Archive for August, 2014

Take Up Your Cross

August 31, 2014

August 31, “Take UP Your Cross August 31, “Take Up Your Cross” Matt. 16:21-27

This 20th year has been difficult in that it reminds me of my own mortality. People are always asking, “Who are you grooming to take your place?’ and the reality is you can not groom some one to take one’s place, because this ministry is about the way I do ministry, as the ministry of Jesus was about the way he did ministry. . The non-profit may continue one day, but the ministry as it is will not. And frankly I am not interested in a “legacy”. I do ministry in the present moment.

For me taking up the cross of Jesus means to love, and love for me means being counted upon on, in good times or bad. It is not about feelings, for feelings are fleeting. I took a young guy to the hospital today in pain, a young guy who frankly dislikes me–if for no other reason then he can, , and he said he called me because he knew “I could count on you.” There are people I serve I really dislike, but I still love them and serve them. Love is caring in good times and bad. For me success is being there in nearly twenty years in sickness and in health, in the good and the bad times, whether I feel like it or not. Success for me is loving==being counted upon.

That is what ministry is to me, loving and being there. DeoGratias! Thanks be to God!

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Practice–Use What You Have

August 30, 2014

August 30, 2014 “Practice–Use What You Have” I Corinthians 1:26-31; Matt. 25:14-3 St. Jeanne Jugan

There is only on way for you to improve and that is “practice”. I have people who come out with me and complain, “you give cheap food out,” “you don’t give enough out”. I have been told, “you are really lousy, you do not do enough.” And I think to myself, “I am only an old whore who is trying to get into the kingdom of God and I use what I have.” Twenty years ago I started out with nothing, and I have nothing now, but we have fed thousands, gave thousands clothing, and blanket, and have pastored thousands. I never wait until I have the “funding”, the “security” or the “approval” of any one, I simply do it. That is what we are all called to do–to simply practice. Four hours ago four young guys interrupted me writing this–I took them to the church–fixed them some food, helped them by a tent, and got them on the bus to go north. We talked about their lives and in those moments Christ was present. That to me is what it means to use what you have. A young man told me last night that he and his room mate give out sandwiches a couple of nights a week–they give of what they have.

Jesus calls us to practice our faith, to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters using what we have. A more eloquent summary by Dr. Will Tuttle:

Honoring our natural place in the web of life by eating the foods intended for us will plant seeds of abundance, love, and freedom, whatever our religion may be.

Our prayers for peace will bear fruit when we are living the prayer for peace and, most importantly, when we offer peace to those who are at our mercy and who also long for peace and the freedom to live their lives and fulfill their purposes.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

“Getting Your Head Cut Off”

August 29, 2014

August 29, Mark 6:17-29 Having Your Head Cut Off, Feast of John the Baptist

My friend Dana preached a sermon comparing me to John the Baptist. It made me uncomfortable, it was an awesome and beautiful sermon, but John the Baptist had his head cut off.

The truth of the matter is I have my head cut off a lot–people can be cruel, they can be merciless, and for me the call of the Jesus is to love them anyway; This PTSD I am working through from the years of death, and violence is having my head cut off.

Being a priest for me is not about the title, or about any of the prestige that is supposed to come along with it, it is about getting your hands dirty, about being like the velveteen rabbit, wearing yourself out to you have nothing left. Being a priest is about being a “keeper of the mysteries,” passing on the tradition of the Eucharist and the Gospel. It is about getting your head cut off.

I am always been asked about examples of success in the work, and the only success I can think of is that I get up each day and go back and do it again. That for me is success–keeping on keeping on, being the presence, and getting my head cut off.

Dr. Will Tuttle wrote: “Our welfare is ultimately dependent on the welfare of others. By freeing and encouraging others we are liberated and encouraged. We can never sever our connection to all beings, but we can ignore and violate it, planting seeds of tragedy and suffering.”

For me that is what ministry is about, and it means getting your head cut off–but there is resurrection! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Aiming for the Target

August 28, 2014

August 28, St. Augustine “Aiming for the Target!

