Archive for September, 2009

“Singlemindedness”

September 30, 2009

Lk 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

In the last few years I have been told I am “singleminded” in my journey.  As I think about it I am and have become more so as I have journeyd through life. Jesus calls us to be singlemined in our loyalty to him. To follow him is a “way of life”, not a “job”.  For me my ministry is  a way of life, it is a vocation, not an avocation,  it is and has never been just a job to me. It is the way I live my life day in and day out.  It is like I ran into Joe on the street a while ago and he needed fifty cents for laundry. I gave it to him. Joe is not my “client”, he is a friend, a parishneer, somenone I journey with on life. He is not easy. He is 22, uses drugs, lives on the streets, but he is no different then “John” my friend who is 60 plus, another priest, who drives me up the wall with his neediness.  Jesus calls us to follow him twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, in a walk of love, and relationship, being aware of the needs of others.  He calls for our total commitment to him and his way of life which is to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. His is a call that encompasses all of life. I served the meal to some fifty people last night, ran out of food early. It was very touching. People were so thankful and grateful for the food, some had not  had any all day, some came to the exchange just to get food. They were grateful, and in their pain I believe they found some relief with their time spent eating and talking to me. It was truly the Eucharist being celebrated, the bread of life being given to them.  Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

Advertisements

“Angels Unaware”

September 29, 2009

John 1:47-51  Feast of St. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

These angels–Michael–protector of Christians and of soldiers,  Gabriel–who brought the message to Mary of Jesus, and is patron of telecommunications and radio, and Raphael–who guided Tobias on his journey, and is the patron of nurses, physicians, and the blind–remind us that God speaks in many ways, that God’s messenger are in many guises.  I think of the angels in my life, that have come to me through the years and still come. I think of Rose and Ken who have been faithful friends, and have taken care of me when I have been ill; Vicki and Kevin who have done the same.  I received an email from Andrew, needing my help, he is in college, and I think of him as an angel, who in high school nursed me in my illness, and has been faithful to me and my work since.  The list goes on and on. There are angels, for me they come in human form. They come in the donations I receive each month, in the words of support I receive by email, letter, or in person.  I see myself as an angel as I fix the food for tonight, package it, and serve it. I see myself as an angel as I am available on the streets. We are called to be God’s angels, if we but let ourselves. be.

I went to the food bank yesterday, and then out to Pacifica to stay the night. It was peaceful on the beach last night at midnight, no one around.  The streets here are so full of activity and anger.  I understand why people are angry in crowded conditions–they have no space to breathe, to think, to meditate. That is why I like living alone and why I love going away alone, it gives me time, time to simply be, and in that I can recharge. For those who live here on the streets, it is almost an impossibility, and I understand perfectly their anger, their resentments.  It all comes crashing in on them.  And so I am back at cooking, getting ready for tonight, celebrating the Eucharist. The Body and Blood strengthens me, sustains me, day in and day out. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“We Are All Like Children”

September 28, 2009

Lk 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”

Then John said in reply,
“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company.”
Jesus said to him,
“Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”

When you get down to it we are all like children.  We depend upon God for our needs. We can strive all of our lives for money and security, but in realtiy we are dependent on God to provide for our needs.  I find myself sometimes looking at what I do, at how much money I need to do it, and wonder where it will come from, and ultimately there is nothing I can do about it-I depend upon God.  I was looking at facebook yesterday and a colleague of mine has just received a large check for her ministry, in fact she is always receiving large amounts of money for her ministry, which is changing to those who are not really on the street. And I get a little jealous, for what do I do. I hang out, I feed people, I hold their hands, I do not do any great things like get them off the street, I simply walk with them. And I realize that for me is enough. Like a child I depend upon the good ness of God.  I spent yesterday finishing up the newsletter, and then I took last night off, I am going to the food bank to day, and then taking the day off. People often laugh when I say I am taking the day off–after all what do I do. Well for one thing I talk to twenty to fifty people a day, I walk with them, and try that for a day or two and you get a little tired, so I am taking the day off, praying, and resting. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“There Is More than One Way to Skin A Cat”

September 27, 2009

Gospel
Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

So often we get so tied up in our own lives, and way of doing things that we think we are the only ones in the world.  I see groups out here who are “witnessing” for Jesus, and they have the “only” way.  When I first started so many years ago I was accused of thinking I had the only way.  And I do believe I get so caught up in what I am doing that I think that sometimes.  It is easy when we are into our work to think we are doing the work the best way there is and to become center of the universe. I find that with non-profits through out the City. They are so concerned about suvival and their way of doing things that they live in a dog eat dog world.  John Wesley deplored “that miserable bigotry that makes many so unready to believe that there is any work of God but among themselves.”  I experience that with the various youth agencies. They do their work in their way, with their boundaries, and to them any other way is the wrong way.  The older I get I see that what I do is but a continum of what others have done, and will do, and that there is no one way–when we seek the greater good, that is what is important, and if we could work together to do that, it would be great, but then we would have to share resources and time.  The result of the division is that so many people continue to be in so much pain.  There is more than one way to skin a cat–we should acknowledge that and work together.

