CACINA

Keep on Going, Keep on Doing

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, homily, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture, Word by Rev. Martha on July 10, 2016

15th Sunday Ordinary time, 7-10-16  HT  Deut 30: 10-14, Ps 19, Col 1: 15-20, Luke 10: 25-37

We have to start today back in the Old Testament, specifically in the books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus. Deut 6: 4-9 is part of the Shema, one of the most fundamental prayers of the Jewish faith.  Verse 5 says: “… you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  Jesus may have heard this on the day of his birth, as it was traditionally said twice each day.

That verse was linked- long before Jesus’ time – with Leviticus 19:15-18. Verse 18 says: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Scripture scholars saw these two verses drawn together like magnets, because they used the same Hebrew verb form for the command to love:  we’ahabeta, which is used only 1 other place in the OT.  Any disagreement between Jesus and the lawyer was only over the application and the boundaries of these commands, not the significance of the command to love God and neighbor.  So many difficulties arise not with ideas and ideals, but with making them become reality!

So, Jesus had a history of association with the “wrong people” – remember the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. He touched and healed the “unclean” – lepers, the bleeding woman, and the widow’s dead son.   He ate without the hand wash ritual, he allowed his hungry disciples to pick wheat on the Sabbath.  If the lawyer had any plan to trap Jesus into teaching contrary to the religious Laws, Jesus was prepared, skillfully redirecting the discussion to the intent of the law.  The discussion starts with that curious dance of questions that began any formal Jewish scholarly debate on the Law – but ends with “Go and do likewise”.  It was no longer a debate but a call to action.

Two weeks ago, in the previous chapter of Luke, we read about the disciples wanting to call down fire from heaven to consume a Samaritan village which would not welcome them. The breach between the Jews and Samaritans was of long standing and firmly entrenched.  There was a constant attempt to insult and demean each other. The disciples got a swift rebuke, not fire, for Jesus was very tolerant of being turned away.  Again, when Jesus encountered the Samaritan “Woman at the Well”, it was a time of forgiveness and healing.

But this is not a lesson about the Samaritans.   Neither is it an attempt to criticize the priests.   This is a parable, not a diatribe of negativity; it is teaching to a specific point.  The Samaritan is cast as the stereotypical “bad, stupid guy” who is –undisputedly -doing the right thing – in contrast to the stereotypical “good and smart guys” who clearly are not doing what God requires.  The startling contrast gets our attention.

Where is the pivotal point in this parable? The priest sees, and passes by.  The Levite, a Temple assistant, sees, and passes by.  The Samaritan sees, and was moved with compassion at the sight.  Compassion: the deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the inclination to give aid or support, or to show mercy.  I looked it up – and found on the next page of the dictionary the word “compel” – to necessitate or pressure.  I think Jesus is saying that the Love which God wires into us makes us feel the need to be compassionate.  Sharing the suffering of each other is a necessary part of living.  Paraphrasing the words of our first reading today, “(Compassion)….is something very near to us, already in our mouths and in our hearts; we only have to carry it out.  For it’s not too mysterious and remote for us.  It’s not up in the sky, nor across the sea.”

Simply asking the question, “Who is my neighbor?” assumes there are limits on compassion. Jesus, of course, does not teach a boundary, a limit, on love, and will not permit us to say, “We have loved enough”, nor choose who we will love.  In mathematical terms, nearness + need = neighbor; love creates neighborliness.  To love God with all of one’s being and loving neighbor as self is living out our relationship with God.

One writer called this parable “a little annoying, for it will not let us look away or excuse us from being compassionate”. Some people are put off by the insinuation that we must exhaust ourselves and our resources over every possible instance of need that we hear of.  If you leave these doors today resolved to help everyone, your wallet will be empty and you will be disgruntled and discouraged by the time you reach home. But, the point of the parable is to identify what Christian character is, not prescribe particular action. And we don’t need to always love our neighbors by ourselves.  Community efforts are generally more effective and longer lasting.  We sometimes respond better to needs when we are challenged as a group.

