Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Sermon

December 11, 2011

The Third Sunday in Advent

Gaudete Sunday

So you got your kid the latest video game system for Christmas and you’re glad that you are not going to hear him (or her) say, “Dad, will you help me set this up?” In such an unlikely event, you’d be rushing to the manual, which would do you no good whatsoever because you know that you’d have a better chance of understanding it if it were written in Mandarin Chinese.

The child, flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone, has no such problems. He doesn’t bother to crack the manual. He sets it up and parks himself in front of the monitor where he gradually lapses into a semi comatose state in which he’ll remain until school starts.

Your child is not unusual. Few people want to be bothered with weighty manuals. While it’s certainly true, as the apostle John says, that “In the beginning was the Word”, in this day and age at the dawn of 2012 there aren’t many people who want to take the time to read any words at all; or at least not unless it is on a IPad, Kindle or Nook.

Americans today are buying the most sophisticated computers, IPads, tablets or readers, the sharpest video game systems, the snazziest automobiles, the most versatile smart phones that do everything except cook for you and then we forget, decline or simply refuse to read the directions.

Owner’s manuals, care guides, troubleshooting Web sites, how-to directories? Too much trouble. “It’s too time-consuming and I’m impatient,” or “I’d rather watch someone else doing it, and then I can ask why”, “I’m a hands-on person; I learn by doing” and any myriad of things some of us might say.

Reading the manual. For many, it’s simply not going to happen. The implications of this trend are disturbing, in both our economic and spiritual lives. Failure to read the instructions makes products more expensive, because manufacturers have to provide toll-free help lines to provide simple answers to simple questions.

Q: Why doesn’t my washing machine start?
A: Because the lid is not closed.
Q: Why won’t my computer printer work?
A: Because it’s not plugged in ... because the ink cartridge is not properly installed ... because there is no paper in the printer.

These questions and answers may seem silly or cynical, but sad to say they are true. Ignoring instructions is turning out to be a high-priced habit. For some people, no amount of clearly written instructional material is going to make a bit of difference.

For the rest of us, however, reading the manual is essential - as consumers and as Christians. It is in the manual called the Bible that we can find answers to so many FAQs, such as:

• What should I be doing with my life?
• How can I make a fresh start?
• Where’s the guidance I need for happiness in my relationships?
• What’s the point of the day-to-day grind I’m experiencing?
• How can I make the best use of the time and money and talents that I have?
• Where’s the evidence of God in this world?
• Why do really nasty things happen to innocent people?
• Is there more to this life than I can see?

The Bible contains stories and letters and prophecies and commandments with answers to these questions, and it rewards our attempts at careful and prayerful study of its 66 books; 39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament. (Or for Catholic Bibles, there are 73 books. 46 Old Testament and 27 New Testament.) Certain lessons are much better learned through Holy Scripture than through personal trial and error. But the Bible is big, let’s face it - it’s an enormous owner’s manual, containing over a thousand pages in most translations. There’s just no way that we can master it in a single sitting.

Many desire a user-friendly version. I’ve personally read the Bible cover to cover five times. Twice like a novel, and three times in a yearlong 365 day segment version. But, few people will do anything remotely like this today. We all want the quick answer or solution. Being a Christian; being a Catholic is a way of life, and it simply doesn’t come quickly. It takes time, perseverance and a good manual.

Fortunately, John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. This pre-existent Word of God was part of the very creation of the world, and brought both life and light into our midst. Best of all, “the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth”. The Word of God became human in Jesus Christ and lived among us, so that we could see the perfect grace and truth of God at work in human life. In Jesus, God’s Word is not only 66/73 books spread out over a thousand-plus pages; it is also a living, breathing, loving, forgiving, healing, teaching, leading, guiding, correcting, consoling, challenging and comforting human being.

Jesus is not a Word we sit down and read. Instead, he’s a Word we watch and hear and imitate and follow. No form of instruction could possibly be more user-friendly.

To follow this Word-made-flesh is to accept that Jesus is at the heart of our interpretation of Scripture. Does a particular interpretation conform to the teaching, activity, example, life, death and resurrection of Jesus? If so, then it’s a correct interpretation, and a valid form of instruction. If not, then we should scrutinize it.

Pick a difficult problem, any difficult problem: capital punishment, abortion, welfare reform, war, gay marriage and any number of topics on a seemingly endless list. Then plug in a popular Christian solution, and ask yourself, “Does this solution conform to the example of Jesus Christ? Does it support his great commandment to love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind - and to love your neighbor as yourself? Does it spread the love given by God, commanded by God and shown by Jesus?” If it fits the life and teaching of Christ, you’ve got a winner.

It is certainly true that there aren’t many people today who are willing to slow down long enough to read the fine print of various owners’ manuals, care guides, troubleshooting Web sites, and how-to directories. And it’s equally true that there aren’t many among us who are going to take the time to do a careful study of the rules and regulations of the Old Testament books of the law.

That’s why we need the Word made flesh. That’s why we need someone to come down and pull us out of trouble, save us from our sins, lead us by the hand and inspire us to follow the way of God. In our word-avoiding world, we need a picture, an icon. Now we have it: Jesus Christ the Lord.

“Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets,” says the writer of Hebrews. That was the age of instructions, the era of detailed how-to directories. But “in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word” (1:1-3).

In the coming of Christ, we have now been given a far more wonderful and user-friendly guide: the flesh-and-blood Son of God.

To find the answers to life’s questions, we can do no better than looking to God’s Son. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the imprint of God’s being. Heir of all things. Creator of worlds. Sustainer of all.

• When we are searching for direction and guidance, he can lead us.
• When we are desperate for forgiveness and new life, he can fill us.
• When we are hungering for meaning and insight, he can satisfy us.
• When we are looking for holiness in the swirling chaos of current events, Jesus can reveal himself to us.

To all who receive him, according to the gospel of John, who believe in his name, he gives power to become children of God. Advent is the time we most especially seek God Incarnate; Jesus the Christ. The Messiah come as a child; come as a human being, in our flesh to connect with us, because we simply won’t read manuals; at least not in the traditional way.

God Love You +
+The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sunday Sermon

December 4, 2011

The Second Sunday of Advent

We live between Christ's two advents in the flesh, and our life as Christians is defined by them. He has already come to us in great humility, to suffer and die for our redemption; and he shall come again is glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead. And what we shall be judged by at his second advent is whether, and how, we have lived by the grace and mercy of his first.
Advent is preeminently the season of preparation. The world both helps and hinders this task. The sending of cards, the purchase and wrapping of presents, the decorating of trees, the stringing of lights, the singing of seasonal music, the preparation of food and drink, the reunions of families and friends, the opening of doors on Advent calendars and even the expectation of Santa Claus (fore he is, after all, St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, and witness to Christ's divinity). All of this is, or can be, an authentic part of Christian life, an element in the preparation for Christ's advent.
Yet all these customs can also become a way of ignoring and forgetting the reality of his advent; a way of turning up the volume of this world's noise to drown out the Angel choirs. It is a question of attitude and outlook.
There is only one way of dealing with Christ is coming, and that is by Christ himself. Christ has three advents. His first advent is in the flesh. His second advent is in judgment. In this third intermediate advent is in the mind and heart of mankind. Here and now, in the virtue of his first coming, and in preparation for his second, he comes into our minds and hearts through his Spirit working in them through the Word and Sacrament he has entrusted to his Church.
Above all, he comes to us in the Sacrament of the Altar, the Holy Communion. Each time is in advent of Christ. In every such celebration we are faced with a moment of judgment and mercy, an opportunity and a challenge. It is a question of being ready and able to receive what it is Christ wills to give. If we are not ready and able to receive what he wills to give, which means to say we do not desire what he desires for us, then the Sacrament is a sign of judgment, a sign of what we are not and do not want to be. But if we do desire what he desires to give us, then it is to us a sign of mercy, of what he is making us, and what we will to be made.
The Church therefore has always taught the necessity of preparation for Communion. In earlier centuries, preparation for Communion could be an elaborate, meticulous process of self-examination, repentance and gratitude. In the 17th and 18th centuries, manuals of devotion were published to guide this preparation, which assumed a process extending over several days, and thus undertaken infrequently with Communion being taken maybe two or three times a year at most.
After the 19th century, frequency of Communion gradually increased, and from the 1930s, weekly communion became more and more common, and communicants’ manuals of preparation at first kept pace. But by the 1980s, the very notion of preparation for Communion had faded away. The requirement of being baptized, let alone a general confession and absolution, is viewed in the modern time with this distaste from many quarters.
It is hard to prepare for Communion because it's hard to face the truth. In many ways it's equally as hard to prepare during Advent for Christmas. But it's really not that complicated. We have to merely accept what we know God demands of us, and to renounce what we know he forbids and thus be sorry.
There are websites out there that on Christmas Eve will track Santa's progress as he goes around the world and gives out toys to all the little boys and girls who have been good in the previous year. Many children probably run to the website every few moments or seconds, with their excitement heightening when they see the sleigh pulled by reindeer is nearing North America. Their imaginations track him to their state, to their town, and even to their own home. Some would even claim they hear the reindeer on the roof. The expectations of young boys and girls are unlimited. So many good things are about to happen. As Christians we are called to be like eager children who are waiting for Santa, but in our case, waiting for Christ's second coming.
If we expect Christ's presence, we will find it because God is always present to us, whether in the Holy Eucharist or in our hearts. From the beginning of time God has wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for. God enriched us in every way and assured us that we are not lacking in any spiritual gift.
In the many preparations, sights and sounds of the season, our watching and waiting would quickly become dulled. As humans we need that sight, that sound, and that smell to help heighten our expectation and eagerness for the divine presence that will come to us on Christmas Day. Our expectations must open us to recognize Jesus among us now, working for our good in so many ways. We must also recognize his presence in ourselves as we strive to do good for others.
In the Gospel we are told to prepare the way of the Lord. Just what is the way Lord? It is not only a life of holiness and devotion, but also a life of repentance and forgiveness, a life of hearing the glad tidings of God’s salvation and announcing this good news to the world. This is the way John the Baptist lived; this is the way of life into which Christ baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. Left to our own design, we cannot hope to prepare for or bring ourselves to this kind of living. It is God who shepherds us, feeds us, gathers us, is faithful to divine promises, and baptizes us with the Holy Spirit. The work of salvation is God's. But ours is the preparation and being open to divine initiative.
Like John the Baptist, we must be voices crying out to prepare the way of the Lord. Salvation has already come. What we do now with this salvation is critical. It is what John the Baptist was doing when he announced Christ's first coming. The way we live our lives makes a difference, not only for our salvation, but because we are to announce God's kingdom to others.
The job of John the Baptist is transferred to us. The most important announcement in preparation for Christ’s coming, is living our lives in such a way that we are without spot or blemish before him. The fullness of this way of the Lord will only come when this world will pass away.
By living in this life we announce the Christ has come and brought us salvation. All we need to do is respond with faithfulness, for by our holiness and devotion, we are not just waiting for but actually hastening the coming of the day of the Lord. It is up to us to manage those activities and sights and smells that come with this season, and allow them to work for us in our advantage. To allow them to lead us to the true reason of the season. All those lights, all those gifts, all those sights and sounds are not what's bad; what's bad is how we allow them to distract us from the true meaning of what takes place on Christmas Day. Alternately, if we allow them to heighten our expectation of the Christ child, then in our miserably human way, we are calling out to Christ. Let us prepare the way of the Lord!
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sunday Sermon

