CACINA

Peace and Service- What Do You Choose?

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year c, 9-11-16 Exodus32:7-14, Ps 51, 1Tim 1:12-17, Luke 15: 1-10

I had my desk piled high with books & commentaries about the Book of Exodus, looking for ideas for today. Then I read today’s opening prayer.  Let me read it again: “Let us pray for the peace which is born of faith and hope.  Father in heaven, you alone are the source of our peace.  Bring us to the dignity which distinguishes the poor in spirit and show us how great is the call to serve, that we may share in the peace of Christ who offered his life in the service of all.”

 

Well, this week Mother Theresa of Kolkata was canonized as a Saint, and today we have a Day of Remembrance for the attack on September 11th.  How much more clearly could the Holy Spirit have urged me to talk today about peace and service?

 

Moses was God’s servant bringing the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.  The people all had been born in slavery, as had their parents.  It was the only life they had ever experienced.  Freedom was new, and difficult.  They were accustomed to being dependent, to having decisions made for them.  They escaped from Egypt only 3 months before, and now Moses had been up on Mount Sinai for 6 weeks with God; they were afraid he wouldn’t return.  They fell back on their experiences from Egypt; they made and worshiped a golden cow, and their behavior became wild & uncontrolled.  Worshiping something they made did not bring them peace.

 

The people still thought of God as being made in their image, like an idol. So God is described as having a human fit of rage.  They expect God will destroy them, just as their Egyptian masters would have done.  But in the next chapter, Moses presents the 10 commandments to the people, and they promise to do their part of the covenant with God.  This is actually the high point of the Old Testament story.  The people commit to worshiping only God and God commits to protecting and loving the people.  Their worship space is filled with the Ark of the Covenant and they work together the make the space ornate and beautiful.  The Glory of God fills the meeting tent & peace returns to the people.

 

So, I think we can say this: that service is to bring the word of God to one other.  And peace comes from God’s word and from trust and obedience to God’s word.

 

Our Psalm is the confession of King David after he broke God’s law and took Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah. David was God’s servant, making the nation of Israel a strong and great nation, leading the people into a time of peace, ensuring the people were faithful to their covenant with God.  But there would be no peace for David until he confessed his sin.

 

Likewise, our 2nd reading is a confession by St. Paul about murdering Christians prior to his conversion to Christianity.  Paul had been a Pharisee, proud & arrogant.  He had actively and violently worked to stop the followers of Jesus after the resurrection.  But then Jesus appeared to Paul, and asked, “Why do you persecute me?”  So Paul became a servant of God, taking the Word of the Risen Christ into the world.  He helped form the faith as we know it.  His peace came from not from hatred and violence; instead he found peace even as he became the subject of violence and hatred.  He was beaten and jailed, all in service of the God he praised and worshiped.

 

Finally, in our Gospel, Jesus, the ultimate servant of God, tells us two parables of not only peace, but heavenly joy. The Pharisees, like the Israelites led by Moses, wanted God to be in their image.  They were angry and disgusted that Jesus didn’t put people in their place – mainly the people who didn’t make a great pretense of being holy, people who didn’t or couldn’t afford to follow all the complex rules the Pharisees helped create to set themselves above other people.  So Jesus says, “What if a woman looses a tenth of all her money?  Won’t she tear the house apart, frantically looking for it, not stopping until she finds it? And won’t her happiness in finding it be known to everyone?  The angels in heaven, Jesus says, are the same way over just a single person who repents of their sin.”  Like the woman who found her coin, the repentant one will find peace and joy in finding forgiveness.

 

The shepherd likewise finds his lost sheep, and rejoices, telling all his neighbors and friends. He finds relief and peace, just as there is joy in heaven over a single sinner who comes to repent and find forgiveness.  I always have thought this has a touch of sarcasm from Jesus.  Did Jesus suggest that the Pharisees see themselves as the 99 righteous people, when really their pride and their prejudice creates a barrier to the so-called sinners finding peace?  But still I hear of churches refusing sacraments to people.

