Homily September 10, 2017- the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

23 sun1Today’s gospel is interesting and possibly misunderstood by many who read it. In context, Jesus is instructing his disciples about community. We must remember that in Israel and surrounding areas, the make up of was very tribal or community or family oriented. Within a particular village or town everyone was related in some fashion to others. Everyone knew everyone else and disputes would be worked out with the help of elders if needed. It is very different for Us to understand it completely in a time and different culture. But certainly, Jesus was 23sun2speaking of reconciliation and the necessity of getting along if we are to follow his command to love one another. In a marriage, hopefully, a couple learns to settle disputes and disagreements before a wall is between them. Certainly this is what Jesus had in mind in saying those offended or offending should seek out and 23 sun 3resolve hurts and things harmful to a person or the community. A second step would be to bring in two or three other to help. If that failed then bring it to the community. In many ways this works in a small community and in the early church that Matthew was writing for.23 sun4

Matthew lived a long time ago and much has happened over the centuries to Christianity. Division, arguments, disagreements, and all other manner of human failure has proven that humans are far from perfect. Despite all this, Christ’s word is still among us and we are still called to live it out as best we can. We are still called to a community of faith and love and living as Jesus called us to do. That is why we as a church, welcome all who come and do not judge but embrace all who want to follow Jesus and journey with us. Let us pray we can invite and lead more to come and follow him.


Today’s Homily at Holy Trinity, September 3, 2017-the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time–Vocations

Homily September 3, 2017- the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

22sun2As you can see this morning, we are all set up for a baptism. This can be a reminder to all of us of our own baptism and our own call to Faith and Love and service. All of us do this in our own unique way. One thing I have found in Cacina is the readiness and the actual participation of everyone in their own way in the works of the church. This is especially 22sun3good in a small church. Attached to the bulletin today, and in copies in the back you received copies of Bishop Ron’s letter regarding vocation to the deaconate and priesthood. I would encourage you to read it to better understand how we get our clergy in Cacina. Basically, we have been blessed with parishioners coming forth and serving after undergoing a course of preparation. I know as I think back this week of my anniversary of many long agonizing hours torn apart as to what the priesthood was and what would be a lifetime of living basically alone. But a clerical vocation is not a selfish choice, but 22sun4rather to choose a different form of service. Just let me say when the thought first comes, everybody says not me. But like the Apostles, Jesus doesn’t answer to why but only says follow me. To accept and do that is and act of faith, an act of giving without knowing the result. Surely in life we all make similar or life committing decisions, but are aware of the gravity of them. In answering our own particular call, there is always a peace and serenity around it. Having said that, I invite your consideration and most importantly your prayers for men and women to come forward to continue the work and mission of Cacina going forward and hopefully Growing. and hopefully growing.

Four Steps of Attitude Adjustment

22nd Sun Ord time, 9-3-17

Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm: 63:2-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27

Our readings today could easily be titled: The Four Steps of Attitude Adjustment. Let me explain what I mean.  We start with The Prophet Jeremiah in our first reading.  This is step one. Like most of us when we are compelled to do something we don’t want to do, Jeremiah is whining.  He blames God; he says he was “duped”/ “seduced”/ “misled”.  Jeremiah wants God to know that he is doing this job as a prophet against his will.  He is frightened by the threats made against him.  He is tired of being ridiculed.  He himself thinks the message God has given him to share with the people is a message of violence; he is disguised with himself for delivering the message.

So why does he continue to be a prophet for God? Jeremiah has tried to stop.  He promised himself he would stop.  But then the message “becomes like a fire burning in my heart”; he says he cannot hold the words in, he feels weak and out of control. The way Jeremiah describes his situation is almost like compulsive behavior or addiction; he is full of negativity and resistance.

The next situation, step two, starts off well. We look at is the apostle Simon Peter in the Gospel.  Peter has just been given the name of “Peter”, or the solid, stone foundation for the Church.  Peter is given the keys to heaven, and great authority; it seems impressive.  But then, in just a few moments, it goes from ideal to awful.  Jesus begins to talk about suffering and being killed.  What had sounded glorious has turned grisly.

