homily January 2017

homily for tristan

Homily for Tristan

I believe there are two kingdoms. There is the kingdom of heaven and there is the kingdom of this world -- not as in the world God created and called good, but the kingdom of this world we created for ourselves. The world according to us is the other kingdom. I asked people on Facebook yesterday to fill in the blank, "The kingdom of this world is like ... ." One said, "A thick fog. It seems large, scary, and impenetrable. But it is passing away." Another said, "The kingdom of this world is like a rich, good-looking guy whose stock portfolio is as breathtaking as his Italian loafers." And another said, "The kingdom of this world is a seemingly impenetrable system of victim and victimizer, winner and loser, rich and poor."

 

And everything around us can feel like it's demanding our allegiance to the kingdom of this world -- allegiance to a worthiness based system of getting ahead in life. The kingdom of this world wages an endless campaign for our loyalty. It's on billboards and magazines and the workplace and the TV and the messages we received about ourselves during our whole lives, luring us in with false promises.

 

And it all looks so darned shiny and promising and impressive. And at the same time it also looks like young people found dead in their apartments, and it looks like senseless violence in many parts of the world. It feels inescapable. But here's what I'm sure of: The promises of a human engineered kingdom are empty. The kingdom of this world cannot save us.

 

But Jesus came to bring another kingdom. He brought a message of good news to the poor and release to the captives and freedom to the oppressed. And he healed the sick and ate with sinners and scoffed at the powerful, and he said in me the kingdom of God has come near. In the small and the unlikely and the unwanted the kingdom of God comes to us. And it changes everything. "This is the kingdom of heaven," says Revelation 21,"that God had come to dwell with us to make us people of God. To make all things new."

 

One might ask Is Tristin in the Kingdom? The answer is of course yes! An overwhelming yes!!! You see God welcomed her into the Kingdom, a troubled body is now a spirit dancing with the angels. The little girl and then young woman who sat at the front and shared her voice with us is singing with Jesus. The demons that attacked Tristin have been dispersed by the Spirits of love and peace. The same peace and love offered here today through Tristin’s spirit in our midst!

 

I invite you to discover your own images of what the kingdom of heaven is like. It is important to have a field guide; to listen to Jesus when he says what it's like so that we can see it in our own lives and in our own world. And here's why: When we can identify the kingdom of heaven sown around us, it's not just an FYI kind of thing; It's a subversion. It's God peeking through the curtain and letting us know that there is a deeper reality present in the world -- a reality in which God gets God's way. It's the light of God's Christ, which shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And seeing where God seems to be insistently, dangerously, gorgeously, and hilariously sewing signs of the kingdom is important because seeing signs of the kingdom of heaven loosens us from the kingdom of this world. It frees us from the false promises of human culture and shows us that which is eternal and true and unstoppable.

 

Loneliness, greed, anguish, and senseless violence are not the final word. And the kingdom of heaven is found in the ordinary, the daily, the right-in-front-of-your-face-and-never-realized-it. Perhaps a part of the world and perhaps a part of yourself. But something is made new when the empty promises of the world according to us gives way to the true and the eternal in the world according to God. And it's always a surprise.

 

Tilt your head and look sideways at your life and you might see it in the small or the unexpected or the impure -- for the Prince of Peace has begun his reign. The signs are all around. They are signs of a battle already won. Signs of a world loved so deeply by God that God refuses to leave it alone. So take another look. See if you can spot it. Amen.

 

Let us now spend a few moments and reflect on these words as we ponder the Kingdom…

 

 

Homily for january 01, 2017

Homily to be added

Homily for january 08, 2017.  Epiphany

The Gospel story today is of Mary Joseph and baby what's his name the poor kid born in a stable lying in a feeding trough. These three very ordinary people are surrounded by sheep and cows and visited recently by lowly shepherds who may have been drinking because they were talking about seeing and hearing Angels. Today a huge caravan stops by and three rich and wise Kings drop off expensive gifts for the baby. Mary and Joseph do a double take while baby Jesus drools into the straw. They ponder these events in their hearts and say, "what in the name of God is going on here?” Epiphany has arrived.

