Archive for March, 2013

Resurrection and Ascension –Bible Study on Luke

March 29, 2013
This is our final segment.  And as we reflect upon our Lenten season I have come a way with a renewed committment to Christ. I was asked several days ago if I believed in the resurrection, and my resounding answer is yes.  I believe that Christ lives and calls us to his work, and will call us onward through out eternity. That is why I keep on going with hope. Thank you for this time together.
When do I look for the living among the dead? Where can I find signs of new life right now?.  What life giving messages have I heard during this time of retreat?  How will I share these messages with others in my life?  Where and how does Jesus appear in my life, even at times unrecognizable to me at first? When has my “heart burned with in me”? How and where in my life do I passionately experience God’s presence? What do I most want to share with others?
Reflective Meditation: Reread the story of the women going to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday morning (Luke 24:1-11). Reflect prayerfully on each element of this story, especially the words of the “two men” who appear and speak to the women in the empty tomb?
Imaginative Contemplation: Imagine yourself going with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus on Easter Sunday afternoon (Luke 24:13-35). What do you talk about?  How do you react when a stranger (Jesus) joins you and starts talking with you?  What do you say to him?  What does he say to you? How do you respond to him? When and how do you recognize that it is the risen Jesus?
Centering Prayer: Begin with the phrase, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen? (Luke 4:5); progressively simplify this until you focus on the word “risen”.
Another Centering Prayer: Focus on the words of the risen Jesus, “Peace be with you” (Luke 24:36); let his peaceful presence truly fill your heart and soul.
What principal message have I heard during this time of retreat? Have I reacted with fear, or in trust? How will I share this message with others?
Thank you again for allowing me to guide you on this retreat. I hope you have had an experience of encountering Jesus through the stories of Luke’s Gospel.  Thanks.

Good Friday

March 29, 2013
From the river to the rope. From the creek to the cross.  From the dove to death by state execution and profound silence.  This is Lent, this is Good Friday. This is the Jesus Road, the Christian Way.
Lent is a time of remembering ourselves, our mortality, a time of reflection upon our lives. Good Friday is the time that we put we follow Jesus in giving up our self-centered life in order to show what God is like.
We stare into our existential desperation, forced to release our grip on hope. All of our life scenes are smokey, sprayed a cross a canvass of an uncertain life source–so how do we stand-we follow Jesus–in our fears, our doubts, our hopelessness we follow Jesus.
We reach into our fast-ravaged gut and find bread to share. We mix honey and oil as a salve for the soles on sores on the soles of the lost, the hungry, the lonely, the poorest of the poor. We carry bitter tears to the house of the one who is weaping. We listen–even when we hear silence. And we follow him. “This then is our desert,” writes Thomas Merton, “to live facing despair, bot not to consent. To trample it down under hope in the cross.”
In our utter lostness, overwhelmed by desert dispossession and displacement, some scavenger bird appears at our side–a hunk of bread in its beak, a scrap of our soul in its talons–and we are called to share, to share with those who have none.
As we walk today-walk quietly, focusing on the people around you, see Christ crucified, but also see that something heavy in the earth is shifting. Somewhere a stone is being rolled away–rolled away through you. Amen.

Holy Thursday

March 28, 2013

Heb. 13:12 “And Jesus suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy with his blood.”

Today is Holy Thursday, and like the Christians of old we stand “outside the gate.” I see this building going up over here, I see the construction of magnificent buildings around the city, and I feel sad, because those buildings are signs of greed, and the neglect of people who have little. We are “outside the gate”, and Jesus was crucified “outside the gate,” but in that crucifixion and resurrection he offers  us hope and he summons us to

“run the race that is laid out before us, since we have a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off the extra baggage, get rid of the sins that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne.


March 27, 2013

Yesterday was my birthday and I am reminded of a quote from Thomas Merton that describes perfectly where I am:

. .if I don’t make it to sixty five, it matters less.  I can relax.  But life is a gift I am glad of, and I do not curse the day when I was born.  On the contrary, if I had never been born I would never have had friends to love and to be loved by, never have made mistakes to be learned by.. and as for what I may have suffered, it is inconsequential, and indeed part of the great good which life has been and will, I hope continue to be.

