Peniel August

July 30, 2018

Peniel

August, 2018

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Journal of An Alien Street Priest:

Growing up in the South, the dog days of August were very real. The weather was hot, humid, we stayed around the house most of the day until the sun set. We drank a lot of ice tea, ate a lot of watermelon, and barbecued. They were days of reflection, and of looking ahead to the coming year.

In reflecting this year during this time I think of our countries psyche  and  my own life.  For me I have discovered within my life, and with  what is  happening  in the greater world similarities.

 I have discovered that my own desire to connect can sometimes become an inordinate attachment to receiving praise, love, and acceptance from others. I often struggle with sacrificing integrity and authenticity to orchestrate attachment to others. There is a phrase from the Henry Rollins album, “weight”, which says: “Loneliness will make you throw your sins away.”

Loneliness eats at our very souls, and I have found I will throw away everything to have a friend, and always it is in vain. The same in our country, we are so afraid we are going to lose the  freedoms and rights we have gained, that we “throw our sins away,” losing our sense of respect for the dialogue of other people who differ from us.

Doing these dog days of August I am listening to the Spirit, and am being reminded  not to fear, to respond in truth and love and to trust. And that is my prayer for others—do not fear, respond in truth and love, and trust each other. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Weekly Meals:

It has become apparent that personally I will not be able to prepare weekly meals alone.  We are asking for volunteers who will put in 4-5  hours a week to package and help serve the meals on the street. Thank you.

We now have two new interns, they are Cale King and Aaron Olaya, Juniors in High School from San Rafael, CA. Both are passionate and caring about people, and find working with us rewarding.

​                                                                                       Aaron                                                                       Cale

 Aaron and Cale.png

Death Penalty Protest:

September 5, Noon-1:00 p.m. we will begin our weekly Death Penalty Protest.  The Death Penalty is in humane, and makes of all of us murderers. Come join us!

We Are Beggars!

Our finances are very low. We are in need of socks, we are in need of money for food, and so we beg, for your support. We continue to minister to 500 plus young people a month through our pastoral care, socks, food, and needle exchange. And so as you reflect during these dog days we pray you will remember us. Please give:

Temenos Catholic Worker

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Or

Pay Pal at www.temenos.org

Our web site has been changed to a new server it is much easier to go directly to Pay Pal and give directly through your Pay Pal account

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A Priest Forever!

January 19, 2021

January 19, 2021–January 20 lectionary reading

A Priest Forever!

“And it is far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another a priest, who is made not after the law of carnal commandment, but after the power of endless life. For he testifieth, Thou are a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” Hebrews 7:14-17

   Today as I walked to the post office there were people passing who kept their eyes straight ahead, never noticing people around them. And a young boy with a backpack skates by and smiles with serenity. No words are needed, only the smile.

     In human communication, the words carry significantly less power than the silence between. There have been nights sitting on my friend Matt’s floor, watching him play games, and not a word passes between us, but in giving attention to the silence, a world of deeply beautiful and yet simple things emerge.  And when we move, the inner silence remains in our body. The silence formed an unbreakable relationship between us.   

    In the silence of the now, I remember Melchisedec and my call to ministry, calling me to a ministry of listening, being silent as others speak:

“Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him, Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first by translation of his name, king of righteousness, then he is also King of Salem, that is the king of peace. He is without father or mother or geology, having neither the beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-3.

    These words were repeated at my ordination so many years ago, and they made a mark that I can never remove, reminding me that despite my screw-ups, I am still “a priest forever.”

    I have come to understand that through the years we all are “priests forever,” and our ministries are the way we live our lives in loving our neighbor.

