Being Self-Centered Is Our Own Private Hell

September 25, 2016


Luke 16:19-31

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is one of  startling contrasts

 but at its heart the message is simple:  be alert to the needs under your nose.  The rich man is totally self-centered, and that self-centeredness leads him to hell. The hell I think of is the hell of self-absorption, of so totally being absorbed in ourselves that our lives cease having meaning and purpose, and leave us with an empty shell.

Our streets are full of homeless, suffering people, and we walk by, and do not give notice, but Marian Wright Edelman says to us:

“You just need to be a flea against injustice. Enough committed fleas biting strategically can make even the biggest dog uncomfortable and transform even the biggest nation.”   

Be a flea, bite hard in the smallest spaces, and your life will transform the world.

Feed someone, talk to someone, simply speak, treat them as a person.

A second meaning to  the  Lazarus story is that Jesus is not only talking about the physically poor, but the minorities of the world.

First in regard to queer people or as several people have so crudely called me on the blog and in person– us “homosexuals”.   Your words and actions towards me are first of all despicable, and when you tell me they are in the name of Jesus you make me vomit.  Secondly, If was not already a follower of Jesus, but thinking about it I would walk away in a second.   The Jesus I follow says loudly by his words and his life: “Love your neighbor”, his whole life is one of self giving love.  This political season has brought out how much we are the Lazarus’s of the world, the events in Uganda, the Pulse Bar,  and other parts of the world remind us that we  are  Lazarus. The political rhetoric is not just words, but the underlying attitude of many.  

Secondly, the recent events on police brutality and violence throughout the country remind us that racism and discrimination is alive and well. 

Our self-centeredness has kept blinders on our eyes, like the rich man we remain with blinders on our eyes, and we pave our way to a hell of that is destructive in our relationships, our society, and within ourselves. To be alive we must engage life, we must suffer with our fellow human beings, and in that suffering we experience resurrection.  We must be fleas biting against injustice. And we will live well, and die well. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Father C. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Hidden Meanings

September 24, 2016


Ecc. 11: 9-12: 8; Lk. 9:43-45

People always want answers, they want to know.  That is why we have such rigid religious beliefs.  We want to be told what is right, what to believe–when in reality life is full of questions, and it is in the questions that we discover who God is.

During the Second World War from September 1943-July 1944 there was a children’s concentration camp where the children wrote post cards to mislead the world. Their teachers taught them French, math, and music, knowing full well they were all going to the gas chamber. They restored dignity to human beings, and when they were asked by Gentiles–“What difference are you making?” they answered, “God makes a difference.”

That is the answer that we need to live by,  to serve by , to provide for people by –it is God who makes the difference in God’s time.

People write to me, and say horrible things to me–“You are a fag,” “you are a false priest because you are homosexual,” these are  among the the politest comments, I have been threatened, stabbed, hit, and I am often asked what keeps you going, and all I know is that “God makes the difference.”

Rather than looking for answers through science, religion, let us look at Jesus, his way of love, and the words of Will Tuttle, while he talks about veganism, he  is talking about the way of the cross, the way of service:

“Rather than relying on science to validate veganism and our basic herbivore physiology, we may do better by calling attention to universal truths: animals are undeniably capable of suffering; our physical bodies are strongly affected by thoughts, feelings, and aspirations; and we cannot reap happiness for ourselves by sowing seeds of misery for others. Nor may we be free while unnaturally enslaving others. We are all connected. These are knowings of the heart and veganism is, ultimately, a choice to listen to the wisdom in our heart as it opens to understanding the interconnectedness and essential unity of all life. Dr. Will Tuttle”

Let the Spirit move in our hearts, let us love others for who they are, love ourselves for who we are, and in that respect come together as simply a loving humanity for all creatures. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Eternal Present

September 23, 2016


The Eternal Present Tense

“There is an appointed time for everything. . .

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Luke 9:18-22-“. ..But who do you say that I am”

I am sitting here listening to the Byrds singing Pete Seeger’s tune, “Turn, Turn, Turn”, as I read this Scripture from Ecclesiastes.  Fall is here, the holidays are around the corner, things change, and yet nothing changes.

