Homily November 15, 2015 at Holy Trinity Parish for the 33rd Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time

Homily November 15, 2015 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, inspirational, saints, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on November 11, 2015

33sToday’s readings are similar to the readings at the end of every church year. Apocalyptic and Cataclysmic renderings of events and descriptions used to render a certain fear and consternation of the coming of end times and Jesus’ second coming. As believing Christians, we have faith, certainly, and a sense of uneasiness that at times we fall short of the perfect love we should have, but if we remain positive and work toward that love of Christ, why should we have fear? Christ is with us now. We actively share his body and blood in the Eucharist. He has sent his Spirit among us to guide and help us along the way. At the end of our path, he awaits, loving and welcoming us to be with him and his Father. All of us ultimately meet him, and the end of life, be it individually or collectively is the achievement of life and a new beginning of a whole life which we can not now know but we know it has been prepared for us by our faith. God’s love is an embrace surrounding all of humanity 33sufrom the beginning to the end. Christ’s call to all and his love and concern that all have the chance and opportunity to know and love and share God’s beneficence, should make us more comfortable as we approach our final union with him.

Love is certainly a much greater motivator than fear, although fear is sometimes a better short term solution. But seriously consider, what relationship lasts or is fruitful if it is based on fear alone. In our society, does fear of punishment stop people from doing wrong and evil things? Love at least make people stop and think and consider how and why things are good or evil. That is not to say that people can not make mistakes or wrong decisions, but ultimately only God knows each and every person for who they are and what they do, and he alone can only judge their love or lack thereof.

33sundaMark wrote his gospel about the year 60. We can see in his and other wrings of the time, that the early community expected Jesus’ return to be imminent. The fall of Jerusalem was a real sense of an apocalyptic end to them. Yet Jesus has yet to come. Every century, every age almost has issued warnings and almost pleas for the end. Yet, Jesus said only his Father knows that time, and truly all of humanity will one day be together in God’s embrace and will only then know fully the love of God.

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Advent, Year B 2014-15

Homily for the Third Sunday of Advent, Year B 2014-15

“REJOICE!”,  the reading from Paul to the Thessalonians begins today! – one of the reasons we wear rose vestments today and light the rose candle, and this seems an odd word in a season of repentance. But Advent is not Lent and the kind of turning back we do in Advent is much different that the sojourn we take with our single lives in Lent. We turn back to prepare ourselves in order that we can welcome the Messiah and welcome the “day of the Lord” that he brings with him. In that world we can, as Paul says, rejoice, not just today but always, pray unceasingly and give thanks for everything. That is the life of a Christian after the coming of Christ. The advise of Paul to day today to us is wonderful advice: let us not quench the Spirit inside us, let us not throw away the Hebrew Testament but take what is good from it, and try our best to stay away from every type of evil. We will have Jesus’ help in doing this. Very hopeful words.

And Jesus will help us with this. One of the verses of Isaiah that Jesus quotes is the opening verse today is: The spirit of the Lord God is upon me” and “he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives…to release the prisoners and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” The spirit of God was in Jesus and it is in us as well, his gift to us to help us as we struggle through our lives, trying to ready for the day of the Lord which has begun but isn’t totally here yet. Some days we feel getting to that day has a long way to go, don’t we!

In place of the Psalm today the liturgy gives us the beautiful prayer of Mary who was facing a whole lot of trouble, a birth when she was unmarried, fear of what would happen. But she doesn’t get down. In fact, she trusts God’s plan for her, and her Magnificat is reminiscent of the person that Isaiah has described, and that Jesus becomes. “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.” I wish the translators could use a different word than fear, which in English has all sorts of negative connotations that it doesn’t really mean. Better would be: his mercy is for those in awe of him from generation to generation.We might fear that we are not good enough, but we are in awe of the Creator of all things.

The Gospel today is John’s version of the story that we read from Mark’s earlier Gospel last week, and staying true to John’s very metaphoric and symbolic Gospel, he presents Jesus as ‘light’. Later on he even has Jesus say that he is the light of the world. John the Baptist’s job is to give testimony that Jesus is the light, the Messiah. The gospel writer presents John the Baptist using the words we read last week in Isaiah, and John describes himself as the one crying in the wilderness begging people to make straight the path for God. He again states that his baptism is just a symbol of the washing away of sin, but there is someone coming who will actually wash away sin, and who is so great that John is almost a nothing in comparison. The two versions, though written many years apart, are very complimentary.

So how can we apply this to our own lives this week. I would ask you this week to concentrate on being in awe of God. Think of creation, nature, beauty, art, and face the realization that God is over all these things. He really is, to use the phrase of many today, “awesome”! In appreciating the things of God, the wonders of God, the enormity of God and his universe, we might seem very tiny and insignificant. But, then realize that God really cares for each and every one of us – he goes after the one lamb who has strayed. We just need to repent, turn around and he will be there. So rejoice always, as Paul says, and keep in mind the really wonderful season we are almost through, as we await and awaken to that light that we remember each Christmas day, and that we await to lighten our lives again when Jesus comes in glory.

