Archive for April, 2015

We Are All Equal

April 30, 2015

August 30 “We are All Equal” John 13:16-20

Martin Luther King Jr. speaking about urban riots:  “. . .they are mainly intended to shock the white community, They are a distorted form of social protest.  The looting which is their principle feature serves many functions.  It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse.  Often the Negro does not even want what he takes, he wants the experience of taking. But most of all, alienated from society and knowing that this society cherishes property above people he is shocking it by abusing property rights . . .’

At the heart of the riots is the alienation from society.  When I was removed from the church because of my sexuality and kept from getting a job, and knew that I was prevented from getting a decent job I became a prostitute, stole for the same reason. I understand, exactly what that feels like–to steal to touch, to feel something that you have no money for when those around you have everything, to steal to give a finger to a society that does not give a damn–I know exactly what that feels like, ,and I remember selling my body over and over for the same reason– but because of my being a privileged white male, with an education I was able to come back.. We need to look at ourselves–and look into the mirror–and see our racism, our selfishness in holding on so tightly to our possessions we can not share. 

As I came home today from my malaria treatment i saw people  on the street who were suffering and I felt guilty, so fucking guilty–for I have the insurance to pay for what I need, I have a place to stay, and for now the where with all to provide for myself and those I serve. I have been given a second chance, and the question I asked myself every time–suppose I was of a different color?  I am grateful for the second chance, I am grateful the people in my life who give so that I can serve, but the question always comes up from the bottom of my heart–suppose I was not white, suppose I had not been given the education I have?

People work in the “street economy” for the most part it is because they have no other choice. I worked in the “street economy” for three years–because I had no choice, but i also had the ability and the no how to get out of it.   This is nothing new-=-this is from time immemorial and until we learn to share equally–it will continue. We need to look around–and look–and asked ourselves the question: “What part am I playing in this?” for none of us are clean. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

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Love Is Wroth More Than Intelligence

April 28, 2015

April 28, Jacques Maritain  “Love Is Worth More Than Intelligence” Acts 11:19-26;Jn 10:22-30

 Yesterday I wrote “When we judge we miss Jesus,” and it is a statement that is heller hard to live out for we all judge, but as I work at standing back and understanding the pain, the hurt in the lives of people–I see Jesus.  And understanding that pain is entering into the pain, walking with the person–and granted it is hard to walk with someone who has tried to hurt you–but I know it is possible because I have, and in so doing you see the Christ.

Maritain wrote “Christianity taught men that love is worth more than intelligence,” and it is in love that lies our hope for our world, our environment, ourselves.  Love is not some mushy word, it is hard. When we practice love, we meet people where they are, find the common ground, and live in peace–not an easy word, not simply la la land, but a peace that allows you to struggle with your issues without tearing yourselves a part.

I deal with Roman Catholics, fundamentalists, all sorts of diverse people who are isolated within their belief systems–and I am torn a part sometimes, people can be bloody in their selflessness, but I try, I honestly really try to listen without judgment. When people tell me I am “different” yea I am–I am willing to try, and I mean try to move from my white middle class privileged background into the lives of others.  And I will call it as I see it, right or wrong, I will call it as I see it, but always in light of love, and I fail, but i try.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

VegInspiration
We can transform this culture we live in, and which lives in us, by transforming our own motivations and exemplifying this to others. We owe this to the animals. In the end, we are not separate from others, and we each have a critical piece to the great puzzle of cultural awakening to contribute, and our success and fulfillment depend on each of us discovering this piece and presenting it persistently.

As Albert Schweitzer said, “One thing I know. The only ones among you who will find happiness are those who have sought, and found, how to serve.”

Dr. Will Tuttle

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We Are Loved

April 28, 2015

April 27 “We Are Loved!”   John 10:1-10

Jesus said: “I am the gate for the sheep.”

“If you always assume

the man sitting next to you

is the Messiah

waiting for some simple human kindness–

You will soon come to weigh your words and watch your hands.

And if the Messiah so chooses

Not to reveal himself

In your time–

It will not matter. Rabbi Danny Siegel

The one thing about having a chronic disease is that it keeps you humble, and as I prepare for my malaria treatments, which will bring me back to health, I find myself very humble, for I have been struggling with fever and weakness, I have in my eyes the face of Jesus. I walked the Labyrinth today repeating the rosary, and I remembered Mary who made no judgments and trusted in God. The poem above reminds me that we never will know when we meet Jesus–I have met him in the face of people who have hurt me, ridiculed me, and discarded me; I have met him in the those so screwed up on drugs, they have no recollection, I have met him in every faith, and creed, sexual orientation and race–when we judge–we miss Jesus, and we do harm to ourselves and others. In reflecting on Mary and the Magnificant today I choose to keep my eyes on the One who comes when we least expect it. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Teach Me to Listen

April 25, 2015

Mark 16:15-20   “Teach me to Listen”

Mark is the evangelist, and evangelism is about naming grace–not about brow beating people to “believe”, for God is present in every nick and corner of our lives, if we open our eyes. Grace is communicated in our loving and listening to another person–not in our brow beating.