Still, knowing how to implement this parable is not that easy.  So, my message is not “Go and do likewise”, but “Keep going, and keep doing” the outstanding outreach to your community that you’ve already established.  This church has found neighbors at an Elementary school close at hand.  You have been the wise people who brought gifts to area families at Christmas through the Jessie Tree project.  You were the ones who responded to a call for laundry essentials at the nearby housing units last December.  And I believe I heard a resounding “YES! They Heard Me!” from the heavens.

 

Advertisements

Today’s Homily June 12, 2016 at Holy Trinity Parish

Posted in Called, christian, church events, ecclesiology, Faith, forgiveness, homily, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 12, 2016

Already Forgiven!!

Posted in christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on June 10, 2016

11th Sunday Homily, 6-12-16  year C, 2nd Samuel 12:1-13, Galatians 2: 16-21, Luke 7: 36-50

Our 1st reading is one of the few readings in the Sunday lectionary from King David’s life, and it’s sad that we read about one of his worst moments.  Adultery & murder are taboo in most cultures because they tear the very fabric of community life.  David knowingly and purposefully sinned.  Nathan told him a parable which made him face what he did. David used his wiles, his wealth, his power, and his position to sin.  How could God forgive him?

But there is a clear message of God’s grace and mercy. Psalm 51 is David’s confession. “A clean heart create for me, God; do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit. Restore my joy in your salvation.”  So, what is the message Nathan brings?  “The Lord has forgiven your sin.”   That is the message of the story.  That is the take-away.  That is the point.  No matter how far he had fallen – even the mighty King David – or the darkness of the sin, God had announced his forgiveness to Nathan before David had even been confronted.  There are, however, repercussions from David’s actions – not punishment from God, but natural consequences; that’s an important distinction.

Then we hear Paul’s take on how we move from sin to grace. “I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me,” Paul writes to the Galatians.  Paul wrote to the church in Rome: “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  We rejoice because of what God has done.” Let me paraphrase.  ”I live in the present”, he says.  ”But my sin, even before it happened, died with Jesus when he was crucified.  I have faith in and believe this in the very core of my being:  that Jesus loved me when I was at my worst, and that he was willing to die a shameful dead, a torturous death at the hands of people just like me, people who did the same sinful things I do.  All of this Jesus did before I ever came to believe.  Jesus’ actions and God’s forgiveness preceded my understanding of and my confession of my sins.”

But a picture is worth a thousand words, so Luke provides the picture. So often we find the original story in the Old Testament, like David and Nathan, and then Jesus comes along and takes that same story line, and lives it out, showing us God’s ways. See, without Jesus, we are inclined to think God is like us, and we want to create a god in our image.  We want revenge, we want others to stoop and gravel before us.  We want to hear, “Oh please, I beg you to forgive me!!”  So we assume, from our expectations, that we must cajole or coax or wheedle or shame God into forgiving us, you know, lean on him a little.  But is that really how God is??

To answer that question, Jesus, like Nathan, presents a compelling parable about forgiveness – in this case the forgiveness of debt, a concrete subject that wealthy Simon the Pharisee can relate to…just as David, once a shepherd, understood sheep story.

Here it is: Two men are in serious debt. One owes 50 days wages, which would take years to repay.  The other owes 500 days wages –hopeless, impossible to repay.   The vineyards that have been in his family for 100’s of years will be sold off, the wife and kids will be sold into slavery. But the creditor forgives both of them.  Which man will be really delighted, but which one will be ecstatic, jumping, screaming with joy, sobbing with love and thanksgiving?  Obvious.  Simon’s response sounds hesitant to me, and I suspect he hears a rebuke coming, for Simon the Pharisee is well aware that he has not extended the appropriate hospitality to Jesus.  Simon would have seen to it that anyone of his own social status would have been greeted with water to wash his feet, would have been given a firm kiss, and his hair would have been anointed with soothing perfumed oil.  But Simon had done none of these things for Jesus.  Jesus has been treated like the entertainment, and quite possible the amusement, for the other guests.

Meanwhile, Jesus had allowed this woman’s administrations, which are far beyond social norms. She sobbed over him, to the point of washing his feet with her copious tears, wiping them with her hair, which no proper woman would loosen and display in public, kissing and anointing his feet with ointment.  The boldness of this woman was undoubtedly caused by her understanding of who Jesus was, and the undeniable need to seize this chance to express her overwhelming gratitude.  Simon judges Jesus as ignorant of what he thinks is the impropriety of her behavior; Simon judges her to be of low morals and sinful.