November 20, 2011

Sunday before Advent


You see him in television and print ads for prostate cancer Pharmaceuticals. He's looking dignified and not at all embarrassed in a deep-blue, worsted-wool suit, white shirt and silk tie. He's saying: "When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, my first concern was ridding myself of the cancer. But I was also concerned about possible, postoperative side effects, like--erectile dysfunction. I'm speaking out now in the hope that men with E.D. will get proper treatment for a condition that affects millions of men."

Wow! If some guy can go on TV and talk without embarrassment about something like that then we should have no problem sharing with others the simple little good news that God is in the world through Jesus Christ and offers to all of us his love and forgiveness. However, many of us do have a problem speaking about just that. Some would rather do the commercial. Wouldn't you feel your chest constricting just a bit as you prepared to explain why making a commitment to Jesus Christ could provide the much-needed turnaround in a friend's life?

You might be an “EB”, an Embarrassed Believer. But the embarrassment stems not from some innate discomfort with the gospel message, but with the public and media perception of what Christians are like. The media portrays Christians as "backward" in their thinking, poorly educated, and identified with wild, right-wing, extremist agendas. Obviously, this is not case all the time and in all places, but that is how some Christians are viewed. Christians today, while not facing any physical danger for sharing their faith, do face public scorn and media ridicule. We fall for it. We're embarrassed. We're quiet. We don't have answers.

If you suspect that you're an “E.B.”, don't worry. You're not alone. Most people with embarrassment would be surprised to know how many of them there are. Indeed, some have wondered whether or not there should be an AA group for EB's. They wouldn't even need to rent space from anyone. They would not have to find new time in the midst of their already overcrowded schedules. They would not have to develop a new curriculum or set up a new organization. They could just continue meeting Sunday mornings, at 11 AM in the buildings they have been meeting in for years. It's called church.

How did we come by such a syndrome? What has prompted our pathology? What are the marks of our malaise? Maybe part of the answer lies in our belief that religion is a personal, private matter. Religion is our personal faith, and that shouldn't be a public issue.

But not everything personal is private. All of your clothing is personal; it all belongs to you. But not all of it is private; that would just refer to certain garments best left unnamed. But the rest of your personal wardrobe is very public; you share it all the time. We all think of how our clothing will be received publicly when we purchase it. Our clothing speaks, it communicates ... yet it's personal.

So, too, does religion speak, but faith shouts. The best faith is personal, but communicative. Individual and inspirational, a matter of the heart but gushing forth from the mouth. Yet, our tendency to privatize gets in the way of the intensely personal faith that communicates by its very nature.

Maybe the embarrassment stems from the fact that religion is still not "in," a cool or accepted way of belonging in the world, or even in the community. Faith is seen as a barrier, not a bridge; a wall and not a walkway. Yet, if more of us shared our faith and risked the embarrassment, we might discover that we have the power to change the status quo; faith is "in", it is alive and well.

It's amazing how many stories people tell of how once they make some form of open faith commitment, they find agreement from some quarter, affirmation from some coworker, or support from some sector. They were just waiting for someone to make the first move.

Jesus addresses this issue in today's gospel lesson. A day approaches, he warns, when we'll be knocking at heaven's door and the Lord of the manor will turn us away failing to recognize us. Others will be admitted. The litmus test is our treatment of Christ the King himself. When he was hungry we fed him; or we didn't feed him. When he was thirsty we gave him water; or didn't give him water. When he was naked, we gave him clothing; or didn't give him clothing. When he was sick, we took care of him; or didn't take care of him. When he was in prison, we visited him; or didn't visit him.

It says here if we recognize Christ, he will recognize us. We recognize Christ, Christ himself says, when we feed, clothe and welcome "the least" among us, the marginalized of society, the poor and oppressed, those who have been cast off and neglected by others.

This is not politics. This is not right wing or left wing. This is not this coalition or that political action committee. This is a simple mandate to feed and take care of Jesus Christ as we recognize him in our neighbors. How can we be embarrassed to do that? But, when we get right down to it, we have to admit that we are.

