I will give them some food Myself!

20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 9:1-6~ Wisdom calls: “Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!”

Psalm34 ~ Taste and see the goodness of the Beloved.

Ephesians 5:15-20~ Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise…

Gospel: John 6:51-58 ~ “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him/her on the last day. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him/her. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.” Jesus

The world is starving for God. There is plenty of wisdom to be given, but unfortunately, people have a spiritual eating disorder. There is an inability to thrive. We were born into this world after spending nine months in our Mother’s womb. Those nine months were incredibly important. We were being fashioned and formed into the image and likeness of God. The blood flowing through the umbilical chord from our mother nourished us. If the mother understands that the father of her child loves her, the food is pure and spectacular. More nourishment and less anxiety are passed on to the child.

If we happen to come out of the womb prematurely, we require special care and assistance. I have seen parents helplessly sit beside the incubator longing to hold and feed their child with the spiritual nourishment of love beyond all telling. The love of parents for each other is the most important food they serve to their children. But it requires discipline.

This is what God is all about in the Scripture passages today. God is portrayed as a loving mother who prepares a table of love, plenty, sacrifice and compassion. Adult pelicans have been known to peck at their breasts during times of scarce food and feed the blood to their chicks.

Beloved, there is an abundance of evil in this world, which neglects to feed the poor and hungry in this world. But there is an abundance of love that is poured out from Our Father and Mother to feed us no matter the cost. The food is their very own flesh and blood. The food is Jesus, their son.

“Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed! Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.”

So Jesus imitates his Father and Mother and plucks the blood from his chest. Jesus feeds us with his own body and blood. We need only stop our foolishness and come to the table of plenty. Come to the feast of heaven and earth.

Jesus calls to us, “Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.”

I am the Bread of Life
All who eat this Bread will never die
I am God’s love revealed
I am broken that you might be healed

All who eat of this heavenly Bread
All who drink this cup of the covenant
You will live forever for I will raise you up

No one who comes to Me shall ever hunger again
No one who believes shall ever thirst
All that the Father draws shall come to Me
And I will give them rest

                                      Song by John Michael Talbot

Let us share the Good News with a song to the Lord in our hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

August 19, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron Moses +

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 5, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron

Gospel: John 6:24-35 ~ Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are not looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”…

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Exodus 16:2-15~ Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

Psalm78 ~ The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Ephesians 4:17-24~ put away the old self of your former way of life,

Manna teaches us many lessons. The Israelite community was led by Moses into the Desert of Sin. In Spanish, “sin” means without. Here were the Israelite people in a desert without much, except they did have freedom from their slavery, God’s saving hand, and a whole lot of grumble, grumble, grumble!

Manna was like bread. In the morning the people ate “manna” and in the evening they ate quail (flesh). This was the routine for 40 years. The people were directed to collect only enough for their family. If they gathered too much, it rotted and was useless. If they gathered too little, they still had enough.

However, on the 6thday they were to gather enough for the 7thday. If they tried to gather on the 7thday, there was none. And boy did they try. Remember these people loved to grumble, grumble, grumble.

The Israelites called this food manna. It was like coriander seed, but white, and it tasted like wafers made with honey.

The wafers we use for Eucharist are really bland tasting, but with faith they fill up all of our senses, emotions and souls. “Blood of Christ inebriate me!”

God teaches us about keeping the Sabbath holy and tithing the manna in the desert. Moses told the people that the Lord has commanded “Keep an omer of manna (10% of the daily amount for a family) for your descendants, that they may see what food I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.” Moses then told Aaron, “Take an urn and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord in safekeeping for you descendants.” So Aaron placed it in front of the commandments for safekeeping, as the Lord had commanded Moses. Doesn’t this remind you of our tabernacle? It is very connected.

God gives us his First Fruits on Sunday in the Eucharist… his Son.

Everyone receives the exact same portion.  Jesus is living bread kept in the tabernacle for the past 2000 years. He is adored, thanked and loved.

People, we are in the desert of Sin. We lack so much and we tend to grumble, grumble, grumble. But God is providing our daily bread every time we call upon God in the Lord’s Prayer. I do hope you ask every day. Every Sunday, we eat the body and blood of our Savior. He sustains us in our deserts.

We must teach our children and grandchildren to eat the flesh of Jesus and drink his blood so that they may have eternal life. Nothing else in this world is worth more than one drop of his blood or of a crumb of the Body of Christ.

