Expecting

April 1, 2015

April 1, Bd. Giuseppe Girotti “Expecting” Matt. 26:14-25

In looking at Judas Iscariot I find sympathy for him for I see him present all over the world. We all have different expectations of Christ–that is why we have the different expressions of denominations. We expect a lot from Jesus. The world appears to be breaking a part, our own leaders seem to care less about the environment, about poverty–people are priced out of homes, homelessness is increasing–and we expect a lot from Jesus.

This morning I think of Giuseppe Girotti a priest in Italy who saved Jews from the Nazis, was arrested and sent to Dachau where he was executed. The Church as a whole was indifferent to the Nazis, but he followed Jesus, and in so doing said “Everything I do is out of love.’

Rather than expecting a lot of Jesus how about we look into ourselves this holy week, and act “out of love.” Last night a young man said to me “I am giving upon ever having money,” a young man who is penniless, and for me that was good advice, rather than striving for money, let’s strive to love our neighbor. A friend of mine said to me last week, “You are so different,” and in the past I would have been offended, but I see my differences as not staying in one social strata, living simply, and giving my life the best I can to Jesus–and for me that has meant more than life. There is quote I read yesterday, “I have lived a strange life, but it is a hell of a lot of fun.”, and I have lived a “strange life” and it too has been a “hell of a lot of fun.” And for me there are no regrets–accept not having the years back to do it again. So today in the consolations of your life give thanks to God, in the desolations, give thanks to God, and remember the worlds of Beatrijs of Nazareth–“The soul must live in hope.” Live in hope, and remember to do “everything out of love.” Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
The act of regularly eating foods derived from confined and brutalized animals forces us to become somewhat emotionally desensitized, and this numbing and inner armoring make it possible for us as a culture to devastate the earth, slaughter people in wars, and support oppressive social structures without feeling remorse.

By going vegan, we’re taking responsibility for the effects of our actions on vulnerable beings and we’re resensitizing ourselves. We’re becoming more alive, and more able to feel both grief and joy. Kahlil Gibran points out in The Prophet that unless we are able to feel our grief and weep our tears, we will not be able to laugh our laughter, either. Turning our pain and outrage into action on behalf of vulnerable beings will bring healing to us and to our world.

Crucifying Jesus Again and Again

March 31, 2015

March 31, “Crucifying Jesus Again and Again John Donne-Tuesday-Holy Week

“For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” I Corinthians 1:18-19, 25

“To make of his story something that could neither startle, nor shock, not terrify, nor excite, nor inspire a living soul is to crucify the Son of God a fresh.” Dorothy Sayers

The early Christians, in hope of the Resurrection tended to the sick. Last night as I walked the streets I saw person after person sleeping in the doorways–the doorways of the wealthiest part of town. New York’s homeless population is in epic proportions–so who are those whom you can serve without fear, in hope of the Resurrection? Name the way you can help bring about the Reign of God, and work toward that hope.

Let us pray:

“God of mercy. Make us wise with your foolish love. God of salvation open our eyes again to see the power of your grace. God of all who seek to follow, guide us in your faithful way.” Amen.

—-VegInspiration
As vegans, we’re a force for healing and compassion every day and at every meal. Our way of living exemplifies mercy and promotes freedom, and offers opportunities to unfold wisdom and help heal our world.

These are true causes for an abiding sense of joy. Even in the midst of grief and outrage at our culture’s cruelty, we can be glad that our ability to feel is reawakening.Dr. Will Tuttle

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“Rejuvenated Faith”

March 30, 2015

March 30, Monday in Holy Week “Rejuvenated Faith” Karl Rahner Isa. 42:1-7

The Rule of St. Benedict says to us: “We must get ready then. Our journey requires a rejuvenated faith. We must set high standards. We must rely on the gospel to guide us. It will help us to follow Christ and grow better acquainted with him so we are prepared to live with Jesus in his heavenly kingdom”. Holy Week is a time to look at our faith–and at the heart of what it means–it is about entering into suffering.

Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, reminds us, “What is to give light must endure burning.” Sharing in the work of Jesus is to taste the Pascal Mystery. This means acknowledging our blindness and emerging into light.

I have a memorial service for 35 year old Dennis this Thursday, he died of an over dose, one of so many. I sat with 17 year old James last night as he was crying in pain from being beaten. For me through the years it has been opening myself to the suffering of others, and in experiencing my own suffering that my faith has been rejuvenated.

