Awareness & Intimacy

Morning grogginess and resistance to get out of bed

this time of year… sun doesn’t come up until 7:12 am

my soul really, really wants to be taken to the beach

thirsting for God or love or higher power or something…

O so tired… possessive of my sleep time, food for my brain

rationalizing the sacred wrestling with the sacred.

 

Reluctantly rising… at least my soul,

start the obnoxious grinding of my coffee maker… excited

pushing and pulled by my body to take care of duty

then no excuses… bike pushed out of garage

silence getting louder

body catching up to the desires of the soul

 

coffee in hand, seated on bike…

first surprise

waning moon just two hours from setting

peddling in the cool but warm shadows of morning

intoxicated by the moment before sunrise

my soul like a dog distracted by the smells or squirrel

letting go of seeing the sunrise

appreciating the moon… the feel of the bike beneath me

 

So much, no video, no photo, no story could understand

my ride to the beach was like eternity

gifted to me…

contemplating

filling up with intimacy and flowers bursting from the sand

 

little pricks to my senses like

fire in the distance

bug crawling along my ear and hat line

clouds blocking the sunrise… but a blessing

I was late and would have felt cheated

reluctantly left my bike on the path to the beach

 

breathing deeper

no longer fighting the tiny ants on my path

noticing the sound of the waves crashing louder with every step

silhouetting clouds

disjointed waves

delicious humans and dogs enjoying the same by different perspectives

feet finally in the water, soul thanking my body

sandpipers and dolphins skirting and frolicking

aware, alive, alone and one

 

o so much more,

but not the energy to express

ya’ll need to experience your own morning

even if ya don’t get out of bed…

how beautiful the yawn and stretch

the smells and creaky bones

encounter of your beloved, if only in your memory

 

borrowed a few shells from the shoreline

to share with my friends at Wekiva

beautiful friends

healing and stabilizing

as the mind, body and soul wake up to

awareness and intimacy

 

let us pray

let us hope

let us be aware and intimate

with our day, body and soul

 

breathe in…

breathe out…

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Take, Beloved, receive…

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them…Whoever does not carry one’s own cross cannot be my disciple…Anyone of you who does not renounce all one’s possessions cannot be my disciple.  Luke: 14:25-33

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          The good Jesuit priest Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) to be missionaries. Ignatius never got the opportunity to go on mission physically, but he was the catalyst of an order which one day would bring about a Pope Francis with a missionary and merciful zeal. Every day, Ignatius would pray before a cross in Rome these words. I imagine he also sang them:

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To Thee, O Lord, I return it. All is yours, dispose of it wholly according to your will. Give me only your love and your grace, for this is sufficient for me.

When couples marry, a man and a woman leave their parents and become one. In reality, they say those words St. Ignatius used: “Take and receive all my liberty, all I have and possess. Your love is enough for me.”

When a newborn is presented to parents, parents say to their children: “Take and receive all my liberty, all I have and possess. Your love is enough for me.” Beyond the anxieties, they said these words to each of us.

When we are ordained priests or enter religious life, it is not all blessings and bliss. We say to the people of God, “Take and receive all my liberty, all I have and possess. Your love is enough for me.”

So, when we assess what we will need to complete the most essential successes in life, those that manifest our love, whether we understand or not, the outlay will be all we have and possess. Discipleship is of course one of those successes that require us to be “all in for love.”

This weekend our Holy Catholic Church officially proclaimed what the whole world already knows: Mother Teresa of Calcutta is a saint. Having worked with the sisters in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and Guatemala, I know all of her sisters are saints who gave everything and received everything they need from God.

She once said, “Look at your hands; you have five fingers. Every morning ask yourself what you will do today for the Lord with these five fingers. At night do the same thing and ask what you will do for Jesus and humanity tomorrow.”

In the parables of the tower and the king preparing for war, Jesus reminds us that we do not live the life of God by accident, that to live our baptisms demands focused attention and deliberate action, courage, faith and hope and love.

