Homily October 12, 2014 28th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, ecclesiology, Eucharist, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on October 9, 2014

28 sunMuch of our Christian history and even the prior old testament times always involved the notion of meals and food. It is only natural, since one thing all of us must do on a very regular basis is eating to sustain ourselves. Generally, eating is an enjoyable and a social experience. In most societies it is central to family life, bringing a family together to share and converse. Jesus throughout his ministry was often accused of eating and drinking with the outcasts of society. This was just not done in a class oriented society. Jesus, of course, ignored them as he even attacked them for they were not concerned with so much the law and work of God but of themselves and their own lives. The 28 sun2parables we see today were written after the destruction of Jerusalem and very definitely a condemnation of the Jewish leaders and an encouragement for the gentiles in the church. The issue of circumcision had been decided, but Matthew was still writing to the Jewish Christians, trying for the acceptance of the Gentiles. Thus the parables are very allegorical.
But for a moment, let us stop and consider the Eucharist and the early gatherings. As in the last supper, the Eucharist was celebrated at a meal. There were no churches and after all Jesus had made it part of his farewell dinner with his intimate companions. As the centuries have progressed, we have kind of lost that social aspect of the Eucharist. It is still food and drink, but now we enter a church, sit in rows of chairs and pray and meditate quietly. My point is we are a family, and I know of no family that eats silently. Prayer and communing with God is important, 28 sun3but so is seeing and caring for each other. As a community, a family if you will, we have talents and gifts which can and do make us all really one. The kingdom has begun and is now and is later. What comes later we don’t know now, but what is now we can help to work and bring our fellow believers together in it. God is our agenda, his love is ours and our love should reach not only him but all whom he loves. That is why we celebrate his forgiveness, express our peace with one another, and share his Body and Blood.

And so the real banquet we are called to should leave us joyful as if our family has once again reunited and renewed their faith and love and spent real-time together. This is our banquet, our Eucharist. That is the invitation we answer, and the garment we put on is Christ and that we all did at Baptism. Keep him close and He will never leave .


Homily July 13, 2014 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Eucharist, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on July 9, 2014

15 sun3Today’s readings focus on the Word of God. In the first reading it is likened to the rain and snow which water the earth and enable things to grow and live. In the gospel, we have the parable of the sower. We see the seed is planted and how the growth of the seed reacts in different ways. But what we must remember is that the seed or the word is alive and active waiting to become active in the right soil and conditions. But if that seed or rain is the Word of God, its meaning is very different from the producing of crops. Through out our Christian tradition, The Word of God is personified as Jesus. He is the Word. he is in the beginning and end and active in our history. The importance of the Word is highlighted in each Eucharist we celebrate, for our celebration is divided into two parts, liturgy of the Word and Litu15sun2rgy of the Eucharist. For the preacher of the Word, it is an awesome and difficult task to preach the Word. As we know, the Spirit remains in each of us and Christ is present in the Eucharist, but so too he is very much alive and active in his Word. To preach in his name is to be like the sower, not knowing the result or extent of the task just completed. It is truly a moment where God acts through the preacher using his words and person as he sees fit. It is humbling to realize God is in control and to follow his lead. Some times, that Word will ferment and seek root in a person in different ways and a time unknown. It is 15 suncoming to know that the big picture, God’s plan. is far and above any control we have.

Never forget that God is there for everybody, and that it is his plan and not ours. He calls, entices, prompts to each of us, yet he respects the freedom he gave us and will give up only if there is a final rejection of him. Our joy should be the seeing of God’s embracing of a fellow human being. Peoples perceptions of things can be off-center and even sometimes harmful. How often do we hear how could God allow this, or some other slight or imagined injury as an excuse to ignore God and religion. Indifference and self-confidence can keep others away. In fact, I am sure you know as many reasons that I do that keep people from thinking about or practicing religion or praying. Like in Christ’s time, human frailty and the need to control or some petty and needless rules and non-compassionate understanding of others can lead to disillusionment and cutting people off. But, God’s Word is powerful and as his Spirit remains, so too does his Word in one way or 15sun4another. I think looking back, experiencing through word and sacraments the power of the Word calling back to Christ the disillusioned and the hurt to a renewed faith are a joy of ministry. To see sometimes even at the last moments of a person’s life God is there for them if they reach out.