And as I sat with a social worker yesterday talking about a young guy, I thought to myself, “nothing changes.” She told me he was “feral” and she saw little she could do for him.  Strangely I found it humorous ( a sign of getting older) and asked: “You know what feral means?” and than answered, “It means being ‘wild’, ‘not being able to be tamed,’  and it does not mean one can not live a fulfilling life.” 

The prophets would be called “feral”, “untameable” as would Jesus be so as well.  Being queer at one time was labeled “feral”, and “wild”.

People often look at me as being “wild”, “different”, and I have been labeled “feral”.  All of which I claim proudly,  and own, because for me that means not going with the status quo, and with the norms of society. It is freeing because it frees one up to be themselves, and to share openly.

I am finishing up my Doctor of Ministry  Degree at John Knox Seminary, and when I first started attending this conservative school I would have people asked me if I was worried about my “safety”, if I was concerned about my “liberal theology” getting me in “trouble.”  And the reality is this  has been the best academic experience I have had.  It has been the most accepting school, and one in which you can look at theology within the Gospel tradition.  I have been challenged, and in so doing have grown in the faith.  I have come to know Christ in new and life giving ways. John Knox has been a blessing.

I believe we need to get out of our “tribes” and share, interact, and in so doing see each other as human beings.

Yes some of my kids are “feral” but like me they can live fulfilling and productive lives living out their dreams, in their own way. To label, to put our own guidelines down are destructive. We want people to fit into our “tribes”, and that is death giving.

Through the resurrection we have access to God’s timelessness, and that resurrection has already begun in us when, in the midst of life’s ephemeral events, we remain focused on the enduring and eternal. As James says in chapter 1, verse 17: “. .. there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min. Candidate, John Knox Seminary


September 18, 2016

Death Penalty Ad


Dag Hammarskjold once said: “We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours. . .”and. ..”Do not seek death.  Death will find you . But seek the road which makes death a fulfillment.”

Each day how we choose to live  shapes the way we think, feel, and what we believe.  Jesus liked children, he pointed to their openness and their being wide eyed, and their approach to life without judgment.

That is the way Dag Hammarskjold  approached life. His life was one of service.  He was wide eyed and and saw wonderment all around, and tried to help others see and experience that same wonderment.

As we get closer to election day, his words remind us that we should not impose death on others.  For in imposing the death penalty we deny the right of our fellow human beings the chance to find fulfillment in life.  The majority on death row are persons of color, lack education, have been abused, they have not had a chance in life to find that fulfillment.

And for us not wanting the death penalty allows us to see life with the wide eyes of a child, as a place of wonderment and where all have the chance for the same wonderment and fulfillment. We held the hand of the person who killed our loved one as he died. Seeing him die at peace, was enough for us to oppose the death penalty. It is not our place to take life. We are God’s children, we are to be opened to wonder, and fulfillment.



12 NOON-1:00 P.M.





Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate


The Word Still Becomes Flesh

September 17, 2016


Adrienne von Speyr

“All freedom develops through surrender and through renunciation of liberty; And from this freedom within commitment there arises every sort of fruitfulness.”

Luke 8:4-15

There are three questions that I do not answer because we live in God’s time, not our own.

First:  “How old are you?” I tell reporters, and any one who asks, “I am 80” simply because age is relative, and we live in God’s time. We should not be stuck in our generation, but embrace all generations, and relate to all. In God’s time there is no age.

Secondly:  “Stability”: We are asked in our  society that is always moving, “do you ever think about going any where else?” Our ministry are with the people who move, who come and go, and those who stay, and we are here for them. We remain stable in our ministry.  Stability for us is faithfulness to ministry on the streets of San Francisco. 

Thirdly: We are always asked about our “ten year” plan and we laugh. We live in God’s time, in the moment, we do what is at hand. The parable this morning tells us we grow at our own pace, we grow in the moment.

