Archive for February, 2009

“True Religion Is Walking With Another Person in their Pain and Struggle

February 28, 2009

Feb. 27 Isa. 58:1-9, Mt. 9:14-15
People ask me if i am fasting. I am basically giving up watching T.V. and was thinking of giving up reading the paper–but oh well, have to have some addictions–but for me Isaiah puts true fasting in its correct place: “Fast by sharing your food with the hungry, bring to your your house the homeless, clothe the one that is naked and do not turn away from your own kin.” Jesus rebuked very harshly the religious leaders of his time. He criticized the political leaders . He found fault with his disciples. but he was never critical or angry or annoyed with the people. He did not tell them they were poor because they were lazy and did not make use of the opportunities offered to them. He did not tell them that their suffering was because of their sins. Jesus knew very well that the people who followed him were not saints nor did they follow him for purely spiritual reasons. When Jesus saw the crowd his heart was moved with compassion, for they were like sheep without a shepherd. the word compassion is a very strong word meaning a movement of the heart form our own self to another. Our heart takes upon itself the suffering of the other. The suffering of the other becomes in part our own suffering. We carry the other’s burden. That is why I get angry when people asked me about my “successes”, and get angry when people always want people to change. Jesus walked with them, he loved them, and he served them–that is what for me “success” is, it is the present of the moment, and my being with them in the moment.
Took Billy to breakfast, Dexter came by, high on speed, back from Texas, took a walk, went to see play on Paul with Alice, and outreach. Bed at 2:00 a.m.

“Being Salt Means Not knowing the Results”

February 27, 2009

Dt. 30:15-20, Lk. 9:22-25–Feb. 26

i had lunch with a 75 year old friend today, a former priest, who has a wife, a nice house, a great life. he works for a local catholic agency but is disallusioned by the streets and by not seeing results. people always asked me about my “success” stories and now i just laugh at them. what is “success”, “saving people from the streets”, well then i have few if any. for me to want success would be to make my ego feel great, it would be a bout me. there is a quote that i like:

Salt, when dissolved in water, may disappear, but it does not cease
to exist. We can be sure of its presence by tasting the water.
Likewise, the indwelling Christ, though unseen, will be made
evident to others from the love which he imparts to us.
… Sadhu Sundar Singh
success for me is like billy, 19 year old, i met last night. he was lost, lonely, afraid. nowhere to sleep, had stayed with a guy who wanted him “to put out”. i let him crash on my floor. he left after breakfast–uses drugs, and will continue to use drugs, but i gave him a few moments of safety, a meal, to me that is imparting the divine to him, and that for now is enough. people asked me why i believe in God, and the reason is life would make no sense–if there is no hope, no “resurrection” somewhere down the line then there is no reason for life. for me life is about God, about the moment. for me that is what it means to lay my life down, and to choose life over death. to “choose life” is to give the “billy’s” of the world i encounter the moment, the moment that will extend into eternity. last night jeremy, lex, nick, all came by for food, needles, and for the moment we shared and they had some safe time–that for me is success–the moment. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Ash Wednesday–Remember thou art dust and to dust you shall return.

February 26, 2009

Joel 2:12-18, 2 Cor. 5:20-6:2; Mt. 6:1-6, 16-18

today has been a hell of a long day. up at 6:30 a.m. after going to bed at 3, to retreat at san damino center, with a bunch of talkative people. to vallejo for visitation and for mass, home. call from justin needing some help over something, will wait for him, will go out and do outreach, but it is rainy, so probably hardly anyone out. someone commented on my blog about religion to day, and how the world is basically all they need. and for me whatever gets someone through this life is great. i have a strong faith, but to know whether or not there is a God, i don’t. Jesus keeps me bounded, and gives me hope. hope that inspite of all the hell in this world there is sense in it all. for me i do not have “religion”, but faith, faith in a person, Jesus, faith in an individual who calls me to serve him through others. it is my faith in Jesus that keeps me grounded, keeps me within the boundaries of life, and gives me hope. religion is a man made way of dealing with people, but faith is that of believing in someone beyond yourself, someone who grounds you. and so it is my faith in Jesus that grounds me and allows me to get up each morning with some meaning, otherwise i am not sure i would want to live, or i would go in search of drugs. i have so many people who have told me they use drugs to “get through the day”. well I have Jesus, and my life is so much more fulfilled. i have never criticized anyone for what they believe. my best friends are not believers, in fact believers seem pretty judgmental of me and my way of life, so i hope i never come across as preachy, but faith is what sustains me, holds me, keeps me going. below is a Lenten mediation from Edward Hayes which i find awesome:

Ash Wednesday
For the ancients, ashes vividly symbolized what results when the life fire has departed from a body. This stark image of death was reflected in the ritual words used upon administering blessed ashes in ages past: Pulvis es, in pulverem reverteris – “Dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.”

