Living According To Christ’s Word
A reflection for the Third Sunday of Easter 2009
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church International of New England
Throughout all of history we humans have treated Almighty God as though he has human temperament, thinking, emotions and even form and therefore desired, reacted and responded in the same way as we humans. Church leaders dress in fancy clothes, maintain homes more than 65% of the world’s population can not afford. Some even promote elaborate liturgies wearing gold and jeweled encrusted vestments whose cost could feed a whole town for a year or build a hospital, or secure homes for hundreds. .Trillions have been spent to build beautiful palaces as monuments and places of worship to God in spite of the fact that Christ did most of His preaching under the open skies of His Father‘s cathedral.I believe that God wants us to live our lives with compassion for others, being more mindful of the needs of others and not just our own needs, comfort luxuries and edification. Yes, we need a place for a faith community to gather together out of natures elements, a simple plain building with the necessary space for people to gather, a place where we can celebrate our love and honor Almighty God and partake in the Eucharistic Feast. Simple cups made with earths elements, just as I am certain Christ used at the Last Supper, would be proper instead of the golden bejeweled ones so popular in many churches. Yes, we need to be able to travel to visit His faithful who are unable to gather at the place of worship but we do not need luxury model cars but reliable and simple energy efficient transportation that will get us from one place to another safely.
In the 5 years since this ministry was begun on the internet with only 1 friend as a member, we have grown to reach over 1500 people all over the globe. We make visits to those who are confined to hospitals, nursing homes or their own residences due to age, illness or other issues. I counsel on average 15 people a week on the telephone and even more through email. My Chalice was an extra from another faith community, my vestments were hand me downs or gifts from family and friends. The mission expenses exceeded the income so I try to make up the differences using my personal credit which is now maxed out.I have learned that God will provide what you need just as we are told in Matthew 6:25-27 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”We need to call to mind the words found in the gospel of Matthew 25:34-40 “Then the King will say to those on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was hungry, you fed me: when I was thirsty, you gave me drink: when I was a stranger, you took me in: When I was naked, and you clothed me: when I was sick, and you visited me: When I was in prison, and you came to counsel me. Then the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink? Saw we you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you? Or saw we you sick, or in prison, and came to you? And the King answered and said to them, Truly I say to you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it to me.”
We need to heed and live according to Christ’s sermon on the mount found in Matthew 5:3-12. Christ made God’s will very clear but I fear we often try to make being a follower of Christ difficult by imposing a lot of man made rules and supposed regulation. Christ said the most important commandments were “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself. ( Luke 10:27) and God’s will for is and Christ’s intent is made clear also in Matthew 25 :44-47 “I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which spitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love them which love you, what reward have you? do not even the publicans do the same? And if you salute your brothers only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Rather then try to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.”
What a different world this would be if all people, regardless of their religious beliefs, would practice these basic teachings which preach peace and brotherly love, and worked as hard at finding a way toward living in peace with one another rather than fighting wars and causing devastation, genocide, starvation and homelessness. Our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, realized how little the riches of the world meant compared to the riches of eternity. He stripped off all His fancy clothes and donned the clothes of a peasant. He shared his simple loaf of bread with the poor on the streets. Mother Theresa realized this. Padre Pio and Martin De Pores did also, as did many others who tried to show the way and were rewarded with sainthood but still there message and that of Christ continued to be ignored or made difficult or confused by rules and regulations whose only purpose is to insure wealth, power and control over others.
The world, in spite of economic recessions, continue elaborate shows as a means of praising God. For some reason, we just can not seem to grasp God's desire.
Looking at the Christ's list things that defile and comparing them against the way people, leaders of corporations, governments and Religious denominations are living today, seeking to gain profit at the expense of the less fortunate who barely are able to maintain a decent living, desiring material trappings rather than having compassion for those in need, using deceit, lies or religious domination to justify war, indulging in indiscriminate sexual behavior rather than committed loving relations, promoting sensuality and narcissism to sell unnecessary products to increase the bottom line and the profit margin for select individuals, One has to ponder where we are headed and how God is looking upon all this and what He might feel is needed to happen in order for our hearts to begin to live according to the teachings proclaimed by His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
I believe the time is now for us to take a good hard look at the way we are living and make a concerted effort beginning this Easter season to change our ways and strive to live the Gospels in our actions as well as our words. AMEN