Now Jesus is on the cross and says these words to each of us:

Take Beloved, receive… all I have and possess;

My memory, understanding, my entire will.

Give me only your love and your grace, that’s enough for me.

Your love and your grace are enough for me.

Jesus is simply waiting for our response. Jesus is waiting for us to say “Yes” to his invitation to join him on the Cross. This Cross has built more than bridges, but love to shelter us for eternity.

Mother Teresa suggested a “Simple Path,” for humanity to thrive (let’s say it together)

The fruit of SILENCE is

PRAYER

The fruit of prayer is

FAITH

The fruit of faith is

LOVE

The fruit of love is

SERVICE

The fruit of service is

PEACE…That would truly be good news!

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On the night that Mother Teresa died, September 5, 1997, I had a dream. I wrote the following in my journal that morning.

Mother Teresa  +

         forgive us God

         for all this pomp

         tell her we love her

         and push us and gently guide us

         to get back to work

         and quench the thirst

         of Jesus on the Cross

 

a dream I had last night

that I entered a special

and privileged group

everything was given to me

as I went from event to event

they smiled, the ones in charge

and freely gave me and my companions

everything we needed

         but

         but

I was very distressed…

uneasy

like something was expected

i had to earn my keep… pay back

i became angry in my dream

at these people who gave me things

i tried to ask them what they wanted in return

         but nothing

                  just a dumb smile

 

I was looking for the hitch

         the trap

nobody gives anything without

         expecting something

 

and then I got it

they were the rich who gave a lot

they were in charge

and wouldn’t look into our eyes

         touch our sores

we were the poorest of poor

and they were satisfied

         in us

when we are so grateful for their sharing…

which wasn’t totally true love… free of guilt

 

and then I woke up immediately recognizing how rich I am.

snatched with this thought…

God smiling

Teresa smiling

Holy Spirit smiling

   and Jesus smiling.dscf9236

At Eucharist

Jesus gives to all… the same plain bread and wine

         some places in the world can’t afford the wine

         but that’s okay

         sort of

Working with the Sisters of Charity

         they eat what the poor eat

         Cities of Joy

                  in

Haiti, Jamaica, Guatemala, Cuba

Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania, Mexico, Ghana, Liberia, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, New York, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Panama, El Salvador….

                                             They are there!

                                             Jesus cries out from the Cross:

                                             “I thirst!”

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We Are A Banquet of Love 22nd Sunday ~ St. Augustine

Then Jesus said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14: 7-14

Erica and Robert "True Joy"

Touched by Jesus

Upon my return from the war raging in Iraq in 2005, Jesus invited me to join him for a banquet that he was invited to in Haiti. Father Jeff was also going to bless the Home for the Elderly named Queen of Peace after this community. Queen of Peace is constantly inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind to this table through their stewardship of the first 10% of your collection. Just like the Gospel passage we heard, none of the people we help could repay us back. Just by being a member of Queen of Peace Parish Community could be the first step to a really nice seat at the Table in Heaven and Earth.

After the blessing of this home, the small group of us Queen of Peace Missionaries and Jesus were invited to celebrate. Then Jesus invited Father Jeff and I to a home for the malnourished children in a town called Aquin. This was the most amazing place I have ever seen. Parents or family must stay with the very malnourished child and learn skills to keep their children healthy and avoid having to come back. Many times the mothers sit at the perimeter. On this occasion, Jesus had a little girl about 3 or 4 years old on his lap. She was licking a lollipop. Before I could save Jesus from what was unfolding, the little girl gleefully took the lollipop out of her mouth and forcefully thrust the lollipop into Jesus’ mouth. Jesus seemed to delight in the generosity of the little girl. I on the other hand was aghast.

Then the little girl who had invited Jesus to her own little banquet showered Jesus with another unexpected and humbling gift. When the good sister lifted the child off of his lap, the little girl had baptized Jesus with a generous portion of piddle. When I looked into the eyes of Jesus with my own horror, he simply smiled and had this look of radiance, acceptance, humility, love and great gratitude for this little girl’s gifts.

