Generous with Forgiveness

24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

17 September 2017 ~ St. Monica, Palatka & St. John Interlachen~ Father Ron


Sirach 27:30-28:9 ~ Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.

Psalm 103 ~ The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.!

Romans 14:7-9 ~ None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s..

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35~ Jesus completed his story, “His master summoned him and said to him, ’You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother or sister from your heart.”


When Father David arrived at his first parish several years ago, he discovered the little town had a fascination for nicknames. He learned that the pharmacist O. R. Carlson is called “Wolf” because when he was a boy he called the police to report a wolf roaming the neighborhood. It turned out to be a large cat, but the name stuck. George, the fire chief, who was credited with saving the horse farm is called “Blazing Saddles.” Eleanor Duffy who owns the local body shop, is know as “Crash,” and Wayne Monson, a 6-foot-7-inch giant who runs a fix-it business, “Tinker.”

Sometimes entire families, such as the Crowleys, have interesting names. August Crowley was chair of the pastoral counsel. He also had the reputation of being a fine biblical scholar. August had attended seminary for a while and had a masters degree in Scripture. Father David thought nothing of August’s name until he met the three Crowley sisters, all members of the church. Their names—April, May, and June. Surely, Fr. David thought, this must be a family with a great sense of humor. In fact, the four Crowley’s had seemed to be a jolly group, until about three years ago when their mother Tillie died. The events surrounding Tillie Crowley’s death had caused a painful split in the family.

The sibling squabble broke out over the disposition of Tillie’s property. It was as one local wit said, spring against summer. April and May were on one side, June and August on the other.

During his first visit to the house after his mother died, August found messages under three antique lamps and on the backside of several pictures. The messages read, “This is for April,” or “This is for May.”

All four children had long believed that Tillie never completed a will. When they opened their mother’s safety deposit box, however, they discovered that she left a detailed will which included a list of what every child was to receive, down to the silverware. Her list and the names on the backs of the lamps and pictures did not match. It was pretty clear to June and August that the messages were written not by their mother, but by their sisters. World War III broke out in the Crowley family.

In the weeks that followed, each pair threatened the other with a lawsuit. Hardly a day passed when some juicy tidbit wasn’t released into the town’s gossip mill. One-week people were buzzing over what August did to April, and the next week over what May did to June.

Father David, as the pastor of the Fighting Irish, I mean Crowleys, preferred not to get involved in this family feud, yet found it increasingly difficult to avoid it. All four Crowleys attended church every Sunday, and April and August never missed the Sunday morning Bible class right before Mass. Neither was willing to let the other prevent them from attending, but the minute they arrived their icy stares seemed to make the temperature in the room drop. The family feud made everyone in the church uncomfortable.

Father David knew something had to be done and he took it to prayer. During the following Sunday Bible study, the pastor announced that next month they would focus on the gospel for the next week. He said, “I’m going to ask some of you to do a little homework for that class. I’ll call you this week.”

The first week the group studied Matthew 18:15-20. “In this passage Jesus gives us instructions on how to deal with grievances between believers,” Father said, “I’ll read just a section. ‘If your brother or sister sins against you, go to them and show them their fault. Do it privately. If they listen you have won your brother or sister back.’”

Although there was a lot of discussion, neither August nor April, normally quite vocal, took part. In conclusion David said, “The purpose of these instructions is to help us win back those we love. It grows out of conviction that we are to forgive the way we are forgiven.”

The following week Fr David made separate phone calls to April and August to ask them to write a brief paragraph for next Sunday’s class. After hesitating, each agreed. Unknown to the other, David gave them both the same assignment. “I’d like you to write 50 to 100 words on the “unforgivable sin,” he said.

At the next Bible study, Father David shared how Jesus wants forgiveness to overflow, he says ‘seventy times seven times.’ In other words, forgiveness without limits.

“In today’s Gospel Jesus underlines his message. A king had a servant who owed him millions of dollars, and there was no way the servant could ever repay that amount. Out of compassion the king forgave him.”

David saw April and August staring at the floor. “Next, the man who was forgiven insisted that a friend repay him 100 denarii, which may have been worth about $30. When his friend pleaded for mercy, the man refused and threw him into jail. When the king heard what happened, he arrested the first servant. The story ends with these words, ‘So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart. ‘” Father David concluded, “I think we may have another unforgiveable sin.”

There was an awkward silence until one of the women in the front row responded, “I don’t understand,” she said. “This story and your point aren’t clear to me.”

