I am God’s Pumpkin!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 1st, 2018 ~ St. Monica, Palatka ~ Father Ron

“Stewardship is about loving God and One Another.”

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Deuteronomy 6:2-6 ~ Moses spoke to the people, “Fear the Lord, your God, and keep all his commandments.

Psalm 18 ~ I love you Beloved, my strength.

Hebrews 7:23-28 ~ Jesus lives forever to make intercessions for us.

Gospel Mark 12:28-34 ~ “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘God is One and there is no other than God.’ And ‘to love God with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

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How do I love God with all of my heart, with all of my understanding, and with all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself?

Let’s take the first. How do I love God with all my heart? To be honest, I most likely don’t love God with all my heart. The heart is about emotions. Like when I was a child being weaned from the bottle, I sometimes wanted the bottle more than the approval of my parents, never mind love. How do we behave/react when we are challenged by our parents to put down the video game to do a chore or come to the dinner table? I don’t think our response is loving to our parents, never mind God. What about being interrupted by a child during a fantastic football game or television show? Is that considered loving with all our hearts? We don’t mean to be unloving, but we need to recognize that it is hypocritical to defend it as love.

Let’s take a look at our understanding of God and neighbor. How much information or tweets or news do we need before we label someone as being to the right or to the left? Do we harbor in our hidden thoughts our disdain or inferiority? How many labels have we placed on people this week when they don’t agree with our opinions? How many times is “Mom” called “Mean Mommy” because she simply disciplined us for our own good? How many times has a “Father” called his child “Mr. Lazy” because he didn’t play a sport as well as he did as a teenager? Whenever we label people we prove to God that we do not understand. You see, Jesus clearly instructs us to never judge unless we would like to be judged, never condemn unless we want to be condemned. Give of our first fruits only. Never give our leftovers. (The law simply said that we only have to give 10% to God and the poor. We get to keep 90%). If we do not understand that God gives us everything including our breath, 10%, citizenship and freedoms… we don’t understand God. Did you realize that when we come to church on Sunday (and Saturday vigil is Sunday) we give our first fruits of the week?

God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

One gift is “understanding”.

One gift is Strength or Courage.

What do you think?

Love is about Wisdom. Love is about Wonder and Awe. Love is about Counseling others about God’s infinite love and mercy for every breathing person. Love is about Reverence and respect. Do we share these gifts with others outside our family? Do we understanding that everyone, even our enemies, is our neighbor?

 

The remedy for our lack of love… is the LOVE of GOD with the spice of MERCY. We are children of God. What we shall become has not yet been revealed. I saw a little child at the Boo on the Avenue parade. I asked her parents, “Is you’re your little pumpkin?” The parents smiled and said, “O yes Father, she is the best little pumpkin in the world!” God might even be calling you his little “Pumpkin”.

Now that is a real 100% slice of pumpkin spice Good News!

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Gratitude: Two Birth Day Poems! ~ Our Lady of the Rosary ~

 

Eucharist

Center of my life and soul

Piece of Bread, drops of blood

My body, just a little achy

Attempting to awaken

Yes, by standards of many (and sometimes my self)

There are many things to criticize

Much that lacks “father” wonderful

And yet

I am:

loving, joyful, kind

gentle, generous, somewhat self-controlled

peaceful, patient and faithful

 

If I try to defend my flaws and being less than perfect

I gloss over my limitations

which are sometimes my greatest strengths

You see, all of us have temptations, struggles and growing edges

We love things and people that others abhor or avoid

That is just the way it is

 

But ALL are welcome, no exceptions

The only ones excluded from the table,

are those who excuse themselves

or exclude others

My mission apostolic and sometimes impossible:

Bring them home

the isolated, the alone, the lost, the lonely, the wounded

I love my mission and the God who sends me

Soulitude revisited

Ron Moses +

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O Jesus,

I cannot see you, but I do see your body and blood

            I am able to taste you

hold you

worship you… and in a sense worship with you

People do see You in me

But there are times when people see me in You

 

You invite me to see myself

as the person you love

the one you desire to love

and be loved by

 

As my mother indicated on my 10th anniversary card

just months before her death

“Through all the scary and wonderful times,

you must admit,

that Jesus and the Holy Spirit

seem to be having fun walking and dancing with you!”