Jesus pleads with us, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

What are you looking for? What are you thirsting for? The five loaves and two fish were not the Eucharist. They merely represented the manna in the desert. Hunger returns after eating that bread. But to work for the Bread of Life requires us to come to Jesus and believe in him. Jesus is about to turn everything upside down by giving his very flesh to eat and blood to drink as real food. But first he must suffer and die.

If you are feeling like something is missing in your life, could it be a lack the Bread of life? A week without Eucharist is a truly bad week for me. How about you?  “When you eat my body and you drink my blood, I will live in you and you will live in my love.”  We are one Body, one Body in Christ.

I wrote this poem when I was in front of the tabernacle hungering for my invitation to join the seminary.

Fragments

I must be crazed

The center of my life

Fragments

Broken

Spilt on parched ground

Desperate for pieces of hope, of love

 

Plain – bland – and somewhat tasteless

bitter…sweet

No pomp, no grandiose

Simple bread

Sinful hands – holy hands

grapes of wrath – grapes of life

crushed – love

 

I must be crazed

My life centered;

Broken Bread, poured out wine

and now

I

Am

Fragmented.

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He was amazed at their lack of faith!

 

Gospel: Mark 6:1-6 ~ Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this?” Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. 

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Jesus in some ways enjoyed his process/journey in life. He expected rejection. He would transform this rejection into life.

Often we feel rejection when our dreams do not come to fruition.

A friend fantasized about being a musician—a rock star, a phenomenal guitar player. He imagined being on stage, playing to screams of the crowd, people absolutely loosing their minds to his sweet finger-noodling glory. This fantasy kept him occupied for hours on end. It wasn’t about “if”, but “when”. It was all planned out: first he would have to bide his time, second he would finish school—making extra cash for guitar. Third he would make time to practice. Then… nothing.

Despite fantasizing half of his life, the reality didn’t come to fruition.  And it took him a long time to finally figure it out.  He didn’t actually want it.

My friend was in love with result—the image on stage, people cheering wildly, him rocking out, and pouring his heart into what he was playing… but he wasn’t in love with the process.

He failed. Actually, he didn’t even try enough to fail at it. He hardly tried at all. He never went through the daily drudgery of daily practice, logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a hoot. He didn’t go through broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car.

It is a mountain of a dream and a mile high climb to the top. My friend realized after a long time he didn’t like to climb much. He just liked to imagine the summit. It is like wanting to be a Marine, a teacher, or making the golf team without sweat or fear of being cut.

Beloved, it is all about process.

The truth is far less interesting. He thought he wanted something, but it turns out he didn’t. End of story.

He wanted reward without struggle, relationships or the cross.

He wanted the result without the process.

He was in love with not the fight, but the victory.

The thorn that St. Paul talks about is the fantasy of finishing the race before one barely starts. It is a God thing after all. This is not willpower or grit. It is a simple component of life. Our struggles determine our successes. Our problems birth our happiness… along with slightly better, slightly upgraded problems.

To follow Jesus is a never-ending upward spiral. There is no rest in peace. And if you think at any point we are allowed to stop climbing, I’m afraid you’re missing the point of the Gospel. This is the reason Jesus and all the true prophets are rejected. Because they tell us the joy is in the struggle and climb up the mountain and onto the Cross. And the people and his family did not want to hear that. O my!

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July 15, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron

I want to be a Grandfather just like you!

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 11, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron

Father’s Day

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Ezekiel 17:22-24 ~ I, God, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree …and make the withered tree bloom.

Psalm 92~ Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10~ We are always courageous…

Gospel: Mark 4:26-34 ~ Jesus said to the crowds, “Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.”

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            A dad told me that he and his little boy were having a real man-to-man conversation as they were playing in their back yard. The boy said, “Dad, I know what I want to be when I grow up.” My friend, the dad, thinking his son would say, “Spiderman,” or some such thing, asked, “What do you want to be son…a fireman?” The child said, “No daddy, I want to be just like you.” You mean you want to be a doctor?” The boy said, “No, I want to be a father.”

Not all of us have had the best or most pleasant experiences with our fathers. The fruit of fatherhood often takes time to grow… first the blade, then the ear, and then the full grain in the ear. And sometimes fatherhood doesn’t bear fruit until long after the father dies.

The Gospel reminds me of a true story about a young man who left his native Italy and family just about five years after the 1918 flu epidemic. Antonio served in the medical corps back in Italy, during World War I. He came through Ellis Island past the Statue of Liberty on the S/S Bella Italiana with $50 in his pocket. Although he thought he was just visiting America, Antonio, only 27 years old, met a woman in Boston, Teresina, widowed with five children ranging from 14 to 5 years old. Antonio was both moved and pressured to marry her. After all, she spoke Italian and was beautiful.