Lent itself was originally a penitential season of reconciliation with the church – ashes and sackcloth being the visible signs of repentant sinners who were seeking public reunion with the church. Along with fasting, ashes were a sign of mourning and grief at times of death. In times of disaster, they served as physical offerings of supplication to God. Christian ascetics used to sprinkle ashes on their food to indicate their total disdain for the pleasures of the body. The ancient Mayans of Central America used ashes as an inoculation against disease, much like a flu shot. When planting corn, they mixed in ashes to protect their seeds from blight and rotting.

Now, you are not a sinner seeking public reconciliation and quite likely you are not planting corn or mourning the death of a loved one, so how can today’s ashes be good medicine for you?

You can start by letting today’s ashes vaccinate your seeds of reform against maggot “tomorrowitis,” that procrastination fungus that postpones a reform of life until next year’s Lent or even until your deathbed. The pharmacist-healer Jesus says to all those suffering from lethargic encephalitis, the deadening inflammation of the brain that is so common in our culture: “Stay awake. Seek healing this very day, for you do not know if you will be alive tomorrow. Now is the hour to awaken.”

Ashes are also an ageless remedy for sickly prayer. Abraham of old practiced this prayer remedy when he said, “Let me take it upon myself to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27).

When daring to beg favors from God, the Undying Font of Mercy, Abraham laced his humble prayer with the ashes of his own grave. Lying in the dust of one’s death rest is an antidote to the hubris and hyperactivity that mark our contemporary way of life. Praying from such a position of humility heals the soul with true justification – just as it did for the tax collector praised by Jesus in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector:

The tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” — Luke 18:13

Here is a good Ash Wednesday prescription: Slowly read aloud this parable of Jesus found in Luke 18:9-14.

Because of infirmity, family obligations, or work-related responsibilities, you may not be able to go to church today and be marked with ashes. But do no let that prevent you from being touched by this powerful ancient medicine. All the earth is holy land and its soil is blessed. So, place a small pinch of dust or dirt in the palm of your hand and use it to trace upon yourself the sign of the cross, a sign of death that leads to new life, as you prayerfully ask God to heal you.



Risen Jesus,
your death on the cross and your resurrection from the tomb
were foreshadowed by your willing descent into Jordan’s tomb-waters
and your rising up to a new life filled with the Holy Spirit.

Help us now to look upon our baptism
as a sign of our own death and resurrection,
so that graced by the Holy Spirit of god
we can take up our baptismal crosses
and become daily mirrors of God’s loving compassion. Amen

This week’s mantra:

Let me take up my cross and follow you, Lord Jesus,
for by so doing I share in the liberation of the world.

Letting Go–Focus on Jesus

February 25, 2009

Sir. 2:1-11; Mk. 9:30-37
Today has been long, i have cooked, finally got the futon, had a meeting for the Tenderloin Street Fair, and had lunch with Mary. The meal was excellent tonight. People were great. I will make an outreach run, but going to bed early because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.
The Scripture today is about the disciples of Jesus. They were discussing which among them was the greatest. In other words they still did not get it that Jesus was telling them of his own suffering and impending death, and they were comparing themselves with each other, trying to work out who was the greatest, the most important among them. In the first century, children were especially regarded as unimportant. They had no power or status, and were not considered full persons–really not much different than today, despite our efforts to say otherwise. Thus to embrace a child publicly was to embrace one who was insignificant, unimportant. In contrast to the disciples discussion about who was their greatest, Jesus characterized greatness when he befriended the insignificant child. Just as children recognize their own insignificance, following Christ and denying ourselves involves becoming insignificant for his sake. It is often hard for me to accept my insignificance, because I want to be remembered, praised, but most important live on beyond death in the memory of others. But ultimately no matter how famous anyone is, they are insignificant. And so for me is letting Jesus be first–that is the meaning of this passage–he is the significant one, and in him we are all significant. We are called to be insignificant to him, to let him be the first. So for me it is putting aside my own ego, accepting my own insignificance and letting Jesus be all in all.