Beloved, all of us can invite people to a banquet or luncheon. We have been invited to this great banquet where Mary, the Queen of Peace is the hostess. We receive the Body and Blood of Jesus. We become what we eat. We have everything we could ever possibly desire. Do you remember when Peter and John were going into the temple and came upon a crippled man? They said to him, “We do not have anything of value to give you, but what we do have you can have. In the name of Jesus, rise and be healed!” He sprang up. Peter and John invited the crippled man to the Banquet.

Let me tell you a secret. This is a true story, but it was Father Jeff who was really sitting with the little girl with the lollipop. It was Fr. Jeff who received gifts. Jeff was invited to Haiti as a guest of the poor and sat at the lowest place. He was humbled by the generosity of the little girl. He was the one whom I tried to save, but the little girl beat me too it. And she did it with a splash.

Let’s keep doing it. Let’s keep inviting the poor in body & spirit, the crippled by grief, and those blind to God’s infinite love. Let’s continue to invite them to the Table of Plenty where saint and sinners are friends. Let us become what we eat and invite people to this Eucharistic Banquet. Let us give from our want, not from our surplus. We need to love those we share our gifts with.

We are one with God. We inherit God’s love. What could we fear?

Tithing isn’t about repaying God, but rather it is an opportunity to invite others to share in our abundance of love with a splash and joy.

Do Not Be Afraid ~ 19th Sunday

Jesus said to his disciples: Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.                          St. Luke 12:32-40

IMG_1736Jesus says it over and over, “Do not be afraid.”

Let us ask the question: “What am I afraid of?”

Jesus shares with us that if we open the door immediately when the Master knocks, he will have us recline at table and then wash our feet, and then proceed to wait on us. What could we possibly be afraid of?

God was knocking on Penny’s door. She volunteered to go to Kalighat, a home for the dying run by Mother Teresa’s sisters, for the first time. I suppose she was intrigued by the love of the Missionaries of Charity. It was terribly traumatic for Penny—being a beauty therapist, she was used to everything being all nice and spick-and-span, smelling nice, so it was quite a shock. I am sure many of you can relate to this when you volunteered for mission work in a place like Haiti or Catholic Heart work camp. Or maybe the first time your first child had diarrhea. When I began volunteering as a retreat director for Ministries of Disabilities, the drooling, physical suffering, and people who violated my boundaries raised my anxieties. I had whopping headaches and emotional paralysis.

When one of the sisters asked Penny to wash this woman she just thought, ‘There’s no way. I just couldn’t.’ So the sister said, ‘All right, come with me,’ and she picked up this little bundle of bones, because that’s what this lady was, and took her into the bathroom. Even now it makes her cry—there wasn’t a lot of light in the room and she was absolutely catatonic. Then all of a sudden the whole room just lit up! One minute she was saying ‘I just can’t’ and the next she realized, ‘Of course, I could.’IMG_2740

Throughout our lives, especially those here at Queen of Peace, we have worked among the poorest of poor, people with severe mental and physical disabilities, social injustice, Marines, sailors, soldiers and families torn apart by IED’s and shrapnel to the soul. Whenever we tell God there is something we just can’t do, like shave a man who does not have use of his arms, comfort the grieving, embrace a person with AIDS, tell a person we love them just before they will die, or work with schizophrenics or drug addicts… God seems to knock on the door of our terrified hearts. Then all of a sudden, light floods our darkness. We no longer label people as a diagnosis; we see the whole person light up. One minute we are saying, “I just can’t” and the next we realize, “Of course, we can!”

God doesn’t ask us to do things he isn’t already doing.

God is hoping that we do small things with great love.

God is hoping to find us ready when he knocks.

And then Our Father will welcome us home, wash our feet and invite us to dine with him and Our Family.

When God asks us to step out of our comfort zone and we do it,

we are always better for the experience.

Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.

Now that is Good News we can treasure.

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Mission Statement of Queen of Peace

As Christians we receive God’s gifts gratefully,

cultivate them responsibly,

share them lovingly in justice with others,

and return them with increase to the Lord.DSCF0893

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Rich in What Matters to God?

