Thursday, December 29, 2011

Reflection for Mary, Mother of God Feast

May the Lord’s Face Shine On You

A Reflection for January First, Mary Mother of God

Readings: Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:16-21,

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mery, Franklin, MA

The Psalm for the liturgy of New Years Day proclaims a message we all should be shouting from the rooftops, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious. Say to God, How awesome are your works!”

When we couple that with the direction given in the first reading of the day from the book of Numbers chapter 6 verses 22-27 on how to greet people “You shall say to them: May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”

We receive a direction of living our life in accordance with the teachings of Christ and therefore Almighty God. Our hearts should be filled with the knowledge and love that the King of Glory, Jesus Christ brought to this world. Was not just happenstance, but was part of God’s design from the very beginning of time.

As if to reinforce the truth, that we have all been chosen by God as his children and therefore heirs to the kingdom of heaven we have the words from the second reading found in Galatians 4: “The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.”

The Gospel tell us that the name chosen for the child was not a family mane but that it was given to the infant according to the instructions Mary received from the Angel Gabriel.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." Matthew 1:22

Besides being the feast of the Circumcision of Jesus, today is also commemorated in the western church to celebrate the motherhood of Mary, “the Theotokos” in Greek meaning mother of God. The Gospel reading reminds us that Mary pondered all that had come to pass and also the things she was told would occur in her heart by the priest “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too." Luke 2: 34-35.

There should be no doubt in anyone mind that Jesus is the promised one of the ages and as such we need to heed the things He has instructed us to do. We also have to keep in mind that through the centuries many things have been added to what Jesus instructed, mainly for the purpose of gaining power and wealth. Those things have very little to do with living our life according to God’s will. Celibacy of clergy was an idea that came many years after Christ, the early church had women deacons, the early church blessed same sex commitment ceremonies, liturgies were celebrated in the language of the people. These are just some of the things that churches enforce that were not defined by Christ.

All the grandeur, splendor, pomp and circumstance that is associated with some churches fly in the face of what Christ taught. By His birth in a simple manger alone; Christ gave us a lesson that He came to give hope and promise to all and that the poor and needy where more acceptable than the rich and powerful. “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” this teaching should cause us to think about how we treat others and is it the same way that we would want to be treated?

Jesus Christ came to earth to save us, to open up the gates of heaven to all people. Almighty God sent us His son in human form to teach us the truth, to lead us in the path of righteousness, and to gain for us eternal salvation.

As we begin a New Year let us make a new beginning in our relationship with Almighty God through His beloved Son, Jesus the Christ. Let us vow to make the changes necessary in our lives so that we come closer to God in all that we do. Let us set aside time each and every day to acknowledge God and ask His help in making us a better and newer person. Let us examine way that we can actively make a difference by our actions and deeds. Can we be more compassionate toward those who are suffering from poverty, hunger, homelessness and serious illness? Can we do more to support the spreading of the Good News of Salvation preached by Jesus Christ? Can we make time in our schedules to pray and receive the bread of life, the Eucharist?

As the sports adage says; “The ball is in our court” how are we going to play it?

May the New Year bring peace to the hearts and minds of all people, May the wisdom of God infuse the inner being of all especially the leaders of the worlds governments and religions so that they find a pathway to peace and unity and bring about the promise of The Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. AMEN

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Reflection for Christmas 2011

Christmas 2011 Reflection

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Divine Mercy Parish/ Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

An All Inclusive Independent Old Catholic Parish and Ministry

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.(John 1:14) Glory to God in the highest, and peace to all people on earth with whom He is Pleased. Today is born unto us a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (John 2:14, 11) His name will be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) And Mary brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, see, the angel of the Lord came on them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said to them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you; You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men”.(Luke2:7-14) When Jesus came to earth in goodness and loving kindness He saved us by the virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which was poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

All the above passages are from one of the three masses assigned to Christmas.

What we need to ponder as we hear these passages is how Jesus, the King of Kings came into this world and why God choose to send him in the way he did.

The King of Kings, Lord of Lords was not born in the warmth comfort of a home or inn. No, he was born in a humble cave used to keep the farm animals sheltered from the elements.

His crib was a feeding troth filled with hay for a mattress and the warm breath of a donkey and a cow provided heat.

Mary and Joseph, his parents, had accepted God’s will for them even though it could have left them open to criticism and [possibly even death since the birth of the child would have meant that they had sexual relations before they were married a crime punishable by death.

Jesus first visitors were simple shepherds, not the elite of the world.

God sent us a sign by this choice for Christ’s birth.

God was trying to tell us to live our lives simply and not by seeking fame or fortune.

We were given a message that the simple things in life are what count like family, friends, and the beauty of nature.

Christ’s birth as a poor homeless individual was a sign to us to be more compassionate toward the poor and homeless, aged and sick.

His birth was also a sing that we never know what a small baby will achieve in life which is why we need to respect life.

From Christ’s humble birth in a manger came the most powerful and largest religious movement of all history, Christianity, based on the teachings of Christ.

I often think that God sent Christ as a last resort. God got tired of how humans continually changed everything God had inspired the prophets of old to tell people and mad God into a vengeful God rather than what God actually was, a God of Compassion, mercy and LOVE.

God decided, I believe, that the only way to set things straight was to send His only begotten son, into this world in a natural human way and not in a thunderous miracle.

God wanted to set the record straight on how He expected humans to live and treat each other.

Every event of Christ’s life recorded in scripture, is a message to us to be accepting of the diversity God created, compassionate toward the poor, aged, sick and forgiving toward those who do us wrong.

Christ welcomed all who came to him and discriminated toward no one. He sat and ate with those considered sinners.

Christ is referred to as “The Light of the World” which means He was sent to light the way for us, like a brilliant beacon that guides ships away from dangerous shoals and reefs toward a safe harbor.

Christ was born to clarify God’s will and dispel the darkness that prevailed and sadly still causes so much pain and suffering because of man’s interpretation of Christ’s teachings.

Christ came to comfort us in times of distress by assuring us that there is a great reward awaiting us at the end of our earthly life if we follow his example.

The miraculous birth we celebrate today is that of God made flesh.

God gave us a human image to equate to; a human being that had to endure all the human feelings, emotions, problems and joys that each of us has to experience in our journey of life.

Christ endured the pain of loss of a parent and friends, Christ experienced the joy of a wedding of a friend. He became angry at the greed and callousness of the priests and temple employees.

Christ’s message was one of Love, forgiveness, compassion, mercy and generosity.

On this day we celebrate God’s gift to us of His only son and God’s promise of salvation to all his children, let us present an offering to Him that reflects the way of life He advised us to lead.

Let us begin to be more compassionate to those who are suffering from hunger, illnesses such as AIDS and cancer, poverty, homelessness and substandard housing, and discrimination and bullying.

Let us work hard to eliminate the ills of our society and bring about a time of equality and justice for ALL God’s children.

On this day that we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace let us make a concerted effort to bring peace into the world beginning with our own families, friends and neighbors whom we might be have hurt in some way.

If all of us strive toward this goal, what a huge difference it could make in a world where greed, profit, power and a disregard for the needs of hundreds of millions of people seems to be the norm, especially among some who claim to actually be Christians.

As Neil Armstrong said upon landing on the moon, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”, a small change in our behavior can become a giant leap if each person whose life was changed in even a small way were to reciprocate by making a difference in another’s life, miracles could happen.

In the news this week we have heard of strangers who have gone into stores like Wal-Mart, K Mart and Target and paid off the balances due on peoples lay-a-Way’.

According to the news it influenced others to do the same. That is what a gesture of kindness could do.

This week I have made over 40 Christmas arrangements for distribution to some of those nursing home patients and shut-ins I visit. It cost more than $250 which the ministry could not afford, but I felt that the ray of hope and enjoyment it could bring into the lives of those receiving them was far more important and a way I could do what I believe Christ would have done if he were walking this earth today. We are called to be Christ’s hands and feet as his ministers, which means we are supposed to try to live as we believe Christ would have lived today.