So yes, God’s word is alive and active. It is present in what we say and what we do. For us, we need to give ourselves over to Him, acknowledge He is present and speaks to us even now.

Homily November 24, 2013 Solemnity of Christ the King

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 19, 2013

The Solemnity or Feast of Christ the King is a rather recent addition to the liturgical calendar of the Christian churches. It was first celebrated in 1925 when Pius XI established it. At that time, Pius was a man without a country, as the Vatican or Papal States had ceased to exist in 1870 and no resolution had been made regarding the Pope’s status. concordatSo at that time, the pope had no earthly governmental power and apparently this feast was part of several years of Pius working and establishing a treaty with Mussolini making Vatican City a free and independent nation in 1929. The feast was originally celebrated the last Sunday of October, but was moved to the last Sunday of the Liturgical year in 1969 at which time it began to be celebrated by other Christian Churches when their calendars and readings began to be shared. I give this background because it is interesting that Christ never had a kingdom on earth and even told Pilate his kingdom is not of this world. He certainly never had the trappings of royalty, and kingship for him meant service to others. Even with all the finery that he provided David the King of Israel, he expected David to be a shepherd of his people. In America, we have little concern for what a king is as it is foreign to what we know. Long ago we put aside the monarchy and formed a new way of governing. But what matters is that whatever form of government there is the keystone must be service of the people and their common good.

Christ’s Kingship resembles nothing we see in any nation today. His rule is to meet each of us where we are. His work is to call and lead us to him and his Father. His message is the same as when he walked the earth. We are all called to repent and believe and to love, His power, his glory was the cross and the life he gave on it for all of us. As a man he was Szoke_Peter_Jakab-Christ_the_Kingscorned, he was abused because he believed and followed God his Father unconcerned about what his contemporaries thought. He refused high honors and always was concerned for those who were with him and listening to him. In today’s gospel we have heard the scorn and derision launched at him as he died on the cross. Yet even then, he could forgive and welcome another companion to the next life. The placard on his cross said “King Of The Jews”, but this was only to mock him more. Compassion and forgiveness were only words to those who only looked out for themselves. It was so much easier for the rulers and priest to live on in their own comfort ignoring the commands of God to seek their own advantage.

Finally, if you look at Romans 13, the state is seen as a minister or functionary of God, calling for compliance. In the book of Revelations, chapter 13, The state is the beast that came from the abyss. With such an interesting disparity, we are reminded that life is a journey and one companion stands out to show us the way. His way is not an easy way but it is a loving, giving way. It is one of giving to others, of serving and sharing. It is a way of accepting what God gives and being all that we can be. It is the way of his kingship and of sharing in it.

Homily December 2, 2012 First Sunday of Advent

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on November 27, 2012

As we begin the new church year,our readings switch from Mark’s gospel and his quick paced approach to Luke’s gospel, which has a slow-paced orderly account of things the Christians of his time already knew. He was aware of Matthew and Mark. His ordering was his own and was a preparation and intertwining with his later work the Acts of the Apostles His intention seems to want to lead the reader into a spirit of prayer and deeper discipleship.

However, the liturgical year doesn’t open with the beginning of Luke’s gospel. It is Advent time and preparation and vigilance is the theme. So we return to the cataclysmic reminders of the last few weeks taken this time from Luke’s later chapters. The thought is familiar from Old Testament times also that redemption comes to those who are faithful and vigilant. Vigilance means be patient, settle down and let God come into our lives. catastrophes happen in all ages as we all know from recent times. They do remind us of our mortality and Christ’s coming. But in Advent we are preparing to celebrate Christ’s first coming.