Scripture and history give us plenty of examples of those who have been Outspoken Believers, Courageous Believers, Risky Believers, Irrepressible Believers, Turbo-charged Believers. Abraham, Joseph, Rahab, Ruth, David, Daniel, Paul, Peter to drop a few names from the Bible. Polycarp, Ignatius, Cyprian, Hus, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Latimer, Luther, Calvin, and Knox--to name a few from the history of the church. And more recently, what about Mother Teresa, Schweitzer, Jim Elliot, Jim Wallis, Dobson, Colson, King, Abernathy, Tutu, or Graham.

But, we may be missing the point. God does not call us to be famous, but to be faithful. We live in a world where we cannot afford to be EBs. We may prefer a world that is comfortable and calm, familiar and friendly. But the hungry need daring people of devotion. The naked need faithful folks of fortitude, the imprisoned need people who think outside the box and their own solitary confinement. It may be a risk, just as it is to believe in a God whose track record includes healings, miracles and a full-fledged resurrection from the dead.

As we approach Thanksgiving this year, we do well to remember that many of us, even if we live poorly, are still doing better than many others in the world today. Most of us have a roof on our heads and food in our stomachs. Many of us even have mode of transportation and communication. We have clothes to wear and selection of them at that. We have not committed a crime voluntarily or involuntarily and thus are free to walk the streets. Most of us are healthy to the point that we can come to Mass today and/or read this sermon on the web.
No matter what we may be able to produce to try to prove our own disadvantage, there are always those out there that are in need far more than we and we not only should be thankful that we have more, but also treat them as Christ would where and when we can.

God's promise is that the embarrassed believer will never be without help. The EB will never be without support. While our embarrassment may seem to preclude God's working, God chooses to work with and through our timidity to strengthen us to be witnesses to those who are hurting; to those who are struggling to move from welfare to work, to those who do seek a crust of bread, a corner of warmth, a hand up, and a transformative vision.

You have an answer for the ills, suffering and pain of the least, last and lost. Dare to overcome your embarrassment. With the help of God, you can.

God Love You + and may He richly bless you this Thanksgiving!

+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Chapel
San Diego, Ca.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday Sermon

November 6, 2011

All Saints Sunday

Typos. When you run across them in your daily reading, they are no big deal. But when the errors occur in Holy Scripture, then you have a problem of biblical proportions.

“Thou shalt commit adultery” is what one Bible said. That mistake in the 20th chapter of Exodus could have started a sexual revolution.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall inherit the kingdom of God.” The unrighteousness lobby certainly liked the sound of that one.

“Go and sin on more,” said Jesus in John 8:11. I am sure those who are tired of going to confession would have loved to see that.

How about, “Let the children first be killed.” Must have been edited by a frustrated parent.

And in Matthew 5:9, part of today’s passage of Scripture, we hear, “Blessed are the place-makers.” That’s almost as bad as the line that Monty Python misunderstood and mangled into “Blessed are the cheese-makers.”

And what about the phrase “our ancestors” typed as “sour ancestors.” Instead of condemning “factions,” the Bible would have called for an end to “fractions.” Not that America’s young math students would have minded that one.

Fortunately for us editorial and proofreading services work hard to catch and correct such biblical blunders. With an ordinary book, you can put up with more mistakes because it’s not something you’re basing your whole life on. With the Bible people expect perfection.

What’s so shocking about today’s passage from Matthew is that it sounds like it is full of typos even though it is completely accurate. When you read this stuff, it is so counter-intuitive that you figure that there must be a misprint here. “Blessed are the meek”? The
meek? In this day and age? Some would say that Jesus must have drank too much of that water he turned into wine!
The only way to see these words clearly is through the lens of the kingdom of God. A proofreader’s magnifying glass cannot help us to spot the truth here. We need to be looking through the divine optics of the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus Christ. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” ... “Blessed are those who mourn” ... “Blessed are the peacemakers” ... these are not prescriptions from the self-help section of your local Barnes & Noble. Instead, they are statements of what is true about the new reality that the Lord is inscribing on the world.

There are no typos here. Only the God’s-honest truth. So what can we learn from these counterintuitive realities? What ahs all this to do with remembering All Saints and All Souls day?

For starters, we need to realize that these blessings, known as the Beatitudes, are not descriptions of human feelings. When Jesus says that we are “blessed,” he is not saying that we are necessarily “happy.” To be reviled and persecuted because you follow the Lord might turn out to be a blessing, but it is not going to make you feel particularly cheerful. The nine Beatitudes which Jesus proclaims in this passage are so much more than nine “be-happy-attitudes.”

To be blessed, in this case, is to be made privileged or fortunate by the action of Almighty God. It carries with it a sense of salvation and peace and well-being. You might say that the opposite of blessed is not “unhappy.” Rather, the opposite of blessed is “cursed.” To be blessed is to be given the gift of divine favor, a gift that we all have a deep human hunger to receive.

Stated this way, it’s clear that the blessing of the Beatitudes is not about us, and it’s not about how we feel. Instead, it’s all about what God has done for us. We are all saints in the eyes of God. That’s
saints with a lower case “S”, but saints all the same.