By our taking a small step toward bringing peace into our own lives we might prod others to do the same and eventually this “Virus of Peace” could envelope the whole world.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)

With these words of Jesus I end this joyous message of Christmas and pray that the Peace and infinite love of Christ will invade your hearts today and all the days of your life.

Merry Christmas and May God bless us all with a peaceful and joyous New Year. AMEN

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Reflection for the Feast of Immaculate Conception

Immaculate Conception Feast Reflection

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans Divine Mercy

On this, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother let us reflect on what that means in the overall story of God’s gift to all humanity of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin Mary through the Holy Spirit.

Almighty God deemed that Mary should come into this world free of the stain that all others before and after her have come into this world with, original sin, so that she would be a pure receptacle within which Our Savior Jesus Christ would be conceived in.

He sent His messenger, the angel Gabriel, to her to inform her that she had been chosen to bear the promised of the ages.

Mary responded with apprehension but with the affirmative words “Let it be done unto me according to thy will”.

In our lives, we often are faced with challenges or situations where we have great apprehension but after prayer, we feel that what we are facing is God’s will.

Do we respond with “Let it be done according to thy will O Lord”? Or do we complain because it is difficult?

I often wonder what went through Our Blessed Mothers mind when Simeon told her, “a sword will pierce your soul.”

If we had been told that, we would run for cover or accept it as God will that had to be accomplished.

Mary accepted it with the same full acceptance as she accepted her conception without having a sexual relation and being unmarried.

Mary was totally accepting of God’s will in spite of the fact that it held extreme danger for her since an unmarried woman with child was supposed to be stoned to death.

If only each of us could only become more like Mary, accepting our lives as God chose it for us and make the best of them by living our life with the purpose of bringing greater honor and glory to God.

I am certain that Our Blessed Mother was instrumental in my being where I am since the order I was accepted into after so many years of applying to religious orders after my marriage ended, was The Servant Franciscans of the Immaculata, an order dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother.

When that order disbanded I felt called to found the Franciscans of Divine Mercy.

On this feast honoring the Immaculate Conception of Mary, let us dedicate ourselves to being more like Our Blessed Mother, totally and completely accepting God’s will for us. Let us strive to live our life in a manner that reflects her life by accepting what God sends our way even the less than desirable as Christ accepted his passion and death in order for us to have forgiveness of sins.

By accepting all that comes our way we can be assured that we will be blessed with all God’s gifts we will need to gain eternal peace for all eternity.

On December 8th in 1957, I was living in a walk up in New York pursuing my second love Theater, after being told by the Josephites that I needed to think about my vocation to the priesthood and being laicized from my vows as a deacon, I could not seem to fall asleep because some words kept going round and round in my head.

I finally got up and wrote what was in my head down and then went back to bed and sleep. The next morning when I got up, I went to the table and there was what I had written. I thought, “My mother will like this”, and I mailed it to her.

In 1987 after she died, as I was going through her things, I came across the original paper with what I had written on it. I would like to share it with you now.

I call it, A Sinner’s Prayer


O, Mary Immaculate, Virgin so fair

Mother of our Savior, please hear my prayer

Intercede dearest Mother to your Heavenly Son

Tell Him I am sorry for all the wrongs and sins I have done

Ask Him to guide me by the gifts of the Holy Spirits truth in all of my ways

So that I may be with Him to give glory and praise at the end of my days. Amen

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thank You for Birthday Blessings

I want to thank all the more than two hundred people who took the time to send me Birthday greetings on my achieving the 77th year of God given live by Email, on Facebook and Twitter. It was an awesome experience to know that so many would send me Birthday blessings.

I have been so blessed by God who has taken me through 4 cancers and for all the gifts he has blessed me with throughout all those years most especially the gift of being able to now serve those who are so often neglected, the elderly, poor, sick and during my early years of my life, being able to teach young people of God’s infinite mercy and love and serve in parish Faith communities.

I ask you to continue to pray for me and more especially for this ministry as it is becoming extremely difficult to meet the needs of the ministry since we do not receive donations enough to cover the average monthly expences of approximately $375 without having extra expenses as we have had during the last two months. We currently are short $225 to pay the remainder of this month’s bills.

We are truly “Beggars for God” as the rule of St. Francis directs since our only source of funds to maintain the mission come from donors. As Matthew 5:3 says; “ “Blessed are the beggars in spirit! For the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.” Since we do not have a “collection Plate at the nursing homes we offer mass in and since most of those we serve are among the poorest of the poor, we need donors to keep our ministry operating.

Please pray that God will inspire some to make donations so we do not have to eliminate any of our ministry work.

I again thank all those who sent me the hundreds of Birthday blessings and greetings because it made me realize that I am truly blessed to have so many who would take the time to send greetings.

May God Bless all of you and may He fill your hearts with the glow of His infinite mercy and love to sustain you through all life’s difficulties as it has me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An All Souls' Day Reflection

Reflecting on the Heavenly Elect

God’s Promise; Everlasting Love & Peace

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

My reflection for this week in which we honor and celebrate all the saints and heavenly elect and all who have lived their earthly life and passed on to their eternal reward was a very easy one to write.

All I had to do was rewrite two of this week’s readings as they sum up everything we have to do in order to gain everlasting life and also fulfill God’s desire for us while we inhabit this planet.

The Second Reading for All Saints day is from the first gospel of John verse 3:1-3 and states;

“Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are. Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.

My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is. Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ”.

The Gospel from Matthew 5:1-12 continue with Christ’s Sermon on the Mount which tells us how to live and be happy; “Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them: ‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven; this is how they persecuted the prophets before you.”

The first reading for the feast of All Souls on Wednesday is from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9 which says the following; “The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall ever touch them. In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster, their leaving us, like annihilation; but they are in peace. If they experienced punishment as men see it, their hope was rich with immortality; slight was their affliction, great will their blessings be. God has put them to the test and proved them worthy to be with him; he has tested them like gold in a furnace, and accepted them as a holocaust. When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out; as sparks run through the stubble, so will they. They shall judge nations, rule over peoples, and the Lord will be their king for ever. They who trust in him will understand the truth, those who are faithful will live with him in love; for grace and mercy awaits those he has chosen.”

In Matthew 11:25-30 we hear Christ say; “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to mere children. Yes, Father, for that is what it pleased you to do. Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light”

From these teachings of Christ we learn that if we accept how God created us and freely accept the burdens we are asked to carry as Christ accepted His burden and we live our life with compassion and concern for the well being of ALL God’s children then we will have earned everlasting life with God the Father, Our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Our heavenly Mother Mary, all the Angels, Saints and heavenly elect for all eternity. May God grant each of us the grace to follow Christ’s teachings and attain His promise in joining all who loved Him as He loved us. AMEN

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Awsome Truth

The Awesome Truth

A Reflection for the week of October 24th based on the readings from Sunday October 23rd

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD Franciscans Divine Mercy/ Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus

Sometimes the Readings from Scripture are, in the words of the young, Awesome!.

Think about it, when Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he replied, “You shall love the Lord, Your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”.

It would appear on the surface that to follow that commandment would be easy.

Then we look at what we are asked to do. “Love God with all our heart.” All? But the heart is such a small organ and I need to keep room for my family and friends. How can I give ALL my heart?

The answer is easy, when you realize that each of the persons you want room for in your heart are living examples of Almighty God.

They were created in God’s image and likeness and in loving them you are loving God.

Love God with all your soul? Just exactly where is my soul?

Science has never identified it, no X-ray ever shows it, Do I have a soul? Again the answer is easy.

Your soul is the feeling of compassion you extend to those who are less fortunate than you are. Your soul is that feeling deep down when you seek God because deep down, in that unseen recess of your being, there is an empty feeling. Your soul is that unknown attraction that draws you toward others, the feelings of joy, love, sadness, elation all emanates from deep within you.

In the first reading of today (Exodus 12:20-26) we are even given directions on some of the ways we might express our love for God. We are told “You shall not molest or oppress anyone”. Anyone! According to the dictionary the word MOLEST means: “to annoy, interfere with, harm, to assault or attack, to engage in nonconsensual sexual relations.”

In other words, to have respect for the dignity of every one of God’s Children. I wonder if those pedophile priests or the people who killed Matthew Shepherd or those who would deny people the Gay and Lesbian community the same rights as every other person ever read that passage and if they did how they can claim they are believers and followers of Jesus Christ.

There are so many, many ways that we can express our love of God in heart, mind and soul if we only think about it. One good step toward that objective would be to accept ourselves as God created us, to begin to love the gifts we have been given and not always desire to be other than the person God created. We can begin to examine how we can use the gifts God has given us not for our own glory and edification, but for the greater honor and glory of God.

We can start looking for the God in others and not always look for the worst in people.

It is not easy, but, like the old adage says “You cannot have the beauty of the rose without having some thorns in your life”

May Almighty God grant each of us a greater appreciation of ourselves as He created us, and instill in our hearts a more compassionate understanding of all His Children. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On Givine God that which is His

Sunday October 16th Reflection 2011

A Reflection for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

“Very well, give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God”. Matthew 22:21

How do we give back to God those things that belong to Him? The Gospel reading for the twenty ninth Sunday of Ordinary time informs us that we should give back to the government that which is theirs and to God that which is His.

We therefore are advised by Christ to live up to the obligations we owe to our government and give to God what God deserves, honor, praise and glory.

We have a choice, we can choose to serve those human gods of Greed, power, domination, discrimination, materialism and self-effacement or do we choose to follow the way of Jesus Christ. The answer should be very easy if we seek not only everlasting peace in the hereafter but in this world we live in. We soon will be asked to fulfill one of our obligations to government by voting for the person who will have the ability to make not only this country but the world a better place.

This weeks Gospel tells us to give government what it requires of citizens, one of which is to vote. When we exercise that right we not only will be fulfilling our obligation but if we do it with an eye toward which candidate will best meet the way Jesus taught and which candidate will insure a government that is compassionate, kind and concerned for all God’s children especially those most in need of help, the poor, sick, elderly and homeless we will be giving honor to God.

When Jesus Christ was transfigured God informed us clearly who Jesus was with these words; “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" (Matthew 17:4-6).

When we read the teachings of Christ, we find clear concise guidelines as to how we are expected to live our lives. These are found in The Sermon on the Mount, and in the “GREAT COMMANDMENT”, "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:29-30)

Could Christ’s teachings be any clearer, yet so many try to FIT THEIR POLITICALLY CORRECT AGENDA” and reject things that might put a financial strain on the few who have gotten rich and powerful through means that was not always best for the majority. The Book of Isaiah (58:10) teaches us that; if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.

When we fail to be concerned for the well being of ALL God’s children we are not, and we cannot, claim to be serving God and giving back to Him what He deserves.

Jesus, in the stories of his everyday life, rejected no one, not even those who were to crucify him. Jesus sat and ate with those that Jewish law forbade eating a meal with. We can dislike the way another person acts, we can reject their choices as not acceptable, we have the freedom to choose not to associate with some people because they lie, cheat, steal, murder, and act in an manner that is offensive to God, But, When we decide that power, money, prestige, fame, and greed are more important to us than living according to God’s way, we are not serving God.

We need to remember what we have been instructed, we should judge a person, even our elected officials, by their past deeds. Have they fought to feed the poor and clothe the Naked and provide adequate housing to the homeless or sought equal pay for equal work? Have they spoken out against atrocities and war? Do they respect and love all of God’s children and seek to have all treated fairly?

In the recent debates the candidates who would like to replace our current president have used character assassination, lies and advocated policies that would harm the poor, aged, sick while helping the rich get even richer which are not policies that are consistent with the teachings of Christ or the way someone who claims to be a Christian should be advocating.

The question poised at the beginning of this reflection was, “Do you render to God that which is God’s and to Caesar that which is His” As Christians we are called by God to fight for equality, justice, compassion for all God’s children especially the poor, sick, aged ,homeless and hungry using The teachings of Christ as our guideline. They are found in the Sermon on the Mount and in the commandment “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind, soul and body and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

By living a life of and practicing equality, justice, compassion, mercy, peaceful coexistence and charity you will be rendering to God that which is His and to Caesar what is His and fulfilling your civic duty. AMEN

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sunday October 9th Reflection

Do You Reflect God in your Daily Life?

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Today’s Gospel reading reminds us that “Many are called, but few are chosen” The king invited many to the banquet but they rejected his invitation. He then sent out his servants to bring in all they met to partake of his banquet all he asked was that they come properly attired. How are you attired? When you look in your spiritual mirror what do you see? Are you dressed clean and neat? Is the reflection cast back at you sharp and clear or do you see streaks or do you see dirty spots on the mirror?

If you see spots on your reflection ask yourself what is causing those dirty spots. Possibly you are not accepting yourself as God’s child.

Maybe there caused because you spend too much time thinking about yourself and your needs instead of finding out how you can use the gifts God gave you to help those less fortunate than you.

One thing that can cause dirt and streaks on your reflection is the distance you put between you and Almighty God.

You believe in God and turn to Him when you need something like healing or a job, but you fail to communicate with him as your best friend every day.

Sometimes, just possibly, when you look in the mirror you do not recognize the person staring back at you. You need to ask why.

There are, of course, those times when you can see another figure behind you who seems to be calling to you. That reflection can either be the dark, frightening and foreboding presence of Satan who is trying to entice you to turn away from God and live only for the moment and the pursuit of pleasure, fame and fortune.

The image behind you might be a beautiful luminescent image that seems to glow from within which is the reflection of God, the Holy Spirit or your guardian Angel whispering to you to follow the path of righteousness.

Take a good look at yourself in that mirror; do you reflect the infinite love and mercy of Jesus Christ?

Do you live your live in a way that would prompt God to say “Welcome, My good and faithful servant”?

What you see in that mirror is how others see you and react towards you.

If you live your life always striving to be kind, generous, thoughtful, forgiving, and not discriminatory of any individual, even those with whom you disagree, you are well on the way to seeing God in your reflection and others will see that as well and be drawn toward you.

If, however, you discriminate because God created someone a different race or nationality as you or because they have a same sex orientation, or been divorced, or worse yet, that an individual is not of the same religious denomination as you, then your reflection is going to be full of blotches, stains and streaks and your image in the mirror needs to be cleaned up.

Jesus Christ did not reject anyone, he called and welcomed all who came to him seek to hear him and learn the way to gain heaven, even those who were sinners seeking forgiveness telling them to “Go and Sin No More”

Christ sat at table with those who according to Jewish tradition were unclean, teaching them how to attain salvation.

Christ endured suffering and even death on the cross in order to free us from the burden of sin and open the gates of heaven to all.

His example showed us how to live but he told us it would not be easy and that we might be ridiculed and rejected and even have to suffer in order to live according to God’s will.

God has even given us a source of strength in the gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit; Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.

They are if we seek them out and ask God to bestow them upon us.

I close this reflection with a prayer I say at least twice a day which I wrote for a weekend retreat in 2006.

Prayer for God’s Infinite Love

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Almighty and merciful God, open my mind, my heart, and my soul to your infinite love. Instill within me the knowledge of your truth. Guide me in your ways in all the things I do so that I may be unto others a reflection of your love towards them.

Allow the light of your truth to flow through me, towards them, in order that they may come to know you better.

I pray that all those with whom I come in contact with, each and every day, may be brought into a closer union with you and enjoy the promise of Your salvation earned through your beloved son, Jesus Christ, in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension. I humbly ask this in the name of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever unto the ages of ages. AMEN

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Reflection on Saints Sergius & Bacchus

Feast of Saints Sergius & Bacchus October 7, 2011

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy

On October 7th we celebrate the feast of Saints Sergius & Bacchus, the patron Saints of this ministry so I decided to tell you more about the Saints and why the mission was founded since so many have never heard of the saints.

Our mission here in Franklin Massachusetts was founded to serve all those in the New England area and through the internet who have felt rejected and alienated because of their sexual orientation or divorce with the message of God‘s infinite mercy and love for ALL His children.

As for who Saints Sergius & Bacchus were the answer is a couple of men who were Christian soldiers in the Roman army and in a loving committed blessed Holy Union ( Marriage) in accord with the traditions of the Catholic Church at that time in history.

Most people never heard of them because they do not fit the current church’s political positions although they have feast days in both the Roman and Eastern churches especially the Orthodox churches but in the Roman church their feast was replaced with a feast day honoring Our Lady of the Rosary.

I have a very strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother under all of her titles and I also believe that the Rosary is a powerful prayer mantra that should be prayed often but I also believe that knowledge of the lives of all the saints and their feast days needs to be known because the saints can offer us hope and example on how to live our lives.

Even though I had read the LIVES OF THE SAINTS from cover to cover through more than 60 years of religious education and work in the church I had never heard of Saints Sergius & Bacchus until I came across their Icon while on a retreat at the Benedictine monastery in Vermont. I was there trying to perceive how and under who’s patronage I would establish a ministry to the GLBT community since none of the Roman churches in the area wanted any part of that kind of ministry. While perusing the gift shop I noticed the Icon of two male saints in an embrace and wondered who they were. When I turned the Icon over and read the history of Saints Sergius and Bacchus I was totally surprised and immediately knew that God had sent me to find them.

Saints Sergius and Bacchus were attached to the household of the Emperor Maximilian. They were Christians and lovers. Yes you read that correctly.

It was not for their sexuality these young men were canonized. It was for their faith -- one of history's most poignant ironies, given the church's unflinching campaign against gay love.

They, by the way, are not the only saints who had committed same sex relationships there are others like Saints Polyeuct and Nearchus and we all know of King David’s love for Jonathan as described in the book of Psalms which is attributed to having been written by King David. There are many other couples who are saints, both male and female, who historical records indicate were in committed blessed relationships.

Saints Sergius and Bacchus were ordered to enter the Temple of Jupiter to participate in a sacrificial ceremony to the god, they refused. For this act of defiance, the lovers were stripped of their arms and badges of rank, dressed in women's clothing and led through the streets of Arabissus (near Comana in Cappadocia) which, for a Roman soldier, was abject humiliation. Then they were sent to Resapha in Syria (Augusta Euphratesiae in Mesopotamia), where they were tortured. Bacchus was whipped until his flesh was raw and he died October 1st AD290, confessing his faith in Christ

Sergius's faith faltered with the death of his lover, but was reinforced when Bacchus appeared to him in a vision saying, "I am still with you in the bond of our union." Sergius kept the faith and after a great deal more of torture, he was beheaded on October 7 AD290. Like his lover, he died a martyr for the love of Christ.

The tomb of S. Sergius at Resapha become a famous shrine and was honored by great gatherings of Christians because of the frequent miracles there.

Sergius and Bacchus became the heavenly protectors of the Byzantine army, with the two Theodores, Demetrius, Procopius and George.

Their "acts" are preserved in Latin, Greek and Syria.

In AD431, Bishop Alexander of Hierapolis built a magnificent church in Sergius’s honor.

In 434, the town of Resapha was raised to the rank of an episcopal see, was named Sergiopolis, and soon became one of the greatest pilgrimage centers of the East. Many churches in many towns bore the name of Sergius (sometimes with Bacchus) and in the seventh century, a church was dedicated to them in Rome.

There have been two popes named after Saint Sergius.

During the middle Ages, the relationship of Sergius and Bacchus was considered an exemplar of compassionate union, and possibly even marriage, based on agape (brotherly love) and mutual respect.

In the East, Sergius and Bacchus were universally honored.

Since the seventh century they have had a celebrated church in Rome. Christian Art represents the two saints as soldiers in military garb with branches of palm in their hands.

I strongly recommend that all who love Christ and believe that he is our savior and redeemer take it upon themselves to read the many histories of the church, not just the Roman version, but the versions preceding the establishment of Rome as the “central” seat of the church.

What we now call the Eastern Orthodox churches were all, except for Russia, established before Rome and their historical records are more intact and open than those of Rome.

I am ending this brief history lesson with a prayer I wrote in honor of the patron saints of our ministry.

Prayer To Saints Sergius & Bacchus

© Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD,

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Almighty and merciful God, Your Holy Martyrs, Sergius and Bacchus loved each other and You with such complete abandon that they were pleased to suffer torments and give their earthly lives rather than deny you.

They were subjected to disgrace, humiliation and ridicule in an attempt to embarrass and discredit them and force them to renounce you, O Lord.

Their love for each other and You, O Lord, sentenced them to earthly degradation and loss of their earthly lives but gained for them eternal live and glory with you.

I pray that they will intercede on my behalf to you, O Blessed Lord, and plead my case so that I may join them and all the saints, when my days here on earth are over, giving endless praise honor and glory to You Almighty God and father now and forever. Amen

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blessings on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

The Canticle of the Sun

by Francis of Assisi

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord! All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing. To you, alone, Most High, do they belong. No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures, especially through my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day; and you give light through him. And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, precious and beautiful.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, and clouds and storms, and all the weather, through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water; she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten the night. He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth, who feeds us and rules us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy those who endure in peace, for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, from whose embrace no living person can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your most holy will. The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks, and serve him with great humility. AMEN, AMEN All praise and glory be yours Almighty God unto the ages of ages. AMEN

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Transitas of St. Francis Reflection

Transitas of St. Francis Reflection

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

These words from the peace prayer of Saint Francis could not be more poignant today than they were at the time they were first reportedly proclaimed by our Seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi.

Recently I revisited the film THE GROUND TRUTH, which depicts the effect of war on the innocent youth of our nation who served their country in the belief that they were doing their patriotic duty after the tragic and horrendous events of 9/11.

The film is told in their words and the words of the parents who lost their children.

The parents were proud of their children who were serving their country but they feel abandoned by their country after their child gave the ultimate sacrifice.

I was reminded while watching the film of the life of Saint Francis, who, like those young men and women in the film went off to fight for his country in the belief that what he was doing was the right thing.

He came to the realization that war was not the answer. When he became very sick while serving he saw a vision of Christ.

Francis returned home after recovering to denounce all violence and the corrupt and excessive ways of the world. He rejected all the fineries and luxuries of the world for the simple life.

Francis then went on to proclaim a sense of God’s infinite mercy and love and the message of Christ peace into the world and the church of his time.

THE GROUND TRUTH will cause you to evaluate not only war as a way of resolving differences but also how we should treat those who give so much but in return are often forgotten.

The film will open your mind just as the powerfully vision of Christ did for Saint Francis.

The toll of war is one that society will live with for centuries to come and if it is not addressed today, it will take its toll on our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

I am reminded of a song we used to sing so often with the students, LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson in 1955, another time of an uncertain and questionable war.

It says the following; Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me, Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father, brothers all are we, Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.”

The acceptance of wars and violence has spread to our young and schools where bullying is becoming an epidemic and has caused some to commit suicide.

Ask yourself if the consequences of war are worth the toll that is being taken on our future generations. There has got to be a better way.

In addition to the wars another problem we are facing in this country, just as in St. Francis time, is the need to have excessive wealth. Highly paid athletes are striking for higher and higher wages when they already receive, in many cases, tens of thousands of dollars a game.

Another issue is that ome politicians would cut social programs that help the poor, aged and unemployed of which almost 10% of our nation are attempting to live without jobs.

Saint Francis’s society suffered from all of the same problems we are faced with today and he knew that they were in total opposition to what Christ Taught and worked to change the mindset of the people of his time.

Is it possibly that St. Francis on his feast day and Almighty God are trying to open our minds today to the realization that today’s society is living in total opposition to the teachings of Christ and God’s will for us.

Let us all begin to say aloud the words of Christ found in John 14:27, "Peace be with you my peace be unto you" (Luke 24:36) Let us call to mind the direction we are given in Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And in Jeremiah 28:9 “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true."

We can find further confirmation of God’s direction to us in Luke 1:79 “those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace."

I end with the words from Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” and Christ’s words on the Sermon on the Mount “Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be known as the Children of God.”

May the spirit of Saint Francis and His desire to bring the peace of Christ into everyone’s heart and soul fill us with that desire and draw us to action in achieving true and lasting peace among all God’s children.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Reflection for Sunday October 2, 2011

Are you a good steward of God’s Vineyard?

Based on the readings from; Isaiah 5:1-7, Psalm 80, Philippians 4:6-9, Matthew 21:33-43

For the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans Divine Mercy

The readings today all center on Vineyards which is symbolic of the church and how we care for the church as its stewards or tenants.

Are we good tenants or are we like those in the Gospel, greedy and willing to commit all kinds of crimes to achieve our personal goal of riches, fame, fortune and power and control?

The tenants in the Gospel referred to the chief priests and religious and political leaders of Christ’s time. And the son of the owner in the Gospel was of course, Christ, who would be killed so that the tenants could have their way and gain the riches of the vineyard.

The landowner is of course God himself, who has given us this world to care for, cultivate and protect, a job I am not entirely sure we are doing a good job of either.

The gospel includes one of the very powerful passages and sayings that is so often true; “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eye”

So often the person who is attempting to bear good news or lead people to do what is just and right is often rejected and mocked. Christ was rejected by his own town people and his message of compassion and mercy was not what the leaders of the Jewish and Roman nation wanted to hear.

Sadly today, we seem to be living in a time where the only thing that matters to far too many people is fame, power, wealth and the needs of the aged, sick, poor and homeless could not be cared for. Some politicians would have those programs, which do help those in need have a somewhat normal way of live and at least the necessities of life, done away with.

Basically, God has given us the tools, the instructions and the way to achieve everlasting life and to have a happy life here on earth. None of those things includes being greedy, exerting domination over the others, accumulating massive amounts of wealth without sharing with those who are less fortunate.

We are the tenants here on God’s good earth and we need to treat it and it’s occupants with respect and love, just as God has showed his love by sending his son to suffer and die for our sins so we could gain everlasting life.

We can only gain that goal by living in accord with what Christ taught us and by being good tenants of God’s vineyard.

Let us not reject the “living stone” Christ and His teaching, but build a strong world upon that “living stone”

Let us live the Sermon on the Mount, and practice in our daily lives what it advises us to do. Let us have compassion for the poor, aged, sick, homeless, and those who are suffering from addiction and other mental problems rather than seeking our own self-interests, fame, wealth and power.

If we do not change the direction the word seems to be going, we must also remember the promise of what God would do if the tenants failed to care properly and respect God’s vineyard and rejected the son; “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” AMEN

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

DEcision Time

Decision Time

By October 20th this ministry will be faced with a huge decision to make.

Our Mission 2002 Ford Taurus Wagon needs to be re-registered which means we also have to have the required inspection sticker and make the deposit on mandatory insurance for the vehicle. I have already been told that the vehicle will not pass the inspection unless we get new tires and also have some other mechanical work done. The cost of everything will be at least $550. Up to $750.

Our ministry currently only has $50 available to it and there are also the basic Monthly expenses of $161.33 to be paid.

We have two options available to us, one would require those who receive or read our regular reflections to open up their hearts and wallets and make donations to raise what is needed or the other option is to sell the mission car which would mean we could no longer serve the nursing homes where we celebrate mass, the hospitals, hospices, and shut-ins we visit weekly.

If we sell the mission vehicle we could obtain at least $2500 which would go far toward reducing our massive debt of over $4500 accumulated over the 8 years of the ministry.

I really do not wish to abandon the people who rely on us all over New England because we could not keep the mission vehicle on the road.

I am turning to you because I need your help as I cannot do this by myself.

Please make a donation to this ministry to help raise the necessary money to take care of keeping the car in operation in addition to the normal monthly expenses.

Making a donation is easy BY CREDIT CARD using the PAYPAL links ON THE MISSION WEB SITE; Or you can send your donation directly to:

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus

C/O Middlesex Savings Bank

830 Washington Street,

Holliston, MA 01746

Whatever happens, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus and the Franciscans of Divine Mercy will continue posting the reflections, the counseling and consultation we do daily.

My prayer is that a few generous souls will find it in their hearts to make enough donations to keep us running while at the same time help in reducing the deficit which prevents our ministry from more for some of God’s most forgotten or rejected children.

If you cannot make a donation please pray that God will inspire other to do so and that God will direct us as to how He desires us to continue to be his servant and spread the word of His infinite mercy and Love for ALL His children.

If you have suggestions or a desire to assist the mission please let me know. This ministry is not mine but belongs to all who it serves and to God.

Please visit our Franciscan order web sites & To learn more about our ministry and small Franciscan order.

A simple humble servant of Christ,

Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Monday, September 26, 2011

October; A beautiful time of year.

A Glorious Time of Year

A Reflection for October 2011

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Franklin, MA

The month of September brought an end to the summer and the start of fall which in New England is glorious with the trees turning hues of reds, oranges and yellow giving the impression that the landscape is glowing with praise to Almighty God.

The months of September and October are filled with many feasts honoring Franciscans and therefore are important to our order.

Among them are the feasts commemorating St. Francis receiving the stigmata or the marks of Christ’s passion which we celebrated 17th of September which was also the feast day of my personal patron saint, St. Robert Bellarmine a great teacher and preacher.

The finding of the Body of St. Clare and the feast celebrating the life of Padre Pio of Pietrelcino on the 23rd of September, The Feast of our Holy Seraphic Father Saint Francis on the 4th of October.

The month of October is special to our ministry as it is on October 7th or 8th depending on what calendar you are using; the church celebrates the mission’s patron saints Sergius and Bacchus which is also celebrated in honor of Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Mother.

The feast celebrating the Motherhood of Our Blessed Mother is on October 11th On October 28th the Universal church honors Christ the King whereas the Roman Church in the US celebrates it on November 20th)

The month of October ends with All Hallows Eve or Halloween as it is known in the secular world. Halloween or All Hallows Eve is one of the oldest Christian holidays, dating back thousands of years. On All Hollows Eve, the night before the Christian holiday of All Saints Day, Christians would dress up as their favorite Saints and in an All Hollows Eve Procession they would parade to the outskirts of their town supposedly leading the ghosts and evil spirits away from the town to make it acceptable for the Saints to bless the village.

When I was a teacher we would award prizes to students for the best presentation of their favorite saint or a Biblical Character who dressed up as their favorite saint and could tell the story of that saint. We would have a parade of costumes and students and teachers would judge and vote on the best for each grade and overall school best costume, presentation and male and female costumes. In all over 40 prizes were awarded but everyone got to share in goodies supplied by the parents association and students actually learned more about the various saints especially since the school had a great ethnic mix of nationalities and therefore saints not normally acknowledged everywhere.

Some of the feasts of saints who have special devotions to them in October, in addition to those of the Franciscans and Our Blessed Mother, are the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux also known as Sister Teresa of the Child Jesus on October first on the Novus Ordo calendar and October 3rd on the traditional calendar. On October 5th we celebrate St. Faustina Kowalski known today the world over as the "Apostle of The Divine Mercy," and is numbered by theologians among the outstanding mystics of the Church.

October 7th we celebrate the feast of the patron Saints of our ministry, Saints Sergius & Bacchus who were Roman Soldiers in a blessed same sex relationship who became martyrs because they refused to give up their faith and trust in God.

St. Teresa of Avila who founded the discalced order of Carmelites and with sister Carmelite nun, St. Therese of the Child of Jesus, is numbered among the three women considered Doctors of the Church, feast day is October 15th.

So while the heat and vacation joys of summer come to an end October bring a blaze of glory not only in the colors of the fall foliage but an opportunity to deepen our faith and commitment to serve Almighty God by following the examples of the saints whose lives led them to being recognized as special in not only God’s eyes but by the church for their exemplary model for us to follow in our life journey.

May God, through the intercession of our seraphic father Saint Francis inspire us to become closer to Him in our daily lives and guide us through the Gifts of the Holy Spirit so that we may all proclaim God’s glory forever. AMEN

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Acclaim Jesus as Lord

Acclaim Jesus as Lord

A Reflection for the Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

In the first reading for this Sunday we hear Ezekiel telling us “When the sinner renounces sin to become law-abiding and honest, he deserves to live. He has chosen to renounce all his previous sins; he shall certainly live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:28) What a wonderful affirmation for us, to know that we are guarantied forgiveness of our transgressions, which as humans we are bound to commit, if we but ask God for forgiveness.

In Paul’s letter to the people of Philippi Paul tells us that LOVE is what binds us together as Christians. “ if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind.” Paul goes on to say; “Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, So that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.” … “Being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross. But God raised him high and gave him the name which is above all other names so that all beings in the heavens, on earth and in the underworld, should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1 – 11)

In Paul’s letter we are advised to emulate Christ and be considerate of others and not just of ourselves. Paul goes on to describe how Jesus, even though he was divine, humbled himself and took on human attributes even to the point of accepting the ignominious death of a criminal on the cross just so we could have complete forgiveness of our sins and have everlasting life in the hereafter with His Father , himself and all the heavenly elect.

The Gospel reading ends with Christ telling the chief priests and the elders that; “I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you”. .. “John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did” (Matthew 21:28 – 32)

The lessons to be learned from these readings, I believe, is that no person will be denied acceptance and the promise of everlasting life if they repent for their sins and seek God.

Seeking God means to live our life in a manner that extends love to ALL those we come in contact with and being considerate of their needs rather than our own self interests.

In these days of turmoil in our world and financial turmoil in our country it would be very easy to forget about others and only look after our own self interest. If this is the road we choose to travel, we become no better than the Chief Priests and the elders who professed to be servants of God yet rejected God’s messengers John the Baptist and Jesus Himself.

Sometimes I feel that some of our professed Christian leaders have followed the same path as the Chief Priests and Elders in that they have failed to live in a manner consistent with Christ’s teachings and example. They promote things that will insure them popularity and financial security and power rather than a spirit of welcoming and Love for ALL God’s Children.

Recently I have been given a great opportunity to witness and put into action Christ’s teachings. I will not go into all the details but I was blessed to be able to assist a man who has suffered the loss of much of his muscles and has difficulty eating by preparing food in a way that he could swallow it and would gain nourishment.

I considered this opportunity a gift from God because it brought home to me the knowledge of how many blessings I have been given throughout my life in spite of all the medical problems I have had during the last year and the discord and upheaval of our Franciscan order and the struggle to keep this ministry alive..

The key to receiving God’s blessings, I believe, is to be willing to accept all that God sends you without grumbling and willingly as Christ did and to put your entire life in God’s hands.

We need to open ourselves up to God’s will and stop trying to analyze God’s intent. God has a reason for all that He has done. God creates people as they are for a reason and it is not our place to reject any of God’s children or to deny them the same rights and privileges as every other citizen. We need to have compassion for those who are sick and the poor and do all in our power to ease their suffering so that they will know that someone cares for them and by that action we can bring them to know of God’s infinite love.

By living our life for others and not ourselves we then “Become united in our love” not only for God but for all God’s children and in so doing we “acclaim Jesus Christ as Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

Let us go forth proclaiming our love of God through our actions and by exhibiting God’s love by our love toward all God’s children we encounter in our daily lives. Let us be more aware of the needs of others so that we become less self centered and more generous toward those who God has given to us for that purpose. AMEN

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 18th Reflection

“Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near” these words taken from the first reading from the book of Isaiah 55:6-9 should be a wake up call for us even in this the twenty-first century. The second reading for this Sunday from Paul’s letter to the Philippians 1:20-27 has some wise words of advice for us also when he tells people to; “Avoid anything in your everyday lives that would be unworthy of the gospel of Christ”

This weeks gospel story is a very familiar one of the landowner who hires laborers at various times of day offering to pay them the same amount as those who were hired at the beginning of the day. At the end of the day when the laborers were being paid many complained that those hired at the last hour of the day received the same amount as those hired in the morning as being unfair Jesus answered them with this statement; “My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.”

The lesson for us is quite simple, it does not matter when we decide to live according to Christ’s teachings, nor does it matter at what hour of our lives we call upon God to be with us, God will accept us with love and forgiveness and welcome us into the heavenly kingdom.

The only requirement that is needed to receive the same reward as those who have labored faithfully from the beginning is desire to be a true follower of Christ and then for us to actually live according to Christ’s teachings.

To live as Christ taught means to have compassion for the sick, poor, aged and reach out to help them. We need to be fair and honest in all our personal and business dealings. We must speak out against injustice and demand equality for everyone.

Our world is facing many challenges and has far too often rejected many of these principals. Wars are being waged unjustly and with tragic results. Some nations seek to dominate others and greed and materialism have replaced compassion and justice.

In the United States financial institutions are collapsing while their CEO’s and others receive exorbitant bonuses at the expense of the average person who face difficulties in making ends meet because of job losses and minimum pay. Seniors on fixed incomes buying power has lost more than 50% in the last 10 years while the percentage or millionaires have increased greatly. The government has cut the food stamp allocation by ten percent claiming the cost of living has gone down while every food item in the stores has gone up by more than 10%.

To be a true follower of Christ one must always be aware of the needs of those less fortunate and make sure they are cared for adequately.

A True follower of Christ would welcome all who came to seek God with open arms and not reject them or drive them away. A Person who loves God would love all God’s children as God and Christ love. No follower of Christ would cause any child harm or abuse them. The aged and sick would be cared for and receive affordable quality medical and dental care.

If we are to “Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near” we need to heed Christ’s teachings and insure that we do all in our power to make the adjustments in our society that are needed so that we, as a nation, can live up to the motto “One Nation, under God, with liberty and justice FOR ALL” and truly be a country that lives and practices what our founding fathers envisioned when they wrote these words in the Declaration of Independence “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and in the Constitution of our country; “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

Let us all pray that those who claim to be followers of Christ, and those who worship the one God, creator of all, will reflect on the teachings of Christ, Buddha, Mohammad, Gandhi, and all those who have advocated peace, brotherhood, mercy, compassion and love over injustice, war, poverty and dissention. Let us “Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near” AMEN

Friday, September 16, 2011

Reflection on the Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

Reflection On the Stigmata of St. Francis

by Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD, Franciscans of Divine Mercy

As we celebrate the feast of St. Francis of Assisi receiving the marks of Christ’s passion I want to reflect on what are supposed to have been amoung his last words, a call to continue the work of renewal in the Catholic Church, "Let us begin again, for until now we have done nothing. May each of us do our share to spread the Gospel, the true Catholic faith!"

From the earliest days of his conversion, Francis enjoyed a devotion to the crucified Christ. He was the first to receive the stigmata or wounds of Our Lord on his body.

In 1224, while immersed in meditation on Monte La Verna, Francis beheld the vision of the seraph, as a sequel of which there appeared on his body the five wounds.

The work of Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus, a ministry of the Franciscans of Divine Mercy an Old Catholic Franciscan order, is to follow those words of our Seraphic Father and speak out against discrimination and promote equality for ALL God’s children.

Equality would mean that all properly trained and educated individuals who hear God’s call to become His servants should be allowed to become priests, including woman.

Equality would mean that any two individuals who fall in love with each other should be able to make a commitment to love, honor and respect each other before God and have their commitment blessed by the church.

If all that God created was created good and had a purpose in God’s divine plan, why is it that people whom God created with an attraction to members of their own sex considered to be “intrinsically disordered” which simply put, means Bad.

In his day St. Francis was considered a radical and rejected by his family, clergy and even many of the hierarchy of the church because of his rejection of wealth and the splendid trappings that often go with wealth.

Things have not changed much since the 13th century.

Today people look down on the poor, overlook the homeless and constantly seek fame, fortune and power.

As committed followers of St. Francis our ministry tries to encourage people to know how much God loves them and desires them to be full participants in the Mystical Body of Christ, The Church, claiming their rightful place because of Baptism as heirs to the Kingdom of God.

We have faced rejection from family and friends and we try to overcome our difficulties in reaching out to those who need to hear this message of God’s infinite mercy and love because of our own poverty.

We ask all who read this reflection to offer prayers that God will send our ministry more individuals who desire to proclaim the infinite mercy and love of God for All His children as He created them and that God will continue to inspire and guide us providing us with the means to spread the word of His infinite Mercy and Love and to continue the work Christ instructed St. Francis to do when Francis was at prayer in the crumbling chapel at San Damiano and he heard these words; “Francis, go rebuild my church, which is falling down.”

The following is a prayer composed for the feast of The Stigmata of St. Francis.

Prayer Asking God to Transform us.

O God, Fullness of Life, You allowed Francis to experience the depth of Christ's Infinite mercy and love by branding his body with the marks of Christ's passion and death.

Transform us into living images of Christ, so that we may live His teaching as defined in The Sermon On The Mount and seek equality and justice for ALL God’s children. Help us to be worthy to partake of the rewards of His passion, death and Resurrection and join with Francis and all the heavenly elect when our time here on earth is over. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our saving Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. AMEN

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exaltation of the Cross Reflection

God’s Infinite Love for ALL

A Reflection for the Exaltation of the Cross Feast September 14th

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

“God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.” (John 3:13-17)

This gospel is a clear reminder to us of exactly how much Almighty God loves ALL His children.

His love is so great that He was willing to send his beloved son, Jesus Christ, to earth in human form to be subjected to all the difficulties and pressures of being human even to the ultimate indignity of being persecuted, tortured and crucified. It was by Christ’s Crucifixion, death and resurrection that we were redeemed and our sins forgiven and the gates of heaven were opened to ALL who lived their lives in accord to the teachings of Christ.

The Church places very high regard to the sign of the cross recognizing the powerful significance of Christ’s crucifixion and the results it achieved for the human race. As Christians we begin prayer by making the sign of the cross on our bodies, we offer the following prayer when we celebrate the passion of Christ in the Stations of the cross “We adore you O Christ and we bless you. All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world”

The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is one of the twelve great feasts in the yearly Church cycle. It commemorates two historical events: first, the finding of the Life-giving Cross in the year 326 by St. Helen the mother of the Emperor Constantine, and second, its recovery from Persia in 628.

As adults, we sometimes feel abandoned and afraid and feel like we are being treated unfairly or blamed for things unfairly. We have a hard time when people criticize us for following our inner feelings even when we have discerned what we are feeling to determine if it is in accord with God’s will.

As adults the same feelings of insecurity that we sometimes felt as children raises its ugly head and we feel that everything we do is not appreciated.

There are also those times when we believe that we have taken on more responsibility or a project that we are not capable of or possibly is not actually God’s will.

We often feel sorry for ourselves; even though the crosses others have to carry are much greater than anything we have to contend with.

Even Jesus, who was fully aware of what was in store for Him pleaded with His father “"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will."(Matthew 26:39)

In all these insecure feelings we must always pray to God in the same way that Jesus did by asking our heavenly Father to grant to us that which is in accord with His will and not what we think we desire.

That is what I am now doing regarding the future of this ministry as I struggle to maintain it.

God’s infinite love for us will NEVER give us more than we are capable of enduring and, often, God has caused those He loves greatly, like His son, to endure greater suffering because God knows that our faith in Him is strong and we will be like Job, keeping our faith in spite of our difficulties.

In today’s world so many individuals and religious organizations reject and discriminate against others because they are not exactly like them. God did not create only one species or one kind of person.

God created great diversity and because of His creation we have much to be thankful for because if all people, animals and countries were the same boredom would certainly have overtaken this world many millennium ago.

Christ was sent to us as an act of God’s love to make known God’s will and the way to salvation.

One of the basic teachings of Christ is compassion for the downtrodden, poor and marginalized.

I believe that to be a true Christian means that those who have been given wealth, fame and power have an obligation to take care of those who are in need. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Just as Christ set aside His human instincts to remain alive and not suffer the agony of the passion and death on a cross in order to attain salvation for ALL God’s children so too must we set aside our self-interests and make our decisions based on what will benefit the greatest number of people especially those who are suffering because of age, poverty, war, discrimination and illness.

Doing this we can be assured that we are truly living in accord with God’s will and as Jesus tells us in John 17:26 ; “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." (John 17:26)

We are assured that God’s love for us is as great as the love God had for His son and that we are living as God desires us to live and that God is with us even in our darkest hours. AMEN

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thoughts on Anniversary of 9/11

Lest we Forget

Thoughts on the Anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

As we come to the 10th anniversary of the horror of September 11, 2001, a day that will forever be engrained in the hearts and minds of all Americans just as December 7, 1942 is for those of us who were alive on that infamous day, let us examine the cost to us not only in financial terms but more importantly in human tolls.

The deaths of 2,977 mostly civilians is only the beginning of the horror since As of August 2, 2011 4,683 brave Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the launch of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) on October 7, 2001 and Operation Iraqi Freedom, which began with the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003. Of the total deaths, 3,708 were due to hostile fire, and the remainder due to non-hostile actions (such as accident, suicide, or illness). Every day we learn of another brave American service person that has lost their life fighting these wars in countries that have had tribal wars with each other since before the birth of Christ.

When we add the number of young men and woman who have returned from fighting these battles maimed and broken in body and spirit with the loss of their full physical capabilities or with PTSD the toll is horrendous. How many more have to die and how many more Trillions of Dollars that are draining our economy are we going to spend fighting battles that are causing more hatred and stronger desire to retaliate against the US by those Muslim radicals who believe this is God’s will?

Today we learned of a credible threat to destroy American civilians by setting off car bombs in major cities, which causes more stress to our citizens in a time when so many are suffering from loss of work, financial difficulties and recovering from the ravages of storm damage in all parts of the nation.

Our government is dysfunctional and more interested in promoting party politics than is doing what is best for the majority of the nation. The poor get poorer and the rich only desire to get richer, causing one to wonder if Satan has not gotten control in order to have people forget the GOLDEN RULE “Do unto others as you would have done unto you”

Members of one political party would like to eliminate programs that have been a safety net for so many poor, aged and unemployed like food stamps, which have been cut by 10% because some government bureaucrats claim that the cost of living has gone down while at the grocery store the cost of every basic food item and gas to fuel transportation has continued to go up almost daily.

On these days when we recall and memorialize those who died on that fateful day including Mychal F. Judge, OFM who was a fellow Franciscan let us also offer prayers for those who have suffered and died fighting these so called wars of terror and pray that God will inspire our leaders to find ways to end the carnage and redirect the resources to building a safe, strong healthy economy where justice prevails for every person. Let us strive to build a society where THE GOLDEN RULE is the way of life. AMEN

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Reflection on Forgiveness

A Reflection On Forgiveness

For the twenty-fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time 2011

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans Divine Mercy

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times”

These words from the Gospel of Matthew 18:21tell us that we are obliged to forgive others for any indiscretions they commit against us. There is no doubt in my mind of how difficult that can be. It is not easy to forgive a person for even one transgression against us, let alone seven or seventy times seven times.

If we think about it though we need to think about how many times we commit sins and expect God to forgive us. What if he forgave us only once and when we, because of our human weakness commit the same sin again, God said: “I have already forgiven you once you went back and made the same mistake so I guess there is no hope for you”

This would never happen of course, because God is an everlasting and infinitely merciful and loving God who understands our human weaknesses and will forgive us if we are truly sorry and show some intent to try to not return to the same indiscretion.

How many times have you broken a friendship or held anger within you because of something that another did against you which made you upset and angry and when they asked forgiveness you were unwilling to forgive them?

I know of a case where an adult daughter is unwilling to forgive her father for divorcing the mother and leaving her. She was devoted to her father and was said to be his shadow as if attached to him. When in his company she was never more than a foot away from her dad. When the parents separated she was very hurt and felt that the father left her, which was not the case in any way. That all happened when she was 6.

Today she is a brilliant successful lawyer and yet she will not call her father “dad or father” but refers to him by his first name. On many occasions the father has apologized and told her how much he loves her and is proud of her achievements in spite of the fact that he was not there for much of her youth. The young lady has, according to others, actually torn up birthday and Christmas cards which included money or checks without even opening them.

