Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year 2013 Reflection

A New Year, Same Problems A Reflection by Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Based on Readings from: Numbers 6:22-27, Psalm 67, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:16-21 Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy Divine Mercy Old Catholic Parish, Franklin, MA Independent Catholic Church of the Americas www.missionstsergius.org On Tuesday we begin a new year and my questions are: “IS THE WORLD BETTER TODAY THAN IT WAS ON DECEMBER 31ST 2012?” I am sorry to say, “I do not think we have learned anything” since we still have grid lock in our government people who are unemployed, homeless, discrimination still exists, the elderly and those on low fixed incomes are having a more difficult time trying to have even the basics of life and all this while some flaunt their riches and seek to gain even more. The economy is still in a bad way. Unbelievable scandals still continue to come to the surface concerning leaders in Government and Religion. When I was growing up I was taught that it was OK to commit a mistake as long as you learned from it and never did it again. So what exactly has happened to that concept since I was a youth? Recently we have heard of some famous people who had drug and alcohol problems or had gotten into altercations with individuals or stolen items and were given sentences that were the equivalent of a slap on the wrist because of their popularity and they turned around and continued to be in the headlines for offences, they just did not seem to care or felt they were better than others and did not have to comply with the rules. After centuries of conflicts that have taken millions of lives you would think we would have learned to settle disputes with discussions and compromise rather than wars that kill innocent people. People still resort to violence rather than sitting down and finding a resolution that both parties can live with. People still distinguish and judge people on nationality, religion, race or sexual orientation and feel comfortable excluding people for one of those reasons rather welcoming God’s diversity. Being Inhospitality was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah Since before the time of Christ people used their wealth, political and Religious positions to subjugate others and laud themselves over those they should have been taking care of. Christ spoke about this many times. There is the story of the Good Samaritan, The money changers in the temple, the Widow who gave her last cent, and my favorite The Sermon on the Mount where He tells us how we should live. The first reading for New Year’s Day from Numbers instructs us 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.” All Christians and even the Jewish people in the Old Testament have receive directions of how they should life their lives. Christ taught in parables and plainly when he delivered the Sermon on the Mount and chastised the money changers in the temple. So why do we find it so difficult to live in accord with these teachings? I wish I knew the answer. The second reading from Galatians 4 states; “The proof that you are sons of God is that God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts: the Spirit that cries, ‘Abba, Father’, and it is this that makes you a child of God, you are not a slave anymore; and if God has made you His child, then he has made you heir.” This statement reinforces the truth, we have all been chosen by God as his children and therefore are His heirs to the kingdom of heaven. The Gospel tells us that the name chosen for the child was not a family name 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 in accordance with Jewish law, 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 The western church celebrates the motherhood of Mary, “the Theotokos” a Greek word meaning “Mother of God. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus is the promised one of the ages and as such we need to listen to what He has instructed us to do. We must also 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 as described by Paul and St. John in scripture, 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 ways we can actively make a difference in this world by our actions and deeds. Let us try to become more compassionate toward those who are suffering; the hungry, homelessness, sick, aged and unemployed. We all can do more to spread the Good News of Salvation as preached by Christ? Let’s make time in our daily schedules to pray and talk with God. As the sports adage says; “The ball is in our court” Now the question is; how are we going to play it? I close with this prayer: 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 world’s 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. May we all work to change the way we do things and may we actually learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward in a new direction to bring about unity, compassion, charity and peace to all God’s children throughout the world. AMEN