With this perspective in mind, we can get a clearer sense of what Jesus is talking about when he describes his disciples as “blessed.” What he is saying is that these former fishermen are blessed because they are experiencing the coming of God’s kingdom, and they are in the process of discovering that their lives are being reshaped by this new reality. No longer will the meaning of life be defined by the culture of the town of Capernaum, or the expectations of their extended families, or the size of the fish being pulled out of the Sea of Galilee. From now on, the dominant reality in their existence will be the kingdom of God, and the blessing of God will come to all who make a place for this kingdom in their lives.

When you think about it, there
was some truth in the typo that read “Blessed are the place-makers.” Blessed are those who make a place for the kingdom of God.

So, what does it mean for us to make a place for the kingdom in our lives today? What kind of blessing will we experience if we allow ourselves to be transformed by the radical new reality that Jesus offers us? What kind of renewal will come our way if we take seriously the invitation to open our hearts and minds to the arrival of God’s kingdom? Will we become like the Saints with the capital “S”?

Well, maybe not that far for us average people, but we might discover, for example, that we are “poor in spirit”; a term that describes people who find their true identity and security in the One Lord God. There is nothing weak or pathetic or shameful about being poor in spirit, but instead it means that we are not deluded enough to think that we are masters of the universe and in complete control of our lives. This spiritual poverty is really an excellent quality to have in this post-9/11 world of terrorist threats, international tension and economic uncertainty — it means that we are dependent on God, first and foremost, and that the Lord will reward us with the gift of his kingdom.

So, on the day we commemorate All Saints and All Souls, we might also find that we are among “those who mourn”; people who feel grief as we look around and see pain and crying, suffering and dying. We mourn because there is evil in us and around us, erupting in bedrooms and boardrooms, back alleys and battlefields. There are temptations all around us, and weaknesses deep within us, that make it an everyday struggle to follow the Lord in faith. But the promise of today’s passage is that this grim and often grotesque reality is not the final chapter of human history. There is going to be an unexpected twist in the tale with a turn toward love and peace and justice. God is writing a surprise ending to this story, and he invites each of us to play a part by doing what we can to live by the values of Christ’s kingdom.

If we do, we’ll be given a sense of comfort we never dreamed possible. We’ll find ourselves blessed, not cursed. Maybe we really are what Jesus calls “the meek”; gentle people who are trying to reject the power-hungry and violent ways of the world we live in.

Or maybe we are men and women who hunger and thirst for righteousness by actively doing the will of God. Maybe we are “pure in heart”, willing to show the world in word and deed that there is nothing more life-changing than single-minded devotion to God. Or are we “merciful”, showing others the very gift that we are so anxious to receive for ourselves.

These are not mistakes or misspellings, as strange as they look to us. Instead, they are kingdom-based qualities that can open the door to inner peace and everlasting salvation. Let’s make a place for them. Let’s try to be saints; whether capital letter or lower case, it is all about opening up to the Kingdom of God.

The challenge for us is to open ourselves to God’s kingdom, and receive this radical new reality that Jesus is inscribing on our hearts and thus making a place for the Beatitudes. Blessed are those who open the door to the kingdom of God, says Jesus; blessed are the placemakers.

That’s no typo.