 

My neighbor has a bumper sticker that reads, “We need a Department of Peace.” Peace, like charity, begins at home. Peace, like service, is a choice.  I don’t plan to move to India to pick up the dying off the streets there.  I have found enough abused and forgotten people dying in sub-standard nursing homes right here at home.  There are enough hungry children at our local Elementary school and enough refugees and immigrants in the housing development within walking distance of this church; there are enough social agencies, church charities and social justice groups crying for volunteers and donations to keep us all busy all day every day.

 

Every death, every injury, every mourner from 9-11 deserves our prayerful remembrance today. As does every one of the hundreds of thousands of innocent children and adults who still now continue to die from hunger and acts of war and hatred.  We know the one source of peace, and we know a life of service to be the Christian life.  I suggest to you, as well as to myself, to make our act of remembrance in the coming days by finding new ways to be of service, and new openings to bring peace in our own families, our own neighborhoods.  Surely the Holy Spirit whispers in your ears chances to do this service, so let us encourage each other to do it.

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Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity September 20, 2015 The 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted in Called, christian, Faith, homily, inspirational, Resurrection, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on September 20, 2015

Reflection on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary for Saturday, August 15, 2015 (Cycle B)

Inclusive Lectionary Texts

Readings- Revelation – Chapter 11 verses 19 – Chapter 12 verses 1-6, 10 / Psalm 45 /
1 Corinthians – Chapter 15 verses 20-26 / Luke – Chapter 1 verses 39-56

Sisters and Brothers, in my opinion, you know that we will all evidently die. We probably won’t be assumed into heaven both body and soul as Mary was assumed to be. Unlike Mary, we will face death. However, when we come to the end of our physical existence, we know that our concept of death whatever it may be will disappear and that we truly will be transformed into something new. Mary was transformed by something new as she stood at the foot of the cross in deep pain witnessing the death of her son. Yet Jesus tells her that John who was standing next to her is now her son. What did he mean? I believe Jesus was telling her and the world that new life was a daily encounter. In the middle of pain and suffering we are prompted by the Spirit to see resurrection. How many times do we miss the opportunity to be renewed in God’s love each day? How many resurrections have we let die? How do we change our mind set? I know one way to change is to replace an old habit with a new one. Let us replace our concept of pain and suffering with the thought that pain and suffering lead to resurrection. Not an easy job but well worth practicing.

rev. Michael Theogene

Homily March 8, 2015 3rd Sunday of Lent

Posted in Called, christian, Christianity, Eucharist, homily, religion, Resurrection, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on March 3, 2015

3 sun lent 1Today we see Moses present the decalogue or the ten commandments or the directions or teachings for the Israelites to get along. Certainly they were not taken as absolutes but as guides to the will of God. They in no way could address every moment or direction in a person’s life. Even today we have a tendency to water down and justify and make excuses and exceptions to absolutes with all kind of circumstances and reasons for making things less absolute. Jesus set a whole new meaning to life with his law and direction to love. If we truly believed in loving as the direction 3 sun lent 2of our life and our actions, the world would be a different place to live in. If we could really love others as much as we loved ourself much would change. Unfortunately, there are many who don’t even know how to love themselves much less care for others. This is why sometimes directions or guidelines are needed.
In the gospel today, we see a different Jesus. The Temple for the Jews was a holy place, meant to house the Ark of the covenant and God’s very presence. Money changers, animals, and all kinds of sellers and businesses were there looking to make a profit off the worshipers coming to the temple. It was really a marketplace. We so often picture Jesus as a mild loving man, gentle and loving, touching the poor and sick and healing. Yet today we see him scattering coins around, turning tables over, chasing animals3 sun lent 4 out of the temple courtyard. He was even using a whip to chase away the men. Imagine the chaos and consternation of the people. His zeal and righteousness for his Father’s temple was complete. But when he was challenged, he referred to a new different temple, the temple of his body. Suddenly we see that now there is a different temple in Jesus’ church. It is his body and to be resurrected body, present and given to us in his Eucharist. He has told us he remains with us and has given us his Spirit, but also we have his body and blood in the Eucharist to have and to share.
Think of the irony of that. We build churches, cathedrals and monuments, all to house our faith, but 3 sun lent5the real temple or building is Jesus himself sealing and uniting and embracing us in his very body and blood. The time, the place matter not, for he said where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, there am I. And there it is, our zeal, our care for God’s presence is in how we love and how we share and consume Christ’s body and blood together. The truth is that the more we love the more we become like him. We have to learn to find Jesus in the person of others, and dispose of our money changers and distractions that get in the way of our faith driven love. In a small way we then share and bring Christ’s love to others.

