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 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

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