Yes ~

Gratitude for all that has been in my life and for the life I have lived

Gratitude for the present day of well-being

Gratitude for hope and joys to come,

along with sorrows that bloom like a rose

and wilt and vanish

only to explode with more

 

I love you Jesus

Gratitude for Emmaus partner and soul mate

Birth of Love

Lived, enjoyed, celebrated, Eucharistic!

 

                                                Ron Moses +  October 7, 2017

 

St. Teresa de Avila: “God save us from these sour-faced saints.”

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Tear in My Soul…still!

After reading the first draft of the screenplay for A Tear in the Desert, I was moved, but something didn’t sit right with the ending. In truth, I did meet with April, the woman who gave birth at the moment her husband passed away when I breathed the last word of Mother Teresa’s prayer.

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.

The almost miraculous birth of Shane Jr. is amazing and fascinating to millions…but there was something much more profound to April and Shane. April had been writing little notes to Shane on Myspace.com for over two years after his funeral. Anniversaries of certain dates were particularly difficult. I, the chaplain priest was simply the messenger. Shane called for help for his beloved wife who would become a widow and mother instantaneously…the death and the birth.

At the funeral

Recently I was almost miraculously transported to the small aircraft that carried the body of a young 19-year-old Marine. His family and wife of seven months stood a few yards away, including his grandparents.

There was no doubt that his dead body was in the silver casket partially draped with a U.S. flag. The dog tag dangled as the casket was lowered before me. As I stood on the tarmac with the family just a few yards away from me…I saluted in my summer whites that were slightly tight (I am a retired reserve officer and 50 years old). It was a bright sunny day on NAS JAX (Naval Air Station Jacksonville) with thousands of people and military holding their breath.

Time truly stopped in the literary sense.

Philip’s widow approached with his parents and family.

I wanted to escape and run away back to the desert. My entire tour in Fallujah was crushing and burying my soul at that moment, but I was frozen in my uniform caught between the ultimate death and life. It has been said that when people are in an intense firefight or 9-11 experience, they do one of the following: fight, flee, freeze, feed or make love. Most of us will not know how we will respond until we are actually in it. Those that fight end up getting a medal, killed in action, or both. Some who survive physically tend to die because they didn’t do enough to save their fellow soldier, sailor, or Marine. The truth might be that in the intensity of the battle we don’t think about it, we simply instinctively do what it takes to just try to stay alive or sacrifice our own life for our friends, partner or children.

A medal that says we were heroes or heroines in battle does not soothe the wounds of helplessly witnessing violent death, even of our enemies. The military puts a heavy significance on medals, but a study of the recipients might unveil the truth. I am convinced that the true heroes and heroines are the mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses and children of the wounded and dead troops, but they would be revolted at the thought of presenting them with a medal for their sacrifice.

As the petite and beautiful teenager approached her husband’s casket in the year of her dreams of a family and choices of the infinite possibilities that the fountain of youth inspires, she simply placed her face that was flooded with tears, upon the cold and exposed metal casket that beaded with the holy water that I had just blessed it with. Human beings are composed of over 97% water. The tears of this very young woman seemed to meld with the water on the casket. Time stopped. Jacksonville and all North Florida seemed to stop and gasp.

Silence.

Commanders, Marines, sailors, mayors, veterans, fathers, mothers, friends, firefighters, high school classmates, and an entire city stopped, paused and silently wept for this very long couple of minutes.

It was as if I could literally hear her tears splashing onto the casket and boring a hole through the tabernacle that once contained the tabernacle of Philip’s body. This reminded me of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears on the night before he succumbed to a gruesome and torturous death. Can you hear the tears coursing down her face and crashing onto the feet of Jesus? The woman and the widow’s tears washed over her beloved’s feet…such intimate, sensuous love.

We all watched in paralyzing wonder and fear. Our hearts were torn asunder. All was done for love. In that moment, we saw the vision that war and hate were crushed and defeated. With tender kisses and a tear in the soul and heart… the widow’s tears melded with the soul of Philip.

“Do not be afraid.”

Jesus said it to the woman. She will be remembered for this act of kindness and love.