Peter is so full of himself that he tries to set Jesus straight; he says Jesus is wrong, mistaken.  Surely the Son of God will not allow himself to be victimized by the chief priests, of all people! Peter had been thinking that he was strong enough to stand in his own power, but that illusion is swept away.  Jesus calls him the Devil.  Ouch!!  Jesus persists, saying that Peter must expect to take up his cross!!  Had Peter signed up for crucifixion??  He would lose his life? OMG!

Step 3 starts off badly, with our Psalmist saying, “my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” He clearly is not in control of his situation, either.  He sounds like a guy in real trouble.  But he is actually seeking greater power than himself.  Suddenly it changes; everything changes.  He looks into the temple and sees a vision of the power and glory of God.  He sees kindness so intense it is a greater good than life itself.

Praise for God comes out of his mouth without thinking – he blesses God, lifts up his hands in worship and calls out for God.  He is no longer hungry or thirsty – he feels as if he is at the richest and most abundant of banquets, where every possible desire for food and drink will be satisfied.  He feels sheltered; he clings to God as a steady and reliable force for his life and is filled with joy.

Finally, we read from St. Paul, who has already suffered a stoning and beatings for teaching the Good News of Jesus.  He does not even consider his own strength or power.  He offers instead the “mercies of God.”  He tells us the attitude of success is one of offering our self to God, like a living sacrifice, and offering worship to God.  Paul adds that we do not need to behave like the people around us, but rather our attitude needs to tune into God, changing and renewing us, enabling us to know the will of God.  Then we will understand what really is good and pleasing to God.  Instead of trying to control a situation, or bend a situation to our desires and benefit, we should choose to be molded into a new direction, a different understanding, where we can begin to understand how to be loving and just and true.


Jeremiah wanted life to be easy and pleasant. He just wants to fit in, have some buddies, and go with the flow. He is very conflicted; God is cramping his style.

Peter is a good man. Power and authority also sound good to him, but only if he’s on the winning side.  He loves Jesus; but he’s hoping for maybe a little upward mobility?  He wants God to defeat the Roman army and take charge.

Next our Psalm writer is looking for God, even in the midst of thirst and hunger. He goes to the temple, and finds a spirit of glory and kindness.  Without one bite of food, he feels filled and satisfied.  Without any power of his own, he feels safe and joyful with God.

Last is Paul, who can open himself fully to God’s plan, and wants to conform to God’s ways; he is ready, and urges us, to commit – body, soul, and mind.

This is not a process that necessarily comes from intelligence, maturity, experience or background.  It is not a program where you just follow 4 easy steps. It is a gift of the Spirit which we can choose to nurture and follow.  For each person, the path is unique; ironically blissful and demanding at the same time.  Yes, the retirement plan is outstanding, but living the Godly life is unexpectedly and deeply rewarding.

My friends, keep up the good work.

Homily August 26, 2017- the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

21sun1Who do you say that I am? One Apostle replied, the one who spoke out and answered for all. His words were words of faith, words of belief in Christ, the Son of the living God. This faith was praised by Jesus and in fact he made it the foundation, the rock on which the faith and church have been built. To Peter and to the Apostles came the charge to be the Rabbis of Christ’s church, to watch over and mediate and bind and loose disputes in the name of Christ and his church. We can see Christ’s intent in how the early church and the apostles went about spreading and 21sun2expanding the church. When major decisions were made, we see the apostles and their successors come together to collaborate and decide what was the way to go in Christ’s name. As time passed and the church grew, the structure changed and seemingly the way things were decided also changed, but still the coming together of the bishops(the successors of the apostles) still remains a key in the foundational faith of the church and the power of dispensing God’s love and mercy to the faithful. Certainly, in an institution made up of 21sun 3men, Christ ‘s admonition of binding and loosing comes through the many councils of the church with the inspiration of the Spirit over the ages. Christianity has failed in some respects as divisions and disagreements over the centuries has led to numerous divisions. Yet, Christ remains before the world and his word is present to that world in many ways. While as Christians we would like to see unity, recognition of Jesus as Lord and following him has always got to be paramount as we move forward to a union in a life ahead. Peter and the Apostles answered that call today, and so are we called to answer, to embrace the Son of the Living God and live out his message.