     Someone in the crowed said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

     Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, “What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?” And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”

   But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves but are not rich in what matters to God.”

                                                                                                St. Luke: 12:13-21

What Matters to God?

The key to the parable is learning “being rich in what matters to God.”

If we are driven to saving up for retirement while avoiding the term, ‘paying it forward’, the parable could apply. If I am so anxious about my kids’ college education that I fall short of the biblical tithe, the parable could apply. If I cut-off family and friends who have hurt me, bury the bitterness or resentment away and ignore the problem to live and exist in a fragile peace… Jesus may be reaching out to me in this parable today. Our desire for fame, legacy, pictures, larger iclouds, praise or respect could all be part of our trying to tear down our barns for larger barns and storage.

Jesus became poor and yet remained abundantly rich. This matters to God.

The Gifts of the Holy Spirit matter to God: wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, reverence, courage and a wonder/awe in the presence of God.

Jesus says you will know them by their rich fruit. This fruit matters to God:

It matters to God that each of us here bears abundant fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control, and faithfulness.

Saving up for retirement is a wise thing to do, but not very wise if we neglect the poor, the oppressed and the grieving. Is it possible that God has given us the opportunity to produce very large harvests so that we can be instruments of God’s generosity, not our own?

If you received an unexpected and large inheritance, what would God want tyou to do? What would matter to God?

Would the voice of your desires be louder than the whisper of God?

How would you rationalize quitting your job?

How would you invest that money to share your joy with Jesus in the poor?

What matters to God?

Jesus inherited God’s abundant richness, but he cashed it all in for YOU and ME?

That alone mattered to God.

What matters to God is what matters to Jesus, his beloved Son.

We matter to Jesus.

Therefore, We matter to God.

Let us go out of this church with Jesus within us. Let us in our generosity; leave the security of Heaven in Church, and bring about Heaven on Earth.

Let us grow rich in our Love for One Another.

It does matter to God that we spend time with Him. It matters that we share our ups and downs, grief and joys, frustrations and resentments, need for security and fears. God cares… a lot.

In God We Trust is on our money.

What if we trust and share our money thinking about what matters to God…

Now that is what matters to God.

Touched by the Beloved

The Big Island of Hawaii ~ 5:21 pm~ Jan 21,2004

I am sitting in a crater

It is starting to get dark

I am all alone

Steam rising

Volcanic rock, singed grass

Rosary in hand

I am being contemplated by Yahweh!?

I am so insignificant

but love raises me up

a friend of Jesus

a brother

a father

a pilgrim

 

Alone, really alone

Where sounds are quite distinct

I can really hear the sound of silence

eerie yet gentle

Kindness, gentleness, generosity,

Patience, peace, faithfulness,

Self-control, joy, and love

 

This is quite awesome.

I love you God!

 

As a child rests in his mother’s arms even so my soul

 

Ron Moses, trust in the Beloved

both now and forever

In God you Trust!

wow and ooh and o my!

Ron Moses +   DSCF8809

 

The Following Night ~ 8 pm

 

I’m exhausted physically, spiritually and emotionally

God woke me up at 4 or 5 am…I can’t remember

Its okay, because it was my gain

 

A dark night, ah the sheer grace

I went out into the starlit darkness

My house all still

I had to resist leaving the place and time,

thinking of the future

and all the things I could do

on this incredible and diverse island called ‘paradise’

 

It turned out great

Yet, I noticed how tempting it was to leave

Here’s what happened:

 

Last year there was a lava flow into the ocean

It was hot, dangerous, fascinating and a once in a lifetime opportunity for me

I heard last night over a glass of wine that there was “nothing happening”

How wrong they were for

‘Happening’ is only the beginning

 

Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace

As a child rests in her mother’s arms

So too, even so my soul

I was awoken

I went out

Stunned by the star studded sky

I actually saw lava in the distance

Pele, the Volcano goddess, dancing in Red

 

So quiet, so, so silent

I was drawn to

the bottom of the road

where sea and land have been raging

heat of passion

But not now,

for I was alone

no other soul was awake

 

I stopped the Jeep,

I walked out over the lava now cooled

and departed from the safe trail

I could barely see,

forgot my flashlight

And then I stopped close to the sea

where the lava had erupted, yet now frozen

 

I prayed.

