CACINA

Homily at Holy Trinity on July 17, 2017 the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity June 18, 2017 for the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ

Posted in Called, christian, church events, Communion, Eucharist, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 18, 2017

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Holy Trinity Homily for June 11, 2017 for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish May 21, 2017- the 6th Sunday of Easter

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Eucharist, Faith, forgiveness, homily, religion, Resurrection, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on May 21, 2017

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish, March 5, 2017, 1st Sunday of Lent

February 26, 2017, Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, forgiveness, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on February 26, 2017

A New View

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, forgiveness, homily, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on October 20, 2016

30th Sunday 10-23-16 yr c Sirach 35: 12-18; Ps 34; 2 Timothy 4: 6-8, 16-18; Luke 18: 9-14

 

Every once in a while, we’re given the chance to look at something in a different way. For example, you might go on a ride down a familiar road, but this time someone else is driving, and you see a house or a business or a tree you don’t remember ever seeing before.

Sometimes this happens with Bible stories. But this new awareness is not always pleasant.  Take, for instance, the Pharisee in today’s Gospel.  Reading the Gospel of Luke, it’s hard not to develop an attitude about Pharisees.  In chapter 5, when Jesus heals a paralytic, the Pharisees begin a controversy about forgiveness of sins, laws about fasting, observance of the Sabbath, and Jesus’ habit of eating with “sinners” and tax collectors. In chapter 7, the Pharisees refuse to let John baptize them.  In chapter 11 Jesus harshly criticizes the Pharisees for their attention to minor details of the Jewish laws, yet failure to love of God.  In chapter 12, Jesus says plainly, “Beware of the leaven, that is, the hypocrisy of the Pharisees”.

Yet in Chapter 13, the Pharisees come to Jesus and warn him that Herod wants to kill him. Maybe they weren’t all bad.  What was the common view of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time?  And what were their prayers like?

Well, there were many devout and sincere Pharisees, spending their days studying and discussing the laws of God in the Hebrew Scriptures. They lived lives dedicated to careful and meticulous observance of those laws.  Pharisees could routinely quote entire books by memory. It’s hard not to admire their dedication; they seemed to love God.  Most Jews who went to worship in the temple stood and said their prayers aloud – it was the custom, and not a way this particular Pharisee might show off.  But Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor as yourself) somehow was set aside.  His prayer seems to follow the ancient commandments; still, the love commandment is missing.

One of best books I’ve read about the Parables of Jesus says that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were highly respected among most Jews, and were considered righteous. And the Pharisee in this passage far exceeded any of the laws for fasting or tithing.  To the people listening to Jesus, this Pharisee would have been the hero of the story, far better than any tax collector.

Tax collectors, of course, are rarely heroes. But in 33 A.D., the view of a tax collector was very negative.  They were collaborators with the Romans, they enforced an extremely heavy tax burden on the people, they were notorious for dishonesty and extortion, and were classified with murderers and traitors.  At one point they were not allowed even to be witnesses in court.  Some people have suggested that a tax collector wouldn’t have been allowed in the temple, but that is an exaggeration.  But everyone understood why the tax collector would not even raise his eyes to heaven, for failure to rise your eyes was a sign of nearly unpardonable guilt and shame in many cultures.  The tax collector would be, clearly, the bad guy to those listening to Jesus; and that would be supported by his apparent estimation of himself.

Imagine then, the how stunned people were when Jesus declared the Tax collector the one who was justified. Knowing this helps us to better understand the reading.  We need to look again at why Jesus told this parable and why Luke included it in his Gospel.  And of course, we need to consider what this might have to do with us, and not just that the Pharisee sounds like an empty braggart to our ears.

The opening verse of the reading is a good place to start. “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” Up front we know this isn’t going to be warm and fuzzy, my friends.  Jesus identifies two problems.  One is when we choose to be judge of our own goodness.  Ah, that is so easy.  It’s risk free – there is no chance that anyone will bring up any of my faults.  We always have a reason why we’re right when we judge ourselves.  It puffs up our ego, no painful change or correction is required.  We feel powerful and in charge, able to be faultless without anyone else’s help.

Of course, doing this robs us of any opportunity to see any other point of view, or grow in faith or in relationship to God or our fellow human beings – in fact, it isolates us and stunts our growth. Which leads to the second problem – when I think my self-perceived goodness makes me inherently better than other people, and above the need for God’s forgiveness.  If that is the case, then I have broken both the commandments to love God and to love my neighbor as myself.  Breaking both of them puts us a bad place indeed.

What is it like when guilt and shame bursts into our self-assessment? A friend sent me a link to a site on the internet that will tell you where you rank, both by income or assets, in the world’s wealth. With my little monthly pension and social security, I am in the top 5% of the world’s wealthiest people!!  It ruined my day to realize the bottom 5% is dying from preventable disease and starvation.  I went from what I perceived as a position of grace to feeling like a self-centered miser complicit in the world’s poverty.   My privileged status is largely an accident of birth.  It gave me much more compassion for the tax collector, and reason to relate to his prayer.