The Bread of Life

March 25, 2013

Jn. 12:1-11

Variety may be the spice of life, but it is not life itself. It is that bread of life, that peace of God which is the very staff of life itself, for which the souls of many are starving in these days….
G. A. Studdert Kennedy (1883-1929), The Wicket Gate, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1923.
(How do you experience your longing for God these days?)
Tomorrow is my birthday and for me this quote sums up my own personal theology, and my ministry–people are starving, for the “bread of life”, that which holds them together, and that is what I have found in my continued search–Jesus, he holds me together. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Only Jesus

March 22, 2013

A young man just cussed me out because I would not give him money–he is so chained by drug use-and I thought of the words of Damien of Molokai: “Were it not for the constant presence of our divine Master. . .I would not have found it possible to persevere in sharing the lot of the lepers of Molokai.. .I find consolation in my only Companion who never leaves me.”  In the pain there is joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Center

March 22, 2013
John 10:31-42  In my life as a priest there are times when crises hit, conflicts emerge, and the going is tough.  One of the things I do to find relief and get going is to vist the place where one of the deepest affirmations of my vocation had come–my heart:

(Spiritual life . . . ) is the silence of our whole being in compunction and adoration before God, in the habitual realization that He is everything and we are nothing, that He is the Center to which all things tend, and to Whom all our actions must be directed. That our life and strength proceed from Him, that both in life and in death we depend entirely on Him. – Thomas Merton –

(Let these words be expressed as a prayer, requesting of God that you realize the truths they proclaim.)

Keep It Simple

March 21, 2013
Gen. 17:3-9, Jn 8:541-59–Abram saw beyond the present moment, unlike the people in John–may we see beyond the present moment in our Lenten practices:

Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything worldly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow men. Whoever has achieved love has God within themselves and their intellect is always with God. – Philokalia (Vol. 1) –

(Keep it simple: love is the measure. Let this be your focus today

The Way of the Cross

March 20, 2013
Session 11 Retreat: The Way of the Cross
1. Personal Reflections
When have I been falsely accused by others? As I hear the false accusations made against Jesus, how might I unite my own painful memories or current situations with Jesus’ experience?
Reflecting on the trials and death of the innocent Jesus, pray in compassion for the many other innoncent people in our worlde who are unjustly tortured, condemned and executed.
2. Reflective Meditation: Reread the story of the trials of Jesus before Pilate and Herod Antipas (Luke 23:1-25), reflecting carefully on each episode and each statement of thiis text.
3.  Imaginative Contemplation: Imagine yourself encountering Jesus on the road to Calvary, like the group of women in Luke 23:26-32. What do you want to say to him? What does he say to you in return?
4.  Prayerful Journeying:  Take a walk and pray the “Way of the Cross” using either the traditional form or the text of Luke 23:26-56 or one I will send later the Good Friday Stations in the Tenderloin.
5. Centering Prayer: Focus on the final words of the Lukan Jesus on the cross, “Father into your hands I comment my spirit” (Luke 23:46; citing Psalm 31:5)


March 19, 2013

Whatever you find in your heart to do in following God, that do, and remain within yourself in Him. – Anthony of the Desert –
(Simple enough, but hard to do. What does this mean for you today?)

Below is a talk I gave last night of what I found to do,

“These are the best of times, and the worst of times,” Charles Dickens said 150 years ago, and we still say it. Each day I find myself amused because of the same articles in the Chronicle about homelessness, rent control, urban growth–the same battles we were fighting 19 years ago when I came to San Francisco. You see not much changes until we grasp the reality until we share equally with one another, stop being so damn greedy, we will continue to have poverty and homelessness, and lack of food.
Radical volunteerism or as I prefer to call it, radical hospitality in the age of neglect mans going beyond the expectatons of institutions, and of society, and getting our hands dirty by working with people where they are, and by sharing of what we have.
Recently there was an article in the Chronicle about the population increase in the next 17 years or so, the increase in housing being built–but the reality is nothing is said about those who are on the very bottom, the housing being built are for those who have incomes far beyond what we have, and what I see is an increase in poverty and urban poverty and suffering.
To me radial volunteerism/radical hospitality challenges the status quo, and calls people to walk with each other in sharing what they have–equally, to simplify their lives.  Abrose of Milan who lived from 340-397 said:
“The world has been created for everyone’s use, but ;you few rich are trying to keep it for  yourselves. For not merely the possession of the earth, but the very sky, the air, and the sea are claimed for the use of the rich few. . .The earth belongs to all not just to the rich.”

For me radical volunteerism is radical hospitality–to live simply, to share of our excess, to challenge the system–and to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison.  Radical volunteerism is about changing the system beginning with each of us.