The two grew as a couple saving up enough money to get all the children back from orphanages within a year. Together they had two daughters and then a son who died at birth.  Then a year later they had one more son, Matthew. Antonio worked with his stepsons and son in construction. Teresina invested the money earned into real estate. You could say that Teresina and Antonio’s family grew, put forth branches and bore much fruit, wealth and grandchildren. Only Matthew and his six sons could carry his father’s name, they had a respectful, sincere but cold relationship.

Teresina and Antonio often argued loudly and dramatically as many Italians do, but they loved each other. No one doubted that love until Teresina died after 55 years of marriage. She managed the money and her will seemed to say to Antonio, “I neva lova you, I only lova my first husband!”

            For the next five years, Antonio alienated just about every grandchild. One grandson who was 19 when Teresina died, would visit, but left as soon as his grandfather badmouthed his deceased grandmother in Italian. He usually left within 5 minutes. During the next five years, the visits got longer and longer until the grandson only left because he had to get back to school. He even took walks on the beach with his grandfather.

One day Matthew called his son who was in the seminary. This was before cell phones. “Son, last night, Grandpa was having a great time at his 89thbirthday party with the great grandkids.  I brought Grandpa back to his apartment and was putting his food in the refrigerator when he insisted I come to him. He was in his chair. ‘Ya Pa, what do you want?’ He said, ‘Mateo, I lova you.’ I told him I loved him too.” A sigh, “But Son, your grandfather had never said those words to me before.” Matthew took a breath and told his son,  “Your grandpa died some time last night. He never left that chair.”

Jesus Came Home with his disciples…

10th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 10, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~

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Genesis3:9-15 ~ The woman answered: “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.”.

Psalm 130~ Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; hear my voice!

2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1~ Therefore, we are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

Gospel: Mark 3:20-35 ~ Jesus came home with his disciples. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “he is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”

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            How many of us have blamed others for causing us to sin? How often have we had expectations of others to do it our way? Adam and Eve are a gift to us if we have done this. Now what? The family of Jesus had expectations for him, and when he didn’t meet those expectations, they blurted out “He is out of his mind!”

           Jesus shares with us that before anyone can plunder a strong man, they have to tie up the strong man first.  Then they can plunder. The scribes were about to tie up Jesus to a cross so that they could plunder and oppress the people even more. They were profiting from the people by confusing them and misleading them. That is how people are tied up.

            Doctors, nurses, lawyers, counselors and ministers take oaths and vows to protect life rather than destroy life. When they go against that oath, like support abortion or go into useless wars… then they do the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit.

            To profit from war, divorce, abortion, or unneeded hospital stays or selling guns to those who shouldn’t have them or lying in order to get elected, or feeding off of the flock… these are unforgivable. The opposite is life-giving.  

Newspaper columnist George Plagenz once told the story of a young doctor who delivered a baby into a poverty-stricken family in Montana. The child had one cruelly deformed leg. He also had difficulty breathing. “The other children will call him ‘Limpy,’” the doctor thought. “His life will be miserable. If I don’t do anything for his breathing, he will die. Wouldn’t that be better?” he asked himself. Then he remembered his Hippocratic oath and began blowing into the baby’s mouth. Soon the child’s lungs were acting normally and he gave his first cry.

Several years later the doctor’s daughter and son-in-law were killed in an auto accident. The doctor’s ten-year-old granddaughter was left an orphan. He took her in. One day the child was stricken with a crippling and incurable condition. The doctor learned there was a young doctor in the Midwest who had been getting excellent results in the treatment of this particular disease. He took his granddaughter to see the doctor.

The young physician was lame. He was the deformed baby into whose mouth the older doctor had breathed 35 years before. Because of his own infirmity, the young doctor had specialized in this crippling disease. The treatment on the older doctor’s grandchild was successful and the little girl was returned to normal health. *

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*Story taken from:

Gerard Fuller, O.M.I., Stories for All Seasons, 1996, Twenty-Third Publications The Columbia Press, page 74 (Jesus Casts Out Devils)

David Redding, The Golden String (Grand Rapids MI: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1988), as quoted in Dynamic Preaching (6):5, July 1991.