This is why Luke included this parable- to warn us, to ruin our day, to stun us, to shake us up. He makes us take a second look at our self-assessment.  Do we really follow Jesus or follow our own path, making life as we live it seem much more righteous than it really is?  Are we much more dependent on a merciful God than we’d like to think?  Luke gives us a chance to see ourselves in a different way, and Luke provides the assurance that Our Creator wants to grant us new sight, to forgive our false pride, and to have us part of The Kingdom of God.  Our God is the God of second chances.

 

Homily at Holy Trinity Parish December 27, 2015, Feast of the Holy family

Posted in Called, christian, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on December 27, 2015

Homily September 15, 2013 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on September 10, 2013

denariusToday’s gospel is one that everyone remembers because there is always a part that is relevant to their life. All of us at one time or another lose or misplace something or other and can’t find it. Depending on what it is, we spend varying amounts of time looking for it. We find relief or joy when we find it.

The story of the two sons is a similar story of lost and found and the added dimension of forgiveness. I say two sons because if you really think about it both sons are certainly in need of forgiveness. God’s love is in a way similar to a parent’s love for his children. He, like many parents, watches his offsprings grow and develop and seek out a life of their own even if it is one that he wouldn’t choose for him. It is hard for parents many times to watch the choices their children make, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the not so good. The father in our story today gives in to his son and gives him his seed money or inheritance, and he proceeds to waste it and in today’s terms goes bankrupt, both physically and spiritually.prodigal son At this point, Dad and home look pretty good, but embarrassment and bad feelings stand in the way of going home. Only desperation leads him home.

The Father is a loving Father who understands and who forgives and embraces his son glad to have him with him at his side. The emptiness and sense of loss is gone, replaced by his son who is home. Nothing can replace a son in his father’s heart. However, this reunion is not the end of the story, because there are two sons. The elder son who was in the fields returns and is offended (jealous) that his brother is home. He is angry and feels deprived and taken for granted. He doesn’t like the younger brother being welcomed with a banquet. Why has he never been so rewarded? Perhaps he has a point that the father too him for granted, but the father as a good Jewish father reminded him that as he was the eldest son, all that he had was his and that this was so, His joy was for what he was missing and had restored. His love was certainly big enough for both sons and also his forgiveness.

Ultimately, that is our lesson today, forgiveness. Each Sunday at Mass, we receive the Sacrament of forgiveness at the very beginning. It is something we need to remind ourselves of the significance of this very real and significant preparation for the Eucharist we share. These gifts are ones we need to share with all especially our family and to be reconciled to all. It is a strong message and if we look at the gospel, we see sin can effect even our physical being as Christ at times healed the sick by simply saying your sins are forgiven. Such can be the power of sin, but look at the opposite and the freedom given in the power of forgiveness.

Homily September 1, 2013 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on August 29, 2013

As we look around us, we see all kinds of stores and shops and places to eat. If you think about it, we spend a lot of time and money and space in our concern about feeding and sustaining ourselves. All through history this has been evident, and it is a reality among every species. As human beings we have taken eating a meal to a very important act of living. So much we do is centered around eating whether it be an important decision-making meeting, or the interlude between business sessions, or a dinner or banquet for some stated occasion. Even in the family home,there are formularies followed by each family much in line with the schedules of the particular family. In fact, when all are present, a certain ritual develops in each household. Part of ritual or form would be the seating of all the participants. From the gospel, we see that this was certainly a concern in Jesus’ time. Meals and dining were a statement, a way of life, a way of asserting status. Everyone was invited for a reason, a benefit for the giver of the dinner in some way. Reciprocation was always a part of these reasons. The host would certainly be expressing his status in the community and his familiarity with the others he invited.
Christ_at_the_House_of_Simon_the_Pharisee_
While Jesus accepted the invitation as he often did in his lifetime, we see today the little twist he puts on the occasion and offers his own prescription for remedy of the faults of the system. He points out that many rush for the prime seating, only to find that more distinguished guests are there than them. He points out that if we had the proper humility, we wouldn’t presume we were owed the places of honor and should simply be seated. It shouldn’t be a false humility, but the realization that in reality the places of honor are passing and not important in light of the fact that in reality we are all the same except for perhaps that moment. He even goes so far as to say that the poor, the hungry, the deprived, the lame and others without food should be invited. Repayment or reciprocation should not be our motive. The coming together and sharing will be rewarded in the time of resurrection.

One final thought of the reading of the banquet in today’s reading. When we come to Mass, I think sometimes we forget that originally Jesus was the host at a final meal. We forget that the disciples were gathered around eating and drinking when Jesus introduced a whole new meaning to eating and drinking. Anew food and drink, His own Body and Blood. At this table there is only one host and all share equally in the food and drink. This table excludes no one and should be inviting all to partake. We must realize that we can exalt ourselves by extending this invitation.