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

 

Jesus reached out his hand and touched me!

Still in chapter one of the Gospel according to Mark (1:40-45), we encounter the touch of Jesus.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.

How amazing, that a mere human being can move God. And yet, we rarely understand this to its full impact. We are like the cubs that a mother elephant defends to her death. There are so many instances where nature merely gives a hint to the compassion and devotion of a mother for her child. The Prophet Isaiah is quite clear about it in chapter 49, as he is the voice of God:

I will never forget you my people. I have carved you in the palm of my hand. I will never forget you; I will not leave you orphaned. I will never forget my own. Does a mother forget her baby, or a woman, the child within her womb? Yet even if they forget, yes even if they forget, I will never forget my own.

Absolutely remarkable is that God is saying that even if the Alpha and Omega were to die and leave us orphaned, God will rise above death to defend us, protect us, and love us. Love is stronger than death. Nature is all about survival. I am amazed how flowers can grow out of a wall in a mostly cement city or animals are so able to adapt to our encrouchment. God is crazy in love with you and me. That love is for everyone. God desires that we get along with one another, whether we be Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Protestant, Atheist, Mormon or Catholic.

The most painful hurts from another come from our own friends and families, not our enemies. Only those we love can truly hurt us. And that is the true leprosy that keeps us separated. When we fail to love all and to be loved by all we get nauseated with one another. We carry the hidden puss of spiritual leprosy. Jesus came to heal this kind of leprosy. Jesus is delighted when he hears us beg,

“If you wish, you can make me clean.”

Jesus stretches out his hand and touches me saying, “I do will it, be made clean!”

All living creatures have a sense of touch. Let us be open and be stewards of our sense of touch.

Breathe in…
Breathe out…
…and experience the touch of Jesus.

How remarkable it must have been to be in that upper room with locked doors when Jesus entered the room. It must have taken their breath away to hear his voice bouncing off of their eardrums as he said, “Peace be with you.”

Then they saw with their own eyes; the nail marks in his hands and the wound in his side. Now experience his breath touching you as he breathes the Holy Spirit on you and those around you. That gentle, kind and loving breath burns away everything unclean in you and me. Wow! And ooh! And o my!

Jesus truly has reached out his hand and touched me.
Let us be true stewards of the touch of Jesus.
Receive the gift.
Nurture the gift.
And return the gift with increase!
I can hardly keep it to myself. How about you?

Love, joy, peace,

Father Ron Moses +

Touched by Jesus

How Could it Be?

How could it Be?

Wow! This truly is the best Christmas ever for me…and it still is. Remember that there are 12 days of Christmas. The 12th day of Christmas is Epiphany and is the Feast of Lights!

Sister Carmel, Momma Nancy, Dad, Father Ron, Sister Patricia

This is a picture of some very special people in my life. We celebrated Christmas on December 23rd at my home in which I cooked. Only my dad is related to me biologically, but the others are truly my family by love. Sister Carmel was the Principle of St. Patrick’s School when I was the pastor. Sister Patricia came into my life the second year of my priesthood when I was stationed at Sacred Heart. Eventually she was my Pastoral Associate at St. Patrick’s. These two Sisters of Mercy have been an incredible support over the years and especially through my time in Iraq. I presided at the marriage of my Dad and Nancy two years after my mother died. They have been married for about 10 years and I call her, “Momma Nancy.” I am so blessed.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.

Yes! Christmas is about family. God is our Father. Mary is our Mother. The people we call, “Dad” and “Mom” are like Joseph being asked to take Mary and Jesus into his home.

For my Christmas homily, I picked up a baby in the congregation and held the baby in my arms. I shared with the people that one of the greatest sacrifices for me becoming a priest is that I wouldn’t have children of my own. However, for the past twenty-one years, thousands have called me, “Father Ron” or simply “Father.” How could this be? Being a father has required some really great responsibilities. When I was in Fallujah Iraq during the war, there were times I had to let my “sons” and “daughters” depart from this life with great love. It was then that I realized I would never be the same and my grief would almost consume me. Children should never die before their parents.

Our Blessed Mother had to experience the death and torture of her Son. The sword entered her heart and never departed, even to this day. Each of us is asked to look at all people as a little child. God asks us to love them and never condemn nor judge them. I never met a person God didn’t love and would be willing to lay His life down for. So I held a little baby girl who wouldn’t stop looking at me at Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peter’s. I held a little boy who wrapped his little arms around my neck as he slept on Christmas Day at Holy Spirit Church. I sang the following song by Michael Card:

How could it be?
This baby in my arms
Sleeping now, so peacefully
The son of God, the angels said
How could it be?

He looks so small,
His face and hands so fair
And when he cries the sun just seems to disappear
And when he laughs it shines again
How could it be?

Father, show me where I fit into this plan of yours
How can a man be father to the son of God
For all my life I’ve been a simple carpenter
How can I raise a King?
How can I raise a King?

That is what Christmas is all about. We willingly accept Jesus into our lives as our child. When we become adults, we welcome Jesus as our beloved husband and the Father of our children. Let us all live knowing that one day we will see Our Father face to face and dance with all of our sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren.

Keep dancing in the Joy of Christmas.

Love, joy, peace,
Father Ron Moses +

P.S. Check out my interview on Veterans Radio that was broadcast on Ave Maria Radio. I am on at the 48th minute of the program. You can find it at:

>http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/19358547