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Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent (April 7, 2017)

Inclusive Text- Readings- Jeremiah 20: 10-13 / Psalm 18: 2-3ABC, 4-7 / John 10: 31-42

Friends, who is it in our lives that we are trying to impress? Our Creator knows who we are; we do not have to impress God.  God loves us just the way we are but somehow we keep missing that message. But why is it so important for us to impress another human being? Well, if we haven’t noticed by now, people do eventually see through us. This quote says it very well, “Loving yourself is a radical stance in a culture that constantly promotes ways to ‘improve’ yourself, whether through beauty aids or plastic surgery or hair implants or new devices. It takes a great deal of courage to love oneself fully. It takes a wild and passionate heart to look the critical world in the eye and say, ‘I love myself.'”Christine Valters Paintner, PhD
Jesus came to tell the truth of the Creator, what truth are we trying to tell? Who are we really fooling? If the truth, we are so adamant in trying to portray, is what we wish to convey to people, they will see us for who we really are.  We don’t have to prove it, just be ourselves. Some will see us for who we are and others will not.  It is not our job to convince them, it is our job to be the Face of God in all we do
Jesus remained truthful, faithful not only to himself, but to the Father.  Jesus said we can do everything he did and more.  Are we ready for that challenge? 
rev. Michael Theogene

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent (April 6, 2017)

Inclusive Text- Readings- Genesis 17: 3-9 / Psalm 105: 4-9 / John 8: 51-59
Sisters and brothers, do we know God? Do we know Jesus? Do we know ourselves? How well do we know ourselves? Friends, I believe that as we journey in this life trying to know ourselves, in some small part we can learn about ourselves through our interactions with others. Whether good or bad, people are placed in our paths for one reason or another. Sometimes we learn from them and at other times they learn from us. Why were they there in the first place? Not a coincidence, a God incidence.
If we have found it hard at times to be free from persons in our present or past lives, I think we need to ask ourselves, who is it that is placed in our life that we must learn from? Who is it that I have allowed to help me shine or whom have I allowed to smother the light within me. What must we learn?
The people placed in our paths will always remind us of the positive or negative lessons in our lives. The question is my friends, what is it that we can carry further along with us on the journey and what is it that we are afraid to take and what must we leave behind?  
rev. Michael Theogene

Reflection for Friday of the Third Week of Lent (March 24, 2017)

Inclusive Text- Readings- Hosea 14: 2-10 / Psalm 81: 6C-8ABC, 9-11AB, 14 & 17 / Mark 12: 28-34

Sisters and brothers, I don’t know about you but I find it very difficult at times to follow one of the instructions of St. Benedict. St. Benedict says, “Welcome all as if they were the Christ”. (Paraphrased) Without sounding as if I am bragging, I could honestly say that I would give the shirt on my back to anybody. I am sure, as we all have in one way or another done this. However, there are the times when I have said those words but have not carried them out. Our actions always speak louder than words. I have learned from my own experience and from what others have mentioned to me, that it is not so much what people say that has an effect on me but by who they are and how they live that really speaks volumes?

rev. Michael Theogene

Homily September 25, 2016 the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ethics, Faith, forgiveness, homily, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on September 21, 2016

26-sun-4Once again today we are reminded of wealth and poverty and our responsibilities in using worldly goods. Why, we might say, are we always talking about the poor? Poverty is a relative term and means different things in different parts of the world. Wherever we go in the world, we are going to find poverty and poor people. It is just a proven fact that no society or country can simply eliminate poverty from their midst. Even in our own country, if we recall the “War on Poverty,” we know that while it helped poor people, it did not eliminate poverty. Yet, Jesus keeps reminding us that we have a 26-sun-3responsibility to those around us, a responsibility born out of a love of God and a love of neighbor that should fill us as we make our commitment at baptism. Not all of us are called to live a life of poverty or a religious life in some religious order. But all of us are called to be responsible to ourself and others in our daily life. How we live and how we act toward others, is certainly reflective of our beliefs and values. What are we to do, if a hungry man is before us? There is no easy answer, but have we done what we can or do we simply leave it to others? Can we really live in comfort if we can see and experience the discomfort of others? The important thing is that we try, and that we do
not forget. If we truly love our neighbor, we can’t forget that we all have needs and wants. Christ often reminds us we should not get too comfortable but to reach out to others in ne26-sun-2ed, whether it be physical, psychological, or spiritual. We are called to share what many call our time or treasure or talent. It doesn’t mean we are called to invest our whole lives, but certainly at times we can give of one or more of these. In reality, it means we are giving of ourself, of what I am and what I have and can share out of love of Jesus and his love for all of us. Never forget that often it is not the grand gestures that captures the hearts and heals others, but the simple day-to-day things to bring a sense of comfort to another. Openness, loving and sharing, sometimes just presence or listening is the best formula for a loving peaceful life.