Palace Privileges to Kingdom Keys

21st Sunday ordinary time 8-27-17 Isaiah 22:19-23; Ps: 138:1-3, 6, 8; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20

So, here’s the key!! (Displays large old key) Well, not the actual key, but we do know that the Key to King David’s house was a big one. After all, it was the key to a King’s palace.

So, really, what was it that was so special about King David? He was the youngest son and just a lowly shepherd. But God said, “I have found David to be a man after my own heart who will fulfill my every wish” (1Sam 13:14). In Acts 13:22 St. Paul preaches about this: that above all, our heart must have no desire, no purpose, no agenda, but live to do God’s bidding- we are to be people after God’s heart, like David. This is what made King David special.

Traditionally we credit King David with Ps 27, “One thing I ask of the Lord: this I seek: to dwell in the House of the Lord, all the days of my life, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord and seek his face.” At Mass, the Priest recites David’s great confession from Ps 51, “Wash me from my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.”  His Psalms say a lot about where his heart was.

Our first reading from Isaiah tells about Shebna getting fired from his job at the palace. He apparently was more concerned with his own power and prestige, and not so much with the King’s needs or the people of the kingdom. Eliakim replaced Shebna, and was advised to be “a father to the people”. Fathers are supposed to look out for the best interests of the family; the King needed someone who cared about the kingdom.

But notice that the key of the House of David is so large and heavy that Eliakim will carry it on his shoulder. This image tells us that he had great authority in the government. He determined who could see the King. His authority came directly from the King. His position was one of far-reaching responsibility; he literally carried a heavy load. If he shut the door, you had no recourse. If he opened the door, you had access to the greatest power in the kingdom. If he said “no”, that was it. If he said, “yes”, you were in luck.

If you remember, Isaiah also wrote about someone else who had the weight of government upon his shoulder – “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6)

This same key shows up again, not only in our Gospel, but in the book of Revelation (3:7), where it says, “The Holy One…holds the key of David…” Jesus now holds the Key of David. It shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to David, and the Lord of the Kingdom of heaven.

The angel Gabriel tied it all together when he told Mary at the annunciation, “(The child) will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of His father David. (Luke 1:32)”

In Matthew and Revelation, “the key” is no longer to an earthly palace, but to “the Kingdom of heaven”. The pattern is that ideas and images are foreshadowed in the OT, then realized and completed in the NT. Jesus tells us that God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Christ and the Son of God, the Holy Spirit had enabled him to proclaim it, AND Peter believed. Divine power and a heart for God made Peter the leader and gave him authority.

But something else always shows up when the Key of David is mentioned in the Bible, Old or New Testament. And that something else is this: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This was an expression used in the teachings of the Rabbis of Jesus’ day. It can also be translated as open/shut or free/ imprison. But in all situations, it meant to forbid or permit with indisputable authority.

Later, in Matthew (23:13), Jesus chastised the scribes and Pharisees, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow those trying to enter.”

Since we pray every Sunday for the coming of the Kingdom, as Jesus taught us, I suggest that we take a lesson from the scribes and Pharisees, and make sure we never act in a way which would shut the kingdom of heaven to anyone. No closing, just opening. The keys and the authority are available to all of us, not just one individual or institution.

Here’s the point: let us do everything we are capable of to loose, open, free, and say yes to opening the Kingdom of God to all; because I believe we all can carry the Key, as we have already been given the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control of the Holy Spirit. What is required is to believe in Christ Jesus, Son of God, and act with the power of the Holy Spirit to make the Good News known, using words if necessary.