Father resisted saying anything more. He let the words hang in the air. Finally a man’s voice broke the silence. “It is painfully clear to me.” It was August, the biblical scholar.

“God is like the king,” he said slowly, without looking up. “God looks at the dark hearts of his servants, the debt people like you and me owe. There is no way we can repay him. We cry out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.’ And in Christ’s death on the cross God forgives our massive debt to him, a debt worth millions. But when we meet a sister who owes us a few lousy bucks, we refuse to forgive that sister.” August glanced across the room briefly catching April’s eye. “We refuse to pass on the very forgiveness of the king, a forgiveness that allows us to walk free and live clear. The unforgivable sin is refusing to forgive as we have been forgiven. I’m afraid it is all too clear.”

When August finished, no one else spoke. The only sounds were a nervous cough and the noise of people changing positions on their hard metal chairs. Finally August stood up and walked out of the room. No one moved until the bell rang, calling people to Mass. August was not in his usual spot when the service began.

Father David thought about August during the entire service, and again on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. He continually second-guessed his decision to go public with their family feud. At the time, he had decided it would take a terrible jolt to make them see. He also knew that their division was not private, but had touched the lives of the entire congregation.

David thought about visiting his friend, but decided to wait for August to make the first move. On Friday, August did. David looked up from his desk and saw him standing silently in the doorway. David wordlessly invited him in. For several minutes the two men sat looking at each other without speaking.

Finally August’s eyes narrowed. “That was a dirty trick you pulled on me Sunday,” he said. Then there was a long pause. “But I deserved it. This has been a long week. It has been a time of soul searching. You said nothing new, nothing I didn’t know. I knew all about forgiveness as a concept, an idea. For mercy sakes, I’ve led classes on the subject. My problem is that I knew little of forgiveness as an experience.”

August thought for a moment before he continued. “I visited my sisters last night. I told them I had been a fool. I told them their friendship was worth more than trinkets, whether those trinkets be new or antique. I asked them to pray for me. We all cried a lot before I left.”

Tears flowed down August’s wrinkled cheeks. “Father, I have sinned. Pray for me,” he cried.

Father David walked over to his friend and asked, “Is this your confession?” August nodded.

Father David put his hands on the old man’s head and spoke lovingly, “God the Father of all mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And let me be Jesus for you. I forgive you of all your sins, seventy times seven times. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”


Homily Story adapted extensively from Stories for the Gathering: A Treasury for Christian Storytellers by William R. White, 1997, Augusburg Fortress, Minneapolis, MN ~ Family Feud, pp 78-82

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…


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…


The Treasure Within my Soul – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Book of Kings 3:5-12: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding…”

Paul to the Romans: We know that all things work for good for those who love God…

Gospel According to St. Matthew: Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

fading beauty

You offer security.

You are solid under me.

I walk,

And you seem to glide beneath my feet,

Catching my footsteps,

Preventing a fall into the abyss.


True, at times, you seem too fixed,

Unmoved, unresponsive, unyielding,

Then, you hurt, aggravate, block,

That’s your nature.

My faith does not want to move your mountains—

But rather, aspire to their triumph

Touching the sky.


Shell shock standing

When you do move beneath us—

Quaking, sliding, collapsing—

Our safety vanishes.

We need you to be invincible, for

The earth (treasure) in us is so vulnerable.

          Meditations for the New Millennium: Communion of Life by Chris Glaser, 1999 (Day 5 Earth)

We are all in the palm of God's hand

We are all in the palm of God’s hand

This poem could be a direct prayer to the kingdom of God, our treasure. We come into this world with nothing but dust. We leave this world with nothing but the treasure buried in our dust. I don’t know about you, but I often cherish security as my greatest treasure… if I am honest. I cling to security like a child desperately wanting swim, but refusing to trust and let go of his patient father. For the first stanza I thought of Simon Peter saying to Jesus during the storm, “If you are the Son of God, then command me to walk on the water to you.” “Come!” Jesus says. And when Peter finally walks a few steps, he reverts back to the way things were, safe in the confining boat.

With the second stanza I think of Jesus saying to Simon Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” or “Put out into the deep and lower you nets for a catch!” “But master, we have been hard at it all night long and caught nothing!” Then we hear Jesus say not only to his disciples, but to me, “Unless you eat my body and drink my blood… pick up your cross and follow me… love me more than family… to follow me requires suffering… Will you leave me also?” Then you hurt, aggravate, block… That’s your nature. And then we think of treasure buried within us of the broken bread/body and poured out blood.

They recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, but he vanished from their sight. “Weren’t our hearts burning within us as he spoke to us along the way?” The Way of the Cross is not easy. We cry out like the poet: My faith does not want to move your mountains— But rather, aspire to their triumph, touching the sky.

In the final stanza, we realize life without the treasure hidden within us is a life without safety, joy or hope. Our life is so vulnerable.

What if the second coming of Jesus, the pearl of great price, is actually hidden among the refugee children risking everything to enter our Southern borders from Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador? Your bulletin gets it right this week, “If you think fertilized eggs are people but refugee kids aren’t…you’re going to have to stop pretending your concerns are religious.”

The parable today inspires Queen of Peace Catholic Community to think about tithing beyond 10% to the poor. Our community finds the buried treasure of God’s Love for the Poor. Then we go out and sell everything to purchase the field with the buried treasure. Cheerful givers that we are, Queen of Peace does this by giving away 10% of the offertory. That is the first place people consider finding more money. We don’t want to look at the 90%, but that is where God buried the treasure! Our God being good all the time, will not be outdone in generosity. The Kingdom of Heaven resides in each of us today. O my!DSCF8587

DSCF9220As Christians we receive (or find) God’s gifts gratefully, cultivate them responsibly, share them lovingly in justice with others, and return them with increase to the Lord. (When we hide the treasure in our bodies as Eucharist… God, our treasure, multiplies the fruit within us: more fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, self-control and faithfulness.

After my mission visits to Haiti, Guatemala and Honduras, I agree wholeheartedly with Pope Francis. “I can say that the most beautiful and natural expressions of joy which I have seen in my life were in poor people who had little to hold on to. I also think of the real joy shown by others who, even amid pressing professional obligations, were able to preserve, in detachment and simplicity, a heart full of faith. In their own way, all these instances of joy flow from the infinite love of God, who has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ.” (Joy of the Gospel: 7)

And finally in the Imitation of Christ, we recognize the rising and revealing Treasure inside our hearts:

“God frequently visits the heart of a person. There the Beloved shares with the person pleasant conversations, welcome consolation, abundant peace and a wonderful intimacy. So come faithful soul. Prepare your heart for your spouse to dwell within you!

Make room for Christ. When you possess Christ you are a rich person, for the Beloved Jesus is sufficient for you.

Until you are intimately united with Christ, you will never find your true rest.

Beloved, the Kingdom of heaven that Jesus speaks of is already buried within us. We only need to search for the treasure with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. As we search, we discover that God has been searching for us. Let us use the gift of wisdom and be like three magi who offered the infant Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

God says to us: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding…”

Let us imitate St. Ignatius of Loyola who sang before the crucifix every day: “Take Lord, 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 has buried the treasure in each one of us.

Now that is Good News I can treasure. How about you?

Is God calling YOU?

Is God searching for YOU?

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Stewards of Blood!

Gospel according to St. Luke: Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.”



Spiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of the mountaintop. At the peak we have transcended all pain. We experience the transfiguration of Jesus and the voice of God, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased. Listen to him!” The only problem with this mountaintop experience is that we leave all the others behind—our drunken brother, our schizophrenic sister, our tormented animals, friends and Mother Earth. Their suffering continues, unrelieved by our personal escape. Jesus heads back down the mountain before we are ready.

In the process of discovering our compassionate heart, the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We jump into it. We slide into it. We tiptoe into it. We move toward it however we can. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down.

Jesus calls out to us amidst the descent, darkness and chaos. “Come and follow!” “Don’t be afraid!” “Put out into the deep waters and lower your nets!” “Get out of the boat and walk on the stormy seas!” “Give them some food yourselves!” “Do not be afraid as we walk into the room where your dead child lies.” “Forgive those who hurt you.” “Today you will be with me in Paradise!”

This parable is for each of us. It helps us to realize our own sin, our neglect of the poor and the suffering. This unloving state we are in can be corrected by going down the mountain and realizing that we are too weak to dig and too ashamed to beg. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of the compassionate heart. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.

Every Sunday we receive a drop of blood from the side of Jesus. Jesus says that unless we eat his body and drink his blood we will have no life… eternal life! I reckon after many years and drops of blood consumed from the side of Jesus, our hearts are more that of Jesus than ourselves.

God has given me a new heart and a new spirit. I hear Jesus say to me, “Ron Moses, don’t focus on the jerk who crushed your sand castle. After all, it is only sand. Enjoy the beach, sky, breath and surf!!”

Atlantic Beach

Atlantic Beach

Jesus goes on to say, “No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon.”

