Archive for November, 2018

Confessions of A Funeral Director

November 27, 2018

Confessions of A Funeral Director: How Death Saved My Life By Caleb Wilde

Luke 21:5-11 Common English Bible (CEB)

The temple’s fate

“5 Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.”

They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?”

Jesus said, “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them. When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.”

10 Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky. ”


Wild’s book Confessions of  A Funeral Director is about his journey of faith, from a fundamentalist view, to doubt, and finally a holistic perspective. It is a journey that our  materialistic society in general has not taken, and hence is very infantile in its approach to death.

Caleb Wild saw death at first as a means of getting to heaven—demonizing earth, and worldly existence, and finally arrived at seeing death as a part of our life experience, valuing and honoring  all of creation. He sees death in light of our Great Communion of Saints, where our relationships continue, calling us forward on our life’s journey. Life is lived in community and realizes community in death.

There are times people do not know what to do with the way in which I live my life, it scares them. I see many deaths, many are violent, each year, one young man this year I held in my arms  as he died from a knife wound, their are threats on my life, and I have been beaten and shot at this year. I seem not to worry about my own life. The reality is that  I have come to see the thinness between  life and death, When we embrace it, and simply live with it, we embrace our lives in all of its fullness, and death becomes simply a movement in the process of life. We are all going to die, recognize that fact, and live your life in community with others.

Dr. Nicola Davies writes on her website:

“Imagine being at the bottom of a deep, dark hole. Peer up to the top of the hole, and you might see some of your friends and family waiting for you, offering words of support and encouragement.  This is sympathy; they want to help you out of the pit you have found yourself in. This can assist, but not as much as the person who is standing beside you; the person who is in the hole with you and can see the world from your perspective; this is empathy.’

This is the way I view ministry, and seek to live my life as one of empathy.  I see and experience physical and verbal abuse, I experience rejection, and hate, for me to walk with people in these circumstances is what Jesus did on the road to Calvary.  This is what makes us human. In walking with one another we become community that is not tribal, but oneness in our humanity, setting aside all  race, poverty, religious  affiliation by creed, and age, we become human beings on the journey of life.

All around us today our Gospel seems to literally be coming to fulfillment–fire, bombings, poverty, and the and the lack of empathy that moves us to care for our environment and others.

We can choose to walk the way of community and support, and find healing in our world, setting aside our difference, sharing of our goods until poverty is ended, living simply,and with respect to all of creation or we can continue our present journey of division through race, creed, religion, age, sexuality, and economics and we will bring the end of time. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

www. (pay pal link is on website)


Book Review

November 26, 2018

Naming the Unnameable by Matthew Fox

89 Wonderful and Useful Names for God-

Including the Unnameable God


Dr. Fox transcends all religions and develops a spirituality that is universal and one of love. Like others before him he sees God as one with many faces, many voices, but always speaks Love.  Fox presents a God of the father in the Prodigal Son, who envelops us in love, without judgment and calls us to love our neighbor.


We live in a time where the organized Church is less and less viable, and the right wing has co-opted the message of the Gospel for its political purposes and brings judgment on people who disagree, and Fox brings us back to the Gospel message of love, and that Love is found in our loving our neighbor.


He offers us a message of hope and inclusion. It is a book one reads slowly and prayerfully.


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Temenos Catholic Worker


remember tomorrow is Giving Tuesday-

Book Review

November 26, 2018

Brother John:  A Monk, A Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life

August Turak

This book is a meaningful work of one man’s own spiritual journey, during a mid-life crisis, into a life of meaning and purpose. His journey takes him Mepkin Abbey where he encountered the Spirit in a monk by the name of Brother John.


Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim and the Purpose of Life, comes at a time when we are confronted on the right by the extreme evangelism that offers a  deadly approach to spirituality, and on the other end, and approach of no meaning.  Everything is based on money and power. 


From Brother John Augie learned: “We must commit to facing our doubts, limitations, and self-contradictions head on while holding on to this voice of eternity.”  We want answers, we want security, and these needs are played upon by people who fan our fears, our doubts and push us to the extremes, but Brother John is a man who reminds us that in the midst of our fears and doubts, we must commit to facing those fears and doubts, seek the voice of eternity found in loving our neighbor and ourselves.


Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

Big Sisters and Brothers in the Reign of God

November 25, 2018

Big Brothers and Sisters in the  Kingdom

Christ the King

Brothers Like Cale Who
Make this Work a Part of the Reign of God

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here!” John 18:36

I was invited out to breakfast last week by a member of St. Luke’s Episcopal
Church, someone I just knew in passing. This individual commented to me, “I was always puzzled about you, because you never seemed like a priest, more like a big kid. ” A couple of weeks ago I overheard a conversation between you and a young guy who  was helping  at church during the coffee hour, and you two were arguing, because he did not want to leave.  Then I heard you tell him he had to go because he was missing a  college prep meeting for students with low economic backgrounds at his school that day–his future was more important than helping you.  I realized in hearing and seeing the argument you are more like a big brother. Your gift is to relate on their level.”  This person gave me a check for a thousand dollars and said, “I can’t do it, but you can be their big brother for me, buy their meals, don’t wear yourself out cooking.”

And so on Thanksgiving Day thanks to this person’s generosity I was the Big Brother, and the pastor, and not the cook. I did not wear myself out cooking, but was able just to hang.  We fed around 400 people, handed out hundreds of beautiful sandwiches purchased with this money, and took those who wanted to a restaurant. 

On the surface they appeared tough, macho, street youth, many dirty, many depressed, others angry over their plight, but in their eyes as we ate we could see the face of Jesus, whose eyes were piercing with love. There was Shaggy who is 48, has lived on the street since he was 20, an alcoholic, their was fifteen year old Flea, a run away, 20 year old Elise, and the list goes on and on.

Christ the King is found in his reign of love, as we meet each other as brothers and sisters, as he meets us. My friend from St. Luke’s met me as his brother, and met the guys on the streets through his support of us, as a brother/sister.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Giving Tuesday: you can donate through www. temenos org, through pay pal or mail checks to the above address.

Angst Giving

November 22, 2018

“Angst Giving”

From the first grade I was taught the traditional story of Thanksgiving, and shown the beautiful pictures of the Pilgrims and Native Americans. From the first teaching I was taught that my white heritage was supreme, that God blessed us. We were destined to create a great nation of prosperity. We had Manifest Destiny We continue that myth, and in so doing we insulate ourselves from the reality of life, the reality of the pain has been a continuous infliction upon minorities, the disenfranchised, the undocumented immigrant, the homeless. We have inflicted that pain.  The myth is when we have money and power we are blessed, praised. Our social media is full of that myth, we are being hit up for sales—at least those of us who are privileged to have money. All of our society is centered on the status quo, from psychological counseling to our worship in our churches. It is pressed in our brains to the point we can see no other way.   We ignore the vast poverty and pain on our streets. We insulate ourselves, and in so doing we lose our humanity.

Mark Van Steenwyk calls us to view Thanksgiving from a different reality, and in so doing open our hearts to compassion for all. He calls us to allow the Spirit of Jesus, the One who was poor, and oppressed, and who walked with those who were the  “anawim”, the poorest of the poor to come into our lives, and open us up to a way of living that has integrity. Rather than observe Thanksgiving let us practice “Angst giving”:

“Instead of holding Thanksgiving as a day of thanks for ill-gotten abundance, perhaps we should hold it as a day where we see our society without illusions–a day where we look into the naked face of Empire, lament the sins of this nation, and then honestly thank God for those things that are truly blessings from God.

In the New Testament, blessing is rarely tied to material wealth. In fact, it is quite the opposite; it is the poor who are called blessed. 

Nor is gratitude tied to material possessions. We are told to be grateful and joyful because of things like persecution in the name of Christ or our shared liberation or the generosity of others. Yet, we’ve let our own assumptions about blessings spill into our spiritual lives and, because of this, we thank God for all the stuff we have (regardless of how we got it) as we actively try to avoid those situations and conditions under which the New Testament authors would actually call us blessed.

And so, this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to practice Angst giving. Not as an expression of ingratitude. Rather, give thanks to God for those things that are blessings. And repent and lament those things that flow from injustice.”

”Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Happy Thanksgiving!

November 21, 2018

November 22, 2018

Dear Friends,

On this date in 1963 John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and this year we have seen more shootings than ever before across our nation. We are reminded by Native Americans that the first Thanksgiving Day was a day of genocide and not the cute day we talk about in school and in our publicity.  In the darkness there is light, there is grace.

Today  I will take sandwiches and give to young men and women on the Haight, and the older men and women on Polk, who are homeless,  and spend time  visiting with them.  Many will not have access to food on this day of Thanksgiving. 