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Reflection

Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Christmas is a very special time in the universal church and one of the two celebrations where there are more than one set of reading. The celebration begins with the vigil mass the evening before Christmas Day, and then the Midnight Mass, the Dawn Mass and the Masses during the day. Each of these masses have a separate set of readings and combined they give a full telling of the prophesies foretelling the coming of the redeemer or Promised one and the events leading up to the actual birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Isaac Watts who lived from 1674-1748 wrote the following words; “Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing” I cannot think of any more appropriate words to express the feeling we all should be having this blessed day or the mission we all have been called to live our lives daily by the birth of this infant child called Jesus of Nazareth. As I stated at the beginning of this reflection, Christmas day there are three sets of readings, one for the Midnight Mass, another for the mass at a special reading for vigil masses held earlier in the evening of December 24th. When you combine them all they provide us with the very powerful truth and reason for living according to God‘s will. John 1 begins with these words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John reminds us that Christ came from God, and is God and that He took on the human form in the same manner as every human being ever born or to be born, as an infant. He came into this world in the same way as well, being born of a woman. Let us try to understand the darkness that seems to encompass so many today. I believe that God chose this way in order to let us know that we are all created in His image and we all have a job do to in this world. God gave us free choice therefore we can refuse to accept the job He wishes us to do if we so choose. There is so much symbolism in the miracle of Christmas. God chose simple people, a carpenter and a humble Jewish woman, not the royalty or the rich and famous. Christ was born in a poor stable filled with farmer’s animals which were the source of his warmth on a bed of hay laid out in a feeding troth. The announcement of Christ’s birth was not to the great and mighty or the priests of the temple but to simple shepherds. God did this to let us know that he calls and loves everyone as he created them and not just the powerful, rich and famous. Christ even told us “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." Matthew 19:23-25 The readings provide us with the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. We are called to live sensibly, to be generous, kind, and not to discriminate against one another for any reason. Sadly, somehow that message seems to have been lost on many people today. People seem to be motivated more for material things than for Spiritual gifts. Everywhere we hear of news that depresses us and causes to wonder where God is in all this like the terrible tragedy that occurred in Newtown Connecticut and of people who steal Christmas gifts from people especially gifts that have been collected for those who are in need, and we hear of wars that seem to be raging in order to gain wealth, property, money, power or domination at the expense of others. Rest assured, God is here, he is near but we need to seek him out and not be ashamed to express our trust, faith and love of him. We need to always make time for God in our daily lives not just when tragedy strikes. Christ came into this world to clear up the mess that humans in their frailty and imperfect state have made of God’s creation and will. We are supposed to be the caretakers of God’s creation but many do not take that God given responsibility seriously. We have been charged by God to care for this planet earth and all God’s creatures yet we are destroying the ecosystem that God created because it is cheaper and more profitable than using alternative energies when possible. “Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and encourage and reprimand all authorities. Let no one take no notice of you.” Titus 2:11-15 Jesus told us the way we should live in these words; “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and body and love your neighbor as you love yourself” God so loved the world that He gave His only son to us. There is no greater gift we can ever receive than the forgiveness of our sins and the promise of everlasting life we gained by Christ’s coming into the world and his wiliness to suffer, die and resurrect in accordance with the scriptures. Now I ask you, what gift are you planning to give Christ on this His birthday? The perfect gift would be to be kind, considerate, loving, caring, forgiving, charitable, and respectful of the differences that God has created in all things. We might involve God more in our daily lives by talking with him often called praying. In the reading from Hebrews we read that even the angels are to worship Christ and that His kingdom will last forever. "Let all God's angels worship him. In speaking of the angels he says, He makes his angels winds, his servant’s flames of fire. But about the Son he says, your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:6-9 On this Christmas day of 2012 let us follow the directions of the angels who announced the Good News to the shepherds watching their flocks. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased." Let us try to be people God will be pleased with, so that we can fully enjoy the peace and joy the birth of the son of God that this day celebrates. Let us return God’s gift to us by being more tolerant of the differences in others, charitable in giving to organizations and people in need. Let us be concerned about the homeless, unemployed, sick, poor, aged and disabled of the world. Let us raise our voices against injustice, war, and greed. In short, let us make a difference in the world and make it a better place tomorrow than it is today for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. By doing this we will affirm there is “Joy in the world because the Lord has come and instilled in us His way so we have become His instrument here on earth working hard to bring about the promised peace of Christ.” May the promise of Christmas fill you with comfort and peace and may that peace be extended from you to all you encounter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2012 Reflection is based on the readings from Micah 5:1-4, Psalm 80, Hebrews 10:5-10, Luke 1:39-44 By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus Franciscans of Divine Mercy Divine Mercy Parish, Franklin, MA Independent Catholic Church of the Americas www.Missionstsergius@msn.com www.franciscansdivinemercy.org This is what Christ said, on coming into the world: “You, who wanted no sacrifice or oblation, prepared a body for me. You took no pleasure in holocausts or sacrifices for sin; then I said, just as I was commanded in the scroll of the book, God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.” Notice that he says first: “You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the oblations, the holocausts and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them; and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to obey your will. He is abolishing the first sort to replace it with the second. And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all by Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 10:5-10) On Tuesday we will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sacrifice of all time. Christ came into this world, as the reading from Hebrews seems to imply, for the sole purpose of offering His human body as a sacrifice for the remission of all the sins of humankind. Christ came to fulfill, not only all the promises of the prophets, but the prayers of those who found the demands of the hierarchy of the Jewish faith to be oppressive & unreasonable. Now why would God assent to making life easier for his children? The reason is very easy to answer, because our God is an infinitely loving, caring, merciful God who desires us to love not only Him, but each other. Our God is a God of justice not oppression. God only asks of us what Christ himself told us was the greatest commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with your entire mind, and your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27) On December the 8th when we celebrated the Feast of The Immaculate Conception we were reminded of how Mary trusted the words of the Angel Gabriel and accepted the challenge to be the bearer of the promised of the ages even though she might be stoned to death because she was not married yet. The God bearer or Theotokos as the Eastern Churches call Mary trusted in God and gave of herself totally. She accepted the burdens that she faced without complaint and in that she is a model for us to follow.. When Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth whom the Angel Gabrial had told Mary was in the sixth month of her pregnancy even in her old age and having been considered baren Mary was greeted with these words.; “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.’ (Luke 1:39-44) In the reading from Micah 5:1-4 we hear; “The Lord says this; But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old. He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of his God. They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace.” Christ came to earth as the greatest gift God could provide us; The Three kings from the various parts of the world that followed the star to Christ’s birthplace knew in their hearts that this baby was the greatest King of all Kings. As we proclaim in Song often, “God of God’s and King of Kings” They brought with them rare gifts to bestow upon this new born child. Today we need to ask ourselves what gift are we going to give to the Christ Child, Have we made it a priority to plan for and think of an appropriate gift from us or have we been too consumed with preparing decorations and buying presents for friends and family to give our gift to God too much thought? It is not too late; we have two days to prepare ourselves to receive the new born Christ Child into our hearts, minds and homes. Let us make a commitment to make time every day to think about and talk with God, this is what prayer is. Don’t just ask God for things, but thank God for the gifts he has given us. For myself, I do not know why he has blessed me so much. I truly feel most unworthy of all that he has given me and I cannot thank God enough. I close with this Advent Prayer and the wish that God will look mercifully upon us and our ministry and grant us the ability to continue to serve Him and those who have found us with the same kind of compassion and love that Christ gave. AMEN AN ADVENT PRAYER Almighty and merciful God, we come to you this advent season to give you thanks and praise for the many gifts you provide us every day. We ask forgiveness for our transgressions and sins and promise to strive in our daily lives to live according to the way you taught us. Guide us by the gifts of the Holy Spirit to be more mindful of the needs of ALL your children and help us to do our part in bringing about the peace and brotherhood for all the children of God throughout the world. Help and guide us in working to bring about the promised future proclaimed by the angels on the night you were born. “Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on earth” We ask this in the name of our redeemer and savior, Jesus Christ, your son, whose coming among us we celebrate this Advent Season. AMEN

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Gaudete Sunday Reflection

Gaudete Sunday Reflection By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy www.missionstsergius.org Based on Readings from: Zephaniah 3:14-18, Philippians’ 4:4-7, Luke 3:10-18, Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice; exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! these words from the book of Zephaniah 3:14-18 and the following from St. Paul, in his letter to the people of Philippi, sends us a very powerful message on how to live our life when he begins with these words; “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near…..There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.” These messages of hope are the reason this Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, Meaning a Sunday to Rejoice .and the vestments are ROSE rather than purple. During this season of advent as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the salvation his coming brought to all of the human race we should reflect on what Paul tell us in his letter to the Philippians. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. … Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. …. Now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Rejoice in the Lord! With so many grumbling about one thing or another these days and with the economy and the world in a state of turmoil and with the daily news services reporting one horrible event after another it might seem difficult to REJOICE.. Just the knowledge that so many children of God around the world are living in poverty, suffering from discrimination, homeless, and being killed because of the greed and power seeking of others, we might wonder how we could ever REJOICE IN THE LORD! It might just be that the cause of all the suffering facing the world today is that so many have put God totally out of their daily lives and replaced Him with the desire for fame, fortune, power and just plain greed. Many claim that they are too busy to give God a portion of their time every day or even on Sunday. They have to work, shop, a game of golf or a sporting event to go to or some other reason rather than take an hour of time devoted to Thanking God and Seeking God’s blessings. If they would just take some time to think they might come to the realization that all good things came from the creator. If only they realize that, just maybe, they might come to the awareness that they need to thank God for what He has provided them and acknowledge God’s presence in their life. People are so busy decorating their houses and purchasing gifts in preparing to celebrate Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa that they focus is on the commercial aspects of the holidays and people forget what true meaning of these holidays; REJOICING IN GOD’S GOODNESS AND GIVING THANKS. Without God, none of these holidays would exist. Let’s make sure that we have set aside time in these last two weeks of Advent to thank God for all He has provided us. Let’s plan to attend a religious ceremony as a part of our celebration plans. For those who are Christian, attend church and receive the Eucharist. The Gospel tells us the way to live with these words; “If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!” Christmas is the time we set aside to recognize Christ’s coming here in order to teach us the way to happiness and everlasting peace and open the way for us to achieve eternal salvation. Let us acknowledge that precious gift from God, the Gift of His beloved son and make room in our lives every day to “Rejoice in Him” through prayer and works of charity, compassion and love for ALL God’s children. Let us strive to live our life every day in a manner that is in accordance with the way Christ instructed in this weeks Gospel reading and let us work toward being more considerate, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and caring person to all we encounter in our daily life. rather than just concentrating on our own needs. What a wonderful way to present our gift to Almighty God in thanksgiving for all He has done for us. AMEN