    We have walked in the footsteps of Damien of Molokai, St. Francis, and Dorothy Day, and  we have  become simply a piece of sand, seeping into the sea, sand that is rough, scared, and yet loved, we see the faces of the thousands whose lives that have been touched, and remember the words of the poem:

“The Starfish Story:

by Philip J. Kocisko

One day an old man was walking down the beach just before dawn. In the distance, he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. As the old man approached the young man, he asked, “Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?” The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. The old man exclaimed, “But there must be thousands of starfish. How can your efforts make any difference?” The young man looked down at the starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said, “It makes a difference to this one!”

At times in our lives, we are all the old man, the young man, or the starfish. Sometimes, as the old man, we don’t see the purpose to actions. Sometimes, as a young man, we persevere and make a difference. And sometimes, we are the starfish who just need a little help.

    These words sum up my life and will be repeated hopefully at my memorial service.

    Sitting, in the silence, the question arises am I happy? Happiness is a word all of us look at differently. A psychologist once said to me in talking about some of my experiences, “You will not be happy in the way other people are, but you will be in your own way very happy.”

      I am happy first of all because I do not work, my mother once said, “Find the job you love, and you never work,” that is why retirement is not in my vocabulary, I love what I do; secondly,  I have people in my life I enjoy, when I talk of being alone there is loneliness, great loneliness,  in the secrets we hold for others, in the pain shared, in the struggles with people on the street, last night I sat with a forty-year-old sleeping in a doorway suffering from heart failure, there is so much feeling alone with someone in their pain,  and thirdly I keep moving forward, I live in the present and never look back.

    We need to reflect on our lives every day, and what will be said when they end, and for me nothing matters except casting one starfish at a time back into the sea. Nothing else. What matters for you? That is the question we all have to answer on our own.  My fervent prayer is what matters for all of us is to “cast one starfish at a time into the sea” to care for one person at a time. That is much joy! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Silence

January 17, 2021

Silent Mysteries: The Truth About Me!

I Samueal 3:1: “The Lord was rare in the those days.”

Sunday, January 17, 2021

    For a generation, the people only knew the silence of God–until the night when the voice startled Samuel. He thought Eli was calling, an elder in need of assistance. Eli wondered if this might be the night when God returned with a word of guidance. “If he calls you again,” Eli told Samual, “you shall say, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. (verse 9).

    Many hear God, but the majority of us only hear silence. As have others who have gone before us.

    Dan Rather once asked Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her devotional life. “What is it that you say to God when you pray?” She replied, “God does not say anything he just listens.” She and God listening to the silence.

    Later in a letter to her spiritual director, she confessed her doubts about God’s presence. “In my soul, I feel just that terrible pain of loss, she wrote, “of God not being God.”

    But for a few of us, this is the way we feel, “a terrible pain of loss,” and we feel terror in the darkness of the night and the light of our days.

    I feel like this most of the time. Always putting on a show telling others when asked,  “everything being “fine,”–fu..cked up, insecure, neurotic and emotional, when in truth my insides are in pain from fear, loneliness, and feeling very insecure.  I see the darkness of death coming towards me in many forms, failure, uselessness, irrelevance, aging,  and physical death.

    One of the reasons I listen, simply listen to others is to allow them to share their pain, and in doing so mine becomes much lighter as well.

    We live in a world of “global distress,” if it “bleeds it leads”, overcome by the negative news around us which stirs our fears, keeps us separate. We have all the social networks, and yet we are so far apart. Facebook uses the term “friends” to make money, and we buy into their concept. The term “friends” is a shallow word.

    When I use the word “friend” it means I am willing to suffer, and even die for a person. People are rebuffed and hurt on Facebook simply because the word “friend” has been sold out by a tech company, and our superficial society.

    Fr. Henri Nouwen experienced this darkness all of his life in his struggles with his depression and sexual orientation. Questions were raised about making Mother Teresa a saint over her expression of deep darkness because she did not “know God,” and in that silence and doubt, they are our greatest teachers. Listen to the words of Henri:

“You have to keep unmasking the world about you for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and in the long run destructive. The world tells you many lies about who you are, and you simply have to be realistic enough to remind yourself of this. Every time you feel hurt, offended, or rejected, you have to dare to say to yourself: “These feelings, strong as they may be, are not telling me the truth about myself. The truth, even though I cannot feel it right now, is that I am the chosen child of God, precious in God’s eyes, called the Beloved from all eternity, and held safe in an everlasting embrace.”