I attended Barabara Martin’s memorial yesterday. She was a great woman, she kept Martin’s alive and established it on firm ground. She was nutty as a fruit cake though, she never liked me, and as I look back I can understand why–I am just as nutty as she was, and it is hard for two nutty people to be in the same room. She was a very spiritual person, always seeking God.  She did great work.

Outreach last night was busy.  One 19 year old can not figure me out. He is bored, and I do not want anything from here, and I talked to him about being bored, and about how if you find excitment in all of life you are not bored.  The later it got, the higher people got. What I noticed and have noticed for years is the complete selfishness and self-centeredness of people The girls want more and more condoms and money. The guys will take as much as they can get of needles and food, total self-centeredness.  And the more self- centered they become ghe harder it is to deal with them. That is the way we are in life, the more self-centered we become, ther more damage we do in the environment and the more problems we have in society. It is only as we open ourselves to the love of Jesus that we see and understand that in giving that we receive. Barbara’s death upset me, and it recalls my own mortality, I will keep on doing the work moment by moment until the end. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“The Cross Is Now”

September 26, 2009

And all were astounded at the greatness of God. While everyone was amazed at all that he was doing, he said  to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears, The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.” But they did not understand this saying; its meanng was concealed from them, so that they could not perceive it.  And they were afraid to ask him about this saying. Luke 9:43-45

It is easy avoid the cross. We can see it in its historical context or as something in the past. I had dinner last night with a friend. She is retired, living a great life.  She has been a nurse working in the homeless clinic, but she can not stand to even think about people on the streets. She can not think about their sufferings, and so she lives in San Carlos, in her nice house, and does her nice things, and ignores the sufferings of people around her. She has no sense of what is going on. She has no sense of the work I do, after all these years. She is like another friend who is 65, wealthy, a minister, she prefers to stay  away from the poverty, because she does not have to think about it and accept responsiblity for it. I am going to the memorial service this afternoon for Barbara Collier, she basically founded Martins.  She has never cared for me, we have not spoken in years, she was nutty as a fruit cake, but she did the work, she gave her life for others. I respect her life.  She never shirked from the poverty and the pain around her, she entered into it.  In looking at my own life I find myself thinking our short it is, and wonder if it is all worth it.  I struggle for money, and I struggle with friends who really have no understanding of what is going on around them. But like Barabara I am going to keep on until I breathe my last breath. I am not running away from the cross.  I spent last night doing outreach, and then I went to bed at 2. I was supposed to have mass this morning in Vallejo, but because of Barabara dying and I simply did not feel like driving up there I had Ken take it.  I went to bed at 3. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Who Do People Say That I am?”

September 25, 2009

Luke 9:18-22:  . . .What do people say about me?  And they answered: Some say you are John the Baptist. .Again Jesus asked, but who do u say that I am?”

One of the marks of spiritual maturity is the quiet confidence that
God is in control – without the need to understand why He does what
He does.
– Anonymous

We served around fifty or so people last night until we ran out of food, people were very friendly, very needly.  Deeth was upset  because Ian now has full blown AIDS. I remember when he found out he was positive, he was so pleased because of all the benefits he was going to get. It was so sad, to think if you got a disease you would get benefits, and he was deceived by all the ads of men on the bill boards looking healthy with all the treatments that he can not afford. It is sad, he is 30 years old, and his time is short, all because of the desire for money and the deceit that we put forth with our advertising.  I have been trying to talk to a woman about working on the marriage equality campaign. Again she has problems with me being a priest, and a man, and can not get beyond that. Until we move beyond our biases nothing will be accomplished.  The Scripture today is Jesus asking who we think he is.  I have been trying to answer that question all of my life.  I have been tearing up this morning over the brokenness I feel over people. Alice, the elderly lady, whom I tried to serve, turned on me, probably because I am not Roman, it hurts like hell, then the Sisters in Pacifica where Dustin live have such a hard time with me because I am not Roman and so different, and the various people who hurl insults at me on the street.  I can go down the list, I feel broken at times, and it is in Jesus that I find my hope and strength. For he to was broken by what people thought about him, none of them could ever see through him for the most part until it was too late.  Jesus knew how fickle humans are, and how painful they can be. But he persisted even to the cross. And so I continue the struggle and try to keep a quiet confidence that God is in control and that all things work for good towards those who love him. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Curiosity Killed the Cat”

September 24, 2009

Gospel
Lk 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.