World events around us are distracting, but our own activity can also be even more distracting, keeping us from seeing and absorbing what is the whole point of Christmas. Running around, buying gifts, doing all the urgent things the season seems to call for, does it really hit the mark of what we are about? The second reading urges us to put God’s plan into action, even if we don’t fully understand what it is to love and be loved. Carlo Carretto, the spiritual writer, suggests God is saying:”Be patient! Learn to wait—for each other, for love, for happiness, for God!” Are we rushing the season forgetting the spiritual?

Waiting doesn’t come easy. In fact, who likes to wait? We always seek out the shortest line or the fastest way out in a store. But I ask you should we seek the fastest way in our personal life? Are we patient enough to sit and just wait for God to come to us. Are we so busy we shut him out.
In the commercial world, Christmas is here and in fact started weeks ago and on Christmas, the stores will suddenly become Valentine’s day. We can’t let the waiting become the reality like that. Now is the time to prepare and to look into ourselves and move forward to a new beginning and find ways to expand our love. It doesn’t mean we should just stop and do nothing. But may I suggest you begin to set aside at least 10 minutes each day at which time you just silently put your self in God’s presence and ask for His love. But patience is essential for God has his own timetable for each one of us. Prayer and spirituality is a relationship, at times easy and sometimes not. God is always there, however we are not always ready for Him. Now is the time. Prepare for He is near.

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What do you believe? Part 6

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on April 26, 2009

One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church

One of the arguments posited for a true church is that it be one, holy, catholic and apostolic but what does that mean? Being one is sometimes confused with being in union with the Pope in Rome. Depending on whose side you are on in any division within the church you will get a different perspective.

The church is one in Christ for it is Christ who calls us to himself. It is our sinfulness of pride that separates us from one another believing we each have the whole truth. It is we, not God, who places limits on being one. The church is one because Christ is the church and we as members of the Body of Christ find our oneness in Him alone despite our separateness from each other.

The church is holy? Again, we are often caught up in our own self centeredness when we feel we are the arbiters of what is holy whether we couch this in our interpretation of scripture or tradition. In the Benedictine Rule we are told to treat the pots and pans of the kitchen with the same reverence as the vessels of the altar. Why? All things are made holy not because they are set aside for “holy” purpose but because they instruments we can use for the purpose to which they were intended, the service of others. The church is holy when we act in concert with Christ in service to one another.

Catholic (with a little “c”) means universal but also refers to those who use symbols and signs to plumb the mysteries of who God is. The church is catholic because it transcends individuals and locations for Christ is the church and we are members of the body which is Christ.

To be Apostolic is more than identifying a linear descent from the apostles. The church is also Apostolic in that the individual communities are devolved from the apostolic communities established centuries ago. It can be said that it is Apostolic from the top down and the bottom up. However, for the church to be apostolic it must dare to preach the Word fearlessly. There are many fine examples of individuals and groups who have exemplified this.

(to be continued)

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What do you believe…

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on February 21, 2009

For us and our salvation…

The creed talks about Jesus coming down from heaven and by the power of the Holy Spirit becoming human for us and our salvation. Two questions come to mind, the first is Why did God decide to come down from heaven? The second might be from what do we need saving?

We recently completed celebrating the Feast of the Incarnation when God took on our humanity. Here is a God who wants to become so intimate with us that he shares the very life of his creation. What love must God have for us that he would diminish himself so that he could enter into our time and space, share our challenges and joys, eat with us, walk beside us and experience the one thing we all dread – death. His love is not just for us humans or for our world but for all of creation.

We are saved, rescue, ransomed and redeemed by a God who understands our humanness. Why? We are our own worst enemy, our egos, our desire to be more than we can ever be get in the way of being who we really are. We need saving from ourselves. Dickens, in “A Christmas Carol” portrays Ebenezer Scrooge as an individual who rejects the love of others concentrating all his efforts on achieving his own personal goals. As Marley’s ghost tells him each of us creates our own hell cutting ourselves off from God’s creation. We, like Scrooge, are unable to break away from our self centeredness alone. Christ needed to come among us to show us the way and to be the way.