I Corinthians 1:1-9, Matt. 24:42-51 “God is faithful. .I Cor. 1:9”

I received an email yesterday with this question in response to my previous post:

You are aiming for the target, yes, and the street kids are indeed honest about their “sins,” and God loves you, them and all of us deeply, but what target are the kids aiming for? Does it matter if they aren’t?

I talk in these terms theologically, and from my own perspective. I believe that we all aim for the target of treating each other with respect, we miss it a hell of a lot. I know people on death row who aim for that target and miss it, and then aim for it again. When Sean commented that “You must have done some pretty bad things to take care of us now,” he was right, I have done things as a prostitute and in my own struggles in which I have sorely missed the target, and I strive to hit the target. I am not joking when I call my self the “biggest sinner in the world.” I admit it, but I get up off the ground, dust by clothes off, and aim for the target again–that is the grace of Jesus Christ.

We all aim for the target, whether we call it that are not. We all seek to treat each other with respect. That is what makes us humans. So I doubt if the “street kids” think in the those terms, as most of us do not, but they do aim for the target. I see and experience them treating each other and others with respect–even when they do not get it back. They call it “karma”. I am told all the time I am creating good “karma”. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

We Are a Mixture

August 27, 2014

August 27 Monica “We Are A Mixture” 2 Thess. 3:6-10; 17-18 Matt. 23:27-32

“We want to present ourselves as a model for you,” Paul says. More darkly Jesus calls some religious leaders hypocrites.

Tonight as I wandered the Haight some of the young guys talked of what drugs they were using, who they were having sex with and all the things that are called “sin”. What I saw was simply guys living their lives with more honesty then most of us do. I am often asked if they can be loved by God because of thing things they do, and I assure them God loves them infinitely.

Paul presented himself as a “model”, but on the other hand was as big as a sinner as any of us. The model he presents is one who owns up to his sin, acknowledges the darkness in his life and keeps on aiming for the target.

I have been called every name in the world, told what a hypocrite I am, told I am going to hell, and I simply smile and think I am aiming for the target, and that is what we are all called to do–aim for the target. A young guy once said to me: “You must have done something awful to do this work, to hang out with us and take care of us.” I laughed and said “Sean I am the biggest sinner of all, and I am aiming for the target. ”

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Opening Our Hearts

August 26, 2014

August 26 “Opening Our Hearts” St. Emily de Vialar Matt. 23:23-26

Our Gospel sounds harsh, but its heart is to open our hearts to what matters. When we simply pay attention to ourselves and not open our hearts to all of life, we narrow our vision, we become black and white, and our hearts are hardened. Will Tuttle comments:

Within us lie seeds of awakening and compassion that may be already sprouting. Our individual journeys of transformation and spiritual evolution call us to question who and what we’ve been told we and others are, to discover and cultivate the seeds of insight and clarity within us, and to realize the connections we’ve been taught to ignore.

As we do this and as our web of journeys interweaves within our culture, cross-fertilizing and planting seeds, we can continue the transformation that is now well underway, and transcend the obsolete old paradigm that generates cycles of violence.

In my own life I have chosen to live near the people I work with, I choose to walk on their level, and choose to move among a mixture of people of the various walks of life As a result my life is more opened. My experience is that when we intermingle and know all areas of life our hearts are opened. That is the call of the Gospel, in its harshness–it is to wake up, to share, to suffer, to give, to live. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Living With A Wild God

August 25, 2014

August 25, 2014 St. Genesius the Actor, “Living With A Wild God” Matt. 23:13-22

St. Genesius was a clown in the early Christian era who performed before the Emperor making fun of Christianity, and in doing so Christ became real to him and he was executed. He is the perfect example of how our God works–wild and mysterious. That is what Barbara Ehrenrich in her book Living With A Wild God discovers in her journey, God can not be put in a box, but is wild and moves around and through us in so many ways.