Prayer is patience in the darkness of night, listening for a voice. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims,sfw,D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

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“Jesus didn’t die to save us from suffering–he died to teach us how to suffer. Sometimes I actually mean it. I’d rather die young, having lived a life crammed with meaning, than die old, even in security but without meaning.” Mev Puleo

Embracing One’s True Self

January 16, 2021

Embracing One’s True self!

“And he went forth again by the seaside; and all the multitude resorted unto him and he taught them.” Mark 2:13 (13-22

Normally, the young wait for the future to come, and the old one’s look back to the past. Somewhere in the middle of all the expecting and recalling dwells the most essential part of it all. It is found in every single word of the book of life. If any word gets bypassed while reading, something essential is missed.

    Henri Nouwen talks of how our secular and false self is the self that is fabricated, as Thomas Merton says, by social compulsions. “Compulsion” according to Nouwen is “indeed the adjective for the false self, it points to a need for ongoing and increasing affirmation.

    Quoting Nouwen” These very compulsions are at the basis of the two main enemies of the spiritual life: anger and greed. They are the inner side of the secular life, the sour fruits of our worldly dependence.”

    I know they are enemies in the spiritual life, getting bogged down in pleasing people, and accomplishing goals to wave in front of others. Trying to please and be accepted.

    Then as I walk down the street, and see an orange aired young man playing his guitar, an older woman trying to move in her wheelchair up the street, and middle-aged men walk by with their masks simply not noticing anyone that the words of Thomas Merton hit home, and keeps me grounded in the present:

“I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people,they they were mine, and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like walking from a dream of separateness.”

    In the present moments, whether liked or disliked, not given a damn about, lied to, threatened, ridiculed, despise–we are all one, and the call is to love each other–no matter the pain, but to love, and care. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Living in the Grey Areas

January 15, 2021

Living in the Greys of Life!

And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith until him, I will be thou clean. . Mk. 1:40-45.

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     Sitting outside of Opera Plaza today waiting for a friend, meditating on the Sunday lectionary, I had a profound experience that is difficult to convey through words. Words only convey a symbolic experience. At that moment, I understood–there is nothing else.

    THERE IS NOTHING ELSE:  This moment in time is all we have. The sun is bright, the air crisp, a stillness of the surrounding world is felt, and there is nothing else.

    In these moments, the silence, I am reflecting on a new certificate course, I have started taking from the University of Rhode Island, Cannabis, looking at the medical use of marijuana.

    We can trace the history of marijuana back over two thousand years, and until the United States, laid down its first laws against the drug in 1900, was seen as a tool of healing.

    And I have observed its healing qualities with people who are anxious, suffering pain, and epilepsy. It, like all drugs, doctrines, and opinions, has its negative effects. I have a blood test every six months for possible complications from my blood pressure medication–not black and white, but a grey area.

    Galileo-Galileo gives of summary of living in the grey area: I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.

    On a foggy, cool, night, called to San Francisco General Hospital, there lay a man, who was a drug dealer and murderer, a man who had killed my son. As I gave him the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I learned from him that night the secret of forgiving, and of living in the grey area of life–the secret of true freedom and compassion.

    In these days of political unrest, a pandemic that limits our movement and scares the hell out of us, shortening supplies of finances, and fear of the future, let us live in the grey areas and remember that THERE IS NOTHING ELSE, but the present moment, and enjoy that moment, celebrate life. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min.