I am starting the spiritual exercises for Lent. Listened to an introduction tonight and two things came out for me: first true freedom is moving forward with indifference, not worrying about the future. In many ways I am doing that, and I have experienced a lot of freedom, but I always pull back, and so one of my goals is to cultivate that indifference, to truly be free to serve; and a second thought from the presentation is that prayer is “wasting time with God.” People often tell me they do not have time to pray. They find it difficult to understand how I find time two or three times a day. And so I am going to waste more time with God, to spend time with him in prayer. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Lack of Faith”–

February 25, 2009

Sir. 1:1-10; Mk. 9:14-26
the story of the healing of the dumb boy is about he lack of faith. if we do not have faith little gets done. i have found that if i stop trusting in Jesus, that the work suffers. it is like i have faith i will get the money to store the blankets, some 14000, it is a trust and i move ahead. when we do not trust in God then we fall behind, we get overwhelmed with life, but faith allows us to see that God is there, and will be with us. i came back from pacifica after a great night, had dinner with jeff. some outreach. bed early. i have been put out all day with the futon place because they did not deliver the futon and i am sleeping uncomfortably, really important, i get angry at myself when i let such unimportant stuff get in the way of life. deo gratis! thanks be to God!

“Saying Yes to People”

February 23, 2009

Feb. 22, 2 Cor. 1:18-22 “in Him (Jesus) all promises have come to be a Yes. .”
i am exhausted, and so i have come to Pacifica for a day of rest. have decided to come one day a week during Lent. I slept all afternoon, got up around 7, and watched T.V. and took a long walk. bed a 3:00 a.m., after tv and reading. i am always being asked how many people i have helped, have gotten off the street, and the reality is that i do not know. i see 1500 a month, but my ministry is about saying “Yes” to them of the love of Jesus. He loves them, he accepts them, in spite of all that they do or don’t do. the people i see are the one’s who have been through the system repeatedly and are labled “institutional failures” but for Jesus they are never failures, but human beings whom he loves no matter what. For the most important gift that I can give is to accept them no matter what, to say the “yes” of Jesus, of love to them. for when i start trying to “save” them from their lives, i am simply trying to make my own life useful and it becomes about me, and it is not about me. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Transfiguration: MOMENTS OF HOPE

February 22, 2009

February 21, Peter Damien, Heb. 11:1-7; Mk. 9:2-13
mass at st. victors this morning. i never feel like i preach well, but i do my best. had lunch with seven people, and then called on mary, alice, and bloc. bloc talked about being 35, wanting to contribute something to life, but his addiction is all he thinks about. our idols get in the way of our lives and relationship to God. rested for an hour, and then mike came to hang out. outreach, took him up to see twin peaks. then he left and outreach again. one after another talked to me tonight, all seem more needy then usual, probably the rain. today is the feast of the transfiguration and it has rich meaning for me today. it enables me to feel God’s glory and majesty more than i could possibly feel it without this dramatic scene. i see hell on earth, and i question Jesus, and wonder if life is worth it, but this scene helps me to get a spine tingling, awe inspiring feeling that i need when i think of Jesus. it is so much easier to know that i will meet Jesus in his glory at the judgment, if i feel some of it in this life. it gives me hope to offer the blocs of the world, who seem to have no hope. my respect for Jesus becomes even greater because of this transfiguration. i am finding that only as i enter more deeply into my relationship with Jesus that life makes sense, that there is hope, and purpose. it is in knowing Jesus that i find life, and can offer that life in my daily work to the blocs of the world. deo gratis! thanks be to God!

“Human Arrogance”-Feb. 20

February 21, 2009

Gen. 11:1-9; Mk. 8:34-9:1
the story of the tower of babel is about disobedience, arrogance and the human need to erect symbols of our achievement. as for arrogance in the modern world, if we look back only sixty five years we see terrible arrogance that lead to devastating human destruction. the arrogance of nazi germans was their belief that they co7uld create a master race. their arrogance allowed no limits to what they believed they could do to human life. their hubris led them to conduct horrendous experiments in extermination camps, where millions of people were destroyed, all in the name of racial purity. arrogance is our way of saying to God, “I don’t need you and I don;t have to answer to you.” But whenever we put ourselves in the place of God, we are sure to suffer for it. God reminds us who we are and how we should live. We can all recognize times when we have been slapped off our pedastels and reminded that we werenot “all that”. but, sometimes it takes bigger, more painful slap before we get the message. let’s never forget that we are not the master builders we thought we were. i am reminded of my own thoughts of building an organization to outlive me, pure arrogance, and people encouraging me, to leave a “legacy” behind, simply pure arrogance, when in the end all that matters is our love of our neighbor, how we follow God. i visited block in the hospital today, left angry when he pushed me to buy him cigarettes, all ways asking for more and more; went to foodbank, to san carlos where i took a long hike, and dinner with vicki and kevin. home to do outreach. busy night on streets. people asking for food etc, busy night. i get angry with myself when i lose my temper with people like block, but the reality is i am one person, and i have my limits, i am still here, so i suppose that says something. deo gratis! thanks be to God!