 

Ok, ok I know so maybe these are NOT ordinary people. Mary is a virgin mother of God Incarnate, and the cathedrals built in her honour are quite astounding. Joseph is a loyal step dad providing for the saviour of the world. Baby what's his name has been written about more than any other human being before or after. He is Emmanuel, God with us, the Cosmic Christ, second person of the Trinity. Indeed Epiphany has arrived. 2000 plus years later I wish to share with you something profound that will I hope provide you with a similar experience as Mary and Joseph had when they did a double take. I hope Epiphany will also arrive for you.

 

Richard Rohr from Kansas is a RC Franciscan priest who has written a ton of spiritual books which combine new age thinking with old age wisdom and tradition. His latest book is called the Divine Dance and it is about the Trinity and your transformation. A mystery of imperfect math you know 3 is 1 and 1 is 3. Not really totally understandable right? It is time to think outside the triangle I mean box.

 

In the 15th century a Russian iconographer Andrei Rublev created an Icon which depicts for Rohr "the most perfect piece of Religious art there is" This very old Religious icon depicted the Trinity in a very unique way. They are sitting at a shared table. It shows Abba Momma God depicted in Gold the source of all creation sitting with the human Christ Jesus depicted in blue; symbolic of sea and sky mirroring one another. Jesus is holding up two fingers to show He is equally human and Divine. Then beside these two there is the Holy Spirit depicted in Green as the symbol for our environment and fertility. They are positioned in a circle and are eating and drinking from one common bowl. Total respect and joy is displayed on their face and it is obvious they are one together in the moment. Rohr says it is their relationship as three beings totally flowing with Divine love that makes them One. Not that radical or Epiphany like yet. Here comes the shocker. The Icon depicts the Holy Spirit extending Her hands to an open fourth chair at the table. Who is to fill this space?

 

In fact, where the fourth person should be, historians say there was attached a mirror which provides a whole new concept to this work of art. There is room at this table for the observer of the icon, yes there is room at this table for YOU. This means you and I are called to join God in the banquet of life, the early Fathers and Mothers of the church called it the Divine circle dance. Our Creator is NOT a billion miles away on some throne. Our Creator is present in all of Creation from top to bottom. We are called to be ONE with this triune God. ONE with Abba Momma, Brother Jesus and Sister Spirit and we are to join in the flow of their relationship as a participant in the divine circle dance. How can this be? Well we were created in the image and likeness of God right from the beginning, we just didn’t realize it.

 

And our Trinity God is allowing each of us to dance to whatever tune we desire. It can be slow or fast, country, polka, Irish jig or good old Rock and Roll. Our dance of life can involve us as musicians, artists, authors, engineers, golfers, homemakers, retirees, environmentalists, parents, grandparents, sons and daughters. We were created by a Trinity as a Trinity. Yes, you and I are created body, mind and Spirit: 3 in 1 and we have Original Blessing: divine DNA that links us to the Eternal for eternity. Once you understand that God's love is flowing like an ocean tide breathing in and out providing wave after wave of endless loving experiences you will find yourself smiling for no apparent reason! For you will know in your total being that you cannot fail in your journey to heaven; your room has already been picked out and so has the rooms of everyone you love. It was always Plan A. Jesus’ birth and life and teachings were sent to provide us with more clarity. Richard Rohr's book depicting this new old image of Trinity is sent now to provide continued insights.

 

God loves you today with all your flaws just as you are! Perfectly. In fact God cannot possibly love you more! It is true unconditional love that is not based on your behaviour, achievements or status. You don't have to wait for the kin-Dom of Heaven to know this; for it is already here. You always have been and always will be a part of the Divine Dance and so are your children and everyone else on this planet and in this universe. Happy are those of us also possibly called Wise Ones who have opened the eyes of their hearts and seen this marvelous light.