P.o. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

“For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life–pray always, work for others, read the Scriptures–and to avoid the many tempations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time God has been trying to fine me, to know me, and to love me. The question is not “How I find God?” but “How am I to let myself be found by him?” The question is not “How am I to know God?” but “How am I to let myself be known by God?” And finally, the question is not ‘How am I to love God?” but “How am I to let myself be loved by God?’ God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home.” Henri Nouwen

Light and Darkness

January 13, 2021

Light and Darkness

“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings…and through death, he might destroy him who had the power of death.” Hebrews 2:10-15

    No light exists that could not cast a shadow. Light is all there. It is everywhere, shines through everything. We can not convey the natural elements of light.

    One’s mind races after holding someone’s hand who dies from the coronavirus; The smells surrounding you in the hospital room; everyone clothed in masks and gowns as if you are in another world; the pain you have seen. The numbness you feel.  And yet the light still exists in the midst of your own sadness and fear. You come home numb.

    Silence comes as you sit at your desk. The strange dichotomy of light and darkness circles in your mind, but the mind cannot grab a hold of it. Despite the best efforts all that occurs is nothing. Around you is your warm bed, the gloomy lights of the room, the ceiling, the walls, plants, smells of the body, and the silence dominates.

    The mind is silent, the fear of death goes away as you see the Captain of your salvation standing before you, “made perfect in his sufferings.” People will hate you, people will die, we will die, but the Captain removes all fear and moving through the late darkness of the early morning everything feels very still and peaceful, and all is well. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

A Time of Stillness

January 12, 2021

A Time of Stillness

Mk. 1:21-28

     It is 4:30 a.m. as I write this; it is a time of stillness, soothing darkness. A sense of peace is present.

    It is chilly outside, people are sleeping in doorways, the donut shop is open with people lined up as I arrive home, and yet there is still a sense of peace present. There is a stillness there, a peace where the thoughts of your mind recede into a newer deeper dimension of one’s life.

    In our Gospel, there is a man with an “unclean spirit,” and Jesus said, “Hold thy peace, come out of him.”

    And that is my prayer this morning that Jesus cast the “unclean spirits” from my soul. I have many unclean spirits:

    Anxiety over being liked;

    Fear of rejection, and clinging to friends who have used me, using a form of cheap grace to justify those friendships;

    The fear of being alone, when the worst kind of loneliness is being surrounded by people who truly do not give a damn;

    And the fear of dying alone, without being remembered.

    And so in the cleanliness of the silence I hear the words of Henri Nouwen, and begin a new in simply being present, being myself, and being community to people who are around, and not letting cheap grace destroy my inner peace.

The “Ifs” That Enslave Me

As long as I keep running about asking “Do you love me? Do you really love me?” I give all power to the voices of the world and put myself in bondage because the world is filled with “ifs.” The world says: “Yes, I love you if you are good-looking, intelligent, and wealthy. I love you if you have a good education, a good job, and good connections. I love you if you produce much, sell much, and buy much.” There are endless “ifs” hidden in the world’s love. These “ifs” enslave me, since it is impossible to respond adequately to all of them. The world’s love is and always will be conditional. As long as I keep looking for my true self in the world of conditional love, I will remain “hooked” to the world—trying, failing, and trying again. It is a world that fosters addictions because what it offers cannot satisfy the deepest craving of my heart.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

Our Greatest Enemy

January 11, 2021

Our Greatest Enemy!

“. . .to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved.” (6-7) Ephesians 1:1-14

    Fr. Henri Nouwen speaks to us these words:

“Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core of our existence.”

    Self-rejection is my greatest enemy. I hear all the time words of anger, rejection, criticism, and just plain meanness, from everywhere. I am told how useless, how stupid, I am. I have been spit upon, and hit, literally and symbolically.

    When this ministry began some 26 years and 4 months ago I was told that there would be a time when it would appear that I would be standing in the middle of a set of railroad tracks with twenty trains coming towards me, and it has felt that way lately.

    We listen to our news and social media and we hear the words of self-rejection. And after a while, if we listen to those words, and take them within us they become reality and we project those feelings on others.