Homily August 14, 2016 for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Communion, Faith, forgiveness, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on August 10, 2016

20 sun 5Today’s readings seem to be rather harsh and divisive. Jeremiah the prophet is thrown into a cistern and left to die. Jesus talks today of fire and division as opposed to peace on earth. Both Jeremiah and Jesus knew that in carrying out their mission, there would be opposition, oppression, exile for Jeremiah and Jesus knew he was to die. 20 sunMore than anything Jesus knew that his preaching and teaching would meet opposition and be attacked by the authorities because he challenged them and their interpretation of what the law meant and how it was oppressing the people. Certainly, the authorities had made peace with the Romans and had made themselves comfortable in a bad situation for the people. Jesus concern wasn’t the authorities and their laws, but the people and their lives and relationships and most especially their relationship with God. The fire he speaks of is the fire within the heart, like the fire that cooks and purifies our food. It is meant to come from the baptism of his death to purify and bring God’s embracing love to all. That love doesn’t always mean peace, it rather is to bring a union of our heart to God. That certainly means at times there will be discussion, and even conflict. The poor, the marginalized, the ones Jesus always reached out to seem to be always present in every age and time. What peace and contentment is there on earth if any are hungry, displaced or 20 sun 4uncared for. To follow Christ doesn’t mean we should feel at peace or comfortable. Christ called us to love, an unconditional love. But if we truly love, we should constantly inquire is it enough. None of us is perfect, all of us fall short at times in one way or another. Institutions and laws and rules don’t protect us from failing in seeking out our brother or sister in need. I think at times, we think the institution or the state or the laws of church or state protect or shield us, when Jesus’ call to love, to forgive, to have mercy can be put aside. Sure this can bring division about, but such love brings peace, a peace beyond what many can understand.

July 31, 2016 Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, politics, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on July 27, 2016

18 sun 4I find it ironic, having just returned from my brother’s funeral, to listen to today’s readings. In biblical times and before and after, one of the prime questions after someone dies is what happens to the possessions, how will they be divided. We see today that Jesus is asked to judge and arbitrate a dispute about an inheritance. But Jesus asked who appointed ME to judge? But then he cautions against greed. Although someone might be rich or have many possessions, this is not what life is about. Accumulating money or “stuff” is not a fulfilling life. Money and possessions are certainly a help in life, but who we are and 18 sun 3what we are, can not be defined by fancy possessions or wealth. Family and how we relate in the real world of our peers, in our faith community and our interactions with all we come in contact with is what really defines us as a person. The parable of the rich man clearly tells us that. To be steeped in the things of God, means to know and share the love and spirit of Jesus. God has bestowed on us the life we have and only asks we live it out as he has disposed us to do. Jesus never condemned the rich or never criticized the having of things. His concern was that we live, and love and share in a way that showed and shared God’s love with one another.18 sun2 This is truly how we will avoid those words addressed to the rich man and hear rather “enter the home of my father”

The Reading from Ecclesiastes has a similar theme, and I reference to say that Blake’s parents today have chosen to come and show their faith and love and most importantly share it with their son beginning his spiritual journey as Blake is baptised and received into the body of Christ with the love of our community and the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill him up with God’s love and the shared faith we all have. Today we pray for Blake and for his parents.