Fr Tony’s Sunday Homily at Holy Trinity may 25, 2014

Fr Joe’s Homily at Holy Trinity for 2nd Sunday of Easter, April 27, 2014

Posted in ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, Resurrection, scripture by Fr Joe R on April 27, 2014

Homily April 27, 2014 Second Sunday of Easter

Our gospel today begins in the evening of Easter Sunday. 10 Apostles are huddled together in the same upper room hiding from the Jews and Romans pondering and discussing all that had occurred upperroom2including the events of the morning, Mary’s report, the mad dash and the empty tomb. Their grief and fear were strong and the whole week was mind altering to all of them. Certainly, a kernel of faith and love was in their hearts, but their fear, their flight, their hiding was still overwhelming. They all had a sense being lost. They frankly were probably in a real state of confusion. And then in their midst a familiar man a familiar voice. No judgment, no rebukes but a simple Peace be with you. This peace was a joy wish, an act of forgiveness and of love. His hands and his side proved it was him. He was alive, he did rise. He not only gave his peace and forgiveness, but he gave his Holy Spirit so that they became empowered in His love to forgive the sins of others.upperromm3
Can you imagine the change, the beginning of a new understanding? Sure there was a joy but the resurrection event was not yet over. They were not quite ready. Look at the second part of the gospel, they couldn’t even convince Thomas, one of their own, that they had seen Jesus. If they couldn’t convince Thomas, how could they go out beyond the doors and face the world. Certainly, people would be more skeptical than Thomas. Thomas had to see for himself. Lucky for him that Jesus was still around and being seen by his disciples. This resurrection event was to carry on for several more days. Faith and certainty are not always present together. Yet Thomas received them together. But as a task he and the other Apostles were told to go out and spread the faith to others. Obviously, Faith comes out of the love of Christ and can be introduced to others through a living out that love, but ultimately faith is a gift of God which each person must come to accept or reject. While Thomas got to personally see the Risen Christ and come to believe, each of us in truth have had or will have our own moment of recognition when we fully come to see and believe with our own “My lord and my God”.upper room
On the other hand, we must realize that to believe is not enough. Life is not a moment or a simple I believe. Our faith calls for us to live it out, to love as Jesus shared in his time and ministry. Loving in word and action, forgiving and getting along working to glorify God by seeing him in each other. All of us are not unlike the apostles. We too have fear and we too could turn and run when a difficult time comes. We could flee to a place apart as the apostles did. We too could betray the love that has been given us. The most important thing here is that we must get out of that dark place and seek once again the love and forgiveness of Jesus. No matter what we do, He is there to simply say Peace be with you, offering the same peace and forgiveness and assurance he gave his apostles.

Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on April 20, 2014

Gospel reading of the day:

John 20:1-9

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. 10173582_697013510362669_217212863_nSo she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

Reflection on the gospel reading: I believe Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead, and it is this fact that makes of all material reality a poem and imbues it with lyrical meaning. The resurrection of Jesus shows that the material world is a sheer veneer that covers shimmering truths; it is a course veil spread over what is brightest and truest: those mysteries that abide beneath the surface of what we see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. The resurrection of Jesus testifies that the things in the world of the senses, the things that we can measure, are absolutely true still but not the most real reality. Jesus’ resurrection pierces the veil to reveal the freshest deep down things that lie out of sight just beneath the surface and makes us see that what is true is seemless, that the surface things of daily life and the deep down things of mystical experience are really and truly one and the same thing. The resurrection of Jesus teaches us that the promise of life is that just as we now see, taste, touch, hear, and smell to sense the surface, one day we will throw away every illusion and abide in what for now is the mystery beneath the surface.