Each day we do the Ignatian Examine and as we asked ourselves the questions:”What have you done for Christ today? What do you need to do differently? and what will you do for Christ?” time ceases and we see our lives just in the moment and our present actions, which grow into the future.

In Philippians 2 Paul tells us we should “work out our salvation,” and what he is talking about is to work at believing, for believing is hard work, to have faith in the midst of all that is around us is difficult. For when we believe, and have faith we know that we are loved by God, and we love all of creation in return. We take care of our neighbors and all creatures without judgement, and we see that our natural resources are not for us to use and discard but for us to take care of, to love, to appareciate.

Dr. Adrienne sums it up in her words:

“All freedom develops through surrender and through renunciation of liberty; And from this freedom within commitment there arises every sort of fruitfulness.”

Listening to her words let us meditate on their meaning for our lives.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Sacrifice Unseen

September 15, 2016


Martyrs of Birmingham (d. 1963

Luke 2:33-35

On September 15, 1963, some one tossed a packet of dynamite through the basement window of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls–Addie Mae Collins, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley, and seriously injuring twenty others. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at their funeral preached: “These children–unoffending innocent and beautiful–were the victims of one of the most vicious, heinous crimes ever perpetrated against humanity.”

And so it continues. . .in my closet I have various tee shirts of black young men killed in the area in the past three years; when I take food to the shelters I see more men of  color than white; I hear the word “nigger” used more often than not on the street among white, housed, and moneyed.  Discrimination, racism, homophobia are ever present. Our tech industries are not diverse; people of color do most of our back breaking service jobs.  Homophobic comments are made in regard to my blog; on T.V. and in the movies how many queer relationships do we see, how many leads by people of color?  Racism and homophobia is ever present. We choose to ignore that presence by saying “it is better”, “in our children it will cease to be,” “all have equal rights”, and so on.

Only through our hearts being opened to the pain and the horror of the lives that people live can we truly change our attitudes. We need take our heads out of the closet and open our eyes and look.  We need to move out of our tribes, and talk, work, and enter into relationships with people. We live in our own little tribes. It is not about the color of our skin or our sexual orientation, our religion, it is about us being human, loving one another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francis, CA 94164

A Faith That Is Difficult and Hopeful

September 15, 2016



The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross

Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:13-17

“but the people became impatient on the way. .” And so begins the story of the Israelites and the bronze serpent in our reading. And within a few verses we see God’s power transforming a medium of suffering, a serpent, into an instrument of healing.  It is easy to see the analogy of the cross in that when Jesus is lifted up he transforms a tool of torture, through God’s mercy in to the fullness of life, a way of saving the world.

All of us on the desert journey of life complain, look for other means. In our age we can fix anything. I  have a spur on my  heel, a muscle has been torn, and I am  walking with a stick.  People asked me, “when are you going to get that fixed?” the reality is it ain’t that easy. We have a fix for everything.  Grief, chronic pain, unemployment, homelessness, rejection, loneliness, we hear “have faith and things will get better,” and when they do not we get depressed, and walk away in various forms. Despite the bronze serpent, the Israelites continued to wander in the wilderness, and Jesus still suffered the torments of the crucifixion; millions suffer homelessness, mental illness, drug abuse, and rejection.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is not simply a beautiful service in which we exalt a beautiful cross–it is a feast of pointing us to a more difficult and hopeful faith. It is a faith that sustains us in the difficulties of life.

Scott Peck in his book The Road Less Traveled shared that we can learn to deal with life when we acknowledge one reality: “That life is difficult.” This is the Gospel of the Cross, this is the Exaltation of the Cross, life is difficult, but we do not walk alone, and in the darkest times we are never alone but Christ is there. The cross call us to walk with others on the  journey, to be the presence of Christ in the lives of others. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


The Alphabet Soup of Life

September 13, 2016


St. John Chrysostom

Luke 7:11-17

Yesterday there was an article in the paper about people protesting a Navigation Center being placed in the  “Dog Patch” area– because people would litter, use drugs, and break into homes;  Last night I had to go into an SRO Hotel to see someone, and when I came home had to use Anti-Lice  medicine to clean myself of possible  lice–this is  one of our City operated hotels; and as I walked the streets last night thousands shivered in the cold.