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Gifted by God to keep Going & Giving

Third Sunday in Advent

A woman by the name of Bette Nash has been a flight attendant for 60 years when flights were just $12 and you didn’t need a reservation. She says, “My favorite part of flying over the years has been greeting my passengers as they board and deplane. People really are fascinating and it’s truly been a joy.”

With all those miles logged, Bette could fly any route she wants. She chooses to fly the shuttle between Washington D.C. and Boston so this single mom can be home in time to care for her son, who as Down syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity. One recent afternoon, that meant taking him to see Santa Claus near their home. In whatever hours she has left, she volunteers at the food pantry at her local Catholic parish of Sacred Heart. The C.E.O. of American Airlines made a $10,000 donation to the pantry in honor of Bette Nash’s 60th milestone.

While the famous and the infamous garner the headlines, it’s people like Bette Nash who actually run the world.

I believe that Bette Nash could claim to say many of the words that we have heard in today’s proclamation of the Word.

The prophet Isaiah says “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken hearted.” Mary, the mother of Jesus cries out in our psalm today, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked upon his lowly servant. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” John the Baptist knows he is not the Christ, but he does admit, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘make straight the way of the Lord.” And “I am not worthy loosen his sandal strap.”

After all these years, Bette has learned something. The passengers might not listen to everything she says at 30,000 feet—and her son might not listen to everything she says on the ground. But Bette, as she approaches her 82nd birthday on New Years Eve, says she has found something that seems universal and true. “People want a little love. And I don’t mean a lot of hugging and everything, even though we might do that. But this is the big thing: People need attention. You can’t buy love. You can’t buy attention. But people need this.” She says, “And it’s free. You can give this to people for free.” Jesus once said, “Without cost you have received, without cost you need to give.”

For the past 41 years Nash has been a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in Manassas, VA. She has given of her hospitality, the gift of her son, the gift of her volunteerism, and the gift of her love. For 30 years, Bette served as an “envelope counter,” but now she volunteers at the food pantry. It’s something she and her son, Christian, who has Down syndrome, can do together. The pantry gives out food to 40-50 families every Saturday morning. Bette hopes the money can be used to buy food when supplies are running low, as they often do during the summer. But she leaves the final decision up to Diane and her pastor Father Michael. “I’m’ a worker bee and I never want to be a queen bee,” she said. How fortunate we are here at St. Monica’s and St John’s with so many worker bees for Jesus. There is desperate need for more workers. Are some of you game?

The prophet Isaiah, Our Blessed Mother Mary, and John the Baptist believed that they received wonderful gifts from God. They are grateful and share them with us today. Bette Nash is grateful for the support of her friends and her employer who have helped her stay in the skies all these years.  She recently said, “I feel like I’ve been given a gift from God that I can keep going and giving.”

As full Catholics, we are all like flight attendants who have been hard at work for many years. Even though Bette is 81, she must still be able to pass the annual test for emergencies including knocking out a heavy window or throw open a large door. If there is an emergency, the passengers are Bette’s responsibility, with dozens of souls in her hands. In our ministry as confirmed Catholics, we must sometimes throw open the large heavy doors that block so many people from a deeper relationship of love with Jesus and God. Hundreds of souls are depending on our hospitality, mercy and smiles.

Wouldn’t it be great news if each of us could say the same at Christmas? “I feel like I’ve been given a gift from God that I can keep going and giving. The spirit of the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. My soul proclaims the greatness of God and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”

Isaiah 61:1-11 ~ I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul;

Psalm (Luke 1:46-54) ~ My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior, Thessalonians 5:16-24 ~ May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ

Gospel: John 1:6-28 John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Come share your Master’s joy!

33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 18 & 19, 2017 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron

Come share your master’s joy!

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Proverbs 31:10-31 ~ When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. (We, the Church of Jesus Christ are the worthy wife.)

Psalm 128 ~ Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!

Thessalonians 5:1-6 ~ For all of you are children of the light and children of the day.

Gospel: Matthew 25: 14-30 ~ Jesus told his disciples this parable: “A man going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away.”

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Jesus is the husband. We have the opportunity to be the worthy wife.

It is sometimes difficult to accept that Jesus has been looking for each and every one of us.

Basically, Jesus is seeking out people who will accept his gifts and multiply them. What is the gift we receive? His Body and his Blood. What have we done this week with the gift we have received?