Gaudete Sunday Reflection

Gaudete Sunday Reflection By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy www.missionstsergius.org Based on Readings from: Zephaniah 3:14-18, Philippians’ 4:4-7, Luke 3:10-18, Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice; exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! these words from the book of Zephaniah 3:14-18 and the following from St. Paul, in his letter to the people of Philippi, sends us a very powerful message on how to live our life when he begins with these words; “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness. Let your tolerance be evident to everyone: the Lord is very near…..There is no need to worry; but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving, and that peace of God, which is so much greater than we can understand, will guard your hearts and your thoughts, in Christ Jesus.” These messages of hope are the reason this Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday, Meaning a Sunday to Rejoice .and the vestments are ROSE rather than purple. During this season of advent as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and the salvation his coming brought to all of the human race we should reflect on what Paul tell us in his letter to the Philippians. “Always be full of joy in the Lord. … Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Do not worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. …. Now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing, fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Rejoice in the Lord! With so many grumbling about one thing or another these days and with the economy and the world in a state of turmoil and with the daily news services reporting one horrible event after another it might seem difficult to REJOICE.. Just the knowledge that so many children of God around the world are living in poverty, suffering from discrimination, homeless, and being killed because of the greed and power seeking of others, we might wonder how we could ever REJOICE IN THE LORD! It might just be that the cause of all the suffering facing the world today is that so many have put God totally out of their daily lives and replaced Him with the desire for fame, fortune, power and just plain greed. Many claim that they are too busy to give God a portion of their time every day or even on Sunday. They have to work, shop, a game of golf or a sporting event to go to or some other reason rather than take an hour of time devoted to Thanking God and Seeking God’s blessings. If they would just take some time to think they might come to the realization that all good things came from the creator. If only they realize that, just maybe, they might come to the awareness that they need to thank God for what He has provided them and acknowledge God’s presence in their life. People are so busy decorating their houses and purchasing gifts in preparing to celebrate Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa that they focus is on the commercial aspects of the holidays and people forget what true meaning of these holidays; REJOICING IN GOD’S GOODNESS AND GIVING THANKS. Without God, none of these holidays would exist. Let’s make sure that we have set aside time in these last two weeks of Advent to thank God for all He has provided us. Let’s plan to attend a religious ceremony as a part of our celebration plans. For those who are Christian, attend church and receive the Eucharist. The Gospel tells us the way to live with these words; “If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master, what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!” Christmas is the time we set aside to recognize Christ’s coming here in order to teach us the way to happiness and everlasting peace and open the way for us to achieve eternal salvation. Let us acknowledge that precious gift from God, the Gift of His beloved son and make room in our lives every day to “Rejoice in Him” through prayer and works of charity, compassion and love for ALL God’s children. Let us strive to live our life every day in a manner that is in accordance with the way Christ instructed in this weeks Gospel reading and let us work toward being more considerate, compassionate, understanding, forgiving and caring person to all we encounter in our daily life. rather than just concentrating on our own needs. What a wonderful way to present our gift to Almighty God in thanksgiving for all He has done for us. AMEN

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sunday August 26th Reflection

21st Sunday of Ordinary Time August 26th 2012 Do You Serve the Lord? Based on readings from; Joshua 24:1-18, Psalm 34:2-21, Ephesians 5:21-32, John 6:60-69 By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America www.missionstsergius.org www.Franciscansdivinemercy.org "Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD…..But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:14-15) Just as Joshua challenged the tribes of Israel as to whom they chose to honor and worship, we today are being given the same challenge. Do we choose to serve those human gods of Greed, power, domination, discrimination, materialism and self-effacement or do we choose to follow the way of the son of god, Jesus Christ. Do we choose to live our lives according to the way Jesus taught by being forgiving, compassionate, kind and generous to all God’s children most especially those in need? Throughout all of history, there has been one constant idea; it is that there is a supreme being that governs all. We find it in the histories of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Aztecs, Mayans, Native American Tribes, in fact every known group of people that ever lived on this earth. The need to recognize that there is a God is one of the natural things we are created with. We seek this supreme power out and, as history has shown, generations have given that power and acknowledgement to the sun, volcanos, under the names of Ra, Zeus, Apollo, Pele the Goddess of Fire, and hundreds of other names. When Almighty God made himself known with the words “"I am who I am. Here is what you must say to the Israelites. Tell them, 'I am has sent me to you.' " ( Exodus 3:14) we were told who we should give honor, praise and reverence to and whom we should thank for all things. When Jesus Christ came to being in the form of a man and 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). God, has told us to listen to what Jesus was telling us. To listen to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ, not some mere human man, but Jesus the son of Almighty God. 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 Beatitudes of 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 all your 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 make this love and service to Almighty God so difficult by injecting a lot of man made things in the way. The have twisted to original writings of the ancient scriptures and the writings of the apostles and early church fathers and in some cases even rejected some of them because they did not “FIT THE POLITICALY CORRECT AGENDA” for the time decisions were made as to what should be included in the canon of the Bible. People have found passages which referred to a specific kind of sin and twisted it around to use to exclude some individuals from serving God or even to participate in the worship of Almighty God. When we choose to ignore the teachings of Christ, when we decide what God means and we judge others as outcasts and deny them the opportunity to worship Almighty God and acknowledge Jesus as the son of God and the redeemer and Savior sent by God, then we are not and we cannot claim to be serving God. 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 sharing a meal with. Jesus spoke with women as equals. If we believe that Almighty God created all things, and we believe that Jesus was the Son of God made man, then we cannot even think about acting like a god and making judgments that are the exclusive property of Almighty God. 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 seem to be breaking the commandments of God by lying, cheating, stealing, killing, committing adultery, coveting another’s wife or property and act in an manner that is prescribed by God. When we decide to discriminate against someone because of the sex, race or the way that they worship God, When we decide that power, money, prestige, fame, greed or sexual gratification is more important to us that living according to God’s way, we are not serving God. We must remember what we have been instructed “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.” (Rom. 14:10) and “Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.“ (Matthew 7:1-2 ) as well as “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.” (James 4:11) . The law of God is very clear we are not the ones to judge a person because of how things appear “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. Our Law does not judge a man, unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” (John 7:24, 51) but we should judge a person by their deeds. Do they feed the poor? Do they clothe the Naked? Do they respect and love All of God’s creatures? Do they give shelter to the homeless? Do they give honor, glory and praise to Almighty God, his beloved son Jesus Christ? If a person is living a just and good life and respecting the rights and property of all God’s children and creation then we do not have a right to reject them and discredit them because God has created them in a certain way. We do not have a right to deny them the same rights and privileges as every other citizen. The question poised at the beginning of this reflection was, Do you serve the Lord ?; The answer is you do if you live in a manner prescribed by Jesus Christ and do not make judgments according to man made decisions but only by the example and teachings given us by Christ. AMEN