Jesus said, “The reign of God is within you,” and on this day our thanksgiving comes from within us. Our hearts bring us the joy of Thanksgiving. This year I am deeply grateful for my health, and the ability to make sandwiches and share them; deeply grateful for those who have supported our ministry, and for my friends whom  I will spend time with on the weekend. I am deeply grateful for my kids in the Haight and on Polk who are always confident and hopeful, and remind me that simply living is enough to be grateful for.

And most of all I am grateful for the redeeming grace of God in Christ  that gives me a new chance every day to begin a new, and the opportunity to serve. Jesus is my Thanksgiving.  I will see Jesus today in the faces of my kids, and there will be much joy.  And this day reminds me that each day is Thanksgiving Day, not just today. And we show thanksgiving by giving to our neighbors–of ourselves and our material possessions.

So on this day I invite you to find Thanksgiving within yourselves, to find the joy in the moment, with your friends, and relatives, and to move forward in seeing each day as a day of thanksgiving in service to everyone.  God is with us!

Now “May the grace of  Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, bless  preserve, and keep you now and forever more.”

A blessed Thanksgiving to you!


The Long Loneliness

November 18, 2018

The Long Loneliness

Mark 13:24-32

24 “In those days, after the suffering of that time, the sun will become dark, and the moon won’t give its light. 25 The stars will fall from the sky, and the planets and other heavenly bodies will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Human One[a] coming in the clouds with great power and splendor. 27 Then he will send the angels and gather together his chosen people from the four corners of the earth, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.

A lesson from the fig tree

28 “Learn this parable from the fig tree. After its branch becomes tender and it sprouts new leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that he’s near, at the door. 30 I assure you that this generation won’t pass away until all these things happen. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.

32 “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows. 33  Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. 34  It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. 35  Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. 36  Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. 37  What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Donation Options:
American Red Cross
California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund
Charity Navigator – List of charities related to wildfires
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (Mark Carlson, head of Lutheran Office of Public Policy and CIPL Steering Committee member, is a former CalFire Firefighter)
California Interfaith Power & Light – working to reduce the causes of climate change

Disaster Preparedness:
Wildfire Preparedness – information and planning
Disaster Planning – for fires, hurricanes, floods and other severe weather events
Community Preparedness Planning – ideas and toolkit
Needs in El Paso

Annunciation House in El Paso is working hard to try to find ways to offer hospitality to up to 1000 individuals and families. They need funds for housing and supplies, and volunteers to staff the shelters and distribute supplies. In addition, we hear that border patrol will not be

assisting people in contacting their families. We expect that will extend the time people will have to stay either of the street or the hospitality center.

If you can manage to volunteer in El Paso please email or call 915-545-4509.There are several rooms at El Convento that can house out of town volunteers. If you need housing please contact Buffy Boesen, SL at

If you can’t volunteer, please consider a donation to Annunciation House to help with the needs of those being released. You can donate online or you can send a check to: Annunciation House, 1003 E San Antonio Ave, El Paso, TX 79901.

Needs in Brownsville
Sr. Norma Pimentel has shared with us that the Brownsville Catholic Charities is also preparing to receive refugees. They are in need of volunteers at the McAllen respite center and I would imagine donations as well.

If you are able to help in welcoming these immigrants, please call Michell Nunez, Sr. Norma’s Executive Assistant, at 956-702-4088 to let her know when you can come. If you need housing, call the Pilgrim House at the San Juan Shrine, 956-787-0033 ext 223. Ask for the special rate for sisters. I think it may be $25 a night per room.

There is great sadness and fear in our State, particularly in Paradise, and Southern California. The fires rage, people are homeless, pain, suffering , and death have drawn near. Our air is filled with smoke, people are afraid. Death has drawn near to all of us! We are now facing the reality of all of us becoming “climate change refugees”.  None of us are safe!

Undocumented immigrants are at our border, in our country, and are suffering.  Much fear is being stirred up around their coming, and they are treated like cattle. They should be welcomed, and yet they are being met with hostility. The darkness of winter hangs over us.

We turn our heads saying, “The government will take care of them”, when we are living in fear for ourselves. People in Florida are suffering dramatically, and we seem to forget about them. The government can only do so much. We need to step up!  Homelessness in California is increasing, and many in Paradise will be homeless. They are elderly, many have health problems, and their money was in their housing, with little else. They have lost everything.