Fr. John Veltri writes “Teach me to listen, O God, to those nearest me, my family, my friends, my co-workers. Help me be aware that no matter what words I hear, the message is “Accept the person I am. Listen to me.”

I listened, simply listened,  for two hours to a young guy last night from 3-5 in the morning. He felt all alone, not accepted by his friends, rejected.  I was burning up with fever. After he hung up I tried to go to sleep, but simply was too sick, and I felt feelings of total loneliness.  And in those moments I knew Jesus was present, in my pain, and that is why I am able to let people bring me their pain. Even in our own pain we need to listen and grace is named in our listening, in our caring.  I hear comments all the time like, “We all have problems,” which to me says we simply do not want to be bothered by another person and their pain.  But naming grace for me is to be bothered, even if   what to me seems the most insignificant, for what is insignificant to me is important to another–and some times it is life saving important. I have had people talked to me about the most insignificant, insane items, only to be expressing their hurt, anger, and tell me later they were thinking of suicide  until i took the time to sit with them.  In life I have learned it is the :”little things” that matter,not the big ones.  A former volunteer commented one time, “all you do is listen, that is a waste of time,” and that is why he is a former volunteer, for listening is the most important thing another person can do for another. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!”

Life is Messy

April 24, 2015

April 24, Life is Messy  Acts 9:1-20; John 6:52-59

Young volunteers were often surprised at Dorothy Day going to Mass and believing in the conservative doctrine of the church. They could not understand her commitment to the Eucharist. There are groups in town who will not support my ministry because I am Christian and Catholic; and there are Christians who want work with me or talk to me because i am too “liberal” so you have it.

When Jesus talks about his “flesh” and his “blood”, he is not talking about anything ideal or clean–but messy. Saul is an example–I love Paul, I love his writings, in his messiness he preached Christ and shaped the Church and our faith as we know it. God used him in a wonderful way.  If we want something black and white, clean, beautiful and perfect–than we get nothing but blandness.  That is what is happening with gentrification–blandness. Beneath the blandness of life is really terror and fear–and loss. We can not run away from that.

Last night I sat beside the bed of a young man who was stabbed over an argument over a blunt of 420, the  night before last I witnessed another stabbing.  Life is messy, and it is painful.  In the Gospel Jesus speaks of the Eucharist with intense concreteness- it is flesh and blood–it is real. It is in that realness that we find life. Scott Peck says, “Life is difficult”, and it hellar is, but in accepting its difficulty you can live it with grace and joy.

A young man once asked me what I did so terribly wrong that I had to give my life to guys like him, he said, “you bleed and hurt for us.” And i looked him in the eye and said, “Sean, I am as big fuck up, bigger than you will ever be, and because God redeems me every day, how can I not love you,” And the same with Saul who became Paul in God’s love he loved others. but he like me, and like you simply are fuck ups and we need to treat each other with gentleness rather than judgment, and let God do that. It is like today there was a photo of the young man in the Boston bombing giving the finger, and it was pointed out how he deserved death because he showed no remorse. Frankly what I saw was a 19 year old kid being a 19 year old kid, doing the same thing I have done–smarting off giving the finger. . I believe he deserves life with the possibility of parole in 25 years,but I believe he is a young man whose brain that has not totally developed, who has done a terrible thing, he needs to be punished, and hopefully some day can see the wrong and find redemption and give back.  When I start pointing at others I remind myself I have a third finger pointing at me. Let’s be gentle with one another–life is too fucking messy to do otherwise.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Bread of Life

April 23, 2015

John 6:44-51 “I Am The Bread of Life” Kathe Koilwitz

Paul  Vallely tells us: “So long as, I define my neighbor as a person next door. .my world will remain the same (but)if I define my neighbor as one I must go out to look for, on the highways and the byways, in the factories an slums, on the farms and in the mines, then my world will change.”

We are living in a new world here in the Bay Area, and it is our choosing if we want to create it into a an inclusive, healing place to live–not the government–for it is failing us; not-non-profits–but our choice. If we choose to see our neighbor in each person, and to share with that person of ourselves, than this “brave new world” will become more healing. Last week I was in the Haight and had forgotten my parking card, and one of the young women came up and put her last money in, saying to me, “You give all you have to us,  I can give you all I have.” All of us can share, and than we all will have enough. The greed is destroying us, destroying the meaning in our lives.