Each week we fill up with the love of Jesus in Eucharist. We give thanks for the gift we receive, and then we increase the love by sharing our talents. I understand that sometimes, one week seems like a long time like the man who entrusted his talents and went off. The week is really long when one of our loved ones is suffering from cancer, or our job security is anything but secure. Sometimes the week feels like forever when our children are not thriving or when our marriage is on quite rocky grounds. But still, Jesus has given each of us talents according to our abilities.

Jesus is counting on us to go out and increase his love in the world. Will you be a partner with Jesus? Will you work as a team? I am sure your answer is yes, but remember it is a lifelong commitment.

I Ron, take you, the people of God to be my beloved. I promise to be faithful to you in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life… or more!

Greedy Sons

There was once a hard-working and generous farmer who had several idle and greedy sons. On his deathbed, he told them that they would find his treasure if they were to dig in a certain field. As soon as the old man was dead, the sons hurried to the field and proceeded to dig it up from one end to another in search of the treasure. The longer they worked, the more desperate they became. Yet, they did not find a single ounce of gold.

Surveying the field, they reasoned that in his generosity their father must have given his gold away during his lifetime. Just as they abandoned their search, it occurred to them that since the land had been prepared they might as well sow a crop. They planted wheat, which produced an abundant yield. When it matured they sold their crop and prospered.

After the harvest was in, the sons thought again about the rare possibility that they might have missed the buried gold. Once again they dug up their fields, with the same result.

After several years they became accustomed to labor and to the cycle of seasons, something which they had not understood before. Finally they understood that their father had been training them to become hard-working farmers. As time passed they became wealthy through the work of their hands and no longer wondered about the hidden hoard.

 

If we think about who the parable is addressed to, Jesus is telling it to the servant who buried the talent in hope that he would become a hard-working disciple who does not depend on miracles, quick fixes or get rich quick schemes on the internet. Jesus is the hard-working and generous farmer. The harvest is great, but laborers are few. Wisdom is required to obtain the treasure of Wisdom.

 

God has given us great and wonderful talents… what will you do with them to become Good News?

Your Love is Extravagant

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time ~ St. Monica~ Matthew 22:34-40, Exodus 22:20-26

A recent study found that the Flint water crises resulted in horrifyingly large increase in fetal deaths and miscarriages. There was concern that there was not a greater outrage from pro-choice commentators asking, “Where are the so-called ‘pro-lifers’ on this tragedy?”  The argument was that pro-life is only concerned about the child in the womb, but not the child that is born.

Around that time, in his in-flight press conference from Columbia, Pope Francis was asked about the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which places 800,000 young people without legal immigration status in danger of deportation. In the Pope’s reply he said that President Trump is pro-life, he should “understand that the family is the cradle of life, and that it must be defended as a unit.”

The national director of Priests for Life, took to the website Brietbart to question the fairness of Pope Francis’ description of immigration as a pro-life issue, claiming (misleadingly) that “since there is no specific immigration policy in the Catechism”, Catholics can disagree about immigration without calling their pro-life commitment into question.”

Pope Francis is clear that being pro-life should include concern for the vulnerable outside the womb. While doing so may not win over absolutist advocates, it might help persuade the majority of Americans who question unlimited access to abortion to listen more carefully.

People claim that those here illegally have broken the law. But it needs to be pointed out that this country also has a law that allows abortion. Therefore, our country’s laws are not the same as God’s laws. If we truly follow the laws, then Joseph, Mary and Jesus would not be welcome in our country today. The first reading is clearly the law of God.

“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”

We have unfair laws that have been created by rich people who are more concerned about making money than loving people. God also says, “If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people, you shall not act like an extortioner toward him by demanding interest from him.” What about foreclosures, evictions and entrapment of people to spend more than they need in advertisements? Our country spends more on laws to protect guns than people. We judge people as not worthy of love and respect.

Did you hear that last line of our Exodus reading of the law that Jesus summarized today? “What else has he/she to sleep in? If he or she cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

It is about love.

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This is a true story shared by Father Anthony de Mello, S.J.:

“My friend isn’t back from the battlefield, sir. Request permission to go out and get him.”

“Permission refused,” said the officer. “I don’t want you to risk your life for a man who is probably dead.”

The soldier went, all the same, and, an hour later, came back mortally wounded, carrying the corpse of his friend.

The officer was furious. “I told you he was dead. Now I’ve lost both of you. Tell me, was it worth going out there to bring in a corpse?”

The dying man replied, “Oh, it was sir. When I got to him, he was till alive. And he said to me, ‘Jack, I was sure you’d come.’ 