 

Epiphany is ongoing, trust is all anyone requires. Like Mary and Joseph ponder these things in your heart ask the Divine Trinity to water these seeds of inspiration. Then claim your blessings by sharing your unique self in the dance of all dances. Life and much more; Life Eternal are ours to celebrate today and every day. Thank you Spirit for speaking to us today through some Religious Art and Richard Rohr. Amen, Alleluia

 

 

Homily for january 15, 2017 MArtin Luther King Sunday

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist and champion of human rights, justice and equality. His powerful words continue to inspire, teach and shape individuals in the US and around the world. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., American Baptist Minister, led the struggle against racial discrimination in 1960s, inspiring supporters with the power of his rhetoric. He advocated the principle of non-violent protest, affirming that opposition should be tackled with compassion rather than aggression. Born on 15 January 1929 in Atlanta, Georgia, he was assassinated on 4 April 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to non-violent struggle in 1964.

 

1. “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.”

 

2. “We want all of our rights, we want them here, and we want them now.”

 

3. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

 

4. “We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.”

 

5. “Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

 

6. “Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.”

 

7.”Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

 

8. “In spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.”

 

9. “We adopt the means of nonviolence because our end is a community at peace with itself. We will try to persuade with our words, but if our words fail, we will try to persuade with our acts.”

 

10. “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself.”

 

11. “With patient and firm determination we will press on until every valley of despair is exalted to new peaks of hope, until every mountain of pride and irrationality is made low by the levelling process of humility and compassion; until the rough places of injustice are transformed into a smooth plane of equality of opportunity; and until the crooked places of prejudice are transformed by the straightening process of bright-eyed wisdom.”

 

12. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war, but on the positive affirmation of peace.”

 

13. “The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation.”

 

14. “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.”

 

15. “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

 

“Courage is an inner resolution to go forward despite obstacles;

Cowardice is submissive surrender to circumstances. Courage breeds creativity;

Cowardice represses fear and is mastered by it.

Cowardice asks the question, is it safe?

Expediency ask the question, is it politic?

Vanity asks the question, is it popular?

 

But conscience ask the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.”

 

'Life's Most Persistent and Urgent Question'

3/26/2013

 

“There is little hope for us until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance...A nation or a civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchase its own spiritual death on an installment plan”

- Martin Luther King, Jr., Excerpt from Strength to Love

 

MY THOUGHTS

 

We know this; we understand this; yet, we find ourselves being drawn back to a selfishness that Dr. King’s refers to as hardheartness. A hardheart, a spirit that does not freely give and honestly share in the wealth God has chosen to give to us all. Do we truly grasp what this does to our inner person? To the internal spirit? To our ultimate DNA that uniquely set us apart from all others?

 

I am optimistic; I personally see every glass as half full. To me each, glass is full of hope, full of prosperity, full of possibilities, full of new ideas, full of a new way of thinking. In my heart, my spirit, my soul I truly believe that this way, this method is the only way. I believe there is no other way.

 

Now, we all clearly understand that we cannot erase hate and prejudice from the minds and hearts of every citizen in our global community but we can however chose to help others and ourselves practice and embody alternative methods to deal with softminded individuals who pledge our community and the world.

 

I leave you with another profound quote by Dr. King that challenges us by asking a rhetorical question, one that does not require a verbal response, an illuminating question that causes us to dig deep inside to answer. "Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Homily for January 22, 2017

Homily to be added

Homily for january 29, 2017.  beatitudes

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke

 

Chapter 6 (17-26)

 

Blessings and Woes Jesus went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea gathered, they had come to hear him and to be healed of their dis-eases. Those troubled by troubled spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all. Looking at his disciples, Jesus said:

 

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated my Abba’s prophets.

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

The Spirit speaks to us through Jesus’ life and teachings.

 

Beatitudes Prepared by Germain S. Landry

 

The term Beatitude is not even written in the Bible yet it is attributed to today’s Gospel. It is a word that means Blessing or Bliss or Beautiful Attitude. Each blessing ends with an immediate Divine consequence which brings about the blessing.