Looking at the fig tree we see new life springing forth, as we will see in our forests as the green sneaks through with new growth in the months ahead. There is hope in the midst of death–thee is resurrection. New life comes as we reach out to our brothers and sisters, we are the new plants springing forth in our embracing others.

And when we reach out to people who are our brothers and sisters who have lost everything and to the homeless and undocumented immigrants we will find new life within ourselves. 

Listed above are ways you can reach out, ways that you can join with our brothers and sisters in this time of pain, and suffering.

Christ comes as we move out of ourselves, as we embrace our brothers and sisters in love, and care, and provide for them, and we know that we are not alone. Dorothy Day talked of the “long loneliness”, and that it ends in reaching out and embracing our brothers and sisters. And doing that is a “hard and dreadful thing,” but one that brings us out of our fear into the company of those who suffer, and we know that others will walk with us in our time of suffering.

Special prayer for victims, first res-ponders and action:

“Loving Creator,
We are grateful for the beauty of Creation and for every living thing upon your Earth.
We recognize that Creation has a natural balance.
We recognize that, by our actions we have interrupted this harmony
through our indifference and too-heavy living upon the Earth,
greatly stressing the inter-connected balance of all eco-systems.

We pray for all those affected by a changing climate and Earth.
We pray especially for those affected by wildfires in California –
those who have lost their homes, their sacred houses of worship and livelihoods.
We especially pray for those who have lost their lives, and those who grieve for them.

We pray for the firefighters, the first responders,
and those who have come out to minister to those affected.
We pray that the fires are contained completely very soon to avoid further loss,
and that communities receive the resources and comfort and aid needed at this time.

Loving Creator, in this new reality of increasing severe weather events,
may we may move forward with wisdom and a re-dedication
to caring for and protecting your beautiful Creation and the abundance of life within it.
For it is in respect for all living things that we help create a world of safety for others,
in which all may have the fullness of life.”

Allis Druffel, CIPL Staff Member Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


Book Review: A Gracious Heresy

November 17, 2018

Book Review: A Gracious Heresy: The Queer Calling of an Unlikely Prophet by Connie L. Tuttle

Reverend Tuttle shares with us her journey of coming out in the sixties, and seventies, and her calling and journey into ministry. 

Reverend Tuttle from the very beginning understood her call to ministry as being from God. Her journey in seminary was a painful, threatening journey as she was continually felt threatened by the administration to remove her because of being queer. But she remained committed to her call, and moved into ministry when the institutional church turned her down.

The heart of this book is that Connie experienced her call from God, she centered herself in God, and did not let the institution get in her way, and had no resentment toward the institution, she saw it for what it was, man made. God was moving through her, and she follows that movement.

The institutional Church for the most part is homophobic, even in the mainline denominations which are open and affirming there is an underlying homophobia. You see no youth groups for Queer youth, and it is understood: “We are all Christians and equal and move on,” without the acknowledgment of the pain caused through the years.

This is a good book, the only criticism is that Reverend Tuttle did not go into detail about her ministry, but left us at the end of her journey with the institutional church, and a few words telling us of moving forward.

Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fix Our Eyes On Jesus

November 14, 2018

Fix Our Eyes Upon Jesus

Hebrews 12:1-2 Common English Bible (CEB)