Since both men died, who told the story? Jesus tells stories and teaches the people set in their way of self-righteousness. We are all like the Pharisees and Sadducees. We believe we are justified. But love will melt our icy hearts and taking sides. Jesus wants us to see the immigrant, the woman who out of fear had an abortion, the refugee, and the rich person with love. We have to trust that love will win out.

Project Rachael works. It restores more than the sinner and the innocent child. It restores each of us to love as Jesus loves. The women are released when they name their child, offer their child to Jesus, and hear the child offer forgiveness. Powerful release for the people who just didn’t know what they were doing. We are very much challenged to love those whom we disagree with or who have done things that we feel are against God’s commandments. We need to let God take care of them. They will have a much better chance.img_0593

This is a song I have been singing to God by Integrity Music:

Your love… is extravagant.

Your friendship… oh so intimate.

I find I’m a moving, to the rhythms of your grace

Your fragrance is intoxicating…

In a secret place….

 

Your love… is extravagant

 

Spread wide are the arms of Christ

Is a love that conquers sin

No greater love have I ever known

And you call me an intimate friend…

Capture my heart again

Capture my heart again

 

World Mission Sunday ~ 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God is Love. God owns everything. God showers us with abundance.

It really is quite simple. It seems that our country recognizes a need for tax reform. But we need to ask ourselves a few questions. What is the problem with our tax code, as it exists? Is it fair? How do our taxes pay for national defense, safe roads, water, food, or disaster relief? Does our nation’s spending of taxes reflect our motto, “In God we Trust”? God is more concerned about how we spend the 90% left over. God gives laws like tithing, to teach us how to give 100% Love! God gives us everything… even Jesus in his mother’s arms. If we are involved in tax loopholes or avoiding paying our fair share of taxes to Our One Nation Under God or to God in the poor, refugee or immigrant, is it possible that we are naively plotting ways to entrap Jesus?

img_7956            So if Jesus were to ask us, “Show me what you pay your taxes to Uncle Sam with,” how will that turn out? Our money states clearly, “In God We Trust”. But today we pay bills without cash. If we had no money, credit card or Internet, how would we buy anything? We just don’t realize that sometimes we pay more to our phones, Internet, football tickets, concerts or health insurance than we do for treasures in heaven.

I have veteran friends in Puerto Rico who were able to post on social media. “Went to CVS and found a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream, found two spoons in the car, turned on the car and sat in parking lot in AC and devoured the pint of ice cream. WOW. What a treat. Takes very little to entertain and make us super happy. … Life is good we have our little routine and are enjoying life as it is now. We have our faith, each other, family and friends and our home. Life is good and the beauty of our Island is shinning through this all. So come on down folks.” How grateful are we today, really?

When Jesus says, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” what could we possibly give to God for our breath in this world? I remember when my mother was being ravished by cancer that metastasized her body as she was literally starving to death. Every day she lived was phenomenal and painful for all of us. For as much pain as she was in, I wouldn’t trade a billion dollars for one of those horribly beautiful 40 days. Although my family was begging for the suffering to end, there was something awesome, something beautiful we couldn’t give to God yet.

One day, less than a week before her death, I sat with my mother and father at the back window of their home as about 70 people from the Cursillo group sang to my mother across the pool. My mother, who had no water in her tear ducts, was upset because she couldn’t share the gift of her tears. She wanted to give something in return for their awesome gift of song and love.

A couple days later, my family gave to God what was God’s, our mother. Yes, God gave her to us, but we trusted God with her. We thank God in the Eucharist for her to this day. Her love is stronger than her death. What we gave to “Caesar” was the hospital bed, the doctor bills, her unused social security check, and her taxes for the first six months of 2000. Caesar seemed to give nothing in return, except more bills and a death certificate.

We will all die one day, and give back our bodies to God. And God will give us eternal life in exchange for our worn out bodies, if, and only if, we love one another and recognize that when we give to the poor, we give to God. We owe God everything. Without God we are nothing. We are called to act with justice and to give to God tender love that we share with one another. Without love we are worth nothing. Wouldn’t it be Great News if we truly gave to God what God most wants from us?

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22 October 2017 ~ St. Monica, Palatka & St. John Interlachen~ Father Ron

Isaiah 45:1-6 ~ I have called you by name, giving you a title, though you knew me not.

Psalm 96 ~ Give to the LORD, you families of nations, give to the LORD glory and praise; give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his courts.

1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ~ We give thanks to God always for all of you,

Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21 ~ Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin, He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”