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sunday August 19th Reflection

20th Sunday of Ordinary Time Reflection By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America www.missionstsergius.org www.Franciscansdivinemercy.org This past Wednesday, I began the ninth year since my ordination as a priest, a gift from God that I never anticipated at such a late time in my life. I felt truly blessed when in 1980 I was ordained a deacon so when I received the news that I would be ordained a priest I was overwhelmed with joy at the greatest blessing that God bestows on any human, the very special gift to consecrate simple bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This honor from God, being among the precious few chosen to carry on the instructions of Christ to His apostles “As often as you do this you do so in commemoration of me” is both humbling and awe-inspiring. Because this gift means so much to me I want to share my thoughts with you and also continue to enumerate just how special the Eucharist is for sustaining us in our relationship with God and the need for us to avail ourselves of every opportunity to partake of it. Christ, Himself has said; “I myself am the bread of life, no one who come to me shall ever be hungry” This week’s Gospel begins with the same words that ended last week’s Gospel; “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” The Church want to make perfectly clear that The Eucharist is the greatest physical gift that God, in the person of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ has provided us. It is a gift for all persons, not just the rich and famous, but for all who desire to come to the table and partake of the body and blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Christ told us he came to bring us a new covenant, He told us that He was the sacrificial Lamb; It is His blood that set us free from the bondage of sin. Even the words that Jesus spoke and we proclaim at every liturgy of the Eucharist “Blessed are you O Lord our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth” in Hebrew (Barukh ata Adonay, Elohenu, melekh ha olam, Ha motzi lechem min ha aretz) are the words Jesus spoke. When Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His apostles saying, “This is my Body, take and eat” and the wine “This is my Blood, the Blood of the new covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this is remembrance of me” He became the sacrificial lamb of the Passover. Every time we partake in the Eucharistic Celebration we are reliving the Passover Celebration, we are carrying our Christ’s command to celebrate “The memorial feast of our redemption”, It is most unfortunate that our English language does not really convey very well the true biblical meaning of memorial (anamnesis {GREEK} - Zikkaron {Hebrew}. Like the Jewish people today who faithfully follow the old covenant made by Moses with God, We, by participating in the Eucharistic Liturgy, personally die and rise with Christ and we become redeemed together with Him. The Eucharist provides us with the strength to overcome the many temptations that plague us every day. When we combine the Eucharist with frequent prayer (conversations with God), we become one with Christ. Our society today has distanced itself in many ways from not only the teachings of Christ but also from devotion and in too many cases even faith that there is a God. Those of us who continue to love God and worship God need to try, by our example to awaken in others the knowledge of God’s infinite mercy and love and inspire them to return to a life that reflects God’s teachings especially in matters of compassion for the elderly, sick, homeless, unemployed by sharing their God given gifts with those in need and making sure that governments treat All their citizens with justice and equality. It is only through frequent partaking of the bread of life, given to us by Jesus Christ in the Eucharist when he said; “Take, eat, This is my body” “As often as you do this you do so in remembrance of me”, that we can strengthen our ability to repel he temptations that surround us and live as Jesus taught us. AMEN

Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 12, 2012 Reflection

I Am the Bread of Life Reflection on Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Psalm 34:2-9; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51 By Rev. Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America www.missionstsergius.org www.franciscansdivinemercy.org On Wednesday, I will be celebrating the beginning of the ninth year since my ordination as a priest which gave me the very special gift to consecrate the bread and wine into the body and blood of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This honor from God, of being among the precious few chosen to carry on the instructions of Christ to His apostles “As often as you do this you do so in commemoration of me” is both humbling and awe-inspiring. Because this gift means so much to me I have chosen today, to reflect on that reading from the readings for Sunday August 12th, which enumerate just how special the Eucharist is for sustaining us in our relationship with God and the need for us to avail ourselves of every opportunity to partake of it. Christ, Himself has said; “I myself am the bread of life, no one who come to me shall ever be hungry” The bread of life is the Eucharist, given to us by Jesus Christ when He celebrated the Passover Feast with His apostles. Christ took the bread and with His eyes raised up to heaven blessed it saying, “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have this bread to offer which earth has given and human hands have made, it will become for us our bread of life. Blessed be God forever” then He took the cup of wine blessed it saying; “Blessed are Lord God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have this wine to offer, fruit of the vine and the work of human hands. It will become our spiritual drink. Blessed be God forever” Christ then told his disciples and subsequently us; “This is my Body, This is my Blood, take and eat” Christ told us; “I came to give us a new covenant” in other words a a new binding agreement between the human race and God other than the one God had made with Moses. What better day could Christ have chosen than the Passover celebration which God demanded that all the Jewish people celebrate every year in remembrance of the Passing over of the angel of death and the original covenant made with Moses at that time, to make known God’s new covenant that His beloved son proclaimed to us. Today’s gospel continues the story of Christ’s visit to the temple in Capernaum where Jesus had just told the apostles and the crowd “You should not be working for perishable food but for food that remains until life eternal, Food which the Son of Man will give you, it is on Him that God the Father has set His seal”. When asked “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered “This is the work of God, have faith in the one He has sent”. Have faith, in other words believing that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God made man, who was sent by God to teach us the way to gain eternal glory with God. “I myself am the bread of life; no one who comes to me shall ever be hungry”. Jesus went on and tells the crowd that even though they have seen all He had done, they did not believe. Unfortunately, today so many of us still question and have doubts. There are even some who say that Christ and God are all a myth conjured up by individuals to achieve power and wealth. Some even claim that there is no God at all. Then, as now, people murmur and say the same things as the people in today’s gospel, “HOW CAN HE CLAIM TO HAVE COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN”. Even allow this thought to enter your mind, let alone express it, indicates that you do not believe ALL things are possible with God. “I am the Living Bread which comes down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (John 6:51) The Eucharist, which Jesus left us, is perhaps the most precious gift we could ever have. It is sad that so many choose not to partake of the gift at every opportunity. Christ has promised us “Let me firmly assure you, whoever believes has eternal life” By participating in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist we are given that extra boost to be able to ward off the forces of evil that surround us. The Eucharist is like a Super vitamin from God, which strengthens our defenses and brings us closer to God. Everyone who believes in God and Jesus Christ as the son of God should be able to partake of this God given gift to us. To deny someone this gift, not because they have committed a grievous sin, but because they have been divorced from an individual who was abusive or a philanderer or because they were created by God with a sexual orientation toward a member of the same sex, is wrong, if anything, these individuals need that extra boost to find God in their hearts and live a life that is pleasing to God. It saddens me that I, at this time, am limited in how many I can share the bread of life with because of not having a permanent chapel or place of worship. I am humbled though that I am able to distribute 2875 Eucharist the persons in the Nursing homes, hospices, and senior Living communities I visit and celebrate Mass at every year. Having been chosen as a priest at such a very late time in my life and being able to consecrate simple bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord, THE BREAD OF LIFE, is the greatest honor God or anyone else could ever bestow upon me and I am most humbled to have been able to do this for the past 8 years. I urge all to take advantage of the Eucharist, God’s life-giving gift, at every opportunity. It is a very precious gift which should not wasted. In these very chaotic times, we need to turn to Almighty God for the strength to endure them and make use of all the channels available to us. Prayer alone is not enough; we need to live our faith through our actions and participate in all the opportunities available to strengthen that faith. The Eucharist gives us the endurance to carry on until we are called home to the promise “Let me firmly assure you, whoever believes has eternal life” AMEN

Friday, August 3, 2012

Sunday August 5th Reflection

TRUST IN GOD AND HE WILL PROVIDE A Reflection for the 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time Readings from Ex. 16:2-4, 12-14, Psalm 77:3-4,23-25,54, Ephesians 4:17,20-24, John 6:24-35 By Reverend Bob Johnnene OFD Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America www.missionstsergius.org www.Franciscansdivinemercy.org This Sunday’s Readings instruct us on how we should be living our lives. The readings follow the miracle of the loaves and fishes that Christ performed to feed the multitudes who had come to hear him preach. In verse 26 of John’s Gospel we read; Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that you are not looking for me because you saw the miracles”. In the past I have often been asked why I was not more concerned when I have been diagnosed with the cancers I have had 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 in accord with His will.” “Let god’s will be done” has been the mantra I often repeat. Years ago I had a framed motto “LET GO, LET GOD” beside my bed and it sustained me through many difficult times. When a cousin was having difficulty with how her husband left her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer which eventually led to her death and she was filled with anger I gave her my Motto and thankfully when she passed away she was surrounded by all her brothers and sisters and her children. In the first reading from Exodus 16:verse 15 we read; “That’ said Moses to them ‘is the bread the Lord gives you to eat.” and in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 4:17,20-24, Paul exhorts us; “ in the name of the Lord, not to go on living the aimless kind of life that pagans live. … You must give up your old way of life; you must put aside your old self, which is corrupted by following illusory desires. Your mind must be renewed by a spiritual revolution so that you can put on the new self that has been created in God’s way, in the goodness and holiness of the truth. Part of being renewed and putting on a new self is to make time in your daily life to talk to God or as most people call it, TO PRAY. 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. Many prayed for me and my son when we were diagnosed with cancer and today 5 years later we are well and thankfully I am able to try to serve God as best I can. So many times I have seen how prayers have made a difference especially when those praying had the deep faith that their prayers would make a difference. The power of prayer cannot be overlooked which leads me to conclude that we all have to turn more to seeking God’s intervention in the troubled areas of the world and in our lives with faith and trust that God will do what is best for us and the world in accord with His desires. The Gospel of John verse 35 affirms that if we trust and believe in God and Jesus his beloved son we will never be without and all sorts of miracles are possible, “ He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst.” My advice is: LET GOD INTO YOUR LIVE AND MAKE HIM THE CENTER OF YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR LIFE and you will be able to deal with all obstacles and difficulties and if it is God’s will overcome them and go forward with greater strength. God hears us when we turn to him either in thanksgiving or in complaint and He will answer us in the way that is best for us, but we MUST truly believe and have faith and trust in Him. We have to 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. Start today to initiate your personal “Spiritual Revolution” by LETTING GO AND LETTING GOD BE THE CENTER OF YOUR LIFE. AMEN