July 24, 2016 Homily at Holy Trinity Parish for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

May 22, 2016 Holy Trinity Parish Homily for Holy Trinity Sunday

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on May 22, 2016

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

Homily March 20, 2016 Palm Sunday

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, Word by Fr Joe R on March 16, 2016

palm 1After reading the Passion, it is very difficult for a homilist to add to the account of Jesus’s passion, death and resurrection. The whole concept of what he endured would seem foreign to us today for the most part. The founders of our country forbade in our constitution cruel and unusual punishment. Torture, whipping, extreme cruelty and to a degree death are forbidden. In Roman times, these were seen as ways to control unruly masses of people to make them fear a nation of conquerors, namely the Romans. Their execution by crucifixion was meant to be bloody, painful and a slow dragged out process, sometimes taking days. It is one of the reasons Rome was able to rule for so long

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In today’s world punishment is not supposed to be the ideal, but rehabilitation is what our prisons are called to do. The death penalty is not really common and is now carried out in the US in a sterilized non threatening, non suffering way. Strangely, we carry it out like we are doing a kindness in making it easy for the condemned and our conscience by anesthetizing the person to sleep.

That aside, Suffering and death is something foreign to us. Yet God chose to use the darkest side of humanity’s barbarity to extend his forgiveness and love through his very own Son. No one can miss the singular act of a Father giving his son to make whole what is broken. We heard today the account of Jesus following out the will of his Father, even feeling reluctant as any of us would be, but in the end He said “Your will be done”.

So today, let us reflect that Christ freely gave himself to be taken and condemned by the Jews, sentenced by Pilate and scourged and crucified. This was a giving of himself for all time, for all men and women, for reparation of all sins against God for all time. When we fail, fall short remember to ask Please forgive me.palm 3

Homily March 13th, 2016 the Fifth Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, Christianity, ethics, Faith, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 9, 2016
lent 5

Paul at Damascus

Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
In today’s second reading, we see a prime example of that in Paul. From his encounter on the road with Jesus leading to his conversion, his past became irrelevant and his ministry and mission and future became all important to him.
In the gospel, Jesus himself was a man who was also at ease with himself and was dedicated to his own mission to teach and bring God’s message to humankind. He spoke and talked with authority, so much so that the Scribes and Pharisees felt challenged lent 5band thought they had to discredit Jesus as a threat to their own authority and to the present rule of law and authority. Their relationship to God for them was a set of Laws and rules and regulations that determined everything they did. They were fanatical and unbending in carrying out the law. God’s mercy and love and forgiveness were lost in their all consuming rush to judge and force everyone to meticulously follow the law. One law that required quick resolution was adultery. With this in mind, the Scribes and Pharisees bring a woman they say was caught in adultery. They quote that the law says such a woman be stoned to death. For Jesus, it is a conundrum since the law of Rome forbids such a thing and Jesus’ teaching is of love and forgiveness of God. Not mentioned in the story today is the fact that no witnesses are lent5 apresent, and the ancient law prescribed that both the man and the woman be stoned. So even in testing Jesus, the Scribes and Pharisees were being deceptive and themselves using the law for their own purposes. When Jesus first bent down and basically ignored them, it seems they just continued pestering him with objections and questions. Note that after a time Jesus replies, but not with a judgment or a law or a teaching, but with a challenge: “If one of you is without sin, throw the first stone.”

Now tell me, who in any society, or assembly of friends or coworkers, or even standing alone could present themselves as sinless. Who could kill another while saying they were an innocent person. In such a way, Jesus disarmed the fanaticism of the crowd, pointed out the deficiencies of mindlessly following the law of words lent5cinstead of the law God implanted on the hearts of all. The story of the woman should remind us all that what we did, what happened in the past is forgiven if we leave it in the past. It is what we do from here on that matters. It is what Paul tells us today and even Mark Twain in his own way tells us that there is a moment, a time when we know God is with us and it is what matters most.

Homily February 28, 2016 The 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, church events, Faith, homily, inspirational, politics, religion, scripture, Spirit by Fr Joe R on February 24, 2016

