Archive for August, 2009

“Rejection”

August 31, 2009

August 31  Lk. 4:16-30

Jesus was accepted by some rejected by others.  but oftentimes most amazing conincidence is that those who rejected him were those closet to him.  He did not do any miracles before them, because of their lack of faith.  Jesus had to leave Nazareth because the people there not only rejected him, they would have killed him, just because he spoke the truth to them.  I have a friend, or a person whom I have befriended during the years, but he continually rejects me. He sees himself as far better then me. He dresses better, he drinks the right wine and eats the right food, he really has no friends because of his attitude.  I offered to take him to a church meeting last night but he bascially wanted me to hide when I took him because supposedly his “bishop” does not like me. I have never been good enough for him–but then I am responsible for his ordination, and have covered for him when he has offended people time after time. I am hurt, and I am angry, and I feel rejected, and I am not sure I can continue to be friends with him.  This has been coming for along time, and what bothers me the most is he is so walled off he does not see it. I am also worrying about my fifteenth anniversary celebration. People are going to be gone, and then I do not know who will come. Five years ago it was different. I had more connections, and the scene in the city was different. My ministry has largely been me these past years, largely because things have changed, there is not the excitement there was about working with people on the street, and the people I work with have gotten more and more difficult.  Last night I spent time with 22 year old Zach, crazed out of his mind on heroine, not able to concentrate, in his on world. I spent an hour watching every move he made, trying to simply talk to him. 30 year old Ryan was at my door early this morning, so centered in on himself that he was unable to even understand that I had just gotten up and did not have time to hang with him, became angry because I would let him in, I gave him socks and food, and came back upstairs. It is getting very diffiicult with people on the streets now–money is not there, the police are a constant presence, and services are not there–and so it is difficult. People do not enjoy coming down to work with me because they do not “see change” and they get discouraged.  I am tired of being told how different I am, I wish people would look at themselves a little, and I am tired of trying to please people. Frankly, I am done.  My way of life is different, but it does not make me any less of a person. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Rejection”

August 31, 2009

“Rejection”

August 31, 2009

“What Would Jesus Do?” August 30

August 30, 2009

Deut. 4:1-2, 6-8, James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27 Mark 7:1-8; 14-15; 21-23

“What would Jesus do?”A few years ago that question became a popular slogan appearing on bracelets and bumper stickers.  Perhaps it can be suggessted a useful approach to today’s readings about rules and regulations. I get this all the time about needle exchange, about giving out food and expecting nothing in return–why do it I am asked if people do not change?  Of course the people who asked me this have everything materially, and can asked the question without any thoughts of to what it is not to use and to not have food or money.  Laws are a good and necessary component of human society.  Moses exhorts the people to obey the laws and statues.   James however points out that obedience to the letter of the law is not enough, and he challenges his community to be “doers” and not merely “hearers” of God’s word.  Mark’s gospel shows what is happening when the letter of the law is slavishly followed. The scribes and the Pharaisees criticize the disciples for their failure to observe the laws about handwashing.  At other places in the Gospels Jesus is often challenged for breaking the rules–healing on the sabbath or ignoring barriers of clas or gender.  Here he reminds us is that what is important is not what the rules dictate but is what is inside of a person’s heart.  Discipleship is never as straightforward as simply following the rules.  For one thing, rules can be unjuxt, or too rigid, or discriminatory.  Sometimes we are called to question such rules in order to serve God and our neighbor.  So what would Jesus do? Simply put he would act according to the demands of justice and compassion, even if that meant disregarding the rules.  We are called to follow him.

Last night I stood at the corner of Sutter and Polk and watched three people, all around 19 or 20 as they hustled for money, selling drugs, and their bodies. It was money, their god they worshipped in those moments. I watched people pass by in very nice clothes oblivious to those guys and I thought of how they have their money, and so they can ignor the need in their midst.  Yesterday was the Feast of John the Baptist–he pointed out the extremes in need, and how destructive they were.  It is only when we look beyond ourselves that we can see the need around us, and then maybe we can do something about it. I spent last night doing outreach.  And all were hungry, and tired, all needed socks, and some attention. I get aggravated when people want me to “save” them or have them “save” themselves. These guys are beyond that, they are at the bottom and what they need is to be loved and cared for where they are and respected. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“We Are Called to Witness”

