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