lent 3One of the marvels of our time is the instant sharing of news and events throughout the world. It almost seems simultaneous and even live and in our living rooms. When I was younger I remember the marvel of seeing Queen Elizabeth of England crowned with only a five hour delay as the film was flown to Canada and transmitted. Today with satellites we can see things live as they happen. In Jesus’ time, news traveled by word of mouth and was slow but people paid no less notice to it. So, in the gospel, when Jesus asked about the Galileans who were slaughtered in Jerusalem and had their blood mixed with the sacrifices in Jerusalem, the people were familiar with it. Also the falling of the tower and killing of eighteen people at Siloam was also known to them. lent 3bHowever, remember in the view of the times, bad things happened to people who did bad or evil things. Jesus, as we heard, immediately rejected the notion that bad things happening were a punishment from God. Asking why does God allow this is the wrong question. The question is how we relate to God and how we adapt to things when they do not necessarily go our way. God doesn’t choose people who are sinners or who are worse off than other sand then punishes them with something bad. He asks if the 18 under the tower were worse than everyone else. He said, of course not, prosperity, wealth, happiness and the good things in life are not rewards for doing the right thing. Those things have nothing to do with virtue. What we are and our humanness come from God and prepares and leaves us to do the right things in life. In all our live, we have the time and chances to do and be right in relationship to God’s world and his call to be with him. How we live and love and relate and give of our time and selves to others determines what will be for us when our life ends.

Christ continues the discussion with the parable of the fig tree. The point of the parable is what good is a fruit tree if it gives no fruit? Jesus is the loving, carilent 3ang gardener who asks for more time for the tree to develop and grow fruit. Surely, Jesus himself is in His death and Resurrection extending to us the time to grow and to produce fruit in the lives we live. Each day is a gift and an extension to love and share and relate as Jesus called us to do. If we are to truly live, we need to put aside what is wrong and sinful and turns our backs to God. Lent is the perfect time to begin or continue and to renew ourselves to love and relating. The fig tree becomes for us a sign that we have a little time to make our selves better and healthier Christians.

Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time February 7, 2016

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Communion, Eucharist, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, Spirit by Fr Joe R on February 5, 2016

2-7-16aIn today’s readings, we see Isaiah, Paul, and Peter question their worthiness. Each in turn facing God or his work, questioned if they were indeed worthy to accomplish the task. Even at Eucharist, the church’s liturgy builds that doubt into reception of communion when we say “O Lord I am not worthy to receive you.” I think in all cases that it is a question that in the face of God, no one is adequate to simply stand straight on with him. However, is our perception and understanding of God correct? How often do we say God is Love. His love produced this world and also humanity in his image. This God like image in itself has made us unique and loved by God. 2-7-16bThat presence of God’s love within us proves that each and every human has a worth and value not able to be diminished by anyone. At times, human can have faults and can commit sin and negative acts, but God’s love remains and their human worth remains. History has proved that women and men have done many good and many bad things throughout history. How quick are we to judge others at times when in effect we should be judging ourselves?

How harsh and judgmental has humanity been through out the centuries? How judgmental are we of different races and cultures and insensitive to people of places that do not meet our particular standards. How quick are we to characterize judgments as the 2-7-16cWord of God or on the Bible? Jesus loved and forgave and said move on. How long must we go on realizing that it is not the law that saves but God’s love which is the real law and embraces us to be like Christ and his father. Who are we to judge or take offense when God himself forgives and embraces. If we can not forgive, then our worth demands us to seek and find God’s love and embrace it.

Truly then, none of us is worthy by ourselves. God within us is our worth and our life. Let us learn today and embrace God’s love and each other. Each of us is worthy with a call unique to each of us.

Homily December 6, 2015 2nd Sunday of Advent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Faith, homily, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on December 1, 2015

christ-in-the-desert-18721-e1276316336416Our readings today go back to the time the Jews were captives in Babylon and come forward to Jesus’ time when they were captives of the Romans in their own country. Baruch and John in Luke talk of the desert and Lord and things becoming right. The Lord is coming, wait and all will be right. John goes to the desert to call for a change of heart, for repentance, preparation for the day of the Lord. Throughout the centuries, each one presented its own angst as humanity struggled and other Babylons or Romes rose and fell inflicting harm and pain throughout the world. Today babylonthe world struggles and fears the terror driven forces spreading violence and terror and fear. Our reaction is to fight, to cut off and shun any who are from foreign places.
But John said make a way, the Lord is coming. That was over 2000 years ago, let us not forget, Christ came. He died, but he made the way straight, he opened the path. He has given his love to the world, he has embraced all. Our way is his way, to shun violence, hatred to love even when not loved in return. The futility of violencenations and empires is that they fade to history, but the voice, the love of Christ continues on and keeps encouraging us to know and find what is of real value.