We can not place restrooms on the streets because we are afraid it will encourage drug use, and keep the homeless in the area; we move people from encampments to keep them out of site–with no housing available.

St. John Chrysostom in 380 AD speaks to us through the centuries:

“It is not possible for one to be wealthy and just at the same time.  Do you pay such honor to your excrements as to receive them into a silver chamber pot when another man made in the image of God is perishing in the cold.” 

Let us asked of ourselves: What does God say to us through these words in the context of our own time and our own lives?  In this Alphabet Soup of life what are we called to do– each of us individually, and collectively?

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.S.T., D.Min. candidate, John Knox Seminary

Saved By Grace

September 13, 2016


                    SAVED BY GRACE

                            Romans 9

Several nights ago I sat in Golden Gate Park  with a group of  young adults. They were chatting, smoking pot, and  simply hanging out, and one of them said to me, “I can’t believe you are a priest–you never tell us what do or tell us that we are sh.t like everyone else does.”  I laughed and said, “Making judgements is above my pay grade.”

Paul lays it out in Romans 9, we are saved by grace, it is not our place to judge, we are paid for with a price, the blood of Christ.  We are justified by faith.  Dr. Jonothan Linebaugh in a class on Romans at Knox Theological Seminary gave an illustration which resonated with me.  He said the final judgment will be like a major therapeutic group where we will all be together and God in Christ will work with us in bringing us to wholeness. All of us are sinners, saved by grace, and it is in God’s hands for judgment, and that judgment was made on the cross, where Christ died for our sins. We are called into God’s presence free of charge.  That salvation frees us to love our fellow human beings, and all of creation.

We are eight weeks away from the election, Yes on 62, ending the death penalty will be close, let us remember that the punishment of death is above our pay grade.


Wednesday September 14, 2016

3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m.

Earl Warren Office Building

350 McAllister Street

San Francisco, CA

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Franciscans Against the Death Penalty

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Fr. River Damien Sims

Whatever The Reason God is Always There

September 11, 2016


September 11, 2016, Father Mychal Judge, Franciscan Fire Chaplain,Martyr died, September 11, 2001

Luke 15:1-10
“whichever one of you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them does not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost. .”

There is a quote on Face book that sums up all of theology and it says: “Jesus doesn’t care how many Bible verses you have memorized.  He cares about how you treat people.” And a great teacher was  Fr. Mychal Judge.

Fr. Mychal Judge was a fire chaplain who gave his life on September 11, 2001 in New York City, but his life  was far more than that one act on that eventful day.  He was an openly gay priest, within a homophobic Church, who ministered to people with AIDS, the homeless, those struggling with drugs. In his own struggles he struggled with alcoholism and major depression.  Seeing his body carried from the wreckage to a neighboring church became an icon of that horrible day: an image of loving service and sacrifice, a hopeful answer to messages of fear and fanaticism.

Fr. Judge demonstrated God’s existence in his living and dying,  in love and service.  We know God in the way we are loved, and Fr. Judge showed that love. Fr. Judge crossed all boundaries of hatred, homophobia, and bigotry in his words: ” God is not an obligation or a burden. God is the joy of my life!”  And in that joy he served humanity.

We are asked a lot “What method’s do you use to get to know your kids?”  There is no method, or “How to Book”, it is loving people for who they are without judgement. It does not matter if we wear clericals, or grunge, it matters that we love them without judgment.

Dorothy Day once said: “Those who can not see Christ in the poor are atheists indeed.”

When we see Christ in people, our judgements fall away, and we see people as broken human beings, all of us  are broken, and so we  should simply walk with each other as equals, and love each other, and share with each other of what we have. Some of us have plenty, some none, but we can make all equal in our sharing, and our humanity. The proof of God is in our loving, and Fr. Judge demonstrated that proof with his whole life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164