When we choose to be hear for God–God however we know God,and for me it is in the Jesus of Nazareth. When we choose to be here for ourselves–let our egos be large, and controlling–the more our body, physical, mental, mystical, suffers. When we choose to shrink that ego–than we are open to our neighbors–all of our neighbors.It is hard to be here when we shrink–but what hurts more is shrinking away from it.

I admit I suffer like hell sometimes–pain, depression, fear, illness–but I will suffer more, far more if I shrink away from that suffering, and from being present to my neighbor–for in them I find the face of the Risen Christ, and I find the resurrection.  Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Bread of Life

April 22, 2015

John 6:35-40 “The Bread of Life”  Fr. Engelbert Mvang

Jesus said: “I am the Bread of life. .” Beautiful phrase, but living in its reality can be” a hard and dreadful life.”  These past few weeks I have been struggling with my PTSD, and the malaria, both are the thorns in my flesh.The nightmares come, and the fever late at night.  The nightmares tear me  apart, I awake covered in sweat and am  weak. I force myself to swim or walk and to simply get going. But in it all I see the face of Jesus, the Bread of Life and I find sustenance. Last night as I walked on Haight I bought “James” a new sweatshirt, because I had forgotten to bring one of my own to give to him, and he cried, a twenty one year old started crying, because it was the first new piece of clothing he had had in a year or so.   Sean came up to me and  was sheep face because he had cussed me out last week and threatened me, and I gave him some food, and he asked me “how can you always forgive,” and the truth is that  it is easy to forgive when you people do not forgive you and when to hold on to it all is like having a chain around your neck–it is far easier to set yourself free by forgiving. And so the malaria, the PTSD have been simply stepping stones in eating the Bread of Life.

The other lesson I have learned through these years   is there is a third way, for example –there has been the anger towards the Archbishop over his stand on the policy of the Roman Church. The fact is the Roman Church just acknowledged Galileo a few years ago, after over 500 years, so they are slow in changing, but a force in working with the poor, the homeless.  The change will come from the bottom. But rather than attack and create anger and hate towards one another, why not meet where you can work together, and by example show the way.  Most people disagree with me on most things, but we agree on helping the homeless, and so we work together in that area.  I told him that we can disagree for now peacefully, work together against the death penalty, and when we get to heaven we can shake hands as he acknowledges that I was right on the issue of being queer–of course it is not going to matter in heaven, but I will have the satisfaction of being right. And than who knows we shall see, but until than we can agree to disagree and work to end hunger, poverty, climate change. But in the process of “agreeing to disagree”, change will come as we see each other for who we are, and simply as children of the one God.  In coming together, sitting down together and eating together–we become one neighbor–

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

The Bread of Life

April 21, 2015

August 21,  St. Apollinius The Bread of Life  John 6:30-35

There was a movie many years ago in which people were euthanized when they turned 30, and if they had blemishes on their body. I do not remember the name, but it was one that actually scared me, for in many ways we do that in our society.  As I was walking Sunday I noticed that I was often the oldest one out, all accept a very few were white, all had money–all basically the same. This is what we do unintentionally–we exclude people of different ages, races, and economic background. In so doing we lose our identity as human beings, and see people as either like us or “different”.  We place ourselves in our “white, middle class ghettos” and in our own isolation and fears we hurt a lot of people.

We do the same thing with religion–we fail to see the beauty in all religions and in so doing we make them our “enemies”. Each year during Ramadan I fast during the day with my Muslim brothers and sisters and read the Koran–and I have found like the Bible is is a book written by human beings, with their own biases, but shining through it is the God of love.  The Bible is scary if you take it out of context, but in context is a testament of the love of God through the ages.

Jesus, says: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”  In the Eucharist I find nourishment–nourishment to sustain me through the ups and downs of each day–through seeing people violent towards one another, not having food, and clothing, tormented by drug abuse and suffering psychologically from abuse. I had a letter from someone whom I met twenty years ago talking about how he can not have an intimate relationship or friendship because of his abuse on the street. In the Eucharist Christ gives of himself to them, to us, and brings wholeness, and in receiving it each day I am reminded that we are called to be crucified with him, to become the bread of life to others. We are called to get out of our ghettos. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

In the Small Things

April 20, 2015

August 20 John 6: 22-29 “In the Small Things”

People often asked me about the number of people we serve–and my response is usually, “I do not keep count.”I am often asked to do things for other organizations: “Climate Change”, “Immigration”, and go to all the rally’s and I do not, for one reason I can only do one thing–the ministry God has given me–and do it well. Personally I am very singled purpose in my life because I have found in the words of Mother Teresa: “We can not do great things on this earth, we can only do little things with great love.” And Archbishop Romero said: “We can not do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.  This enables us to do something and to do it very well.” So I strive to do the small things and do them well.