I started to pray without words or thoughts

It was as if I was led here without knowing it

My Father held my hand

and yet I still resisted

wanting to be somewhere else

God was patient, kind and gentle

God was loving, peaceful and joyful…

yes quite joyful

God was generous with gifts of creation and interior thoughts

God was and is faithful

and didn’t obliterate me

who in reality, i am, nothing

except when I am in the eyes of God

 

It is remarkable to me

How much God longed to meet with me…

this morning

alone?!

God loves me, and I have nothing to fear

God whispered my name:

“Ron Moses!”

Awesome.

 

And then in the middle of nowhere

on a lava flow

I obediently took off my shoes and socks

and I curled up in the arms of “Love”DSCF8816

 

I have never felt so at peace…so secure

The sun rose on me

As the Son rose within me

 

I curled up

I was just a speck in the universe, yet…

Whole

Anything else that could happen today was pure blessing.

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These pictures were taken with film that morning. Didn’t see until weeks later.

 

 

Funny, I’m at KMC Lava Lounge

(A military recreational lodging place that is inexpensive beside the crater)

Karaoke

Horrible yet wonderful

I’m sipping on wine, not annoyed, but pleasantly enjoying life.

 

This morning I made a simple altar of 7 rocks

worship, simple, pure

with my friend Jesus

I’m still almost in disbelief

Air cool

Sounds of water crashing into rock

Mysteries of Light

My Beloved turned my water into wine

Called, baptized, transfigured, devoured

with Jesus, my Beloved

“You are my beloved child, son, with you I am well pleased”

How could this be?

Because God took the initiative, that’s how

God loves us,

more than we could ever imagine

and God desires to spend lots of time with us

 

First Fruits –

Let the journey begin!

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Tapestry in Father John’s home. Father John was chaplain at Kings Point when I arrived in 1977

Soulful Prayer ~ 17th Sunday

IMG_5708Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

                        Father, hallowed be your name,

                           your kingdom come.

                        Give us each day our daily bread

                        and forgive us our sins

                        for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,

                       and do not subject us to the final test.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

Jesus went on, “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?              

                                                                                                            St. Luke 11:1-13

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Jesus was praying. He doesn’t ask us to do things he wouldn’t do himself.

Jesus teaches us how to pray if we ask; real and sustaining prayer; prayer like food.

Jesus also informs us that as sons and daughters of the Father, we have an abundance of bread and gifts that the world is in desperate need of.

Prayers to God and Jesus are always answered. Prayers are not always answered the way we expect or desire, but they are always the absolute best answer. Why? Because God loves us as only a mother and father could. If we ask for a snake to eat, God most likely will give us a fish.

When we ask for something in prayer, do we always consider how our prayer will impact others? I am sometimes baffled how God could answer my trivial prayer to get over a cold before migrants and refugees who ask only to be treated with a drop of respect and drink of water. I shutter to think how our country cries over our health care details when our life expectancy is greater than most other countries that have none. Being rich is not a blessing as much as it is a responsibility. When much has been given, much is expected.

IMG_6174Our daily bread is a recognition and Eucharistic gratitude that we have the Creator of the world within our bodies and hearts. Therefore our prayer needs to be for wisdom (the first gift of the Holy Spirit), humility, joy and gratitude.

The serenity prayer says much about a true prayer. People who have hit rock bottom and are crying for mercy desperately pray it. “Lord, grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the acceptance of the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I accept that I can’t change how we human beings prophet from violence and from divisions like divorce and politics. What I can change is being more responsible for myself; becoming less reactive and more peaceful.