August 29, 2009

Mk. 6:17-29 Beheading of John the Baptist

The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance, and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist.  The “voice crying in the wilderness” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth.  John’s life and death were a giving-0ver of self for God and other people.  His simple style of life was one complete detachment from earthly possessions.  His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit speaking to his heart.  Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak the words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.  Each of us has a calling, to which we must listen.  It is our role to witness to the love of Jesus in our lives. Whatever our positon in this world, we are called to be Christ to others.  We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but we can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.  For me my life has been given to living on the margins, to staying what others do not want to hear. The price I pay is often rejection,  no financial security, but what I gain has been so far more-sense of who I am, and of being fulfilled. When we follow Jesus and seek to follow him as he wants us to follow him everything else comes second.  A friend, who is sixtish recently commented I needed to “play the game”, to get some “retirement”, and I look at him, and he looks like he is near 80, he has played the game, and he has sold his soul, and I rejoice that I continue to do what i do.  Yesterday was hot as hell, and I loved it, for I love the heat, my southern background. The street was full of people. All needed food, and socks, and some time.  Jacob, 22, has a ‘sugar daddy” he is doing well, for now, how long that will last who knows, John, 30, is trying to hustle,live out his younger days, again he looks so lost and sad. Then their are the older ones, lost in drugs, begging for money.  In talking to them, in being with them I am reminded of a quote from St. John Chrysostom, 4th century:

Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect him outside where he suffers cold nakedness.  He who said:  “This is my body”, is the same One who said: “You saw me hungry and you gave me no food,” and Whatever you did to the least of these my brothers you did also to me.” What good is it if the eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices when he is dying of hunger?  Start by satisfying his hunger and then what is left you may adorn the altar as well.”

Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Taking My Time”

August 28, 2009

It is hot, but I love the heat, souterner that I am.  I have just finished my office of readings and meditation.  I am continuing the Ramdam fast. That is one of the reasons I am writing this, is to keep myself honest. I am starving, and it would be so easy for me to grab some food and justify it,  but I am continuing the fast, it is  a reminder to me of how many people here in San Francisco, and in the world go without food daily, they do not have access to food.  I have people bitch, literally bitch at me when I give them food, and serve them food, and at times I want to scream at them, “be thankful, be appreciative.”  The food I give them is nourishing, excellent, and it is food that I eat daily.  But their complaining is deeper then that, it goes beyond the physical need, to the spiritual need of not having a place to belong, not having people care for them, it is an inner yearning that causes them to see out drugs and other means of escape.  It is an inner yearning far beyond the physical, but the physical is ever present.  The fasting frees me  up to meditate and to pray without worrying about eating, and it allows me to look deeper into myself at my own inner needs, my own inner worries.  At times I worry about money, how much longer I can make it on so little, and yet I know that I will continue to minister, continue to work, continue to feed, and I worry about my health, and about my body, and again that to must be placed in God’s hands. Ultimately all must be placed in the hands of Jesus. But there it is at 4:00 p.m., and I am fasting, and I am just fine. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Witnesses–A Great Need”

August 28, 2009

St. Augustine

Mt. 25: 1-13

Our world has an urgent need for witnesses. We must witness that our identity is centered in our true spiritulity–and that it is from our spirituality that we dereive our morality.  We must witness that our faith challenges the many values of the dominant secular culture–the consumerism, the constant aggressive warfare for oil, the putting down of people because of their sexuality, gender, and race.  We must witness to the tradition of our faith–that a only in centering our lives in God that we can find wholeness and meaning, and move away from a life that is destructive to ourselves and others, a life destroyed by drugs, by self centeredness.  As an effective witness we must have an unambiquous mind, a well-formed conconscience, and a passion for a way of life that sees eternity in the now as well as in the future.  For me this witnessing takes place in my daily life.  I have lousy at it, but I try.  It took place last night as I prepared and served a meal, and did outreach. I met Zach, 19, newly arrived from Hollywood. He believes money is better here “hustling” and the police are easier on the drugs. He is looking to have fun, and in essence is looking for something that makes his life have some meaning.  I worked late and I was noticing the various people in the doorways as I did outreach==all reaching out for food, socks, needles, or for just a moment of  conversation.  I thought of reading the Chronicle and of how our economy is supposely turning around, housing prices are rising etc, and of how it related nil to those in the doorways and on the street, and how we can simply walk by and ignore the poverty in our midst.  How mighty and great a nation or we when so many people suffer, not just in the doorways but in poverty in general.  Jesus calls his disciples to be a wake, to be about his business–for “we do not know the day nor the hour.” How awake are we really? How really ready are we for the coming of Jesus?  For the coming of Jesus is not at any future date–he comes now, he comes in our midst, if we only but look, and that coming comes in our simple acts of kindness to the least of the our brothers and sisters. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!”