But suddenly Jesus turns the tables. Simon is called out on his rude behavior, and the woman is praised: “Her many sins have been forgiven; therefore she has shown great love.”  The Greek structure of that sentence becomes ambiguous when translated to English.  Some might find it confusing and think her show of love has lead to her forgiveness.  Not so; think back to Jesus’ parable.  Did the debtors display any great virtue or faith?  No!  It was the creditor who forgave the debt, and the love and joy were a reaction to the forgiveness of the debt. And Jesus, to seal the deal so to speak, announces, “Your sins are forgiven”, and causes the other guests to stop and reconsider the whole situation.

So what are we left with here? Can it be that God initiates forgiveness?  Can it be that God has already forgiven us our sins, even before we acknowledge them?  Is it possible that we waste enormous parts of our lives avoiding facing our darkness and shutting our eyes and ears to reconciliation with God and neighbors?  Do we miss the chance to feel and express our joy; do we shut down and remain static instead?  Maybe the part of the darkness in this world that is ours just seems too large to fix or beyond our control, so we rationalize it as too big for God to fix.  How would our lives change if we forgave everyone of everything right away instead waited for them to confess guilt?  What if Christians really were known for their love and forgiveness?  Perhaps in the answers to these questions is the hope our churches and community and nations seek.

 

Homily for June 12th, 2016 the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, homily, religion, saints, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on June 9, 2016

11 sun 3One thing I think most of us like to feel is that everything is good and we are doing well. We like to feel we are on a course and all is well. However, what we have to remember is that none of us is perfect. No one is without sin, none of us is unbroken. One thing we must face in life is that failure is possible and will probably present itself to us at some point in life. God in his love for us forgives if we seek it out, but we must be able to accept and receive that forgiveness and learn to return and share that love. The brokenness of our life and nature is only overcome in the love God give. Life and choice can present us with life changing choices and bring about whole new ways of living 11 sun2and advancing in life. It is like one writer, Fr Ron Rollheiser said, you can’t unscramble an egg. We make choices that can be permanent and life changing. Like the egg it can’t be changed. But, the egg is still able to be eaten and still satisfies our hunger, and in even in dire times and changed circumstances, God’s love is present and will lead and protect us as we go. Even though we have made mistakes and bad choices, possibly sinful ones, God’s love can bring about wholesomeness true life to these situations. Sure we all have expectations and plans, but we must and should be ready to give into God’s love and his Spirit when our own brokenness makes us unable to live up to those expectations and gives us new things in our life.

In today’s readings, David and the woman in the gospel both were 11 sun 4forgiven and God’s love took over. That is what must be important in our own lives that we sincerely ask for forgiveness and respond to God’s love by sharing and giving to others. In this way, our lives will be truly transformed and we can come to a life of contentment and peace in a wholesome journey to the Lord.

No Need to Choose Sides!

Posted in christian, Christianity, homily, scripture by Rev. Martha on March 4, 2016

4th Sunday of Lent yr C, 3-6-16 Joshua 5: 9-12, Ps 34, 2 Cor 5: 17-21,  Luke 15: 1-32

 

I was talking with a friend about preaching on “The Prodigal Son.” Her response was, “Ooh, that’s a hard one. Good luck!”  I understood exactly what she was saying.  Then I began to wonder why Jesus even the story.  Every generation and every culture has stories about wayward sons. Every society has rules about inheritances.  But reading this as a wayward son story or inheritance law story just doesn’t give us an adequate interpretation or reveal the purpose of the parable. We need to look closer.

The 15th chapter of Luke consists of three parables, which all lead in the same direction. They are: (1) The Lost Sheep, (2) The Lost Coin, and (3) The Lost (or prodigal) Son.  The Lost Sheep (the guy who leaves the 99 sheep to search for one) ends with this: “I am so happy I found my lost sheep.  Let us celebrate!  I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 people who do not need to repent.”   Now, how did that happen? How did we go from sheep, to repentance and heaven?

The Lost Coin (you know, the woman who loses her coin, sweeps & searches until she finds it) ends almost exactly the same: “I am so happy I found the coin I lost. Let us celebrate!  In the same way, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.”  Jesus is definitively not discussing inheritance distribution here.