Caring for the Earth/Jesus is the Focus

February 20, 2009

Gen. 9:1-13; Mk. 8:27-33
other people think caring for the environment unimportant, believing that this world will pass away with the final coming of God’s reign. However, what is different is that God will prevail, rather than human wickedness. and wickedness is exactly what we are seeing today in global warming. God cares deeply about the earth. when we mistreat it or exploit it for our own aims we are failing to care for the earth as God meant us to care for it. caring for the earth is part of what it means for us to live as children of God. the gospel reminds me that as long as i keep Jesus the center of my life my life is focused and i can endure about anything and it makes sense–without him there is nothing.

cooked meal, served meal. outreach, seemed to be countless people last night all grabbing for food, condoms. john stopped by. he is 19, struggling with his sexuality, his place in the world. bed at 3:00 a.m. deo gratis! thanks be to God!

St. Victor’s Meditation for Saturday Feb. 21

February 19, 2009

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 22, 2009

Mark 2:1-12

Rising up beneath the words of today’s Gospel I hear the strains of the song, “He Ain;t Heavy, He’s My Brother.” This old song expresses the theme of todays Gospel.

It all began as a September 1924 column by Roe Fulkrson, editor of Kiwanis magazine, with the headline, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother. The article was about the author’s experience of seeing a small, physically weak young boy carrying a baby and staggering towards a neighboring park. When Fulkerson said to the boy: “Pretty big load for such a small kid,” the boys responded with the now famous phrase: “He Ain;t Heavy, He’s My brother. The phrase was adopted in the 1940’s by Father Flannigan founder of Boy’s Town in Omaha Nebraska, which was originally founded as a boy’s orphanage but now cares for at-risk children of both sexes.

“He ain;t heavy” was expanded into a moving lyric and set to music by Scott and Bob Russell in 1969 and became a number one hit. What began as a headline developed into an expression of love: “The road is long, with many a winding turn that leads us to who knows where, who knows where,” so declared the song. “But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him. He ain;’t heavy, he’s my brother. So on we go, his welfare is my concern. No burden is he to bear; we’ll get there, for I know he would not encumber me; he ain;t heavy, he’s my brother.

Something of these words comes to life in the action of the four men who brought the paralytic to Jesus that long ago day in Campernaum. Unable to bring him into the presence of Jesus because of the crowd, the men opened the roof and lowered the ailing friend down to where Jesus could see him.

Their faith led them to take whatever means were necessary in order to bring their friend into a place where he could be helped and healed. Their faith and their action challenge contemporary believers as to the lengths we might go to help each other. How heavy a load might each of us be willing to bear for one who is a brother or sister to us in the Lord?

“Loads” that are borne for the sake of another can take a variety of forms. Some are financial and require practical planning and not a little self-sacrifice, as when parents plan for the education of their children.

Other loads require that we get out and do jobs for one another, as in the case of a friend who needs transportation to and from the doctor, or the neighbor who needs help with shopping and housekeeping.

At times, the load needs sharing in the burden of loneliness or depression or mental or emotional illness. Those who grieve the loss of a loved one need someone to ease the burden of their sorrow.

At other times, the load that will be ours to bear is the anger or resentment of another. Misunderstandings arise and tempers may flare, but when the burden of estrangement is allowed to grow, no good can come of it. Such loads divide families, destroy marriages and friendships and create false martyrs and of those who would rather bear the burden than make peace.

In all the burdens we may be called to bear in life, the lesson of today’s Gospel applies. Every load, however great or small, is made lighter and more supportable when it is shared with others. Every load, however great or small is to be brought to the God, who as is illustrated in today’s Gospel will welcome the heavy-laden and care for their needs. Borne into Jesus’ presence by friend’s, the parlytic was healed physically and spiritually.

Whom might you carry into God’s saving and forgiving presence today? For whom might you go that extra step? As we consider hoisting someone else’s load upon our shoulders, the words of the ballad continue to inspire us:

“Im I’m laden at all, Im laden with sadness, that everyone’s heart isn’t filled with gladness and love for one another. It’s a long, long road from which there is no return. While we’re on the way there, why not share? And the load doesn’t weigh me down at all. He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!