God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sunday Sermon

October 2, 2011

St. Michael and All Angels Sunday

Angels. Archangels. Guardian Angels. Are they just distant relics of the past? Don't sit too close, leave room for your Guardian Angel. Don't be afraid. You're Angel will protect you, guard you, and support you, “lest you dash your foot against a stone.” All night. All day. Angels watching over me. Over you. Over all the weary world.
Angels. Messenger Angels. Bearers of the big news. Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth to all of goodwill. God's efficient emissaries. The Angel Gabriel. Bring glad tidings of great joy to the barren womb of Israel and of all humankind. Fear not, Zechariah. Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear a child. Fear not, Mary. The child already alive in you is of the Holy Spirit. Fear not, all you people of faith and goodwill. Nothing is impossible with God.
Angels. Warrior Angels. Michael, the principal principality, celestial troubleshooter, victorious, triumphant, defiant, the one who defeats the dragon in defending good over evil. Fighting Angels. Fallen Angels. Lucifer, full of light, a.k.a. Satan the deceiver, thrown out of heaven, thrown down to earth in contempt of the heavenly court to tempt the unsuspecting, spitting venom like a snake in the grass. War broke out in heaven, and ex-Angel Satan and legions of Angels all fell like lightning, conquered by the blood of the Lamb. Angels and former Angels. Principalities and Powers. A hierarchy of Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, and Seraphim.
Angels. Healing Angels. Raphael, healer of Tobit’s eyes. Exorcist Angel for Sarah. Messenger of courage. Take courage God has healing in store for you. I will go with him; have no fear. In good health we shall leave you, and in good health we shall return to you, for the way is safe. The demon, repelled by the odor of the fish, fled into Upper Egypt; Raphael pursued him there and bound him hand and foot. Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Before all men, honor and proclaim God's deeds, and do not be slack in praising him. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord. No need to fear; you are safe. Thank God now and forever.
Angels. Ascending and descending the mystical ladder linking heaven and earth. Ten thousand times ten thousand Angels serving the One whose everlasting dominion will never pass away. And every now and then, on a midnight clear, listen: you may hear once again a glorious song, of Angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.
We have grown so accustomed to the rumor of Angels that we would confuse rumor with reality. Our written records suggest that all the really important Angels are male. Michael. Gabriel. Raphael. Is this fact or is it fiction? Do they have or even need gender? Oral tradition adds its own whimsical touch. Harps. Halos. Wings. Angelic choirs. In the absence of physical evidence, our fantasy fills in the facts. We may have never seen an Angel, yet we picture fiery figures with flaming swords, or fat little cherubs, according to the circumstances of the Church year. And our assumption is that one day, we too will be Angels, claiming our halo, earning our wings and a place in the heavenly choir. We have theologically thought and rationalized and romanticized through the centuries about the subject of Angels, perhaps saying too much about something we know far too little about. Today is the feast of Angels, but what are we to celebrate? What are Angels for you and for me?
In the Gospel according to John, Jesus makes a promise to Nathaniel the Israelite. Believe in me, says Jesus, and you will see even greater things than what I have revealed to you. You'll see what Jacob and Daniel saw, and what the Saints of God have envisioned. You will see the integral connection between God and humankind, between the mysteries of heaven and the realities of Earth. You will experience the power of God and the energy of grace flowing with a fierce force between the heavenly and earthly realms. You will discern blessings ascending and descending through the Incarnate One who bridges the human and the divine. At times, you may even see Angels, for Angels signal God's presence and mediate God's providential care. Angels inhabit the realm of the spirit where we must learn more and more to dwell. And at decisive turning points in the history of faith, Angels have been known to communicate to us and interpret for us the intricacies of grace.
Angels remind us that there is more to life than what is immediately apparent. As often as seeing is believing, even more often, really believing is seeing far more than meets the eye. Such spiritual insight born of faith bestows an inner authority that demons cannot withstand. Yet Luke reminds us not to rejoice in authority or power, but rather that our names are written in the heavens to shine forever like stars.
We will understand the meaning of Angels only if we learn to transcend the language telling us what Angels are about. Forget the vain pursuit of halo and harp and eternal rest on a cloud. Enough of those larger-than-life, militant Seraphim who support our propensity for war. Put aside the hierarchical, patriarchal imagery. Angels have something important to teach us about ourselves and God. Angels remind us that our material world is influenced by the world of the spirit, and that we are intrinsically capable of inhabiting both worlds with equal ease. Humanity may rank a little lower than the angels because we are flash as well as spirit, yet through Jesus who is God's own word made flesh, we can rise above the Angels the share in the very life of God. Yet Angels delight in this. True Angels exist to do God’s will and do so with great grace and joy; not with the reluctance of Hollywood movies or bestselling novels. Look close and you will see the Angels revealing God's secret's, guarding and protecting the vulnerable, witnessing to miracles, and are called to unending praise. Today we celebrate not only their achievements, but also let the potential in ourselves to be and do the same. So we are invited to learn how to be an Angel. And may the grace of God flow in and through all of us in our weary world.
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunday Sermon

September 11, 2011

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

Day of Remembrance – September 11, 2001

(Nativity of our Lady)

What do you remember about September 11, 2001? Do you remember what you were doing the very moment the terrorist attack happened?

It was an unforgettable, gut-wrenching, world-changing day. Many of us recall exactly where we were when the terrorists attacked. In terms of national impact, it was a day on par with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the assassination of JFK.

Carl Wilton, a minister in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, vividly remembers walking down to the beach after the towers fell and looking to the north. He saw a pillar of cloud. What he was seeing, of course, was the massive column of smoke rising from the devastated buildings. He wondered: Was it a sign of the Lord's presence and power, amidst our national agony -- leading us onward, to some new way of being God's people? Or was it merely the smoke of ruination, inciting us to vengeance? He has a strong intuition that how we have answered that question as a nation over these last 10 years says everything about how our faith intersects (or fails to intersect) with our national life -- and, indeed, our individual lives as well.

Why do terror groups hate as a nation? What is a Christian response to this? Our lord calls us to find a new way to behave toward others, one that exemplifies the peace of the Gospel and the love of Christ.

In Exodus 14 we read, "The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel". God was powerfully present with the Israelite army, and in the middle of the Red Sea the Egyptians discovered that God was fighting for the Israelites. After passing on dry ground through the sea, "Israel saw the great work that the LORD did against the Egyptians".

Where was God present on 9-11? Was God fighting for us, and if so, how? In the middle of so much loss of innocent life, what work did God do on 9-11? These and many much harder questions will be asked today, just as they have been asked over the years.

Phillip Yancy, author of
Where Is God When It Hurts?, was asked after the terrorist attacks, "Where is God at a time like this?" He answered with a question of his own, "Where is the church when it hurts? If the church is doing its job -- binding wounds, comforting the grieving, offering food to the hungry -- I don't think people will wonder so much where God is when it hurts. They'll know where God is: in the presence of his people on Earth."