Spiritual reading: Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. (Easter Homily by John Crysostom)

Homily April 19, 20, 2014 Easter- The Resurrection

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion by Fr Joe R on April 16, 2014

easterThis Easter night, to truly appreciate the Resurrection of Christ, we must remember the experience of Good Friday. In one way or another, all of us have experienced dying and death. The stark reality of it being so final, being cut off from someone we knew and loved, being left to go on and be alone so to speak. Jesus had been a man with disciples and had forged a new teaching and relationship with his followers. His teaching on love and the need for it and the love and care for one another all in a few days had seemed to be obliterated and led to his disciples easter 4fleeing and hiding themselves. They were truly at a loss for what to do and how to carry on. The swiftness, the brutality, the finality all had them huddled in fear. What they had seen and heard, they did not understand. They felt lost, abandoned, purposeless.

The news of the empty tomb was implausible. In their fear, they did not understand. Like all of us they were afraid of the worst. What was the impending new disaster? Was there more to fear? Were they in peril? Seeing the tomb they began to believe, but like we ourselves know, believing is like a seed that needs to see and hear and be assured. Gradually they came see and believe that Jesus was alive. What he was, what he taught was real. God truly was love and this spirit came on them and was present in a new and different way. His son had come and died and rose and now lives to carry on that message to all and extend his forgiveness if we have enough faith and love to ask for it. Few men and few entities enter history and are remembered for centuries. The constant presence of Christians from the time of Christ in itself shows the belief that his resurrection and spirit continued in the world. As he taught and instructed his message continues today. We see him and easter3know him in our sacraments, most notably in the Eucharist, His very body and blood, poured out for us, yet given in a unique way that he can be a part of us and we of him.

Yes, this is the day the Lord has made. Easter is truly a new beginning for how the love of God was poured out to the whole world. True life is now measured in the love of God and how we carry out that love by loving as we are loved. It was and is a new beginning. Humanity unfortunately still needs to learn much to erase the evils of the world, but Easter and the resurrection gives hope that all the dark days and good Fridays of this world can be put aside and life restored in the way God intends. Working together the world could do so much. In some ways this has happened, yet selfishness and all the other foibles inflicting us, interfere with the message of Christ. Remember Christ said to go out to all the world, preach and baptize. The more we do, the more his gift of faith and love will come to this broken world of ours.easter2

Homily for the Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Day), Year A 2014

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, politics, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on April 12, 2014

Homily for the  Resurrection of the Lord (Easter Day), Year A  2014

I would like to begin today with the short reading from St Paul about yeast.  My family used to make sourdough bread, just as the Jews would do.  They would break off a lump of the sourdough, mix it with flour and it would ferment and create a new batch of bread.  While this could go on for years, and did in my family, Jews were asked to start a new batch of leaven every year at Passover time, probably signifying symbolically a new start after they celebrated being released from slavery in Egypt. So, at the Passover, having destroyed or gotten rid of the leaven, they ate only unleavened bread, what we would call flatbread today.

Paul starts with this image which would have been familiar to all his readers, and he asks them to start over and clean out the old yeast and start afresh. He says that they and we  are like unleavened bread now. Jesus has purified them and taken out the leaven that was old and tainted,  and before being leavened we all must start again, having thrown out the old world order of malice and evil, like they did the old yeast,  and begin again with sincerity and truth. If leaven causes bread ( and us) to rise, it is Jesus who will also cause us to rise… with him!

Our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles is a homily of Peter in which Peter summarizes for the crowd the elements of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He first speaks of John the Baptist’s baptism and how God anointed Jesus through the Holy Spirit to do good and heal. Despite this, Peter says they put him to death on a tree. But God would not let him die and raised him up on the third day. It is clear in the homily that Peter believe in the Resurrection simply because he was a witness to Jesus and ate and drank with him after his death. Finally he states that the resurrected Jesus commanded them to spread the news about him by preaching, especially by using the Scriptures and especially using the prophecies. What Jesus brought, Peter says, is forgiveness to all who believe in him.

Finally, today, St. John combines the supernatural with the ordinary in his Gospel account of the Resurrection event. It is quite a delightful narrative really. Mary goes in the dark to the tomb. We are not told why she went, simply perhaps to mourn. She couldn’t have gotten inside the tomb by herself because there was a large stone closing off the entrance. But when she arrives she realizes that the stone has been moved. She doesn’t go into the tomb, but races to Peter and to one other apostle – simply called “the one whom Jesus loved.” This unknown person is referred to as this six times in John’s Gospel. 