Both of these first two parables focus instead on searching & the joy of finding. Then they compare that joy of finding with the joy that comes with repentance. The Lost Son focuses on those same themes, but in addition, it contrasts of the attitude of the father with the elder son’s attitude; contrasting compassion toward repentant sinners and refusal to celebrate repentance.

Now, the original audience listening to these parables included both the “sinners” that Jesus associated with – and ate with – as well as religious leaders who objected – strongly – to the presence of those “sinners.  In fact, this may have been the “Hot Button” issue that ignited the plot to crucify Jesus.

But to find the birthplace of this parable, we must return to Luke 4: 18-22, which we read on Jan 31st.   Remember Jesus reading from Isaiah in the synagogue: “(The Lord) has chosen me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty…recovery of sight…freedom for the oppressed and announce the time has come when the Lord will save his people.” It’s Jesus’ mission statement.   It’s the announcement of the coming of the Messiah.  It was widely believed then that the Messiah, or Christ, would bring a time of forgiveness, restoration, and insistence on joyous celebration.

To grumble in the face of his coming is to not understand what is happening. Jesus puts these parables in the context of why he is there, his purpose. It is a picture of the impact of his ministry, the coming of God’s kingdom….and the attitudes of those who find the Kingdom – those who repent, forgive, and who are forgiven.

“The Coming of the Kingdom” is a phrase we read in the Gospels, but it’s hard to be really sure what to do with it. The conflict which brought about this parable was the claim from Jesus that the kingdom of God was present and that God was at work.  That’s fine and dandy when you sit in a church and feel safe among those of like mind.  But it was met with great suspicion as long as those around Jesus were tax collectors who worked for and collaborated with the Romans (those oppressive invaders, those multi-god-worshiping heathens); AND those ceremonially unclean shepherds and lepers and disabled people that were so feared and despised; AND others who were absolutely disreputable and debase, like the woman who washed Jesus’ feet.

So, here is a contrast between the acceptance of the repentant by God and the suspicion and rejection of them by some religious leaders. But, Surprise!  The parable ends without rejecting either side.  How can it be that the father would desire a household that would offer love to the son who put every cent of  his effort & time into the estate, alongside the son who is an obvious drain on the bank account and the emotions of everyone?  Yet, the father of the sons rejects no one; both sons are chosen.  The father loves and offers everything he has to the grumbling son with a disrespectful attitude as well as the son who has broken every rule in the book and come home at best only hoping not to die of starvation.  Could I be so open and loving and generous on the very best day of my life??  In my own self, it would be impossible.  Only if I was fully surrendered to the Holy Spirit of God could that happen.

You see, the kingdom does not divide but unifies; the kingdom is universal. This parable is without an ending, and so becomes an invitation to everyone who hears it to change their attitude and join in the celebration.   The Messiah has come, forgiveness, restoration, liberty- all our inheritance.  Our heavenly Father has given us all he has, and He is always with us.  We are no longer slaves of darkness or ourselves.  If we had a sliver of a clue what was happening, if we saw a glimpse of the Kingdom of God, it would be enough to make us rejoice until tears of unrestrained happiness streamed down our cheeks.  What is now “ours” could be shared with the hungry, the dirty, the homeless, the refugee, the foreigner, the addict, the derelict.  The hard years, the labor which seemed to be without reward could be remembered with gladness. Perhaps that is why we were given the Holy Spirit and Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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 Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time (Year 1)

Saturday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 22, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Ruth – Chapter 2 verses 1- 3, 8-11 & Chapter 4 verses 13-17 / Psalm 128 verses 1-5 /
Matthew – Chapter 23 verses 1-12

Friends, oh, my goodness that’s it again. There is nothing I can say more that is not said best by the Master, Jesus. Just some thoughts of how the scripture touched me today. “They love respectable greetings in public, and being called ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, avoid the title ‘Rabbi.’ For One is your Teacher, and you are all sisters and brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your ‘Mother’ or ‘Father.’ Only One is your parent – the One in heaven. Avoid being called leaders. Only One is your Leader, the Messiah.”