So God’s very Word of creation became human through the power of the Holy Spirit and a virgin. He then grew into our lives being fully human, loving so strongly that he made the ultimate sacrifice to show us the depth of his love. Not only did he suffer and die like us, he went one step further. Through the same Holy Spirit of God the Father raised Jesus to life, not a resuscitation of a battered body but a transformed body, the kind of body we too will have when he comes again. His judgments will be fair and loving calling all who know him into a loving embrace forever.

(to be continued)

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What do you believe?

Posted in Uncategorized by fatherjimb on January 28, 2009

I’d like to share a few thoughts on the meaning behind the Creed we say each Sunday. Too often we rattle through it without much prayerfulless. The creed has a history behind it and is also a statement of who we are as Christians. Perhaps this will give you food for thought, and so we begin:

We believe in one God.

One God? There was a recent newspaper article that talked about a group of women who worked together on a project, some were Christian and others were Moslems. The writer of the article stated that these individuals were able to work as one even though they worshiped different Gods. Of course there was a retraction of this statement since God, by whatever name we give, is still God, the one and only. In our new multicultural society the monotheistic presumption of our youth has been turned on its head by believers in multiple gods that are strange to Western ears. Despite this, there is still only one God by whatever name or names we call God.

Even in the early church the concept of one God caused problems. If there is only one God how can Jesus be God or the Holy Spirit be God? Councils were called. The very existence of the entire Roman Empire was at stake since religion and the state were so closely linked. It was in Nicea that a statement of beliefs we recite each Sunday was created.

Who is God?

Human definitions of God vary. I suppose you would get a different answer based on each person’s perception of who and what a God is if we believe in God’s existence at all. In a sense, God is created in our own image since we have no words to describe an existence. When Moses asked God by what name the people of Israel should call their God, God simply answer “Tell them I am who I am.”

What is it you believe about God?

Georgetown university decided to open a campus in the gulf nation of Qatar. They determined that their class offerings would be the same as those in their DC campus and sent Jesuit Fr Ryan Maher, SJ to teach his Comparative Religions course. “Do you think you will be going to hell, Father?” There was a pause after which the other student said “Yes.” And then “Sorry Father.” It was then that Fr Maher began to reflect on what he was teaching. In the US his The Problem of God class was just another academic subject. He expected his students to study, debate and regurgitate the correct answers to the exams questions. Here, however, he was faced with an entirely new variable, students whose belief systems were not an academic exercise but part of who they are. “It’s not that we don’t know bout religion, it’s that we don’t understand faith and its life shaping power, ” noted Fr Maher in discussing his two year experience. How many of us can say that about our faith?

Its all about the Iced Tea.

Henry from a small town in Mississippi was the parish maintenance man. Being a true southerner from a rural area he was not as sophisticated as we might expect. Henry drank his milk right from the carton and left a spit of iced tea in the pitcher even though he knew there wasn’t enough for his wife. His wife of three years was slowly working to change Henry to get him to think about his actions.

One day Henry was leaving for work and decided that a nice glass of iced tea would be just the thing he needed to jump start his day. Like usual Henry poured himself a glass and placed the nearly empty pitcher bag in the refrigerator. He headed out the door, started his pickup and was about to put it into gear when he had an epiphany. He realized that not only was leaving a nearly empty pitcher going to rive his wife crazy he realized he really loved her. So, he turned off the car, went inside, washed out the pitcher and brewed a new pot of tea and even sliced up some lemons. Henry knew that if he truly loved his wife he needed to demonstrate it by his actions.

When we say we believe in God that belief should not just be an academic pursuit but one which permeates our thoughts and actions. When I am at work, do I act in a loving and caring manner? Do I treat my neighbors with respect even when I disagree with them? Can the poor and those in need count on me to place their needs before my desires? Does my desire for more money, a better position, a bigger house and more personal recognition become the rule of my life? Are my spouse,children and parents first in my life or does work or hobbies crowd them out?

Belief in God is an action statement not just a declarative one. Will I fail in my belief? Yes, the Apostle Thomas didn’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps our prayer should be like the father of the child possessed who sought Jesus’ help: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

(to be continued)

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