    One rule a therapist friend gave me is that 20 percent of people will hate you, 60 percent will not give a damn–but will be apathetic, and 20 percent will love you. It is an accurate guide, a reminder the reason I carry on this ministry is that, in Jesus, I find grace, and love, and want to share that with my others. I admit I am a screwup, I know that, but I try.

    Let us turn our eyes to the Risen One, see the eyes of One who loves us, and reminds us we are beloved, and move out and love others. This is difficult, but oh the reward we received as we try. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Apocalyptic Solidarity

January 9, 2021

Apocalyptic Solidarity

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Baptism of Jesus

“And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending from him: and there came a voice from heaven, saving “Thou are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Mark 1:10

    The baptism of Jesus tears through the border between heaven and earth. The Greek verb here is schizomenous, having to do with gnashing something open, ripping apart. God slashes open the sky. The is the beginning of an apocalypse.

        Imagine scenes from Left Behind books and movies: judgment unleashed from the heavens, fire and brimstone, cosmic devastation.

    But this apocalypse does not initiate an inferno. Instead, the Spirit of God swoops down–the Holy Spirit like the dove who returns to Noah on the ark with an olive branch, a sign of life. The Spirit is like a bird at the beginning of Genesis who hovers over the waters, who broods over the oceans. The apocalyptic arrival of the Spirit at Jesus’ baptism declares God’s solidarity with earthly life, God’s commitment to the human community. The sky opens up to reveal that this Jesus will embody the movement of God in the world, this one is God’s love made flesh.

    In my life, there have been two experiences of baptism. At age 12, on Mother’s Day, with so much excitement, wearing a new suit, I knelt in the local United Methodist Church, was baptized and confirmed. It was a wonderful day, I belonged and knew that God redeemed and accepted me no matter what.

    Moving forward ten years later on a dark late night walking down a rundown street in Kansas City, Missouri near St. Paul’s Seminary, a friend and I  observed a group of primarily black people, surrounding a barrel with a fire burning like a candle inside, and a black preacher standing up preaching a purely evangelistic Gospel to a large crowd of people.

    As my friend and I approach, the preacher turned his wild eyes  toward me, looking directly into them, and proclaimed, “You are destined to be a Light in the darkness, to those who one else sees, and you will suffer greatly, you will be broken,  but you will be blessed and bless thousands.”

    I still shiver, looking back, and feeling the Spirit pouring over me in baptism. To this day it is as re

    Baptism is not to be taken lightly but is a communion in this divine love, our union with Christ’s life. In baptism, we give ourselves to God’s love–to be “caught up” in God’s light in the world, in the words of Rowan Williams, “so that we may grow into wholehearted love of God by learning that God loves us as God loves God.”
    We are revelations of love, signs of God’s delight in creation.”

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

Continuing the Struggle

January 7, 2021

Continuing in the Struggle!

I John 4:20-5:5

    I am suddenly awake at 4:00 a.m., my mouthpiece buried in my teeth, from being crushed through the night–thank God for the protection.  I am awakened by nightmares from which I am told are signs of PTSD, or whatever we moderns want to call our struggles, but personally I prefer to call these struggles the Angel of Death, fluttering around, reminding me of impending death.

    I have seen so much death, and it surrounds my every move these days. Told to go away and take a break I LOL (Laugh out Loud), for I was away for a week in Palm Springs the first of December, and again for three days two weeks ago, experiencing the death and suffering of others never goes away, it simply becomes a part of you, and you live with the pain until it melts away. You are scared but like carving a piece of wood, the scars become beautiful with work.

    I look around and see photos of five generations of youth passing through my life, and now another group moves forward. Time never stands still. My time is passing.

    After three or four hours of sleep each night, I awake with a dry throat, some times raw and I wonder, is this the day I will enter into the nether world of instruments and masked nurses and doctors, rather than being one in the mask, and suffer in pain, and suffocation, dying alone with instruments buzzing around me, being set aside, and than forgotten.