Karl Rahner said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” To be a “mystic” is to enter into the Pascal mystery, to enter into it with your heart and with your soul and to embrace that One of Mystery in pain, in suffering, as well as joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The question for today is “Where does our faith need rejuvenation today? How will we let the gospel guide us?” Think about it, pray about it, share it–you can email me at punkpriest1@gmail.com. Fr. River Damien Sims

Who Killed Jesus?

March 29, 2015

March 29 “Who Killed Jesus” Philippians 2:5-11; Mark 15:1-47

Who killed Jesus? That is the question that is raised, and many of have used the answer to persecute the Jews. But the reality is the imperial system of Rome which forced Pilate into cooperation with Caiaphas who entered into am alliance to sacrifice innocent lives to maintain its rule. The historical imperial system and its thirst for power was the historical reason for Jesus being crucified.

Today it is the imperial system that continues to crucify Jesus–to maintain the status quo of the capitalist form of an economy that keeps people in poverty, the country at war, and people going hungry without housing and health care–all of us have blood on our hands:

1. 1 in 4 people go hungry in San Francisco alone–other places more–people hang outside our nice restaurants and we walk by, smiling, laughing–and let them starve;

2. To obtain decent housing in San Francisco, middle class income needs to be $121,000–that leaves out the vast majority–and we walk by as people sleep in their sleeping bags, chilly under a blanket–enjoying our lives.

3. We pat ourselves on the back with Obamacare, but millions fall through the cracks who are not within the system–we need universal health care that is free–but we laugh and pat ourselves on the back for what we have done, and millions suffer.

4. We are hungry for oil, to the point that in some parts of California the oil drilling has caused problems with the water supply, there is a push to drill in the Artic and our climate is changing, and we live in the moment in our satisfaction without thought of the future.

5. The Church, and I mean the Church in general–not just Roman Catholic, United Methodist, Episcopal, etc–but all of the Church continues to be segregated, keep our doors shut to the homeless, and keep our heads in the sands around the issues of homelessness, climate change, and our inhumanity to our fellow humans in general–we fight the “culture’ wars tearing ourselves a part rather than focusing on the One who calls us to serve all humanity.

6. 1.3 million people–mostly innocent men and women and children–have died in our wars–and we can sleep at night–but we have our comforts.

Last night as I walked Polk I counted fifty people, all of whom I know by name, sleeping in the door ways, one was pregnant, one has cancer, and is suffering with no place to go, and I asked myself “Who is crucifying Jesus today?” And the answer is we are.

Martin Luther once said: “I have so much to do (today) that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.”
– Martin Luther (1483-1546)
(There you have it! It’s when we’re busiest that we most need prayer.)

In the past decade I have discovered that what holds my sanity in place is praying the Daily Hours. In the morning I spend two hours exercising, celebrating the Eucharist, and in prayer, and the rest of the day at mid morning, mid day, mid afternoon, Evening, and Night I stop sometimes just a few minutes and read the Daily Office. The words filter through my brain and my heart, and call me to look around at the suffering in our midst–it imparts to me the desire to seek to change what I see, and simply to do what I can, just simply to be present in the moment.

This week I encourage you to stop at least an hour during the day–break it up–read the scriptures for the day, and think how Holy Week is lived out today in the pain of today and how you can share the Gospel of the Risen Christ to those around you. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Gray Areas

March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015–John 11:45-46, Marc Chagall “Gray Areas”

Last week two homeless people pulled a knife on me in their projection of their needs. One in particular really hurt in his words when he said, “how you say you are my friend when I go hungry, and sleep outside.” I was simply the focal point of their anger, of their situation. They were projecting on me their anger at society in general on me. I know I am a privileged white male–my education, my health, my way of surviving in life, proves that. I can not change that, no matter how simply I live, how much I give–I was a lucky sperm, with excellent parents, who gave me the ability to live in this world, I was born white, which gives me privilege, and I was born male, which grants more privilege.

I am also aware that this week 1.3 million lives have been lost in Iraq since September 11, 2001, civilians, children, and in my privilege I live here with my material needs met. I am aware that all of us let the blame be projected in our names on ethic and religious groups in general. We justify this by telling ourselves that we have a few have to die to protect our way of life,

We begin Holy Week tomorrow and the authorities of the time of Jesus believed it was better for one man to die, than to take a chance on losing their middle class way of life. Well meaning men.

As I look at life these days I see that the way to hell is paved with the best intentions, and that the way we change this is to look closely within our own lives, to look at ourselves and examine what war, poverty, targeting others, means to us–to our integrity, and to move from that into the Gospel of Jesus.