“Days of Rest”

August 27, 2009

The past two days,  Tuesday and Wednesday, I have been in Pacifica, on the coast. They have been days of rest, days of retreat, days alone with God. The past two weeks have been simply exhausting. I have had little time to myself and have had the demands of people to deal with.  They have been good days: I read, I prayed, I hiked. The wind, the surf, strengthened me.  I am reading “Minor Propets/Major Themes” by Daniel Berrigan and am reminded that we human beings have changed little. The difference is we have weapons and technology that will destroy the world, and we are destroying it.  I am reminded that even though I am different,  I am not much different from those prophets–calling the world to a different place, and hence not fitting in, and hence at times being persecuted, hated, and not understood. But I am coming to an acceptance of that in my life. I have spent most of my life trying to fit in, to be accepted, to be liked, but I see that my calling is one that calls me other wise. I once had a District Superintendent who told me after I had confronted a situation: “You will have to make up your mind: “Be a prophet or simply just fit in.”  I remember a professor in sexulaity telling me that “you will have a hard road to hoe”, with my views on sexuality.  They have both been correct, they have been right on. My life is not easy, but then what is an easy life. I see people with plenty of money and friends who are the most unhappy people in the world. I follow my calling and in that I am fulfilled, totally fulfilled and I have no regrets.

The Gospel for Tuesday: Mt. 23:23-26 reminds us that our legalizm is destructive and death dealing.  We use laws for control, and to deal with our own fears.  Jesus gives life, a life of sharing, and giving.

Wednesday:  I Thess. 2:9-13:  “you accepted it, not as human teaching, but as the word of God. That is what it really is, and as such it is at work in you who believe.”  One can either read the word of Scripture simply as human beings, and see the darkness that human beings sometimes write in them, or see beyond the human corruption to God at work, for God works through humans as imperfect as we are. God is consistent in her respect for life, for the love of the environment.

August 27=”Stay Awake”.  We put off, we tell kids they have plenty of time, we tell ourselves we have plenty of time, but the reality none of us knows the day nor the hour, and none of us knows how long we have. We need to stay awake and be about the business of loving God and our neighbor before it is to late–for who knows when illness or death will come.

Am working on newsletter and cooking meal for tonight. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Biases/Judgements”

August 25, 2009

August 24–Jn. 1:45-51

Nathanial/Bartholomew made a prejudical remark about Jesus coming from Nazareth, but was quick to withdraw it, after he met Jesus.  All of us, who wish to follow Jesus, must be aware of our prejudices against places of birth, racial or denominatinal differences in others.  When we look closely for ourselves, we will find good in places, where we looked for none.  Many people are kept away from the ways of God by the unreasonable prejudices they conceive.  I have been living and working on this street for nearly fifteen years.  I have come to see that in not judging that I encounter God in places I would never have met God.  Thirteen years ago I held prejudices against needle exchange–then I started doing it, and encountered God in so many, and and different ways–I came to understand her suffering in the people I serve, the struggles, the fears, and I came to understand what it was to give life, life without reservation.  I am asked about what I accomplish and I remember the words of Jesus:  “and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple–truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”

Giving “a cup of cold water” is simply all Jesus requires, but like Nathaniel once we strip away our prejudices that cup of cold water will embrace the world.

James, 21, stopped by, wanting money to go to San Rafel, to get away from abusive situaiton. I gave him $5.00, but he wanted more to have a guarantee to get back in a week, and I told him, no, he could pan handle over there, or get his friend to pay for it. He says he has appendicitus,  but want do anything about it, and I find that full of bullshit.  He is a guy who always begs, pleads, gets into abusive relatioships, and never sees into accepting responsibility for his actions. I gave him the five, some food to eat, and listened, and he went on his way, pleading and begging.  He is one I have offered to get him in treatment or in a shelter and he does not want that–he prefers his life as it is.  Again all I can do is give him the moment.

Had dinner with catherine, roy. devilin from chicago group hung out until 1. outreach. celebrated Eucharist.  i am totally, totally exhausted. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“A Day of Rest”

August 24, 2009

August 23, Jn. 6:60-69

Today I took off. I worked twenty straight hours yesterday.  It was not intentional, but I got up for mass at 7 and meant to rest in the afternoon, but one person after another decided they needed some food, and then my group came at 7 and I had them until 2:30 and then a kid showed up with a severe problem until almost 4. So I took off today. My body hurt like hell, I took a long walk down to the bay, read scripture, prayed, and then went to the hot tubs, and soaked for an hour and a half, had dinner with Stephen and now I am going to bed.  This morning the paper was full of head lines of people out of work, of people lining up for minimum wage jobs, and my lines are growing bigger at my meals.  I think of how I really have not felt this in the sense of being really low on money. I continue to do the work, I continue to feed, I get by. I do cut back, but not the desperation that so many people are going through. I feel guilty sometimes. I do not see myself as blessed,  I see myself as frankly being lucky.  When I worry about the future I simply think only of today and live in the moment for that is all we have.  And so my day is over at 7:00 p.m. tonight. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!”