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sunday July 29th Reflection

Believe and the Lord will Provide Reflection for the 17th Sunday of Ordinary time 2012 By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans Divine Mercy National Catholic Church of America www.missionstsergius.org www.franciscansdivinemercy.org Listening to the news today is so depressing, wars raging in the middle east, natural disasters occurring all over the globe, people being devastated by hunger. I often hear people say; “Why does God allow so much chaos, suffering and tribulation in the world?” “What is happening in this world, people are so self-concerned and don’t seem to care about anybody but themselves” “The way things are in the world today, my heart is full of fear” My answer to them is the theme of today’s reflection, “You have to believe in God,” “Put your trust and Faith in God andTurn toward God.” “If you Trust in God and He will take care of You” Today’s gospel story of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, is an example of what is possible when you trust in God. The five loaves of bread and two fish were enough to feed a huge multitude of people who had followed Christ. After all had eaten their fill there were still twelve baskets leftover. This story is an example of what is possible if we put our trust and faith in Almighty God. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is entreating the people to “I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” In order to live according to God’s will we must accept our lot with humility, meekness and patience always seeking the gifts of The Holy Spirit to sustain us. We were told to live “In a Bond of Peace” But as long as individuals, governments, church denominations and nations cannot live in a Bond of Peace we seem destined to continually bring on the troubles we see all around us and that destroy so many relationships. As long as we continue to focus on our own personal needs and not expand our horizons to the needs and concerns of all God‘s children, as long as we fail to extend outreach to those in need and demonstrate compassion and as long as we fail to turn to Almighty God and live as Christ instructed us with these words; “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind, soul and body and love your neighbor as yourself” we will continue to see strife and discord running rampant through the world. Strife, jealousy, greed, and discord are the powerful tools the Evil one uses to gain dominance and gain followers to His evil intent of becoming greater than Almighty God. Today, we desperately need to turn our focus toward the teachings of Jesus Christ and begin to put our faith into action. We must begin to be more accepting of God’s diversity. We need to put an end to all discrimination. We need to share the blessings that God has given us with those less fortunate. We must stop being self-centered and greedy and more generous. In short, we need to believe and trust in Almighty God, pleading for justice for all His Children. Jesus has said: "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26) The letter of Paul to the Ephesians ends with; “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM, ONE GOD and father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6) I implore each of you as you go forth today end every day to put God first and foremost in your daily thoughts and actions. Try to treat everyone in the same way as you yourself want to be treated. Let God know that you accept His will totally and completely even when it does not fit your personal agenda. I personally believe that if each and every one of us were to actually live this way and allow God’s grace to flow through us toward all we encounter in our daily lives, we would actually see huge changes for Good in the world. I know, from personal experience, that He will provide us with what we need, when we need it and in proportion to how much we need he proves it to me all the time. Go forth with faith in God and He will provide. AMEN

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday of Lent 2012

Here I Am Lord


A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent 2012

Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18, Psalm 115:10,15-19,Romans 8:31-34, Mark 9:2-10

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

A Ministry of the Nationsl Catholic Church of America

www.franciscansdivinemercy.org

www.missionstsergius.org





“God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied.” so begins the first reading for the Second Sunday of Lent. The reading tells the story of God testing Abraham’s faith and loyalty by asking him to sacrifice his only child. When Abraham is about to offer his son Isaac and angel of the Lord stopped him with these words; “But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son”

Exactly what should we learn from this reading? We should learn that God sometimes tests us by asking us to accept things or to do something that we normally would never think of doing. God asks us to bear burdens that are unpleasant or difficult in order to test us in our love and faith of God. Another important lesson we can learn is that if we accept these trials and burdens God will reward us just as he did Abraham with these words; “because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.”

The second reading for this Sunday strengthens and confirms what I believe we can gain from the readings with the following words; “With God on our side who can be against us? Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give. Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits, could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.”

“With God on our side who can be against us?” What comforting words and ones we need to hold securely in our hearts. If we seek God and love God and accept the burdens he gives us without complaint God will be there to sustain us and to lift us up. We need to remember that God will never ask us to carry a burden that we are unable to carry or that He will not remove when it begins to bee more than we can carry. The secret is that we need to place our trust in God and accept the challenge or burden as Abraham did. Christ was the ultimate sacrifice which was offered to God on our behalf. Christ suffered like no one else has ever sacrificed first by being rejected just as many who love God are rejected because they are divorced or their sexual orientation. Christ was then abused just as many children and others who may have physical or mental shortcomings or whose guardians or those who should protect them failed in their responsibility and demeaned them for their own personal pleasures or gain.

Christ then was humiliated and beaten and disgraced by the governmental and religious leaders because what He preached was not in the best interests of the powers in control but in the best interests all people especially the poor, sick, aged and marginalized.

Does any of this sound like what is happening now? How are we responding? Are we willing to do what is necessary even though it will be difficult or against the fashionable views of even our family, friends and neighbors?

The bottom line we should be following to assure our place in eternity is the great commandment Christ gave us; “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole being and love your neighbor as you love yourself” God proclaimed His instructions to us concerning Christ’s message after Christ was transfigured on the mountain as related in the Gospel for this Sunday; “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.”. During these weeks of lent as we are called to prepare and cleanse ourselves of our negative actions that are not in the best interests of all God’s children and try to live our daily life more in keeping with the teachings of Christ let us examine how many times we have responded to God’s call to us with these words; HERE I AM LORD !

I close with this prayer; Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my mind. Give me a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that I may always and in all ways and things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sunday September 12th Reflection

Do All Things for the Glory of God


A Reflection based on the readings for Sunday February 12th 2012

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

www.franciscansdivinemercy.org

www.missionstsergius.org



Whatever you eat, whatever you drink, whatever you do at all, do it for the glory of God. Never do anything offensive to anyone – to Jews or Greeks or to the Church of God; just as I try to be helpful to everyone at all times, not anxious for my own advantage but for the advantage of everybody else, so that they may be saved. Take me for your model, as I take Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1)

These words from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tell us everything we need to know about how to act as followers of Jesus Christ. “do it for the glory of God Never do anything offensive to anyone ”

NEVER DO ANYTHING OFFENSIVE TO ANYONE!

In light of this instruction from St. Paul, I wonder how any individual, corporation, political party or religious organization can justify any action that would cause any person to feel inferior.

How can any corporation justify exorbitant interest or other fees for the purpose of insuring huge profits, salaries and bonuses for their top executives and shareholders at the expenses of the average individual?

How do followers of Jesus Christ and believers in Almighty God allow a person to suffer from homelessness, hunger, poverty, or any illness while they life with an abundance of luxuries while so many do not have even the basic necessities of life.

How, I wonder, can anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ discriminate against any one of God’s children because their skin color, nationality, marital condition or sexual orientation is different than theirs when doing so causes pain and suffering?

One might ask how a person who has made a commitment to another individual to love them forever go out and seek sexual gratification with someone who is not that partner causing their partner pain.

How, I muse, could adults, who are in positions of trust, especially those who were supposed to be representatives of Jesus Christ here on earth, ever molest a young child and then be protected by those who were their superiors.

There can only be one explanation for any of these actions that have caused so much pain and distress and offended so many over the ages and it is “THE EVIL ONE” who has been in open confrontation with God from the beginning of time.

The same one who even had the audacity to tempt Jesus Christ with the same tools he tempts us with, called the Seven Deadly Sins; lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride.

Mohandas Gandhi called these traits, the most spiritually perilous of all things to the wellbeing of humanity: “Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience, Science without Humanity, Knowledge without Character, Politics without Principle, Commerce without Morality, and Worship without Sacrifice.”

At one time or another each one of us has committed at least one of these actions and possibly more than once.