Dr. Will Tuttle focuses on veganism in this quote but this quote applies to all of life:

“From the viewpoint of its deepest and most eternal and universal teachings—to love God, and to love our neighbor as our self—the Bible unequivocally condemns animal slavery just as it condemns human slavery.”

“We must stop using the Bible to justify animal abuse,, war, poverty, but rather use it to guide us in our quest for peace and justice for all beings.”

To love God, to love our neighbor is the call of Christ, and the call of the cross. Let us reflect upon that in very individual terms this week, looking at our fears, our own prejudices. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

A Question of Faith

March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015 “A Question of Faith” Gen. 17: 3-9; John 8:51-59 Adrienne von Speyr

Today is my birthday–like any other day for me–preparing a meal, seeing whoever comes to my door. I had dinner with my two friends visiting from Chicago last night, and that is all the celebration we will do, and for me my birthday is just another day. I am depressed, have been for a few days–because of the pain I have seen in people. One young guy pulled a knife on me yesterday, projecting his anger at the world on me, pure and simple. He said one thing that I have thought about, he said; “You and all these people tell me you are my friend, and you don’t give me a place to live.” And I thought about that–I thought about the inequality of friendships. If I lost my place I frankly I would not expect any help, but than I never expect much help for I am that white privileged male. And in thinking about his comment I know I am his friend, I have fed him, taken him to the hospital, listened to him for hours, taken him out to eat, given him birthday and Christmas gifts–I have given what I can. Next time I see him he want even remember it, but it still hurts, it goes deep for me when I hear things like this; I have been depressed because people are so blunt on Face Book and can not seem to understand their words have and affect on people. I see the brutality of humans all around–in the evictions, the lack of concern for the poor, and the elderly, I see it, I experience it, and It hurts.

A friend of mine asked me other day if I was ever Mary, and not Martha, waiting on people all the time. Last week I was Martha, taking classes, this week I am Mary, and will be for the next two weeks, than I will take three days and be Martha again, I take time, I am both, it all equals out. For me the Gospel lies in the truthfulness of what we live out in Christ. People have been criticizing the Pope for making a saint out of Juniper Sierra, and in reading his biography he was simply a man of his time, he is a saint, his actions were lived out in his interpretation of the Gospel at that time. We need to remember that the Gospel and it message evolves–one day all churches will embrace inclusivity, not in my life time, but one day. So my prayer is that we can look at all sides, and look at all sides of each other and offer love and understanding. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Pray Without Ceasing

March 23, 2015

March 23 “Pray Without Ceasing” Sybllina of Pavia John 8:1-11

Thomas Merton wrote:

Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and your heart has turned to stone.
… Thomas Merton (1915-1968), Seeds of Contemplation

We expect our lives to be perfect, we expect to feel God’s presence, and I have found that 98 per cent of the time that isn’t. We are left to live in the dregs and doubts of our lives and that is when I have learned prayer and love. That is where I have learned to live in the present moment, enjoy it, even when it is not worth enjoying and giving thanks to God, even when I do not know if there is a God. Simply, to walk in faith.

The Gospel today is that of the woman caught in adultery, and it calls us to walk this Lent in the knowledge that-no one is condemned, but loved, and forgiven, if we accept it. It is our choice. Our labels, our arguing, and disagreements amount to nothing as we look into the burning eyes of Jesus–we are forgiven.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Letter of the Law

March 22, 2015

March 22 “The Gift of the Law Jeremiah 31:31-34 John 12:26

“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts”

It is easy to be legalistic, for when one adheres to the letter of the law one is safe–does not have to worry about making a mistake. Jesus adhered to the law, but he let the law be guided by his heart.

For example I am told by people that needle exchange is wrong, giving out food is wrong, because it “babies and coddles” people, when the reality is that people are broken human beings, and judgment like that ultimately destroys them. We help no one when we adhere to legalism. Over 22 years ago I met “J”, in Minneapolis, an 18 year old queer young guy, who was in the process of coming out. He prostituted to make money and one night he killed a man. He received life without the possibility of parole. His life has changed, he helps other inmates through writing letters, counseling–for he found Christ in prison. If the “letter” of the law had been applied he would have received the death penalty. He touched my ministry because he was the first person I encountered, and knew personally, who committed a serious crime, it was a fearful experience to work with him, and I worked through those fears in working with him.

The spirit of the law brings us to salvation, to healing. There is a quote I found in a friend’s newsletter, Fr. Tom Jackson’s, which I feel summarizes where we are headed in our present times, and in my experience it leads to seeing people as things, following the letter of the law and ultimately is destructive in our lives and in our society:

Machines which ape people are tending to encroach on every aspect of people’s lives, and such machines force people to behave like machines.

