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June 10, 2016 Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for the 10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Homily for June 5th, 2016 The 10th Sunday in ordinary Time

10 sunIn today’s readings, we meet two widows who have lost their sons. In biblical times among the Jews, it was very much a male dominated society. A widow would have very little standing in that society except for perhaps having a son to represent her household and give her a place in that society. If not, generally, the widow was expected to return to the house of her parents so she would be looked after. The prophet Elijah and Jesus act similarly and differently in the two accounts. 10 sun1First to notice is that each of them acted on their own initiative. Each seeing the distress and sorrow of the widow acted to help the widow. Elijah took the boy to his guest room and laid on him and prayed. When the child revived he returned him to his mother. Jesus, however, simply stopped the funeral procession and issued the 10 sun 2command for the young man to arise. The obvious point in the gospel was to point to the difference of authority that Jesus had over Elijah. Jesus also returned the Son to his Mother. Jesus was the more powerful prophet, he was the one who they were all waiting for. Certainly, the two stories today points to God’s love and the compassion he feels for all of us. His care of the two widows points out that he is aware and is always there for all of us at all times. Not only is he there at extreme times of sorrow and distress, but at all times.
But today as we think of the two sons, we have reason to celebrate on of our own sons, euch1Jordan, who today will receive the Body and Blood of Christ for the first time. Jordan, today is a special day for you, a day to remember for all your life to receive Christ’s Body and Blood for the first time. It is the next step in a journey you began with your Baptism and now you begin a new and stronger lifetime relationship with the Lord as you partake and share the Eucharist with all your family and the Holy Trinity parishioners. We all congratulate and celebrate with you and your family today.

May 29, 2016 Homily at Holy Trinity for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

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.

May 15, 2016 Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for Pentecost Sunday

God’s Makeover

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, homily, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on September 5, 2015

23rd Sunday 9-6-15    Isaiah 35: 4-7a, Psalm 146 6-10, James 2: 1-3, Mark 7: 31-37       God’s Makeover

There is one thing you can be sure of when you read scripture about healing of blindness or deafness: and that is that you’d better be looking & listening for a spiritual application. When Jesus talked about washing hands and dishes you knew he was not talking table etiquette, right? And today we really have message thrown at us, if we can only figure out what it is…..and choose to hear it…and act on it.

 

The passage from Isaiah describes the return of the people from the Exile in Babylon. The people have lost everything- their land, their homes, their way of life, their leaders, their hope. But now God comes to save them, to open eyes, ears, and mouths. It is a complete makeover. We think of a “makeover” as a beauty treatment of eyes, hair, face, & skin. God thinks of a “makeover” as restoration of soul, emotions, mind, and relationships.

 

Psalm 146 picks up this theme. It tells us that this makeover will set us free. We don’t like to think of ourselves as captives, but we are. “Captives of what?” you ask. God is the God of faithfulness and justice. We are captives of faithlessness and injustice. God frees the oppressed and feeds the hungry. What do we do? I have been overwhelmed this week, hearing about the heartbreaking plight of thousands of Syrian refugees and their desperate needs, some dying in attempt to reach safety. We can be both the oppressed and the oppressors, you know. Yet whose side is God on? The fatherless and the widow, the Psalmist says; you know, the frail, the fragile, the vulnerable, the sick, the elderly, the helpless, and the powerless. Our society prefers to keep those children of God in institutions, in nursing homes, in homeless and refugee centers, out of sight and mind, viewing them as liabilities. We may try to close our eyes and ears to their cries.

 

James gives us example closer to home. Church visitor A has had his beauty makeover. He wears the latest fashion, well accessorized with expensive jewelry. He is offered a chair and fawned over. Church visitor B wears clothes not fit for sale in the Salvation Army thrift store. He is directed to sit on the floor. “But, clothes make the man,” we say. My son told me when he testified at a Senate hearing, “You can’t be credible on Capital Hill in a cheap suit.” James charges us, “Have you not become judges with evil designs?” Ouch! You can count on James getting right to the point. Like it or not, we are in danger of losing our ability to see the worth and worthiness of a person. When we judge on appearance, we are not open to truths other than what we first see or hear.