Let’s also run the race

12 So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin 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.

I have been ill the past four days with a cold, and have stayed in until today.  In many ways it was the best, for during this time I addressed my 1200 plus Christmas cards and sent them out today. As I addressed them there are people who have donated generously through the years, some who have stopped, but I remember them fondly, some probably dislike me, but all are a part of that Great Cloud of Witnesses who have journeyed with me through these years.
And they were with me as I went out to Marin Headlands this morning to have a committal service for seventeen year old Juan who was found dead several months ago and took me this long to obtain his ashes. Juan was an  undocumented immigrant. He came to the US when he was fifteen to earn money to support his family and found doing sex work was the only thing he could do to make a lot of money.  He and I have journeyed together these past years through his being raped, beaten, and living on the streets. He sent money home every week to his family who live in a small village in Mexico. When I was in the hospital he would come and sleep in a chair near me, and we told the staff he was my family, and they said not a word. He did not speak English very well, and when I  would hear his confession, I would laugh because I understood not one word, as I pronounced absolution. Two of his  friends went with me, and I read the Office of the Dead, and committed him to God as I threw his ashes into  the Pacific Ocean.
I received a face book message from my friend Chris, who lives in Portland. I met him when I did a presentation in a church there, and he was fourteen, we became close friends. He is grown  now, and I remember through the years as he grew, he lashed out at me, gave me a black eye  one time, and said things to me in anger that are not repeatable, and as he grew he matured, and now he is a banker and just had his second child Ephraim. Walking with him was painful as hell, and yet there was much joy in it, much joy.  He remains my close friend, and one who is an awesome guy.
Both of these events has lead me to center myself more in Christ and reminds me that I have struggled all of my life, and it is in that struggling that I meet Jesus, and find satisfaction in my work. Success for me is simply walking with people, hanging out, taking the good with the bad, and remaining faithful. The following sums up how I see struggling:
“A New Way of Struggling” by Susan W.N. Rusch
To  struggle used to be
To grab with both hands
and shake
and twist
and turn
and push
and shove and not give in
But wrest an answer from it all
As Jacob did a blessing.
But there is another way
To struggle with an issue, a question-
Simply to jump
into the abyss
and find ourselves
being led
slowly and gently
but surely
to the answers God has for us–
to watch the answers unfold
before our eyes and still
to be a part of the unfolding
But, oh! the trust
necessary for this new way!
Not to be always reaching out
for the old hand-holds.
As I let go of Juan’s ashes, it was if I was letting go of myself into the hands of God, and in so doing finding peace, and that is what works for me, and I believe it works for all of us if we just let it. We let go, and God leads us where we are supposed to go. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.
P.O. Box 642656
San Francisco, CA 94164 (pay pal is on site)

Giving of Ourselves

November 11, 2018

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Kgs 17:10-16

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
“Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink.”
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
“Please bring along a bit of bread.”
She answered, “As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die.”
Elijah said to her, “Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
‘The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'”
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 146:7, 8-9, 9-10

R. (1b) Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.
The LORD loves the just;
the LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2 Heb 9:24-28

Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands,
a copy of the true one, but heaven itself,
that he might now appear before God on our behalf.
Not that he might offer himself repeatedly,
as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary
with blood that is not his own;
if that were so, he would have had to suffer repeatedly
from the foundation of the world.
But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages
to take away sin by his sacrifice.
Just as it is appointed that human beings die once,
and after this the judgment, so also Christ,
offered once to take away the sins of many,
will appear a second time, not to take away sin
but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.

Alleluia Mt 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said to the crowds,
“Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes
and accept greetings in the marketplaces,
seats of honor in synagogues,
and places of honor at banquets.
They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext
recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.”

He sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

or Mk 12:41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the treasury
and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.
Many rich people put in large sums.
A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.
Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them,
“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more
than all the other contributors to the treasury.
For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,
her whole livelihood.”

– – – Th

The story of the widow is not a condemnation or even criticism of the wealthy in the story.   It is a description of one who gave her all, in faith and trust that she would be provided for. She put others before herself.  But from her hopeless poverty she has given everything she had (v. 44).

She put her complete trust in God to provide for her basic needs.  And that is where her success is found–in placing the trust in God, who continued to provide for her. The wealthy in the story gave their tithe,  and that is great, but not the totality of their lives for fear of not having anything, and in doing so kept their distance from their  identification with people on the streets, living in poverty, and suffering in other ways.

We are surrounded by wild fires, by thousands of homeless individuals at our feet, people are suffering tremendously, and we turn our eyes away, and trust in the government, and outside forces, the church, in its infancy was known for taking care of the poor, the diseased, the oppressed, but now turns her eyes away  for the most part.

The widow calls us to give everything that we have freely–our time, money, and more importantly ourselves in serving people. Her call is to place others before our own needs. None of us are secure, as we are seeing on our streets, in our towns, and our homes. There is no such thing as security. And so in sharing, in working with others one on one, we take care of ourselves as well, for in providing for all, we provide for ourselves.

I have been asked repeatedly lately, to “please give one success story.”  My answer to be faithful to each person who comes into our lives.  To love them, even when they are difficult, to love them when they hate us, to love them when they try to kill us, and when they hate us. My definition of success is to be faithful to Christ, who in giving himself for us, calls us to do the same. To give ourselves for others. Redemption begins here, not in the ever after.

Success is best described in the words of Elizabeth Gilbert: “You can measure your worth by the dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.”  The path of every great spirituality is “to love our neighbor as ourselves,” which is a dreadful and harsh goal, but one that leads us to find meaning in our lives. Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164


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