 

Like Jesus’ parables the Beatitudes also have a surprise twist or unique paradoxical edge to them. They don’t follow the usual ‘common sense’ belief system of our own current world at all. Many see life in black and white and Spirituality is always in multicolours. The so called Smart people of today would totally disagree with Jesus’ teachings. I have chosen to write a contrasting attitude for each of Jesus’ beatitudes. Let’s call them BS-attitudes. At the end of the day, we can choose to follow Jesus or today’s society.

 

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Un-Smart people say blessed are you who work day and night to become rich, everyone knows heaven can be bought on earth.

 

God blesses the poor? I am reminded of Fr. Greg Boyle the author of Tattoos on the Heart, a priest who worked with the gangs in L.A. He said that the poor had a direct hot line to the Divine and that he learned more from them about God and love than he ever imagined. My mom grew up with 12 kids in her family and lived with an outhouse and very little belongings but much love. When they got indoor plumbing that was truly a blessing.

 

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Un-Smart people say Blessed are you when you Eat Fast Food, for then you will have more time to join in the rat race with more energy to battle the crowds on Black Friday or Boxing Day.

 

Hunger is very cyclical. It always returns no matter how much food you eat. The same is true for buying material goods, neither will satisfy us for very long. That being said, have you ever been ill for a few days unable to even look at food? When you finally get to eat something, you totally understand the beauty of this blessing. Truly it is heavenly to go hungry for a while and to appreciate every bite of a meal after a sickness. It is also a blessing to share our food with our family, friends and strangers, especially with those who have very little like Sr. Rafael.

 

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Un-Smart people say blessed are the strong who never cry, tears are for wimps and bleeding hearts all weaklings for sure.

 

When we love deeply we will weep and tears are a sign of our caring and even healing. Our sons are big, rough and tough men; not wimps like their dad. They work as Arborists felling giant trees with chain saws. One day they shared with their sisters how certain movies make them cry like babies. When I first heard this it brought tears to my eyes and I was so proud of them.

 

These same big men take turns hugging and kissing their four nephews! Seeing them interact with the little boys, especially when they were newborns was pure Joy for Alison and me. Sometimes, males especially, need help seeing this truth Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

 

Un-Smart say blessed are those who never tell you the truth and only tell one another what they want to hear. For example: Do I look fat in this dress? Does this comb over work for me? Oh yeah, you look superb. Wrong!! Burn the dress and I love you with or without hair honey.

 

As a teenager I was teased for my beliefs in God and my attendance at church and even later when I taught Religion some people thought that quite weird. It is interesting when word got out at Timber Ridge that I was a priest. If people treat you as Holy then maybe that just means you are doing something right, like being an authentic follower of Jesus.

 

Rejoice and be glad your reward will be great in heaven which can start right here on earth, if you are wise enough. Be grateful see with new eyes every blessing as true gift. My daughter Sarah showed me a modern video depicting a man waking up on Christmas morning and all his regular stuff in life had been wrapped as gifts and he was experiencing them as if they were newly given to him for the first time. His coffee cup, his shower, his clothing, his car, his job and each time he states, “Wow I am rich beyond belief. This is the attitude of the Beatitudes and it is easy to take for granted the multitude of gifts our Creator gives to us daily. Maybe that is why Jesus adds the 4 curses, He wants us to shake off our blindness and stop taking life for granted. Maybe.

 

But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.

Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.

Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.

 

The Woes in life seem to be tougher to understand. I personally do NOT believe in a God who smites people out of spite; just because they forget to pray or do not say thank you. No way. I suggest to you that Jesus is reminding his followers that they need to stop being jealous of others who are enjoying life’s moments of blessing. Sometimes life brings us roses and sometimes it brings us thorns. But, usually it brings us BOTH. Then we get to judge which way parts we want to make our main focus.

 

We lose our way, we lose our loved ones, we have misunderstandings in our relationships and we feel at times very UN-blessed even if we have faith. All of us have to take turns riding the roller coaster of life; it is what it is. God’s blessings are endless regardless.

 

As you go forth this week ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the truth concerning life’s challenges and blessings. Also, look for ways to lift the burden for others and in all things be faithful, hopeful, humble and kind. Expect blessings and strength and healing because truly that is what our Abba Momma always has to offer you. Amen.

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