Now I don’t know exactly how April Kielion experienced the body of her husband for the first time after his death in Iraq back in November of 2004. However she has clearly stated that she was in denial and expected him to return home. She wasn’t convinced that it was truly her husband in the casket because she only saw his face. When the body of a Fallen Marine arrives at the funeral home for the family’s viewing, he is wrapped in the burial cloths of a formal uniform. Usually even the hands are in white gloves. Medals are meticulously placed; wonderful words of his personality and life are shared.

Philip was a man with gifts and flaws.

Shane was a man with gifts and flaws.

Both of them were and are still loved. They were sinners like you and me. They were sinners and beloved. They died too, too young.

When S.E. Kielion (Shane) was before me moments before he died… he looked like Jesus on the cross. The wounded are stripped when they come to Bravo Surgical so that we can check for all pertinent wounds and so we don’t miss anything. It seemed that Shane was vulnerably stripped and beside Jesus on the cross.

I can still see the vivid image of the Guardian angels tattooed on his chest as only a reflection of the truth of my belief. My own guardian “angel” whom I call Patrick Moses guided me to this moment with his other friend angels. The open bible on S.E.’s right side was the Open Door that St. John spoke of in the book of the “Apocalypse (Revelation).”

The scroll was sweet like honey in the mouth…

and sour and bitter in the stomach.

That day was a vision and a warning.

On the left side of his body under his arm was the third tattoo.

Like St. John, I was at the foot of the cross with the mother of Jesus, Mary and the beloved Mary Magdalene. Many won’t believe my story. Many still don’t believe the women who reported the events of the empty tomb. The angel told them:

“Don’t be amazed. I know that you are seeking Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is not here. He has been raised just as he said. Come see the place where he was laid. Then go and tell the disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him.”

With that the women left the tomb and trembling and fear overtook them and they fled. And they didn’t tell anyone because they were afraid.

(Original ending of St. Mark’s Gospel)

Eventually the women had to tell the disciples even if the men wouldn’t believe them. How else would we know this story?

THE TEAR IN THE STORY

And now I am ready to tell this part of the story that began on November 15, 2004 and peaked on April of 2007 in a hotel lobby in Omaha, Nebraska. I have no choice.

“He’s alive!” as my friend Father Jeff said at the funeral Mass of Philip.

Shane is alive!

In Omaha…29 months after Shane died, I met April Kielion in that hotel lobby. I also met the living S. E. Kielion…Senior…Marine!

Just as I had anointed Shane moments before he died in Iraq, I anointed April in the hotel lobby. Shane was showing off his wife and the mother of his son. Words are inadequate to express the inexpressible and ghostly. Before I could hand over my tattered green notebook to April—Shane seemed to look into my soul and ask if he could be the one to share my tattered green notebook with his beloved wife. I sat in awe and disbelief as the two of them held my scribbled written words. The original version of the story in my journal is almost identical to the edited version in my book Tear in the Desert.

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(April and I calculated that with the time zone difference, Shane Jr. was born within a half hour of Shane Sr.’s death, if not the same minute.)

April and Shane were alive again. He gently held her, caressed her and kissed her. He comforted her and reassured her. He was no longer just a Marine; he was much, much more.

April knew that this would be the last encounter in this world…and protested…

She looked at me and stated, “He didn’t have three tattoos. He only had two.”

I couldn’t see with my physical eyes, but with the inner eye and ear, I could see and hear Shane insisting he was right there more present than in her dreams. He was firm. He basically said, “April, my beautiful and beloved Baby…I must go. I can only be in your dreams from now on…but I am with you always until the end of time. Don’t be afraid. You need to move on and fall in love again. Trust me. I want you to fall in love and have another child. She will be beautiful…and she will reflect your beautiful soul. I love you April…I always have and in all ways I will.”

Of course I wasn’t able to actually hear these words, for that was a sacred moment, a gift from God. But it was real and it really happened. It is a real love story that seems to travel down the face like a slow and gentle tear. Do you hear it?

April couldn’t speak. Her tears just flowed and mingled with his tears somewhere between heaven and earth.

Tear of love and tear of hope,

a tear of heart and a tear of eternity,

a tear in the desert and tear in my soul…o my!

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Philip Paul Clark

Laid to rest

His burial stone rests against the tree.

The tears of his wife Ashton and the holy water remain on the casket under the flag.

Thanks and praise

For our days

Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky

As we go, this we know

God is nigh!

                       Father Ron Moses Camarda +                                          June 2010