    Last night watching the news of riots, anger, and destruction I wonder has my life been lived in a fictional world. Don Lemon comments: “Superstition is promoting facts that are not proven in the real world.”

    I am presently reading a book, A Riotous History of Uncivil Action: In Defense of Looting, by Vicky Osterweil, which justifies rioting, as a means of protest, and describes it’s history going back to the Revolutionary War as a history of violence, and destruction, justifying looting as a means of getting our rights.

    Violence, and destruction, are contrary to Jesus who walked to his death and transformed the world. So has my life been one of selling fiction? Have I been a peddler of fake goods?

    But looking through the mists of time I see the face of Christ–in David and Ruth, Bill, Jack, E.W., Violet, Keenan, Cynthia, Karen, all the way to the present in the young men and women on the street, and Ruth, Matthew, Aaron, Cale, Brandon, and so many more. .and I know that God is not a distant God, a God to be feared and avoided, a God who is fiction, a God of revenge, but a God who is moved by our pains and participates in the fullness of the human struggle. .God is a compassionate God.. and hear the words of Paul from 2 Corinthians 12: “For this thing, I besought the Lord twice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee:for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

The God of Many Faces is in each one of us, crying out for us to love each other, as we struggle through so many ways to find that love, the love that only comes from God.

    I continue the walk hearing the words of Paul from Romans: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creatures, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    This is the promise I live by, and the promise shared so that others might live. Fake or real–no– it is Real! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

“On the storm-tossed sea of life, all we have is our fierce loyalty to one another.”

Being Silent About Things that Matter

January 7, 2021

Being Silent About the Things That Matter!

.. I (John the Baptist)indeed have baptized you with water:but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mark 1:8

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

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    Today has been full of riots, division, hate, pain, and death. This past year has been full of riots, division, hate, pain, and death–never seems to end. We are now living in a season of pain and death from a pandemic as well.

    John the Baptist tells people of the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus moves forward in preaching and teaching and chooses to go to his own death without lifting a finger to the mobs, and the hate. Failure?

    Jesus transformed the world with the crucifixion and the resurrection. The resurrection affirmed the way of non-violence.

    Jesus broke the silence about violence, he gave his life and calls us to do the same. To break our silence by transforming our way of relating to people based on cash, power, race, creed, religion, to one of love–working with each one to live fuller lives, giving of our time, money, and effort is the summons of not keeping silence.

   I was recently asked if looting and rioting were justified. I remember last fall during the looting in San Francisco, Walgreens, and other small businesses, being ripped apart, and not opening for days. The people who worked in those businesses suffered, many went hungry,  and so no, looting and rioting is wrong because it hurts people. Jesus tells us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”

    During these years of ministry, violence has been directed towards us, and we have found by not returning violence that lives are changed, transformed. Violence begets violence.

    The change begins with each one of us, little by little, and as we protest violence, turn our hearts and minds to others, our political leaders will change, and society will change.

    People are suffering, dying in San Francisco, the Bay Area, California, across the nation and world, people are losing homes, going hungry, being alone without support, and keeping silent our lives begin to end psychologically. Thirty thousand more people have been inflicted with the virus today, people are in pain, physically and psychologically.

    Today I remember Ruth Burton, a long-time friend, a woman in her nineties who died; we met too many years ago to mention when I was skateboarding on the sidewalk and almost ran into her. She jokingly laughed and said, “the first time a priest has almost knocked me down,’ and we became friends. We ate together, laughed together, prayed together, and in times of being sick in bed saw to it that food was brought to me.

    During the riots of another time, Ruth once said: “People never change, until they see themselves as needing each other.”

    So tonight I celebrate Ruth as she has entered the Great Cloud of Witnesses; She continues to support and love. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

    Let us not be silent and see ourselves as “needing each other.”

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

P.O.Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124