So how do we reverse our failure and turn back to living our lives for THE HONOR AND GLORY OF GOD?

We begin first by making time each day for prayer and reflection on the gifts we have been blessed with and not dwell on what we perceive we have been deprived.

We try our best to live our lives with temperance in all things. We find the courage to speak out against injustice. We strive to love and have charity toward all we encounter as we travel the road of life. We strive to hold our carnal desires in check and make a commitment to have monogamy in our relationships.

We have charity toward those who have less than we have and commit to supporting the work of programs that assist those in need.

In essence, we practice the Corporal Works of Mercy every day by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, shelter to strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, rehabilitating prisoners and providing them their legal rights, and mourning for the dead especially those who died because of the failure of others to provide proper medical care or died as a result of war or another’s injustice.

We need to do all things, as the motto of the Jesuit’s and the title of our missions News Letter is, AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM- For the greater glory of God. AMEN

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Accepting Our Lives

Accepting Life as God has Given It


A Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Based on the readings from Job 7:1-7, 1 Corinthians 9:16-23, Mark 1:29-39

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

www.franciscansdivinemercy.org

www.missionstsergius.org



As I pondered over this week’s reflection, I kept asking myself, “What do these three readings have in common?”

They seem to be so disjointed and unrelated but then I realized what they have in common is accepting you’re your life and making the best of it.

Job seems to be totally depressed and unhappy when we read these words; “Remember that my life is but a breath, and that my eyes will never again see joy.”

Job begins by commenting on how life is drudgery and being like a slave who seeks a shady place to cool off and receives almost nothing for his labor. “Like the slave, sighing for the shade, or the workman with no thought but his wages, months of delusion I have assigned to me, nothing for my own but nights of grief.”

In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of how he regards his responsibility to preach the Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ. “I do not boast of preaching the gospel, since it is a duty which has been laid on me; I should be punished if I did not preach it! If I had chosen this work myself, I might have been paid for it, but as I have not, it is a responsibility that has been put into my hands. Do you know what my reward is? It is this in my preaching, to be able to offer the Good News free, and not insist on the rights which the gospel gives me.”

Paul concludes by giving the reasons he accepts his lot in life; “I am not a slave of any man I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak, I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some, at any cost, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.”

The Gospel reading tells of Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law and many others who were brought to him sick and filled with evil spirits but when morning came Christ had gone off by himself to pray and when Simon and the others found Him Christ suggested; “‘Let us go elsewhere, to the neighboring country towns, so that I can preach there too, because that is why I came.

As I said at the beginning of this reflection the common bond of all these readings is that we need to accept our life as God has provided it to us.

We need to accept whatever yoke God might have placed upon us with gratitude and forge forward with the tasks God has assigned us, no matter how heavy a burden they seem to be, just as Christ accepted the cross upon which he was to be hung and carried it to the hill of Calvary.

Life is too short to spend a lot of time complaining about our problems and difficulties or as Job puts it; “Remember that my life is but a breath,” and get on with doing what God has called us to do as best as we can.

Christ told Simon and the others that He had come to this world to teach us the way and St. Paul knew that he had to do whatever was necessary to proclaim the Good News of salvation, so too do we need to go forward each day living out the Word in deed and proclaiming our love of God without shame.

With all of Job’s complaint, we have to remember that Job never abandoned God or gave up on His devotion or love and trust in God and for that He was rewarded a hundred fold everything he had lost.

Our reward for accepting our lot in life and living the word of God as Christ taught in not only our words but more importantly by our actions. We must be compassionate, generous and loving to ALL God’s children especially those who are struggling because of poverty, illness, age, homelessness, or lack of adequate education.

Just as Paul told the people of Corinth, “I have made myself the slave of everyone so as to win as many as I could. For the weak, I made myself weak. I made myself all things to all men in order to save some, at any cost, for the sake of the gospel, to have a share in its blessings.” we also must do whatever it takes to live a life that exhibit’s the attributes that Christ instructed in the Sermon on the Mount and the story of the Good Samaritan.

As that once popular song we used to sing joyfully in church by Carolyn Arends says; “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord And we pray that all unity may one day be restored And they'll know we are Christians by our love, They will know we are Christians by our love. We will work with each other, we will work side by side, we will guard each one’s dignity, and save each one's pride and they will know we are Christians by our love. We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand and together we will spread the news that God is in our land and they will know we are Christians by our love. Love is patient, love is kind Never boasts, not full of pride Always hopes, always trusts The evidence of Christ in us.

True Christians are those that not only talk the talk but actually walk the walk by caring for everything God created especially the poor, aged, sick, homeless and unemployed.

I cringe every time I hear a candidate for president of the United States who claims to be a Christian advocating cutting back on programs that help those mentioned above while also endorsing programs that increase the richest citizens wealth on the backs of the poor and middle income people.

True followers of Christ will be known by their love and caring for each other and by their acceptance of their life by making the best of it. True Christians will look out for each other and share what they have been given with those in need.

This is what I gleaned from this week’s readings.

I pray that I and you can accept our live and live our life in a manner that is consistent with the teachings Christ gave us and work toward a time when the Good News of Christ’s Teachings actually brings about a time of peace and brotherhood for all the people of this planet. AMEN

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sunday January 22nd Reflection

God’s Call to Action


By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

www.missionstsergius.org

www.franciscansdivinemercy.org



“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15”)

Today I would like to suggest that every individual who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God as proclaimed in Luke 3:22 “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my flavor rests on you”., Every person who believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Isaiah, Jacob and David and the God who told Moses "I AM WHO AM, needs to turn to back that God with devotion and prayer.

We need to ask God, in His infinite mercy, love and compassion for all His children, to bring an end to the forces of evil that are dividing nations, churches, and families and causing great pain and suffering to innocent children and adults all over the globe. “And Jesus said to them, Come you after me” (Mark 1:17)

In the last decade the forces of darkness have become increasingly more intent in the battle between good and evil causing consecrated religious to abandon their vows and commit heinous deeds in violation of their vows. Families have been torn apart by divorce and parents, bothers and sisters have disowned their children over a child’s sexual orientation and not something criminal that they did.

Discrimination against people because of their skin color or national origin has destroyed so many and still divides communities in spite of the progress that the United States has made in electing the first African American president.

Sadly there are still subtle signs of discrimination that have crept out in the recent debates by those who would like to unseat that African American President and some of the supporters of those candidates.

Children are starving throughout the world. Seniors have to decide between the medicines that will keep them healthy and active or food and decent shelter.