 

Then we come to Mark and find Jesus in the Decapolis region, among the non-Jews. Last week, we read of his frustration with the Pharisees and their traditions, and now we find amazing faith among the Gentiles. The people bring a deaf man to Jesus. The community is compassionate – they bring him their most needy resident. Mark purposefully ties this story to Isaiah, using the same word for “mute” as in Isaiah. This story is a real makeover, a release from the Exile of an isolating disability. Mark reminds us that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by Isaiah. Remember in Luke, John the Baptist’s followers ask Jesus if he is the One. Jesus responds, “The blind regain their sight, the lame walk, the deaf hear.” That answered their question.

 

So, in a counter-cultural move, Jesus takes the deaf man aside; in those days people found “private consultation” highly suspicious. But this lessened the sense of a public spectacle and allowed the deaf man time to better understand what was happening. Jesus also used two actions that the people would have found very familiar– to touch the man’s ears and use spittle on his tongue. It was a culture of touch, and spittle was used to ward off evil. This allowed the people to better understand what was happening. The deaf man’s ears were opened & people’s mouths were also opened. They were astonished, understanding this was an act of God; they were in the presence of divine power. They could not be restrained from proclaiming “He has done all things well,” a praise that would be inconceivable for a mere human being.

 

Ears are opened so we understand the fullness of what is being said; speech is given to praise God, to ask for and grant forgiveness & to express love. As we become less imprisoned in ourselves, we become more able to hear the Word & speak of God. Thomas Merton wrote of his experience at the corner of Fourth and Walnut in Louisville, KY. He suddenly became aware of the strangers around – their innate beauty, the goodness in their hearts. He saw them as God saw them. Having our senses opened, truly opened to each other, can only create an outpouring of love and compassion.

 

I think that much of the “busy-ness” that we both brag and complain about in our lives is a barrier to seeing and hearing what is happening around us. It insulates us from feeling compelled to act on behalf of the “widows and orphans” of our day. It also keeps us feeling helpless to confront those things that we need to change in our society. Like one with a speech impediment, we fail to speak the truth and accurately label what we see. But God can heal and open us, freeing us to do what is right. To quote the One who was to come, and who will come again, “Ephphatha” (ef-uh-thuh). “Be Opened.”

 

 

Reflection for Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Thursday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 20, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Judges – Chapter 11 verses 29-39 / Psalm 40 verses 4-9 /
Matthew – Chapter 22 verses 1-14

Friends, although the readings seem to be harsh, the message I get from them is that Jesus shows us that God deals with us compassionately and we should be dealing compassionately with others. God invites us to be in relationship with God. Our relationship with God can be seen through so many different lights. God always takes the opportunity to reach out to us speaking to us through people, situations or events. God relentlessly seeks us. It is not God, for God’s sake that we pray and seek God, but it is for our sake, for our salvation that we pray to God. We pray to God by any of the many different paths that bring us to the Light. God yearns for us to be part of God’s creation, as a parent wishes to be involved with their child. The Creator of course leaves us with free will. The Great Source of all Being, the lover of the living. Here is a story that was told to me by my First Testament studies professor. He shared that there was a Rabbi that was talking to God. The Rabbi asked God, “God do you pray?” God responded that “…of course God prays.” … “I pray that my need for mercy is outweighed by my need for justice.” Sisters and brothers let us deal with each other mercifully, truly living the kingdom now and not later.

rev. Michael Theogene

Homily August 23, 2015 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Communion, Eucharist, Faith, homily, inspirational, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on August 19, 2015

