CACINA

Homily July 23, 2017 the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on July 21, 2017

16sun5The parable of the wheat and weeds like the parable of the sower last week has an allegorical interpretation added to it at the end. If we put aside the interpretation, we can most likely see the parable as Jesus spoke it. What then is the point of the farmer asking to let the 16 sun 1weed and wheat grow together? It would seem that in the context of the gospel, the parable was probably a warning about judgment. A warning to church leaders to step back and let men live and grow together, letting God be the judge at some final time. It is not the role of any man to sit in judgment of others. Each of us is but one small part of creation with our 16 sun2own growth and potential. It is a reason for mentioning the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds producing the largest plant, or the yeast that makes flour rise for the baker. All things need time to grow and develop and jumping to conclusions or being too quick to settle our sights or judgments might in the end be contrary to our call and mission and doing a disservice to our fellow Christians. God is 16sun3the one to judge. Remember, Jesus taught about relationships and love and forgiveness and mercy toward each other. His church was for him a community of women and men serving and loving each other. The disputes and turmoil and judgments of the early community led to some discussions and lessons about judging, most likely over the questions of the gentiles entering the church. Unfortunately, it seems to have become a lesson for the ages as in one way or another we all seem to be quick sometimes to judge.

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

Homily February 19, 2017, the 7th Sunday in ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, religion, scripture, Spirit by Fr Joe R on February 19, 2017

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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.

 

Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity Parish October 9, 2016, the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, ecclesiology, Eucharist, Faith, forgiveness, homily, inspirational, Uncategorized by Fr Joe R on October 9, 2016

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Homily September 22, 2013 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on September 17, 2013

It is interesting that after many centuries of stories and the history of the Jewish religious experience with Yahweh, God didn’t send a ruler, or some book or codex of laws or a book of legalisms or exactitude or minute directions for daily living. Instead He sent a man, a person who was real flesh and blood, who was a simple man, but not so simple that he didn’t equal the measure of anyone He met. He started a whole new way, a different way, the way, the truth, the light. This way, the church,was different. Christ set it up with His teaching and preaching. His charter was go and baptise. His rules and laws were his parables. All he required were some how in these. His necessities were his parables. His family and his relatives were those who believed.

If we move forward to the 21st century and take a look around us, we might say what happened? Every country, every tribe has codes of laws and rules and ways to maintain order. The simple church Jesus left has itself as humanity always legalizes and encodes rules of law and procedure and has built itself fine buildings and structures and honors.The study of the simple carpenter of Nazareth and the evolving church would probably befuddle the man himself. He constantly spoke out about our relationship to God, to Him, to each other. His only command was really twofold, Love God and our Neighbor as ourselves. That was what summed it all up for Him.
shrewd manager
So, we come to today’s parable on greed and wealth. It continues on from the “lost” parables of last week. It deals with a dishonest servant who has squandered his master’s wealth and gets fired. In a time of no unemployment compensation, he makes his own future compensation. He wheels and deals and makes friends and leaves others beholden to him. At the same time, it seems he has put the master on the spot where he can’t easily reverse what he the servant did. Curiously the master praises the cunning of his servant and commends him for his trickery and his prudence. He ends saying that worldly sinful people are seemingly more prudent in regards to wealth in this life. He tells us to make friends with it in the present so we can find out that true wealth is eternal life. If we are trustworthy with wealth and we see it for what it is, a means for life, a way to share and relate to others. If wealth or money is our only goal in life then we all ready have what we want and need so what else should we seek?

Sharing doesn’t mean stripping ourselves of all that is worldly. Only a few people are called to go out and create gigantic tent cityfoundations and food banks and all the other things we might encounter in a world reaching out to far corners. Christ said the poor you will always have with you and really they are not far from us. Many need more than just food, whether it be clothing, housing, treatment, physical or mental, or maybe just the acceptance of a friendly presence. Jesus if we recall, acted with those around him. He always tried to establish faith in Him for what he did. Even for us an act of love can beget an act of faith. So, I think the lesson for today is to slow down and look around and share the faith and love we have. How often do we pass someone in need or hurting? Love and sharing is best when it is personal and caring. It should not be like the servant’s future compensation but the way to our future, eternal life.