The Hebrew definition of ‘mammon’ is ‘what one trusts in.’  This is interesting because every coin and monetary bill has the motto of our nation, ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’. Jesus knew that Pharisees and the rich trusted in their wealth more than God.  We might be the same. They were slaves to their wealth. And the poor were slaves to them. Scriptures are quite clear that the borrower is slave to the lender. The Lord’s prayer says, Forgive us our debts as we forgive the debt of others.  We are all indebted either emotionally, monetarily or both.  And thus we are all enslaved. Jesus sets us free. The world and godless people keep us enslaved.

If we hear Jesus call us to follow him, we will be with the poor. We will eat with the poor. We will fall in love with the poor. We will actually learn to beg for the poor.

God teaches us to give 10% of our first fruits

…but God is encouraging us to give it all away, 100%

God is more concerned with our 90%,

but God can do nothing until we commit the first 10%.

Much has been given. Much is expected. We are merely stewards.

If God can trust us stewards with 10% (just a little)

Then God can entrust us with much more.

If God cannot trust us with 10%, God will not let us squander more of his love.

We will suffer needlessly in this world if we do not learn how to work with God in all things.

IMG_1363 The great Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, sang before the crucifix every day. He wanted to be a missionary priest more than anything, but God needed his heart and mind to stay in Rome for greater things. God foresaw that one of the Jesuits of his order would one day become Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome.

All Jesuits know this prayer. How about you?

 Take Lord, 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, that’s enough for me.

 This is your homework this week. Learn this prayer. Then sing this prayer with all your heart before the crucifix. Sing it every morning before you start your day. Allow it to wash over you like the rising tide or the ocean breeze. Let it sink into your being like rain into the rich soil. Observe how your heart is more like Jesus, more in love with the suffering and the poor.

Jesus seems to indicate that we are all stewards of God’s bountiful gifts. We are all given the position of stewards as the U.S. Catholic Bishops declare in their letter A Disciple’s Response. When each of us dies, and we will all die, God will ask us to prepare a full account of our stewardship, because we can no longer be God’s stewards. What has our Master heard about each of us? How will each of us respond?

The really good news is that God will be pleased if we are found with the suffering, the lowly, the orphans and the poor.

Take Beloved, receive, all I have and possess; my memory, my 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.are you sure



(Special thanks to thoughts from When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron 2000)

What are you looking for? – Jesus

Come and See!

John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John, you will be called Kephas” which is translated Peter).
Gospel According to St. John 1:35-39

"Behold the Lamb of God!"

The Church has now returned to Ordinary Time. However, an encounter with Jesus is anything but ordinary. All of us who were baptized and confirmed in the Holy Spirit are standing with John the Baptist. When Jesus passes by, we hear John cry out, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Do we follow Jesus? Are we prepared for Jesus to turn around and look at us and then ask, “What are you looking for?”

Jesus asks you and me, “What are you looking for?”

Follow the Light

After reflecting on this question all week, I believe I am ready to answer the question. “Beloved Rabbi, Teacher, Jesus…where are you staying? How do I get to be with you in eternity? I am looking to be loving and compassionate like You are.”

Jesus answers me in a whisper and with a smile, “Come and see!”

And so I went out of my house. I thought I was alone, but I wasn’t. I spent the day with Jesus. This is how I attempted to use words to explain my day:

12 January 12

Morning alone
with thoughts and delusion
contemplating, or rather wasting time
depending on who judges,
Beyond me
Beyond words
Lost and being
Things to do, but if not done, no matter
Sitting, forming words
barely touching or pronouncing
the reality, the thought
scream as I might,
won’t bring it, or that about
staying with my self not an option
and yet the only option
…and o my
confused and yet clear
alone morning.

O Beloved Sisters and Brothers, when the priest holds up the Body and Blood of Jesus at Mass, he cries out:

“Behold the Lamb of God!
Behold him who takes away the sin of the world!
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb!”

Each and every week we attend Mass, we hear the words of John the Baptist saying, “Behold the Lamb of God!” What are we prepared to do? Do we follow Jesus? Do we answer His questions like, “What are you looking for?”

May I suggest that we follow Jesus, and when he turns and looks at us and asks us that question, we simply answer his call to, “Come, and you will see!”

Jesus will invite us to feast on the finest bread and the choicest wine we could ever imagine. Jesus will bring us home to his Father and Mother. We will then be called the Beloved daughters and sons of God. How awesome is that!?”

Please have a most awesome week in the presence of Jesus and His family.
You will find me following the Lamb of God. Where will we find you?

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +