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.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Web Site Back On LIne

The primary web site for the Franciscans of Divine Mercy is now back on line. To learn more about our small independent Old Catholic Franciscan Order go to:

You can also learn more about our all inclusive welcoming and affirming ministry to ALL God’s children especially those who have felt unwanted, rejected or have been alienated for any reason @

Friday, August 19, 2011

Web Sites Back On Line

The mission Web sites are back on line. Visit them to learn about our ministry and order, see our annual report which will actually be sent out on Sunday, find out about our Franciscan order. Contact us with Prayer Requests or to obtain other information about our ministry or our Franciscan Independent Catholic Order..

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reflection for Sunday August 21st

Who Really Knows God’s Intent

A Reflection for the 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

The second reading for this Sunday clearly states that no human can ever really know God’s mind or the reasons He chooses to do anything.
"How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods! Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor? Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything? All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen". Romans 11:33 – 36
For centuries churches have taken this line; “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.” from the Gospel of Matthew 16, to justify their selectivity of who is and who is not welcome within their church and also to claim that the Bishop of Rome is the one and only head of the church and many other actions that his excluded people rather than include ALL God’s Children.
In Actuality, the words that Jesus used in His answer are almost identical to those used in Isaiah 22 which is the first reading for today and one that Jesus would have been very familiar with. “I place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; should he open, no one shall close, should he close, no one shall open. I drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a throne of glory for his father’s house.”
We must remember that even though Peter was the person who gave the answer to Christ’s question; “Who do people say the Son of Man is?’; and Peter replied “You are the Christ", all twelve apostles were present and all, except Judas, after the decent of the Holy Spirit upon them went forth and established churches, the first being the Church in Jerusalem headed by James.
The Church of Rome actually was one of the last churches to be established. But I digress from the main point I want to make.
There is nothing in this world that was not initially created by Almighty God and still is watched over by Him.
God created everything for a purpose and for good. Unfortunately, we children of God seem to find a way to turn some of God’s creation into something bad. We misuse God’s creation in ways that He did not intend. We also make judgments about some of God’s creation using our less than perfect minds and human values to perceive God’s intent, usually incorrectly.
Paul, in his letter to the Romans makes it very clear “No human can ever penetrate God’s motives or understand God’s methods” “No human can ever know the mind of God”
What we do know is that God, the God who created all things, sent His only begotten son to earth to make His desire and will clear, The same God Jesus the Christ said was His Father in Heaven, is first and foremost a compassionate, merciful and infinitely loving God who cares for ALL His children.
A loving God would never condemn a person to everlasting suffering because they loved another and lived their life in a decent and lawful manner with concern for others and a love and devotion to God.
The son of God, Jesus the Christ, never turned anyone away that came to Him in belief and trust.
Christ denied no one who sought help. Jesus often instructed that His Father was a forgiving Father and would welcome all who might have strayed away just as the father in the story of The Prodigal Son welcomed and rejoiced upon the son’s return.
We, humans need to stop believing that we know the mind of God and the reasons He chooses to do things.
We need to stop condemning people and rejecting them from giving honor, praise and glory to the God who created them as they are.
We need to seek ways to end the cycle of violence against God’s children that has brought so much pain and suffering in this world and caused untimely death to so many.
We need to begin to find ways to help those who are poor, aged, sick, homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol and put an end to wars that are waged in order to gain riches, property and dominate the minds of God’s children making them subservient to the few.
We need to live the Sermon of the Mount and be like the Good Samaritan.
We need to love one another as God loves us and respect the diversity that God created instead of trying to control and change it to suite our inferior selves. Only God is perfect and we can never know God’s reasons or intent. AMEN

Friday, August 12, 2011

Feast of Assumption Reflection

My Spirit Exults In God My Savior

A reflection on the readings for the Assumption of Our Lady, August 15th

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFA

Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus

The Gospel for this Feast day continues the story of the Annunciation by the angel Gabriel to Our Blessed Mother that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God’s only son where Mary goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth and upon hearing Mary’s greeting Elizabeth “gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

On this feast of the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother into Heaven , I can’t help but call to mind the first part of Luke’s Gospel describing the events of the Annunciation and Our Blessed Mother’s response since the feast of the Assumption is also the anniversary of my Ordination to the priesthood.

Seven years ago at 69, an age that many ordained priests are looking forward to retirement I was ordained to the holy order of priest in Washington DC. The news that I was to become a priest, like I am sure the angels message to Mary, came as a complete surprise to me but one that I accepted with trust and faith in God and the hope that I could be worthy of such an immense honor. & years later I pray that my labor for the honor and Glory of God and my humble attempt to spread the Good News of God’s infinite mercy and Love for ALL His children has inspired those who have felt unloved, unwanted and rejected to claim their rightful place within the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church and to partake of all the sacraments that God has given us.

I, like I am sure Mary did, questioned how I was worthy of accepting God‘s call to serve Him and asked "Are you sure it is I Lord?" Each day since then I pray that I have done God’s will and served Him and that I have been an instrument of bringing others closer to God.

I seek the intercession of Our Blessed Mother to her heavenly son asking that God will send the Holy Spirit down upon me to inspire and lead me in knowing and doing God’s will.

Every person on earth receives a call from God but God allows us the freedom of to accept His will for us or go our own way.

We constantly are challenged to live our lives according to the teachings of God found in the commandments and the teachings of Jesus Christ. We need to consistently ask ourselves questions like; Do we love God above all things? Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves and do we see Jesus Christ in all the people of the world as being our neighbors and God‘s children? Are we living according to the instructions found in the Corporal Works of Mercy and The Beatitudes?

Mary lived her life fully in accordance with the Jewish faith. She was prayerful and totally committed to Almighty God. She lived her life according to God’s commandments and the precepts of the Jewish Faith she was brought up in.

Mary accepted God’s will for her even though she knew that as an unmarried woman found with child she could be stoned to death.

The Gospel for The feast of Assumption is from Luke 1:39 - 56 and ends with the words of Our Blessed Mother in responded to her Cousin Elizabeth’s greeting. Those words have become a statement of faith that we now pray as The Magnificat which is Latin means “ to Magnify” is considered the song both of the Mother of God and of the Church.

Mary’s total acceptance of God’s will for her and her willingness to become God’s humble handmaid when she responded with these words; , "Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word". The words to the magnificat are;

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior;

because he has looked with favor upon his lowly handmaid. From this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, his mercy reaches from age to age for all those who fear him. He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy

Mary’s words clearly state that God did not come for the rich and famous or the powerful of the world, but Christ came for the poor and those who society considers lowly.

I often wonder if we could have that kind of faith and trust in God that Mary had?

Do we acknowledge how blessed we are for all the gifts He bestows upon us every day?

Do we fear God, not with the kind of fear that we usually think of like fear of flying or of spiders or some terrible catastrophic event but the kind of fear where we are in awe of the wonderful power and majesty of Almighty God and we turn to God for praise and thanksgiving and worship because He is worthy of all those things?

Believing in God is believing that His will is always right and just.

By accepting His will and going forth with all of our energies to live according to his will is what life is all about.

In order to have the kind of faith Our Blessed Mother had we have to give ourselves over completely to God’s will for us and accept it just as Mary did when the Angel appeared to her and told her she would bear a child out of wedlock, something that according to Jewish law required that she be put to death.

Accepting God’s will is not easy, especially when we are faced with serious health issues, the inability to meet our financial obligation, challenges to our faith by others and issues like homelessness, poverty, and unemployment

We all need to listen carefully for the times when God attempts to speak to us in our hearts and not pass it off as an illusion or a dream and close our hearts and minds to God speaking to us.

It was not until I stopped demanding to always do things my way and to begin to ask God for guidance I began to find true peace within my heart and mind.

Just as Mary acknowledged that “the Almighty has done great things for me” we too need to acknowledge the things that God has done for us.

God’s love for us is infinite and forever and as Mary acknowledged “His mercy endures forever” even when we try to ignore Him and go our own way and yes, even when we have fallen away through sin, God does not give up on us.

All we have to do is acknowledge Him and attempt, with the help of His Divine Mercy and the Holy Spirit, to live our lives in a manner that is not harmful to ourselves or others.

We have to remember that only God is perfect and He knows the human condition is far from perfect.

He respects and loves us as we struggle with the difficulties of our daily lives and the pressures applied to us by a society that has values other than those that Christ instructed us to have.

God choose Mary to be the mother of His only begotten son because she lived her life in accord with His laws as they had been handed down through the prophets and the Jewish Faith.

Jesus came to earth to bring us a new covenant and Mary accepted that and followed Jesus even to watching him suffer and die.

She was there when he arose and when the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles.

She was the First and most loyal of all the disciples. She showed us how to follow Christ.

If we begin to change ourselves and totally give our lives over to the will of God, accepting His will, just as Mary did, possible we might, one day, hear the voice of an angel speaking to us and saying “God loves you for being His good and faithful servant and is welcoming you home to His loving arms.”

Let us have the faith of Mary and let us serve God by serving all His children with love, compassion, mercy, charity and acceptance and pray that God will receive us as His good and faithful servants when our days here on this earth are over..


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sunday August 14th Reflection

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2011

A Reflection based on readings from: Isaiah 56, Psalm 67, Romans 11, Matthew 15

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Thus says the Lord: Have a care for justice, act with integrity, for soon my salvation will come and my integrity is manifest… all who observe the sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant – these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. …. for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

These words from the first reading for the 2oth Sunday of Ordinary time are, to me, an affirmation of God’s intent to welcome all people into His company regardless of their race, marital condition or sexual orientation. In the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans 11 verse 13 He further strengthens that concept when he writes; “I have been sent to the pagans as their apostle, and I am proud of being sent, but the purpose of it is to make my own people (meaning the Jewish People) envious of you, and in this way save some of them. and he further states “God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.”

In the Gospel reading from Matthew 15 Christ is reported to have said; “I was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’…. ‘Woman, you have great faith. Let your wish be granted.”

To me the message for this week is that with deep and abiding faith and trust in God all who desire it are not only welcome in God’s house, but also are guarantied to be saved.

I have often written that it is God, and only God, that can determine who will be granted salvation.

When human beings claim to know God’s will and make judgments against another declaring that they are condemned, they are in great danger of claiming a power that belongs only to God and therefore, in my estimation, are committing the great sin of blasphemy at the least and worse yet, placing themselves above God.

Throughout the New Testament we see Christ welcoming all who came to him, even those who, according to Jewish law, a Jew should not be seen with or talk to.

The message Christ gave us is that Almighty God is a loving, compassionate and forgiving God who desires us to practice the same qualities toward all of His children regardless of their race, sex, marital situation or even their religious denomination as long as they believe in the one God, The God of Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jacob, David and the Father of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The message of today’s readings is also a message of how we should live our life to be pleasing to God.

We are told to; “Have a care for justice and to act with integrity”

That means that we are to be fair in business dealings, in payment of wages, in discerning others and to do all things with integrity and honesty.

If we live our life, every day, in this manner and we also set aside time each day to center ourselves and to acknowledge and talk to God, we will be welcomed in heaven with all the heavenly elect.

God desires all His children to claim their rightful place in the Kingdom of heaven.

All we have to do to attain that is to Know, Love and Serve God in all our actions each and every day.

On Monday we will celebrate the Feast honoring the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother into heaven. It is also the anniversary of my ordination as a priest and a day I feel was the most wonderful day of my life.

With all joy comes sorrow and it is through the sorrow and the pain we learn to enjoy the happy moments.

Our ministry is now at a crossroads; I do not know where it is headed but leave it, as all things should be left, in God’s hands. I personally cannot sustain it by myself both financially and physically without help and support.

Tomorrow I will be releasing a reflection on Our Blessed Mother and how her life should be an example to all of us especially woman. She was totally devoted to God and accepted the “Sword that pierced her soul” (Luke 2:33–35) and so it is that I will accept whatever God has in store for Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus and the Franciscans of Divine Mercy.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Reflection for the week of August 7th


A Reflection for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Reverend Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

I want to begin this reflection by thanking everyone who offered prayers for my health crisis of the past few weeks. I was informed today that the spot on the pancreas has totally disappeared since the first CAT scan due I am certain to all the prayers that were offered.

The readings for August 7th suggest how we should be living our lives. The readings tell the story of how the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water even though the winds of storm were raging about them the disciples yelled out “It is a ghost,” but Jesus proclaimed “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” and told peter to come to him, Peter began but got frightened and started to sink but Christ reached out and proclaimed “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”.

I went into the hospital putting everything in God’s hands with trust that what would be would be and it was my place to accept God’s will.

I left with an assurance that there not only was nothing on the Pancreas, liver or spleen, but that the bladder and the prostrate were also free of Cancer. What has happened to me certainly, I feel, was a miracle since I had all the signs of tumors on the pancreas and plus the doctors thought that there was cancer of the Prostrate.

I know it was all the thousands of prayers offered that caused this to happen.

During the weeks before the hospitalization and a slight complication from the 7 biopsies that kept me in the hospital for 6 days longer than originally planned, I have been asked often why I was not more concerned and my reply was always “Why should I worry about something that I have no control over, it is in god’s hands and I trust he will do what is best for me and in accord with what he wants.” “let god’s will be done” I have often had the motto LET GO, LET GOD as my mantra and this crisis of the past few weeks has been no different.

In the first reading from Kings 19:9 we read where God tells Elijah “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” And as he is standing outside the cave thunder, howling winds, Earthquakes, Fire all raged around but Elijah knew that God was not in tem, instead God was in the a gentle whispering sound of the breeze.

God does not always show himself in a grandiose manner, but in the tiny little things that bring light to the heart and soul. The wild flowers in the field, a family of wild turkeys foraging for their food, the beauty of a musical work or piece of art is where we often can find God.

God can be found in all of these and it can be found in the generosity of others when you are in need. If it were not for a wonderful neighbor who took me to the hospital when I was in so much pain I could not drive and stayed with me until I was completely admitted and in my room, and who visited every day and since my coming home has made sure that I was OK and has gotten shopping for me since I am not supposed to drive for two weeks.

I am certain that the combination of placing my trust and faith in God and the power of the prayers being offered for me greatly were a part of my prognosis and healing.

I now have place another question and possible decision into God’s hands asking his guidance and direction. It is; “What is God’s will toward the future of not only Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus but also The Franciscans of Divine Mercy. I am asking what His will is for both and how best we can achieve His will. At the present time I am unable to sustain them by myself and I am not entirely sure that the ministry is actually making a difference and inspiring people to know that God loves them and desires them to fully partake of their Baptismal right in the Mystical Body of Christ. Please add this petition to your prayers as the future of both are at a major crossroads.

Prayer is one of the most powerful tools we have to achieve all sorts of wondrous things like the healing that apparently has taken place in my own life.

"What exactly does God want us to do?" the people asked. Jesus answered, "God wants you to have faith in the one he sent." (John 6:28-29)

Having faith in God means to place your life in God’s hands. It means to stop trying to have your own way all the time and to let God direct your life for God is the most award-winning director ever.

My advice to all who read this is: LET GOD INTO YOUR LIVE AND MAKE HIM THE CENTER OF YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR LIFE and you can overcome all obstacles and difficulties

We have to make time and place ourselves in God’s hands completely and let God guide our lives. Our worries should be concerned with things we have total control over like eating right, being concerned for the welfare of the poor and our environment, sharing our God given gifts with others and not being ashamed to proclaim your faith in God.

The Responsorial Psalm is a perfect short prayer to say often every day; Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.