This is not the way God wants us to act. The father can understand the daughter’s anger over feeling that the father had abandoned her, which was not the case since gifts and other messages were always being transmitted to her. The father always made sure that the children, (there were also two sons in this family) received presents on their birthdays and other occasions and when in the area would visit them.

This kind of anger is not in keeping with what Christ has instructed us, but can be harmful to the health of an individual. I know of another case where a person held anger over things that had happened to them in their youth inside them and the anger ate away at them making them sick much of their life. They held on to the negative things that happened to them and tended to forget all the wonderful things.

God’s promises are forever. God promises us that we will have salvation and eternal life with Him in these words found in Deuteronomy 6:2 “If you fear the Lord your God all the days of your life and if you keep all his laws and commandments which I lay on you, you will have a long life”.

We have been given many ways to show our love and devotion to God, The rules of the Old covenant were clarified for us by Jesus Christ.

Christ affirmed this when he responded to the scribe who asked him what the greatest commandments were and after being told “The scribe said to him, ‘well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that there is but one God and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than any holocaust or sacrifice.’ Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God’. And after that no one dared to question him anymore. (Mark 12:33-34)

If we can learn to forgive those who have caused us pain and anguish or worse and strive to the best of our human ability to live our lives daily exhibiting love, compassion and forgiveness to all we encounter as we travel the road of life God promises to extend His infinite mercy and love and forgiveness to us for our transgression and moments of weakness with these words; “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:33-35)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Love is caring for ALL

Love is Caring for ALL

A Reflection for the 23rd. Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

“Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations. All the commandments are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbor; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments”. (Romans 13:8 – 10)

There are two passages from the Readings for this Sunday that should guide us in how, we who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, should be judging people and making our choices about who we associate with, not only to those we meet and encounter each and every day of our life, but those who we elect into government positions where they will have the power and opportunity to make necessary changes that would help those who most need help.

In Romans 13:8-10 Paul exhorts us to refrain from getting into debt which most of us are unable to live by because of the exorbitant cost of everyday needs which can be directly connected to a couple of factors that our governing leaders could control. One reason is the trillions of dollars spent in fighting a war against a country that did not attack us instead of putting our military might seeking the people responsible who did.

This war has drained our economy and the social programs that could help the poor, disabled and aged to maintain a constant quality of live they experienced ten years ago, provide quality affordable health care for all our citizens from birth to death. Guaranteed affordable quality education to every child and guaranteed College education to those who desired it. I learned this week that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is failing to live up to a law that gives adopted children tuition support at State Colleges and Universities because the funds are not there which is an example of how the priorities of government do not live up to what we as Christians have been called to live our lives.

Over 4500 families who have lost sons, daughters, Mothers and Fathers waging this war and the resulting damage has been tremendous financial strain for years to come to all of them.

Those who returned physically or mentally disabled have received minimal assistance especially those suffering from PTSD from the trauma of the war and the horrors they experienced.

Another causality of the deficit has been educational support to our returning veterans.

Another causality of our fiscal difficulties is the resulting debt every family, except those whose income is over $250,000 a year, are the higher than necessary prices charged for everyday necessities like Gas for transportation, fuel to heat homes and run factories that create the goods we need.

In spite of the difficulties so many have to live with the major corporations continue to report exorbitant profits and they have paid millions as bonuses and Golden Parachutes to CEO’s and other executives.

The failure of our Government leaders has resulted in high unemployment because of jobs are going to countries that pay lower wages just so the corporations can achieve higher profits at the expense of the workers in this country.

This is not showing love for our fellow citizens because these actions have caused pain and suffering to so many citizens and caused many to live in abject poverty.

The current fiscal crisis is also affecting all religious and private nonprofits that attempt to help the poor, elderly and those with disabilities because donations that support those programs have all but dried up.

This ministry is over $4500 in debt because our donations do not cover the average monthly expenses of $386. a month.

To continue to attempt to spread the word of God's infinite mercy and love and to serve those in nursing homes, hospices and the elderly and low income shut-ins I have for more than 7 years obtained what was needed by charging things on my person credit cards and now the strain to meet the monthly payments is causing me to reconsider the future direction of the ministry and how we can best continue.

Christ never turned anyone who came to him away yet some faith communities turn children of God away because of race, marital status or sexual orientation. That is not living as Christ did and taught. Jesus even welcomed those that Jewish laws forbid Jews to mingle with. He lived by extending a welcome and showing love to ALL he encountered and gave them love.

The Gospel for Sunday tells us that “, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven” yet we find ourselves constantly separating ourselves from God’s love because of petty and self-serving desires that have little or nothing to do with Christ’s teachings and way of life.

Just imagine if all who claim to be followers of Christ were to join together with one common goal, to make this world a better place for ALL God’s children and not just the select few how much better every one on earth would be.

If Christ is with us as He tells us in the Gospel “For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.” (Matthew 18:15 – 20) there is now power or force that could overcome us.

The time is NOW for us to gather together as ONE VOICE, ONE CHURCH, ONE BROTHERHOOD IN CHRIST to bring about a time of BROTHERHOOD AND TRUE LOVE that cannot hurt your neighbor. AMEN

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sunday August 28th Reflection

Serving God According to His Will

A Reflection for the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Based on readings from Jeremiah 20, Psalm 63, Romans 12:1-2, Matthew 16:21-27

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

This week has been an inspiring week and interesting week spiritually as well as politically. Spiritually the readings for not only this Sunday but the past week have all been about how we, as followers of Jesus Christ, should be living our lives and making judgments about how our country should act as one founded upon the principals of justice, freedom and equality FOR ALL ITS PEOPLE and the people of the world.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans 12 Paul urges us “Do not conform selves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, discern what is good and pleasing and perfect in the eyes of God”.

We must keep in mind that we humans have a tendency to look at the world through our inferior mind compared to God’s perfection as Christ tells us in this week’s Gospel from Matthew 16.; “You are thinking, not as God does but as human beings do” Whoever wishes to follow me, must deny themselves”…..”What profit is there for a person to gain the whole world and forfeit their life” .

Further on in Matthew 19: Christ tells us clearly "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."…."I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

According to Matthew in chapter 23 Christ is to have said; “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Could this not apply to those churches that reject people because they are single mothers, divorced, or have a same sex orientation? Christ NEVER turned any one away.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation " Does not this statement resound in you as what is happening to people who have lost their homes because of the unscrupulous practices of financial institutions?. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.' "You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?” This is clearly an incrimination of those who place wealth and power above service to God by being charitable and compassionate to the poor, sick, and aged. Christ then goes on to make it completely clear that by swearing allegiances to God and living a life of “justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Outwardly you appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' "So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.”Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell? (Excerpts from Matthew 23:13-32)

The above passage not only was talking about the Religious leaders of Christ’s time but, I believe, to the Religious and Political leaders of today who seem to somehow have forgotten the prime message Christ delivered on how to live but instead made up a whole new set of guidelines many of which do nothing but drive people away just as the rules of the religious leaders of Christ’s time kept people from worshiping God.

Building magnificent palaces as a sign of giving praise, honor and glory to God and His beloved Son Jesus the Christ is a waste of the funds that built them when they could have been used to annihilate poverty, illness and provide affordable adequate medical care and education and housing to millions of people all over the globe who are impoverished.

God did not ask us to honor Him that way, God wants us to honor Him by caring for one another and loving one another as His Son, Jesus Christ taught us.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” these words spoken by Ann Frank in her DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL ring true today.

We don’t have to wait for someone else to change the world, we can begin now each one of us, individually by changing our own perspective and evaluate what we need to do to live God’s greatest commandment; “Love God with your whole mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself” or as Christ told us; Love one another as I have loved you.”

Remember that Christ warned us; "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42) Might it not be better for us to "not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19-20)

In a few days the official end of summer will be upon us and next week we will celebrate a holiday in the United States honoring all who labor.

Let us pray that those who employ people will be fair and pay a fair and equitable wage and provide for the wellbeing of all their employees and let us offer special prayers that all those who are unemployed find work so they can support their families.