We tend to look at life with our eyes focused on what is in front of us, but around us there is much pain and suffering in our midst. The Franciscan Network sent this email which I find worth reflecting upon.  We buy food which comes from the hands of these labors–I think of this as I look in the fields of Salinas and Southern California:

One theme throughout our readings this Sunday is that we are all beloved by the Father and “that we may be called the children of God.” (1 Jn. 3:1) In the Gospel, the image of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd reminds us that all are included in the “one flock.” (John 10: 16) St. John reminds us that the Good Shepherd is also the victim “who laid down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:15) Jesus recognizes himself in all victims, and lived His public life trying to bring justice and dignity to the victims in the society of the day. As followers of Jesus, we are called to also strive to bring justice and dignity to the most vulnerable in our society. These include the more than twenty-seven million children, women and men trapped in labor trafficking linked to our global economy.

These children, women and men are enslaved in plain sight all around us. They may include those who prepare meals, serve you, or wash dishes as you eat in your favorite restaurant. They may be those who clean your hotel room or work under inhumane and unsafe conditions in factories to provide the shoes and the clothes that you wear. They may be the children or adults who pick the vegetables and fruit you enjoy. They may be those who come to your door selling magazines, or those who work in your health club or beauty salon.

Labor traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will. One common thread that unites all victims is that they come from poverty and continue to live in poverty. Another common thread, far more important, is that they are all “children of God” (1 John 3:1-2.)

Labor traffickers could be compared to the hired man in the Gospel – “he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.” (John 10:10) The victim is just a cheap and disposable means to profit. There are reports that in the commercial fishing industry many trafficked children are actually thrown overboard if they become too ill to work.

Just as the Good Shepherd seeks out the most vulnerable sheep, we are called to seek out the victims in our society and to do all we can to empower them. We are also responsible for being aware of how our consumerism is affecting the economically poor and powerless in the world and in our community. As consumers, we are complicit in benefiting from the trafficking of children, women and men. To find out more on how many slaves work for you to maintain your lifestyle please go to Slavery Footprint.

In 2012, California enacted the Supply Chain Transparency Act which states that large businesses in the state must disclose the working conditions for all people who supply the products for the company. National legislation which would require companies to be transparent with information about supply chains and how they are addressing labor trafficking within their business operations would serve to bring this hidden slavery to light. For more information on human trafficking, please go to the FAN website.

Sr. Maryann Mueller

Seeing the Risen Christ

April 19, 2015

April 19, Luke 24: 35-48  “Seeing the Risen Christ”

Edward Schillebeecks says that “one sees the risen Jesus when one has faith in the risen Jesus.”  

I received an email yesterday from an old friend, whom I met in 1995, one of the street kids, and whom I gave  care to. He thanked me for feeding him, giving him a place to stay, and being there for him.  He is out of hustling, and street life, but remains depressed, and can not have intimacy as a result of his experience. In him I see the risen Christ. He is still broken, but in his journey he has found hope to continue.

Yesterday a middle aged gentleman talked to me about wanting to die since he was 15. He is fifty now, and makes it minute by minute. I see the risen Christ in him as we work together. 

I have talked about depression, and I have received replies of “comfort”, and the reality is depression for me is a necessity for growth. In the depression I sort out what is real, it is me descending into hell,  and from it resurrection comes.  It is not something that can be “fixed”, but it is a growth process that I simply embrace. We are given “eternal life” now–I have no idea what happens when we  die, but eternal life is  to live in Christ’s presence in the here and now, and in that eternity to find meaning and purpose to existence, and in what we do.

It is the way in which we treat our neighbor that we truly experience eternal life, and show our belief and hope in that life. People often asked me when I “take off”, and the reality is I get away to rest, but I am never “off” for any where I go–to LA, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Palm Springs–I always run into someone who is homeless–and I will take time to talk and feed them.  Eternal life is not about placing our actions, and our time in compartments–but about living it out wherever we are. The first thing that I do every morning is to celebrate the Eucharist, and it is in that broken bread and poured wine that Christ comes offering eternal life in the here and now.

My friend Will Tuttle writes of veganism which for me is a good summary of eternal life:  “We are all in this together. The vegan revolution will never include violence; it is a celebration of the joy and beauty of life, and an awakening to the beauty and potential of our shared life on this planet. The only strategy for each of us is how to love and give more deeply, fully, and authentically, and in harmony with our unique talents and gifts. Together, we are transforming our world!”

Whether you are a vegan, a carnivore, a vegetarian or you do not eat at all–eternal life is to give of ourselves  more fully and deeply–in the aches, pains, joys and sorrows of life–and in so doing we experience much joy. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!