Our news is full of war, terror, bombings, and our poisonous climate, all producing fear and promises and resolutions that are as bad as the dangers sometimes. What has happened to caring and looking out for all. In a time when the world has been reduced to more intimate and closer relationships, the misunderstandings and hatred and fear and resentments are robbing the present time the message of Christ brought forth in that remote time and place long ago. That is what Advent means, a reminder of waiting, but also a need to know He Has Come, but 27sunwhat have we done. His love made a difference, but has ours? We are called to action, to love, to do here and now in our own way, in our own corner. Paul says love never fails, and truly it doesn’t, but realize that sometimes it hurts. It asks and seeks us to give ourselves individually and fully, and that can be hard as we know only one person ever had perfect love and that was Christ Himself. So remember the waiting of old, but remember He is here now and we are called every day.

Homily November 29, 2015 First Sunday of Advent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Word by Fr Joe R on November 25, 2015

Jesus Christ's Second ComingOnce again we begin a new church year, and we rapidly approach Christmas and all the celebration that entails. Advent is meant to remind us and renew our resolve and commitment. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Thessalonians today, the importance of love not only among ourselves but for all. Even in the earliest days of the church he was reminding his disciples that love wasn’t limited or meant to be constrained to only those we knew or had relationships with. As God’s love has no bounds, so our love should have no bounds. It should embrace everyone we meet, excluding no one as God himself embraces all. Yet, how cricketdiane-2009-sea-glory-ocean-wavesis this so, in a world so fractured and divided and even violent? So much misunderstanding, hatred, and selfishness and so many other things permeate the world today, that living a Christian life seems so hard. Yet, as Christians, don’t we see that the biggest sign of our love was the Cross? God’s love came into the world, a man himself, Jesus the Son of God. He came into a fractured broken world to bring and show and embrace all with God’s love. That love was boundless and remains so even today. He loved and even forgave those who betrayed his love, even those who put him to death. Throughout his life, he loved, he counseled, he forgave, but never judged. Ultimately, we must remember there is one and only really one judge and that is myself. Each person and only that person knows their relationship with God and how that relationship effects the love and relationships they have.
Surely, a person can live a life never deviating from the so called straight crossand narrow, following rules and laws etc, but as Paul says, what is it without love. Who we are is in our heart and mind and soul and only we ourselves and God can know intimately whats there, but ultimately we make the choice of who and what we are, and like it or not are the ultimate judge of our success or failure to love as we are called.

But, let us not get discouraged, as love is not always perfect, at least not yet. All of us can and do at times fall short and need to work with others to ask forgiveness and progress. Love is something that grows and progresses day by day, year by year. Let us not forget Christ’s love and the Cross that forever exhibits that love.

Homily November 1, 2015 All Saints day

Posted in Called, christian, church events, Faith, homily, inspirational, Resurrection, saints, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on October 28, 2015

nov1bThe feasts of All Saints and All Souls brings us to the concept we call the Communion of Saints. In the early scriptures, the faithful are referred to as “saints” and the community was a part of a union of all believers in the love and fellowship of God. Of course, they thought Christ was returning in the very immediate future and thus the reality of that was very real for them. Their communing with the Martyrs and the persecutions of the time strengthened their resolve and the bond of love with each other through Christ and the Spirit. Their nov1dfaith knew they would be united with those who went before them. But as the centuries moved on, and the life and death of fellow Christians were not martyrs or believers who stood out in faith, the mystery of death and the after life became speculative and question. The fact Jesus said the part of following him meant that suffering would come in some form or another. Also, most believers realize that everybody falls short of perfection and must seek out God’s mercy. With this in mind, in the communion of saints, the idea that those who fell short in life had a suffering or preparatory stage to full union with God. Yet, the concept of time and place which heaven and purgatory brings to the fore is not really consistent to time and place we experience. nov1cEven Paul tells us that what we will be has not yet come to light. We know there is eternal fire(Punishment) and union with God but that union is present even now and certainly before we die. Punishment comes from our disuniting or actually failing to love as we are called to do. As believers, we pray and embrace all who are part of God’s love and call for union with him. Thus, praying for those living or deceased is part of an expression of faith in the union of God’s love and mercy and the final and joyous reunion of all for eternity, standing and being with God. And so our prayers today and tomorrow are for all in the Communion of Saints, those walking the path with us now, those who have gone before us. We pray for the well being and love of all in union with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.