016

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Eucharist, Faith, homily, Resurrection, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 31, 2016

2nd easter 5Faith in the Resurrection is more than accepting an amazing fact. Looking at today’s readings, we can see that even for Jesus’ disciples it was difficult. Thomas of all stands out because he refused to be swayed by what anybody told him or to accept only what he himself could see. Certainly, at the time, many saw the Risen Jesus but in actuality it was the relationship of the Apostles and early community that bore witness and brought about the acceptance of His Resurrection. The acceptance of the Apostles and early community and the works coming forth from he believers of Jesus is what testimony led to the faith in Jesus and the carrying on of his community, the church founded on his Apostles. No one has seen God, but in history in revelation God has spoken and encountered humanity. As 2nd easter 3creator, his love flowed to his creatures and with that love came his forgiveness and exoneration through the death and resurrection of His Son. To believe is not the easiest thing, it requires that the believer gives a certain part of her/hisself to something that is unprovable and here amazing. Even belief in God requires such a challenge, yet these beliefs have come to us from Jesus’ time to ours.

These beliefs have come in a relationship that we call church or community. God’s love and action is certainly towards all of us and through Christ’s teaching and Sacraments we are not only related to our community but enter into a personal and spiritual relationship 2nd easter 4with God, Father, Son, and Spirit. The Apostle Thomas in a special way shows us that the personal relationship he had with Jesus in life was one of seeking to protect Jesus and now that he was crucified he found it impossible to believe what he heard about Jesus because he needed to see for himself. . His overwhelming acceptance of his risen Lord on seeing Him should help us in our own times of doubt and despair. Our relationships with each other and with God tells us that Christ has died, has risen, that he is with us now today here in our church, in His Word, in his Eucharist, and will be when he comes at the end.