The new electronic devices do indeed have the power to force people to “communicate” with them and with each other on the terms of the machine. Whatever structurally does not fit the logic of machines is effectively filtered from a culture dominated by their use.

The machine-like behavior of people chained to electronics constitutes a degradation of their well-being and of their dignity which, for most people in the long run, becomes intolerable.

Observations of the sickening effect of programmed environments show that people in them become indolent, impotent, narcissistic and apolitical. The political process breaks down, because people cease to be able to govern themselves; they demand to be managed.

Ivan Illich

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Take Up the Cross”

March 22, 2015

March 22, 2015 To Follow and To Serve John 13:1-15

1 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. 2 It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. 4 So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. 6 When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” 8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet – ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” 9 “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!” 10 Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern, you understand, is holiness, not hygiene. So now you’re clean. But not every one of you.” 11 (He knew who was betraying him. That’s why he said, “Not every one of you.”) 12 After he had finished washing their feet, he took his robe, put it back on, and went back to his place at the table. 13 You address me as ‘Teacher’ and ‘Master,’ and rightly so. That is what I am. 14 So if I, the Master and Teacher, washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet. 15 I’ve laid down a pattern for you. What I’ve done, you do

Each year we have foot washing in the Alley at our meal, and it is most touching to see volunteers clean the feet of our guests, whose feet or filthy and give them clean socks.

Each day as I give out countless socks to people I find appreciation. This week I would invite you to wash the feet of a homeless person, not literally, but symbolically, As you are walking on the street, and someone asks you for money simply kneel down and talk, give them a candy bar or a sand which or simply talk.

Through the years I have simply served the people I encounter in my daily walk–by gving them of what I have, and I trust in the resurrection-that in all things God works for good. Find one person–feed them, talk to them, love them, and trust God.

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Labeling

As we begin this week I am reminded it is my birthday week. Every year people asked me my age, and I never give it to them; I have told reporters I am every age from 30 to 100. The reason I do not, is not that I am embarrassed, I frankly do not care, but that I do not like to be labeled, and boxed in. We label people by their ages, we label people by race, gender, sexual orientation, their jobs, rather than seeing them as unique individuals. Our labels from time immemorial destroy us.

In the summer time I get really dark from being out in the sun, and last year I was at a timeshare in Palm Springs by the pool, and a woman came out and told me to get her some stuff, and I looked at her and she said, “I expect the hired help to get up and wait on me without question, and you should not be laying around to begin with,” I dutifully got what she wanted. Later she saw me in clericals and I thought she was going to have a heart attack–we label people, and in that process we hurt people,

It is like I was referring to the undocumented people crossing our borders as “Illegal,” a friend pointed out to me how I was stereotyping them–the reality is they are people who are simply trying to find a better life, and rather than label, we should see how can help our brothers and sisters in that process. I am always examining how I label people, and I hope we all will. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Who Gives A Fuck

March 14, 2015

“Who Gives A Fuck?”

Fourth Week of Lent–March 15-21

JESUS IS LIFTED UP FOR OUR SALVATION

Numbers 21:4-9, Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

Prayer:

O God, you lift up your Son Jesus on the cross so that the whole world might be saved. Sustained by your steadfast love, may we not grow weary in seeking an end to hunger.

Action:

Go to the Food Bank; go to the internet and look up “Hunger in America”; Study hunger in your local area this week. One in Four people go to bed hungry in San Francisco–one of the two wealthiest cities in the United States.

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Tonight as I sit at my desk I look at the photos of Rio, Zach, Dustin, and so many others for whom I have conducted memorial services through the years. . I am often asked if it gets to me, I pass it off, but the real answer is they never leave me, their spirits are always around me, and I see the pain they suffered from drug abuse, from poverty, and that is what pushes me to keep working. I see in them the Crucified Christ, and he calls me to continue–painful as hell sometimes, lonely, and fearful. Very little has been said good to me or about me this week, I have been called a liar, a betrayer–all from educated people–and I feel knocked down, but I get up. There is a poem that Lucy, my nanny as a kid, gave me when I began ministry:

“Done made my vow to the Lord,

And I never will turn back,

I will go, I shall go

To see what the end will be.

Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down,

See what the end will be,

But still my soul is heavenly bound,

See what the end will be. .”

This hymn reminds me in my darkest hours, that God gives a fuck, and for me that is all that matters. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!


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