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control and faithfulness. All human beings can improve on this fruit. I’m praying for a bumper crop of love, joy and peace… in me!!! I am reassured that in tragedies like Orlando and Dallas and Baton Rouge, people still come together like they never knew they could.IMG_5785

God is more interested in our return to prayer than we are. It isn’t about the sins of others, but about my sins and my need for mercy. We simply need to listen and spend time with Jesus and continue to ask him to teach us how to pray better than we did yesterday. It all begins and ends with love. But our prayer will be uncomfortable.

I often take long walks on the beach and I pray. Often this song wells up from my soul:

There is a longing in our hearts, O Love, for you to reveal yourself to us.

There is a longing in our hearts for love, we only find in you o God.

 

For justice, for mercy, for freedom hear our prayer.

In sorrow, in grief, be near hear our prayer o God.

 

For wisdom, for courage, for comfort… hear our prayer.

In weakness, in fear, be near hear our prayer o God.

 

For healing, for wholeness, for new life… hear our prayer.

In sickness, in death, be near hear our prayer O God.

 

Lord save us, take pity. Light in our darkness.

We call you. We wait. Be near, hear our prayer O God.

                                    Song by Anne Quigley  1992

If you pray like this, I am confident that God, the Father, will not only hear your prayer, but answer it.

As a country, many knock at our door. Many are praying that we open our doors and see. Once I saw the poorest of poor in Haiti, Jamaica, the special needs and Honduras… I realized that I needed to bang on the doors of my friends for some bread (food and money). When confronted with over 1500 casualties and 81 deaths in Fallujah Iraq, I realized the 10,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines were pounding on the door of my heart for spiritual bread to make sense of the senseless. I was depleted and bankrupt of mercy. As long as we profit from wars, we will never be able to listen to the prophets. Although Jesus has given me an abundance of Bread and Blood, there came a time when I was the one pounding on the doors of my friends late at night for my friends and their families in need. I am still pounding!DSCF0372

In other words, my prayer is that I have the courage to open the locked door of my heart tonight and see the plight of the poor and hungry. Sometimes I have to be the beggar for the hungry, refugee, oppressed and poor like the friends who come to me in the middle of the night. God will provide.

Ah the dangers of praying as Jesus teaches us…

Do you think God might answer this prayer?

O my! & wow!DSCF2170

 

 

 

 

Hostility to Hospitality

16th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ Hostility to Hospitality

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Luke 10:38-42

DSCF9030Hostility needs to transform into Hospitality. How often do we bring in a third party to solve our conflicts rather than working out our troubles with love, hospitality and understanding?

Martha had a valid complaint and concern for her sister Mary. Women of that time just didn’t do that kind of behavior. It is similar to how Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to drive a car even today. And yet some bold women have done just that. And they paid a terrible price. Remember the excuses men gave for women not being able to vote. Many paid a terrible price.

Mary was responding with her heart first. If she hears Jesus with her heart, she will later respond with her hands.

In our very turbulent and wounded world, the emotional response only heightens the anxiety. Martha was really anxious. Has anyone here been anxious about terror, violence, economics, relationships, teenagers or politics? Martha really wanted to sit and listen to Jesus, but she was programmed otherwise. It wasn’t Mary’s problem; it was Martha’s problem. Martha invited Jesus to her house (unusual for a woman) with joy. She believed she was going to be a great sacristan, Eucharistic Minister, altar server or lector or usher. But Jesus wanted to engage Martha’s mind and heart in the same way he connected with Mary, her sister. The Scriptures emphasize how Jesus loved these sisters very much.

Has this ever happened to you? Your generosity and hospitality turned to hostility? I know I have been caught. “Ron, Ron, you are anxious and upset about many things.” It is very hard not to get anxious these days. Psychologically, we know that if anxieties rise like in tragedies, conflict, atrocities or deadlines… thinking decreases dramatically and decisions are made with our emotions and reactivity.

I dunno. I wonder if Martha invited her sister Mary into her quiet space after Jesus left. “What did he say?” “How did you take it in?” “Did he like my matzo balls and leftover lamb?” If they had any conflict or hostility toward each other, it probably transformed into hospitality.