Then he reflected on what our nation was taught by 9-11 (
Christianity Today, October 1, 2001): "We learned that even in a city known for its crusty cynicism, heroes can emerge. We learned that at a time of crisis, we turn to our spiritual roots: the President quoting Psalm 23, the bagpiper piping Amazing Grace,' the sanitation workers stopping by their makeshift chapel, the Salvation Army chaplains dispensing grace, the chaplains comforting the grieving loved ones. Thanks to them, we know where God is when it hurts."
Today we read in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus telling the parable of the unforgiving slave to remind his followers that God forgives our sins -- but only if we forgive those who sin against us. In the parable, a king tortures a slave who refuses to show mercy to a fellow slave, and Jesus promises, "So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart".
The servant debtor did not ask the king to forgive his debt but to remain patient until he paid it off. The king did not do what the servant begged for. Instead, he immediately forgave the whole debt. Absolutely unthinkable! This overwhelming, unexpected, compassionate forgiveness of the king makes the servant’s behavior toward his fellow servant all the more despicable. It also helps us understand Jesus’ response to Peter's question about how often we are to forgive one another. God forgiveness of us knows no limits it is always granted. Anything less in our forgiveness of one another brings the same judgment against us that Jesus renders against the “wicked servant.”
Life in the church demands that we forgive one another not only because it is the compassionate thing to do but because this is how God acts and expect us to act. It belongs to the very being of God to forgive; if we are of God, then it is also of our very being to forgive also. The key to understanding this is that we are in a relationship both with God and with each other. By forgiving, we choose not to let any offense that has happened between us control how we continue to relate to one another. By forgiving we repair the damage to the relationship and restore dignity both to the forgiver and to the forgiven.
This is why counting how many times we forgive, even to the seven that Peter suggests at the beginning of the gospel, misses the point. Jesus’ response to Peter is a way of reminding us that God forgives us countless times, and this is the motivation for forgiving each other equally countless times. Our Heavenly Father has shown the way; we are to forgive each other from the heart.
As St. Paul says in Romans, “None of us lives for oneself” because we “live for the Lord.” Our relationship to each other is described in terms of our relationship to God. Forgiveness is absolutely central to the message of the whole Gospel because it is necessary in order for our relationships with God and each other to continually grow stronger and more graceful.
Christ’s dying and rising examples for us our own dying and rising, “no one dies for oneself.” We always die for the sake of the other. Forgiving entails dying to damage relationships so that we might all belong to the Lord and rise to every new life with Him. Forgiving means God has hold of us and enables us to act in a Christ like manner. Forgiving means that petty hurts or even major ruptures pale in comparison to the life-giving wholesomeness of being in healthy and strong relationships.
Now, Ten years after the 9-11 attack, have we forgiven those who sinned against us? What does forgiveness mean in the context of war or military action? Where is the link between our willingness to forgive and the forgiveness we hope to receive from God? How can we pursue reconciliation with those who have done violence to us?

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian message. Jesus not only forgave others, but challenged his followers to forgive -- not just seven times but 77 times. Forgiveness is never easy, especially when we are faced with something as awful as 9-11 which has forever changed our lives. But it is important for us to remember that it is God who forgives sin and wrongdoing. Our forgiveness is actually a participation in God's larger act of forgiveness.

Recall that in Luke's gospel, the first word of Jesus on the cross is about forgiveness: "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). We often read this as Jesus forgiving his executioners, but in actual fact, Jesus is calling on God, his Father, to forgive them all. Jesus is still in the midst of his suffering. He cannot forgive his executioners for something they have not yet completed. But he can call on his Father to forgive.

In the same way, we can ask God to forgive those who sin against us, "for they do not know what they are doing." In prayer, we can lift up those who have hurt us terribly, and trust God to include them in an act of forgiveness that is beyond our abilities as hurt and suffering human beings.

After passing safely through the Red Sea, "the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses" (Exodus 14:31). The Exodus story has been handed down from generation to generation to remind us of God's power and faithfulness, and to inspire awe and belief within us.

How will we hand the story of 9-11 to the next generation? What will its lessons be? Is there evidence that our Christian beliefs have become stronger? If so, where? What do you think the memory of 9-11 will inspire in future generations?

The late Peter Gomes, the long-serving pastor of Harvard University's Memorial Church, said after 9-11, "The whole record of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, and the whole experience of the people of God from Good Friday down to and beyond September 11, suggests that faith is forged on the anvil of human adversity. No adversity; no faith.

"Consider the lesson from the ancient Book of Ecclesiasticus. Could it be put any plainer? My son, if thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation. Set thy heart aright, and constantly endure, and do not make haste in time of calamity.' You don't need a degree in Hebrew Bible or exegesis to figure out what that is saying.

"What is the context for these words? Trouble, turmoil, tribulation, and temptation: That's the given, that's the context. What is the response for calamity? Endurance. Don't rush, don't panic. What are we to do in calamitous times? We are to slow down. We are to inquire. We are to endure. Tribulation does not invite haste; it invites contemplation, reflection, perseverance, endurance."

On this 10th anniversary of 9-11, God is giving us an opportunity to contemplate, reflect, persevere and endure. We can testify to our faith being forged -- not destroyed -- on the anvil of human adversity. We live in a society wherein there are many walks of life, many religions and many nations. This is not really any different now than it was during Christ's time. What is different is that we have Christ as our example and teacher in how to deal with them in a better way than our ancestors may have.