And that is the Advent Good News the Biblical writers suggest to us today!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A and Cycle B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, one for every Sunday and Feast, from for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

Homily November 23, 2014 – Last Sunday of Church Year – Feast of Christ the King

The feast of Christ the King actually came about in 1925 by the proclamation of Pius XI. Pius became Pope after the tumultuous years of the late 1800’s and of course the 1900’s and World War one. For centuries, the church had been identified as an earthly power and the Pope as a ruler of a country. ctk concordatThere was a concept that Christ was the emperor of the world. With the fall of the Papal States, the subsequent Popes were just Bishops living in the Vatican under secular rule. Pius set out to change that and eventually established the Vatican as an independent country under the Lateran treaty in 1929. His feast of Christ the King has continued on with the perception of Christ being first above all humankind. Pius was a man of his times and was addressing the times he lived in as best he could. Remember he was faced with communism, fascism and WWII-HITLER-MUSSOLINIthe rise of Hitler in the aftermath of the first world war, and of course Japan in the far East. . It was a treacherous time

All that aside, the politics of that time and even our own time are no more relevant to Jesus’ kingdom than were the politics of his time on earth. As he told Pilate, his kingdom was of another world. Our gospel today has Jesus coming from that world summoning us to his world. ctk christ pilateThis final parable in Matthew clearly sums up who are ready for the kingdom. Truly there are no surprises here. As he come, he separates the sheep from the goats, the good from the bad. What makes the difference? It is the love and care for others that set his sheep apart from the goats. Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, Clothing those who needed it, welcoming strangers and generally looking out for those who need our care. These are responsible things that all of us are bound to do. Human politics and institutions are subject to caring for all who are their subject. ctk hungryThe most vulnerable most be the first concern. How people are governed is less important than that they have their fundamental needs and taken care of and that they have hope of a life and family together.

Really? How often have we heard this? Do we do believe and do it or just give lip service? The least of all are all around us, not just in far off places. I dare say we pass someone in need everyday, yet we don’t realize or are not open to seeing the need. ctk homelessWhat you did to the least of my brothers, you did to me is probably one of Jesus’ scariest sayings as we can sometimes be so unaware of who is around us and be blind to those who are hurting in body or soul. Yet what we need to do is to live and reach out to all we meet like we like to be met. Be aware, be open, be loving, be ready to most of all listen. Only then will we hear Christ’s call..

Fr Tony’s Homily at Holy Trinity for the Ascension June 1, 2014

Homily November 17, 2013 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 13, 2013

As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to family and holiday celebrations, the church liturgical year is again coming to an end with the next to last passage of the readings cycle from Luke. It is good to keep in mind that when we read today’s passage, the events described have all taken place as Luke was written about 80 AD. DestructionOfJerusalemThe Christians have seen persecution, wars, the betrayal of Jesus, his death and resurrection. They saw the temple being destroyed and Israel completely dominated by Rome. Persecution of the Christians was a common thing in their time and the gospel was encouraging them to not be fearful and to carry on. They should not be anxious over their immediate place and condition. God in the Holy Spirit would be with them to enable them to continue on in their belief and practice of Christianity and would help them in any persecution they might have to endure. The only fear they should have is fear in the other sense, a sense of awe or respect that we have when we are in the presence of another who is in one way or another greater or more important than ourself, such as God or an employer for instance.

In every century, there have been present the signs mentioned in the gospel. There have been wars, famines, earthquakes, storms and every other kind of disasters. There is climate change and earth warming, but as yet the world continues on. However, these signs and happenings are very real for some of our sisters and brothers who have gone before us. For them the end of their time on earth has come. What is to come for us and when the finality of creation will come or even what it means is really beyond what we could know or understand. As our knowledge grows we become more aware of death and war and disasters and all the harmful distressing things happening in our world. downloadYet Christ’s message to carry on, to endure every hardship and condition and to be faithful remains and gives us assurance and comfort as we seek to live out our daily life in the peace and love bestowed on us. Certainly, in subtle ways, our faith and our solidarity are tested by unbelief and disdain. A cynicism and indifference to religion seems to have arisen in our time, but by this we are even more strongly called to endure and be faithful and witness. Every day is a new beginning for us with every evening concluding and bringing us a new day. Living this cycle keeps us in the love of God and places us with him now and for all time to come. The time and turmoil of this world in one way or another will end and our passage to a life that really matters will put us standing before God our Father with the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit advocating for us.

Homily November 18, 2012 Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 12, 2012

Today is the next to last Sunday in the Church’s Year. Traditionally, the year ends with a reminder of the end of the world and life on earth. The reading from Daniel and the gospel from Mark today both present an Apocalyptic presentation of the end of the world.

From Daniel’s description of a world in distress to the days of tribulation and darkening of the sun and moon, and all the power of heaven and nature shaken in Mark, the signs are of the end. Like a fig tree goes through its cycle, Jesus will be coming at the end of time’s cycle and waiting and calling out all to meet him. This second coming will bring about the end of the world and separate humankind into good and evil. Thus an end of time and the world and life as we know it.

Every generation since Christ’s time has seen and experienced many such extraordinary signs in a large world. Today because of our technology, these signs become more real and seeable to all of us. Some of the disasters may even have resulted from humanity’s own neglect of the world and its resources.

Each generation then has received similar signs from the world around us. History certainly has no record of Christ appearing and bringing an ending to heaven and earth, but certainly many of our sisters and brothers through the many centuries have died bring an end to their time. What that means is not easy for us to conceive. What we do know is that at time’s end we meet Christ and are either received by him or cast away. Beyond time as we know it we have no perception or conception except that we are in the hands of Christ.

Let us remember as Hebrews reminds us that it was Christ who gave himself one time for all time for the forgiveness of sin. He has in one act redeemed us so we can repent and give ourselves to him.
In the beauty of nature and in the natural calamities and earthquakes and storms of our times, we are called to remind ourselves that these are signs of our time, a reminder the world and ourselves are mortal and that we should meet each day as if there would be no other.

The end, the meeting of Jesus, death is not a fearful thing. Jesus’ life and death and resurrection was done to make our death into new life a joyful journey. It will bring us to a place in Jesus’ all-embracing love where no fears or anxieties exist. What more can any of us ask?