They say “curiosity” killed the cat.  Well curiosity is interesting. We can be curious about something or someone, and remain curious, and in end make no commitment and find ourselves sitting on the sidelines. Like Herod I see people do that about their faith all the time. They are curious, but when it gets down to making a commitment then they just walk away or they remain curious. Curiosity unless it leads to commitment is fatal.  People comment about my “vital” faith all the time, and how I know God. The reality is I am just like everyone else. Half the time I question God’s existence, half the time I doubt, but I push forward, knowing that my faith is vital and strong at times, and it is those times that give me strength. If I remain “curious” like Herod I would simply be at a distant. It is like my ministry.  I have been told for years I would not be able to keep it up, I have been told I do not have room to cook the meals I do, but for me there is no word of  “can’t.”  I am in the process of planning a marriage equality event in Vallejo. The leaders of the state group in Solano Country want to meet with me to see if I am “ok”. Well they want to meet with me two weeks before the event, the event they have no interest in planning or energy. So I am going to plan the event regardless.  Curiosity is great, but only when curiousity leads to commitment does it bear fruit, and commitment bears fruit when one is willing to bear the pain of endurance and stubborness.  “Curiosity killed the cat” or it can fuel commitment.

Last night was an interesting night. I saw about fifty people overall. Talked at length to twenty.  Most were simply so high they could not connect the dots. And when people judge them for their drug use I remind them that these guys have nothing, and that for the most part have mental health problems that they have no access to treatment for and so they use drugs. That is why I never make those judgments. People get by the best they can.  I give them time, some socks, some food, and for them that is a great amount, and I see Jesus in them. I went to bed at 2:00 a.m. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Being Salvation”

September 24, 2009

Gospel
Lk 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.

This was one of Frances’ favorite passages, he wanted his friars to “be salvation.”  People find themselves frustrated when they are working with me because I do not try to “change lives”. In fact 99 percent of the people I serve will be on the streets all their lives. They have fallen through the cracks, and secondly some get frustrated because I do not “preach Christ”. I am preaching Christ, in every needle I give out, every serving of food I give, every moment I spend listening and  being present to people. Several new people have asked me why I do what I do. They see me on the street late at night with no particular motive, I do not try to get them to change, but I am simply giving them basic needs, and listening. My answer is usually I do it  because I enjoy it, and I do it because of my faith in the presence of Christ. Christ is present in each person, he is alive, and living within them, and to him I minister.  We are called to be salvation to people.  I was reading in the paper about one nation not limiting tuna fishing and how it will destroy the tuna population and I see the various people running for mayor and other offices basically ignoring homelessness and the needs of people and I find myself wondering when are we going to start being salvation to our world–to people, to our environment.   The gospel is a call to trust. I have survived so far because I use money well, and I have no plan of raising money. People asked me my fundrasing plans and I shrug my shoulders and tell them I send out a newsletter, do weddings, etc, I have no plan, and that is what I believe Jesus wants us to do–to do the work, to love each other, to share, and let him worry about the rest.

I have spent the day with Francine, who is a donor, it is her birthday, went to the dentist, and am celebrating the Eucharist now, and will do outreach.  Last night was a slow night because it was Tuesday, but the people who were out were older, really drug induced, just being with them was hard, but I reminded myself I was with Jesus.  They have few people who spend time with them. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Family”

September 23, 2009

Gospel
Lk 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you.”
He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Last night was a typical Monday night. Saw only about twenty people, most really fucked up. Alot of thank you for socks. It is still amazing to me after all these years how such a simple thing as a pair of socks can mean so much. They are precious. I went to bed at 2.

In our gospel today Jesus is very clear that those who hear the Word and do not hear it or not his family.  Those who follow him, those who love their God with all of their hearts, minds, and strength and their neighbor as thyself. This is a summary of the Word, whether one believes in Jesus or not–to follow love the neighbor means for Jesus to love him. The mark of God is presence in love of neighbor.

Cooked meal and served around 50 people.  Mostly older tonight. Have been on the street for along time, and yet they persevere.  Watching movie, and will go out and do outreach later. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!

“Follow Me”

September 22, 2009

Feast of St. Matthew

Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
“Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
He heard this and said,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners

Today Jesus reminds us to be tolerant to those who do not share our religious devotion or faith or other view points in life.  We do not reflect God’s wishes when we demand that others give up things that we think are incompatible with Christianity, like their own sexuality or what they believe.  We are called to be merciful, and forgiving of people.  Today in our Gospel Jesus calls one who is outside the pale. He is not Jewish, he is a tax collector, ridiculed, hated, but Jesus calls him, loves him. He is a disciple.  Matthew reminds me that Jesus has called me, as different as I am to the priesthood.  I do not fit the mode, or act the role, and am far different from many, but Jesus calls me. My journey has and is about the call, and about me following the call.

I spent the day taking Dustin to get his bank account open with his social security.  Have been doing office stuff since I have gotten home, and will go out on this beautiful foggy night and outreach soon. Danny came by, earlier and I gave him needles and food, and gave two other food outside of my door. Deo Gratis! Thanks be to God!