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 "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 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 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 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