Trillions have been spent to sustain a war that is Religious and tribal at its core and has raged since the time of Christ, which no amount of military could win.

People who claim Abraham as their father are trying to eradicate each other.

The time is now to put aside the things that have divided us and look toward the things that we have in common and find ways of living in peace and harmony thereby giving honor, glory and praise to the creator of all things.

God allowed Satin to tempt Job in an effort to have Job deny God but Job remained faithful in spite of all Satin did.

I believe today the world is being tempted in the same way and sadly far too many have gone over to the dark side because of their desire for wealth, fame or power.

This greed, which has always been one of Satins best tools to tempt people away from God, has caused financial ruin and great loss to so many poor and middle income people all over the globe with the loss of jobs, homes and the basics of life.

I believe that we need to take an active part in defeating Satin, just as so many prophets and saints who preceded us in the past have taken, we need to plead for God’s help and the guidance of the Holy Spirit on our nation’s congressional leaders and those who are seeking the position of President of the United States to find ways of assisting the poor, homeless and unemployed and not cut the programs that do provide relief.

I believe that the times are calling us, whether we call the creator of all things by the name of God, Yahweh, or Jehovah, to turn back and give the devotion we were instructed to do when Christ was asked what the greatest Commandment was. Christ replied; “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself, All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”. (Matthew 22:37-40)

I would like to suggest that everyone set aside ten minutes twice a day, every day for the coming year, to give recognition toward God by not only asking for things, but thanking God for the things you do have.

We need to turn ourselves over to God and petition God to inspire, not only the world leaders and all who hold positions of power in Government, Religion, Education, Health Care and our local communities, the means to end those things that have caused so much pain and suffering to so many all over the world. I offer this prayer as a possible prayer of petition and dedication of yourself to doing the work of God here on earth.

Prayer of Petition and Dedication and Love to Almighty God

Almighty and merciful God, open my mind, my heart and my soul to your infinite mercy and love.

Guide me in the knowledge of your truth and help me to live in accord to your will in all things.

Guide me in all of my daily actions so that I might reflect the light of your truth toward all I encounter.

Inspire me and those who have been placed in positions of influence in Governments and Religions to find ways of settling the divisions that has caused so much grief to so many.

Inspire families to love and care for all children and to recognize and accept the diversity of God’s plan.

Inspire all your children regardless of their race, or creed; whether they are Christian, Jew, Hindu, Islam, Sikhs, or Buddhist; to gather together in brotherhood and peace for the sake of the entire human race.

Guide those who believe that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah of the ages and our redeemer and savior to come together as one body of faith living as Jesus taught with Kindness, charity and goodwill toward all the world.

We call upon you, O Lord because we acknowledge that all things begin and end with you.

You are the Alpha and the Omega.

In humility and love, we plead with you knowing all too well how we have failed to follow your ways in the past and we ask your forgiveness and mercy.

Hear Us O God and answer our prayer. AMEN

© Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Reflection for January 15th 2012

Here I am Lord


A Reflection for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

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

www.missionstsergius.org



“Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3) How often, when we hear that inner voice calling out to us or inspiring us to do something that would benefit others and not just ourselves do we cry out with these words; “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The readings for this Sunday are all about answering God’s call to serve Him.

They also remind us that we are one with Christ and Almighty God by being of service to God.

One might ask, “Exactly what is service to God”. Serving God or being of Service to God, means that we are mindful of the needs of all those around us. It means reaching out to those in need with compassion and generosity. Being of service to God is living Christ’s instructions found in the Sermon on the Mount often called THE BEATITUDES.

Another way of saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Is “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will” which is the response for the Psalms of the Mass.

Often I hear people ask, “What is the Lords Will? Or How do we know what God wants?” and the answer is quite simple and is found in all four gospels, “LOVE THE LORD, YOUR GOD, WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART, MIND, SOUL AND BODY AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF.” (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:20, and John 11:3)

I have come to the conclusion that one of the problems we face today in carrying out this will of God is that far too many people do not love or respect themselves.

Too many people are always trying to change the way God created them rather than accepting how God created them and making the most of it.

People show they have disrespect for themselves by maltreating their bodies which, as the second reading for today states, “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power, Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. (1 Corinthians 6)

Far too many people today indulge in risky sexual practices, overeat, misuse alcohol, and so many other behaviors which would seem to indicate they do not appreciate how God created them or that they love themselves.

Far too many other people show disrespect to Almighty God by rejecting some of God’s children because of their skin color, nationality, sexual orientation or economic situation and refuse to allow some of God’s children to participate in the worship of God even denying them the sacraments because of the previously stated man made standards.

Sadly, more than once, I have heard of children being refused Baptism because they were born out of wedlock or the person who was denied membership in a faith community because they could not afford the prescribed financial contribution to the church.

This is not serving God, but as scripture reminds us serving wealth and man made things. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matthew 6:24) & (Luke 13).

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians ends with these words; “You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.

To use our body for the glory of God means simply that we do not indulge in anything that might bring about the destruction of God’s temple, our bodies, and we use the gift of sex, as an example, as God intended it to be used in a committed loving relationship and not just for our own self gratification.

To answer God’s call is to be totally giving of ourselves just as Christ was totally giving of Himself, even to accepting death on the cross so that we could have forgiveness of our sins and life everlasting.

When we answer God with; “Here I am Lord” we need to be willing to give ourselves over completely to God’s will for us and to become God’s hands, feet, mouth in the service to ALL God’s children.

I want to close this reflection by sharing a prayer I wrote in 1997 which tells God how we give ourselves over to him.

Prayer of Commitment

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD, August 1997

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

www.missionstsergius.org

Almighty God, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you do; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me;
I give you my spirit that you may pray in me; Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in and through me all with whom I come in contact with each and every day. I dedicate myself to doing your will in all things and to becoming an instrument through which you might bring peace and harmony to all your children here on earth..            AMEN
Oración de compromiso

Por el reverendo Robert Johnnene OFD,

agosto de 1997

www.missionstsergius.org

Dios Todopoderoso, te doy mis manos para realizar su trabajo; Le doy mis pies tu camino; Te doy mis ojos para ver como haces; Te doy mi lengua para hablar de sus palabras; Te doy mi mente que usted puede pensar en mí; Te doy mi espíritu que usted puede orar en mí; Sobre todo, te doy mi corazón que usted puede ama en y a través de mí todo con quien entran en contacto con cada día. Me dedico a hacer su voluntad en todas las cosas y a convertirse en un instrumento a través del cual usted puede traer la paz y armonía a todos tus hijos aquí en la tierra. AMÉN