Jesus says the same thing today–God can not be contained. God is a wild God who cares for humanity and calls all of us to care. God’s concern is not about belief but about how we love our neighbor and our environment. We are going to be judged on our actions, not what we believe. In today’s Gospel Christ comes out in anger against those who use the systems of society to oppress people. We are called to be attentive to the ways the systems in our lives are used–do they benefit all or just a few? As I look around I see the few being taken care of and the environment destroyed and we are called to be prophets. To speak out and to act. That takes courage and looking to the One who goes to the cross we get that courage to follow him to that cross. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
When we uproot exclusion and domination from our plates, seeds of compassion can finally freely blossom, and this process depends primarily on us watering the seeds and fully contributing our unique journey. We depend on each other, and as we free the beings we call animals, we will regain our freedom. Loving them, we will learn to love each other and be fully loved. Dr. Will Tuttle

The Many Expressions of God

August 24, 2014

August 24, “The Many Expressions of God” Matthew 16:13-20 “Who do you say that I am?”

Tonight a young Muslim boy asked me, “Are you like other Christians and think I am going to hell?” Smiling at him, I said, “You know buddy, Jesus is just one of the many expressions of God, and God comes to each of us in his own way.”

Through all of our teachings of religion God speaks of loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. That is the heart of all the major religious teachings. What “man”, and I mean it is basically “men” have done is use the various religions for their own violent purposes, but God speaks love when we boil it down.

My expression is Christ, my young friend’s is through the Muslim way; others Jewish, and so on–but ultimately there is one God whose love shines through. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Counterculture of Humility

August 23, 2014

August 23, “The Counterculture of Humility” Luis de Leon Matt. 23:1-12

Last night I had a young guy who was sick and desperately needed to go to the bathroom. I took him into a restaurant on the Haight, and I had to buy a sixteen dollar meal for him to go to the restroom. I was told by the hostess–“You know people need to know they have to pay for everything, so if they don’t have money they should leave now.” Another mentally challenged 23 year old has been told he will have to leave his housing that he has had for a year because of the Ellis Act.

We are the City of St. Francis, but I wonder where he would go to the bath room or sleep if he was here–he has no money; where would Jesus go to the rest room or live–he has no money.

Dr. Will Tuttle sums it up:

We have all been born into a herding culture that commodifies animals, and we have all been affected by the cruelty, violence, and predatory competitiveness that our meals require and that our culture embodies. We’ve also been taught to be loyal to our culture and relatively uncritical of it, to disconnect from the monumental horror we needlessly perpetuate, and to be oblivious to the disastrous effects this has on every level of our shared and private lives.

Whether we want to face it or not we are all responsible, and it begins with us to change. The Gospel today talks of humility and reminds us: “All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.” Matt. 23:12

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Counterculture of Humility

August 23, 2014

August 23, “The Counterculture of Humility” Luis de Leon Matt. 23:1-12

Last night I had a young guy who was sick and desperately needed to go to the bathroom. I took him into a restaurant on the Haight, and I had to buy a sixteen dollar meal for him to go to the restroom. I was told by the hostess–“You know people need to know they have to pay for everything, so if they don’t have money they should leave now.” Another mentally challenged 23 year old has been told he will have to leave his housing that he has had for a year because of the Ellis Act.

We are the City of St. Francis, but I wonder where he would go to the bath room or sleep if he was here–he has no money; where would Jesus go to the rest room or live–he has no money.

Dr. Will Tuttle sums it up:

We have all been born into a herding culture that commodifies animals, and we have all been affected by the cruelty, violence, and predatory competitiveness that our meals require and that our culture embodies. We’ve also been taught to be loyal to our culture and relatively uncritical of it, to disconnect from the monumental horror we needlessly perpetuate, and to be oblivious to the disastrous effects this has on every level of our shared and private lives.

Whether we want to face it or not we are all responsible, and it begins with us to change. The Gospel today talks of humility and reminds us: “All who lift themselves up will be brought low. But all who make themselves low will be lifted up.” Matt. 23:12

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!