Jesus personally invites each of us to this Eucharistic celebration today. Some of us became the feet, hands, voice and heart of Jesus. His hospitality is outstanding, but his Word is divine! We welcome people through the penitential cleansing and baptism. We serve the Word as lectors. We are busy with live entertainment and musicians. We are stewards of our time, talent, treasures, AC, electricity and nutritious donuts. We experience the most incredible bread and wine transformed into Jesus’ Body, Blood and Soul. All are welcome. This is a 7 Star restaurant!

After the banquet we go home, but not alone.

The Mass truly never ends. We take it with us.

Martha did eventually listen to Jesus when death and tragedy struck her home. Martha begged Jesus to come and heal her brother who was quite ill. Jesus couldn’t make it to her home until her brother was four days in the tomb. This time it was Martha who first threw herself at the feet of Jesus. “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God will be granted.” Jesus replied, “Martha, your brother will rise.” She replied, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus then caught her attention again. He broke through her anxieties. “Martha, Beloved Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha’s tears dried up and I imagine she looked Jesus in the eyes. “Yes Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27

Amazingly, Martha leaves Jesus there and calls her sister secretly saying, “The Teacher is here and asking for you.” These sisters truly love each other with no grudges. In all of the Scriptures, Martha is the only woman called twice by name. She joins, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, and Saul now Paul. And let us not forget the 7th call from the Son on his Cross. My God, My God…

Love

Insignificant…Not!

Martha received Jesus in her home. She then took Jesus with her. Or did Jesus take her with him?   When we leave today from this Eucharistic Banquet, we will welcome Jesus into the home of our hearts. Then we will hopefully discover that we are the ones invited to our own home where Jesus is reclining. We listen first like Mary and then we serve like Martha and Jesus. Remember that during the Last Supper, Jesus got up and washed his disciples’ feet. Let us do the same.

First love with your heart, then love with your hands.

This is what it means to love God, self and neighbor equally with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind.

And if we are going to live for all eternity, what stops us from living eternity today? All we need to do is welcome him into our homes. Don’t be anxious nor afraid.   Jesus wants us to know that he will be with us always as reflected in this song:

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.

Be not afraid. I go before you always.
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.

If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all.

Song by John Michael Talbot
Bravo-Surgical

Let us pray for the people throughout the world subjected to terror.

People in places like Africa have been suffering for years. They too are neighbors.

Let us respond to terrorism with love and non-violence. Reactivity only leads to reactivity.

Caught Breaking the Spirit of the Law

Love with all15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

There was a scholar of the Law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply,  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor? Luke 10:25-37

 We go over the speed limit.

We text while driving.

We cheat at work. We exaggerate on our taxes.

Shoplifting something small. Drink too much before we drive.

Texting at the dinner table or when dining with someone.

We don’t complete our homework and we are in class.

You take on a job and realize that although you graduated with honors, you didn’t learn the material.

What is our number one concern?

Jumping in Cuba

Getting caught!!!

Sometimes our behaviors are dangerous and can cause serious injury. But getting caught is our number one concern.

When we do get caught, we attempt to justify why we broke the law or can’t do the work. We blame, we squirm, we dig a deeper hole. Or like a good defense attorney, we find the loopholes. We get further and further away from the truth and ourselves.

Every Mass we come with gratitude and blessings.

We also come with a question similar to the scholar of the law.

“Jesus, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus throws the question right back at us. “You went through Catholic schools or a great confirmation class. You came into the church through RCIA. What is written in the Scriptures, how do you read it?”

We all answer the question intellectually correct. Some still answer as cradle Catholics or with the Baltimore Catechism. Some answer with a conservative, traditional or liberal bent.

We all answer correctly. “Do this and you will live.”

But then we attempt to justify ourselves because we got caught. It was only 5 mph over the limit.

We believe we love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind. We ask what is the minimum I need to do to get into heaven.

What does loving our neighbor with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind really mean?