As a side note to the story itself, it has been debated for centuries who the beloved disciple really was.  Most seem to think it was John the apostle -supposedly John the Evangelist himself. Others say that John the apostle would have been much too old when the Gospel was actually written. Other commentators favor Lazarus as the disciple, since when before Lazarus died his sister talked about how he whom you loved is sick.

Lastly, among many others suggested through the centuries is the rather recent theory that Mary Magdelene herself was the beloved disciple, though how that can be reconciled with the text that Mary ran to Peter and the other disciple, I have no idea.

Let us continue wight he story, however. The beloved disciple, being apparently younger and more agile got to the tomb first, but in deference to peter, waited till peter got there before entering after him. You may have noticed the details that the writer mentions – the linen wrappings on the ground where they had fallen off, the cloth that covered the corpse’s head in another location and rolled up. What do these details indicate? They are both ordinary and yet strange. Would not have someone who carried out the body have kept these coverings to hide the body? The body moved around because the coverings were in two different locations, and while the sheets had just fallen off, someone took the time to roll the linen facial cover. 

In any case, the younger disciple seemed to figure it our and believed what had just happened. Peter may not yet have understood because of John’s statement that they didn’t understand how the Hebrew scriptures indicated he would rise from the dead.

Mary had come with them to the tomb but did not go in.  After Peter and the disciple left to go back home, Mary was left crying at the tomb, and she looked into the cave and saw to figures in white sitting at either end of the tomb itself. They speak to her and ask why she is crying and her reply is simply that somebody must have taken the body and she doesn’t know where it has gotten to. Imagine what you would feel if you went to a grave of a loved one the next day and saw that someone had stolen the body!

As she turned away she saw someone she took to be the gardener of the cemetery. I love this image because if Jesus is seen as the new Adam, isn’t it appropriate Jesus be seen as a gardener because really that’s what Adam was in Paradise – the groundskeeper of Eden. Now here is where it could get eerily supernatural. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus!  Instead she almost blames the gardener for carrying away the body and demands to know what he did with it.

When Jesus speaks to her, though, and calls her by name, she immediately recognizes the voice, calls out “Teacher!” and holds on to him. Some translations give a wrong sense of the resurrected Jesus being breakable or fragile, saying “Don’t touch me!”. But when Jesus says literally – “don’t hold on to me” – he is probably more referring to having work to do because he hasn’t ascended to the Father and that he can’t be so detained. So Mary hurries back yet again to tell them the news – she has seen Jesus!

To me it is significant again that it is to a woman that Jesus first shows himself, just as we saw a few weeks ago, it was to a Samaritan woman that he first revealed who he was. How unlike what would ordinarily be done in Jesus’ time! God’s ways are not ours as i so often remind you.

The Resurrection is a supernatural event, hard to believe especially in our era when we do not believe it can happen according to the laws of science. And yet, i am sure that none in Jesus’ time could believe it either. Our own experience tells us not to believe. But for the early church belief came very quickly and was widespread. The simple telling of the story and the every day details show that it was part of the fabric of their lives when they wrote it down.

St. Paul tells us that it is central to our faith, that the cross was not enough. Without the resurrection Jesus turns into an ordinary man, a great prophet and healer perhaps, but could hardly be the impetus of faith for so many people for 2000 years. Yes, it is hard to believe, but I do believe it. And I do, precisely because I don’t understand God’s ways. And the more i read, the more I learn, the more I debate in my mind with all the naysayers, I keep coming to the same conclusion that I hope you do as well. Jesus is God, and it is by looking at the physical manifestation of God in his human form that we know how to create the kingdom of God on earth with him. That is the Good News. That is it in a nutshell. And as i always end my homily with the same statement about the goodness of the Good News, let me pray today that this Good News of the Resurrection bring you to a knowledge of God and his kingdom on earth and heaven so that like the yeast, you may rise with him and be the yeast for the rest of the world to feed on in days to come. Truly Good News. Happy Easter to you all.

Bishop Ron Stephens, Auxiliary Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese Of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from amazon.com for $9.99 – Teaching the Church Year”]

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