Friends, recently on retreat at a monastery, I observed an Auxiliary Roman Catholic Bishop, who I am aware of, at the monastery also on retreat. I was impressed that this individual was not, at any time, in any clerical garb or sit in any place of prominence. The Bishop was, for all intent and purposes stated, a person, a human being as all of us seeking the way to God. When I introduced myself to the gentlemen, I think he was surprised that anyone recognized him. I was most impressed by that.

This had also brought to mind, when my wife and I were in the Roman tradition, our home community had two Roman Catholic deacons, who as I observed would serve there mass as deacons, at later masses, but would either come and sit by themselves or attend with their spouses, never giving the suggestion that they were any different. They were different to some degree but not separate from the rest of us.

When I worked for a city agency where I was a community affairs person working as a religious outreach specialist, I worked for the agency I was representing to the city’s vast and grassroots religious and clerical community. I once had to attend a meeting in a city in Connecticut where I was helping, along with my supervisor to help build a program similar to our city’s relations with said religious leaders.

Accompanied by a well known Baptist pastor of a well known congregation, needless to say, between the three of us, he noticed how my supervisor was treating me. He observed my supervisors insecurity and his need for prominence and the need to be addressed by his rank/title.

Weather I agreed with it or not, that pastor told me that my supervisor was my master and that only for this time or when I dealt with him, was when I had to give him obedience and no other time. This reminds me of the Rule of Saint Benedict. The rule gives me the ability to give up my will, not out of control of others or myself, but in the control, I exercise my free will to be able to decide my nature which in essence makes me free.

Sisters and brothers in our society today, we ourselves give in sometimes to wanting that place of honor or title. What we achieve yes is good, as long we offer it to God for the betterment of humanity. We have to be very careful and aware even at the slightest times we give in to this. We have to be mindful of our ego and pride. How we address others can make a difference on how we may help bring someone to the path of God’s love or we can be the ones helping to turn them away. It’s about humility and the reward that we do for others. We should not want the thank you or the acknowledgement that what I did for you today, allows me now to run the other’s life. I do this, I do that, I work in this shelter, I do that. We can accept praise, but be humble in regards to it. (We must also be mindful of having a false sense of pride)

We need not remind others what we have done for them. Friends we are only as good as the last act we performed. It is not about reminding others of what we have done but has that act of love brought them closer to God. Peace

michael (aka- rev. Theogene)

 

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

Friday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 21, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Ruth – Chapter 1 verses 1, 3-6, 14-16, & 22 / Psalm 146 verses 5-10 /
Matthew – Chapter 22 verses 34-40

Friends, that’s it. These scripture readings seem to say it all. It’s all about the unconditional love that God has for us. The love shown to us by God is a deep immensity that we try to imitate. A love that is shown in the same way Jesus shared in his love to the Father. We can most definitely find this difficult at times. We see the example of Ruth towards her mother-in-law Naomi. In this same instance God does the same with us. Wherever we go, wherever we dwell and where we will die, Jesus ensures us that God will always be with us. To come to worship God in God’s presence everywhere and anywhere, God meets us where we are. God touches us when we least expect it. Hopefully, if we are really doing what is required of us and loving our family our neighbor as we would ourselves, sums up the entire Bible, in my opinion. Being challenged to love unconditionally, even those whom we may have conflicts with is what the message is about. The God who comes to us in the good and bad, when sad, depressed, and lonely, excitedly happy and overjoyed, God suffers and laughs with all of creation. God will always be with us, on our side, just the way we are, not the way we think we should be. God will take care of whatever has to change in us. All we have to do is say “yes Lord” and God will do the rest.

rev. Michael Theogene

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

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

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week of the Year (August 19, 2015) Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Judges – Chapter 9 verses 6-15 / Psalm 21 verses 2-7 /
Matthew – Chapter 20 verses 1-16

Dear friends, we see that Jesus shows us the example that blessed is the one who lives without expectation, for they won’t be disappointed. We see this so much in the secular world. Even in my place of employment, I hear coworkers say that they should be paid more comparing themselves with workers of equal status who they feel have less work obligations then they do. Instead of being so jealous or resentful, we should rejoice in the fact, that yes our neighbor has been granted something equal or better than us. This reinforces Gods unconditional love for all of us and helps us to be open for the many blessings that are waiting for us. This is what makes us children of the Kingdom of God that is here and now.

rev. Michael Theogene