How have you loved our neighbor who is often poor psychologically, physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually? Children are not born racist, violent, nor greedy. They are taught to be so. They do not have a choice. A puppy does not have a choice about whether they are mean or gentle. They simply reflect their master and their family. Behavior is automatic like stopping when the light turns red or crossing the street when we see trouble. But human beings have a choice. We choose a life in the Holy Spirit. But it takes great effort.

In the parable, we know nothing about the victim in the ditch except he was probably Jewish. We do know that Jesus loves this man in the ditch. That is why Jesus tells the story. He wants us to see him for who he is: God’s beloved son and our brother. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta pleads with us that the poor and victims are Jesus in the distressing disguise. This victim probably had a family and friends. The ripple effect of this violent crime will carry for generations. We all have similar stories in our ancestry. How would the story be passed down if the man eventually died in the ditch? What if the antidote to violence in our world was mercy?

The victim’s grandchildren would tell the story of the merciful stranger who loved him out of the horrific hole he was in. Jesus was stripped, robbed, beaten and left for dead. Love prevented the story from being passed down as a tragedy. Jesus freed us from the bitterness. God loved us back to health. There will be times when we are in the ditch. I believe the victim and the Samaritan are no longer strangers. They are friends. The best of friends.

Jesus is in all victims: war and sleep cartoonHe is in the people escaping tyranny and war, immigrants, Honduran parents who empty their savings to send their children to avoid the gangs and drugs, drug addicts and those on the brink of suicide. Jesus is in Minnesota, in Louisiana, in Dallas, in Baghdad, in Turkey, in Brussels, in Paris, in Nigeria and Orlando.

The law will not get anyone into heaven. It just teaches us. After we graduate and clothed in the Holy Spirit, we must put our knowledge and skills to the test. God can heal the world, but he needs each of us to do our part, not just 10% which is the law. Christians are called to a much higher accountability because we live in the love of God. Love one another as our own son or daughter, father or mother.

We must love God, love self and love neighbor all equally. Love them equally and without judgment like the mother of nine children even if a couple of them forget to send a Mother’s Day card. We are one Body in Christ.

To love is to be compassionate with suffering and mercy.

Let Jesus help you to be more than you thought you were.

Bear fruit 30, 60 or even 100 fold. There are neighbors you will meet this week who are in the ditch. The grieving mother of a soldier or policeman, a community responding to hatred with insensible looting, a classmate whose depression has them on the brink, a woman who realizes her abortion is crippling her.

How we work here on earth for justice is how we work in heaven. We are instruments of God’s peace. What are we waiting for? With Jesus in our blood and heart we already experience the joys of heaven. This parable is a call. The harvest is great, but the merciful laborers are few.

May rivers of God’s Mercy flow through you every day.

May your neighbors become your beloved friends.

Mass is ended. Go in peace.

The Mass never ends, we take it with us!

PACHYDERMS: One Soldier’s Experience of the Vietnam War

It is so important to learn from history and the stories of our combat veterans. I re-blog this because it is important. After reviewing Pachyderms https://www.amazon.com/Pachyderms-Danny-Buoy/dp/0989002667 , Danny allowed his story to be “repackaged” so that it became a “polished diamond”. Let us continue to love one another.war and sleep cartoon

Father Ron's Blog

By Danny Buoy
Link to Pachyderms updated

This book was updated and edited and reads well. The story is truly a diamond

Review by Ron Camarda MWSA
January 26, 2012

Life after War

Pachyderms is a diamond in the rough. The book reads like a screenplay of a movie with substance…but better. The characters come alive, albeit complex, simple and surprisingly likeable, through the mind of a very gifted and clever author. St. Augustine’s Confessions came to my mind as I finished this book. Danny looks deeply into his own heart and soul and recognizes his own faulty judgments and foibles. The book is raw and demands that you feel, think about, experience and observe the fears, terror, boredom and blunt force of an illogical war. This is accomplished through the observations of a young new recruit who was overwhelmed by the inevitable deployment to an unpopular, seductive and perplexing Vietnam War. It…

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