Jesus Commanding his Disciples to RestIn many ways, if we look at Christian art and how it depicts Jesus, we see a very idealistic and westernized Jesus in most of the art. What we forget is that he didn’t have his own home and he traveled from town to town making Copernican a place He went most often. Sleeping out under the stars was probably not uncommon for he and the twelve. As a group of men, they probably were rough looking and a group that could take care of themselves. Jesus became known for being outspoken and for performing signs. His preaching and message 21 sundawere different and presented differently than by the teachers of the law. He taught with authority that was hard to fathom for the average person. He appeared and spoke in a prophet like way, but he left the choice of following and belief up to the individual. So as we finish the bread of life section today, we find the crowd and at the same time the people of John’s time of writing the gospel perplexed and questioning the whole idea of the bread from heaven and the eating and drinking the flesh and blood in the sacrificial offering of the cross. How can we eat his flesh?
The question or belief in the Eucharist is a faith question that all deal with one time or another. Clearly Christ said this is my body and blood, The how and the why is simply that it is for us for our journey here and for life to come. In life, we do not question love and someone’s looking out for us, so why should we question or doubt what he has done and continues to do.21 sunday
Yet, in today’s gospel, we see that many walked away, many who could not open their hearts to the word and the embrace of God’s love, either through selfishness, or because they shut themselves within themselves, In his love, Jesus let them go, free to choose, free to believe, free to go where their choices took them. No harsh words or condemnation, but simply he let them go, always ready to welcome them again.
And so it is our bread of life, our bread for now and the future is here for us to share and to live out in our world today and to prepare for the time to come. Like Peter we say, “Lord to whom can we go?”

Reflection for Tuesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Tuesday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 18, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Judges – Chapter 6 verses 11-24 / Psalm 85 verses 8 & 10-13 /
Matthew – Chapter 19 verses 23-30

Dear friends, God speaks to us over and over again through people or situations. God wishes to give us God’s peace. God’s peace surpasses all understanding beyond our own knowledge. Peace comes with letting go of our idea of what true peace is. It is within. When we let all the walls down and listen to the small voice within, peace gently enters our heart.
If we are truly poor in spirit, worldly possessions will not faze us. We will be able to share everything we have without feeling we need those things. If we place all our hope in material things then we will never understand about the kingdom of heaven. It is easy to say, but letting go of our possessions is difficult for most people because it is a false security. Holding on to things, people, places, ideas etc, prevent us from truly being poor in spirit. When Jesus was talking about the rich person’s difficulty attaining heaven, he was not saying we couldn’t have things, he was saying that if we let those possessions rule our life; they would block us from having true peace. So let us open our hearts and free ourselves of all that prevents us from loving and sharing.

rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Monday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Monday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 17, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Judges – Chapter 2 verses 11-19 / Psalm 106 verses 34-37, 39-40, 43 & 44 /
Matthew – Chapter 19 verses 16-22

Friends, I don’t know about you, but I have asked myself that very question of myself from time to time. I never seem to get a response either of myself or from somewhere else. What must we do to inherit eternal life? What must I do in order to be good? If we have been doing the required works of what we believe is expected of us, then what must we do then to be complete?

I think it goes beyond what is presented before us. In Jesus’ infinite wisdom he spoke of these things as a stepping stone, probably knowing full well that it would always eventually include more things. Of course, if we do not love God by not loving our neighbor, or giving up what keeps us loving fully, (i.e. possessions) then we ought to work on it. We have to find the necessary tools in order to work with.

I think sometimes it’s us who can’t give up our old ways, our old thoughts, and our old self. I think it can be me sometimes sayings I can’t change now, I am not ready, I will change later. A lot of us sometime say that we are not ready now. We are so afraid to change, we are so afraid of the unknown, we choose to stay the way we are.

In my life, I am finishing school course work that has taken me six years. I was going to be on the ten year plan. I certainly was not going to complete it as most do in three to four. I remember even while working secular employment, the pressures and deadlines for assignments were difficult. In my earlier years in this study, I would get so paralyzed in writing a major paper, would end up not doing it, asking for an extension and then suffering still in doing the assignment. All I did was delay my suffering. I would become so fearful in doing the paper that I hurt myself and others around me.

My wife has taught me a saying that she would always say to her students. Fear, what is fear? Fear, F.E.A.R. is false evidence appearing real. It is when we allow fear to enter our lives and take hold, paralyzing us, keeping us away from all that is good is when we are not doing what is required of us. Doing the corporal works of mercy, fully loving ourselves and others, living with compassion and mercy and being non judgmental is then and only then that we truly give up ourselves. Not just hearing this, but doing this as best we can is why we don’t go away sad.

rev. Michael Theogene