10 years ago was a terrible day. There are no words that can express how terrible it was for the people of this nation but most especially for those of loved ones that lost their lives. Today I do not debate the merits of what our nation is doing and the various skirmishes overseas; I simply hope to put a face on the situation in a way our Lord would will us to do. For some this may not be so hard. For others, however, this could be the most difficult thing to have ever had to do. There are some who will never be able to forgive the tragedy which happened in our lives those ten years ago.
So again, God is giving us an opportunity to contemplate, reflect, persevere and endure. Most probably a great majority of all Christian churches, and probably many other religions as well, will be praying this day for those who been lost; for those who've been left behind; for those who orchestrated this act of terrorism; but most especially that God will give us all the grace, courage and will to forgive. I know that that is my prayer for all of us today. May we all come up out of the ashes and forgive as our Lord wills us to forgive!
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sunday Sermon

August 14, 2011

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity

Have you ever noticed that the dearer something or someone is to us, the greater the need and greater our efforts are to achieve what we want? Most parents sacrifice a great deal so that children can have a better life than they did themselves growing up. Some young adults will give up free time so that they can study for college exams and improve their GPAs, or retain scholarships, and graduate with good hope for secure jobs. Those who are serious about losing weight and maintaining good health will exercise daily and eat nutritious food; food that is perhaps not especially to their liking.
Today's gospel reading (Matthew 15:21-28) of a Canaanite woman, a foreigner, approaches Jesus with a heartfelt request to heal her daughter. It is interesting that the gospel makes it a point to indicate that this woman is a foreigner or not from the “House of Israel”. Jesus seems to imply anything but a welcoming response. However she does not give up.
Many people and scholars tend to take this particular passage and think of it as very harsh. Jesus seems to initially exclude the Canaanite woman from his ministry. But the woman isn't daunted, because so great is her desire for her daughter to be healed. And because of this, the woman wins! The life of her daughter is at stake, and this gave her the courage to challenge who are to be the recipients of Jesus' ministry.
In this gospel, Jesus initially declares that his mission is only to, “the House of Israel” and consequently, and seemingly harshly, rebuffs the Canaanite woman. The continuing dialogue between Jesus and this woman leads Jesus to marvel at her great faith and thus heal her daughter. This gospel challenges us to be persons of strong faith and persistent in prayer and courageously continue asking for our needs. For such people God's salvation is already given. The encounter between Jesus and the woman reveals the unrestricted mercy of Jesus, the power of great faith, and the universality of salvation for those who believe.
There is even more good news in this gospel. Even “scraps” in God's kingdom are sufficient to meet our needs. The inclusiveness of salvation embraces all people. This gospel passage shows that even among perceived exclusions Jesus is truly open to all. And further, he embraces and meets all of our needs. Great faith recognizes that even a little bit from God is sufficient. Such faith sees the great worth that even a little bit from God holds. After all, what God offers us is life! And this life is more than even our own human life; God offers us a share in the divine life, now and for all eternity.
The Canaanite woman's single-mindedness on behalf of her daughter is rewarded with her daughter being healed. The gospel challenges us to be just as single-minded about placing our requests before God. And just as single-minded about our own inclusive ministry to others.
You might note that it is interesting that the Canaanite woman's cry to Jesus was that he “have pity on me”; not on her daughter, but on “me”. Although, certainly that was surely implied in this request. Her love for her daughter and her great desire that her daughter be healed, could not be separated from herself. She and her daughter were one in the need for healing and life.
This gives us an insight into our inclusivity and ministry. We must be so “at one” with others that someone else’s plight is our own plight. Single-mindedness, but inclusive of others. So indirectly, this gospel is asking the question, “Do we allow ourselves to be drawn in to other’s needs?” Ministry is more than doing for another; it implies an empathy with another that discloses the unity we share as members of the body of Christ. One dimension of living the Gospel is that we work to increase our unity with one another, which in turn draws us to reach out to others in mercy and compassion, no matter who they are or may be.
We sometimes think that our words to God must be correct, the “right ones”, polite, holy, and/or loving. We have a hard time “arguing” with God in the manner that the Canaanite woman used with Jesus. Our conversations with God must be as real and honest as our conversations with each other. Our God is not an impersonal God. Sometimes God wants us to argue with him. Sometimes God wants us to let our passion come forth in our words. Sometimes God simply wants to know the we care; that we believe; that we have faith!
Personally, I don't think Jesus really meant to exclude this woman all. We see by his ministry that he never excluded anyone. The woman at the well; the tax collector; the Roman Centurion, just to name a few. This passage gives the impression that Jesus was rebuffing this woman. We remember how his Disciples were taken back when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well; surely some of those same thoughts crossed their mind again here. However I don't think that was his intention at all. I think his intention was simply a ploy for his Disciple’s sake. Jesus had already associated with outcasts and lepers. Do we honestly think this woman made such a big difference from those others he had already ministered to?
Once again Jesus is showing us by example; he is showing us in a parable set on a real-life encounter; that everyone we meet, no matter who they are or may be, are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus did not exclude anyone from his ministry. Nor should any ministry claiming to be Christian exclude anyone either. And further, Jesus also makes it extremely clear, that for those who persist to call upon him in faith will be rewarded with an answer. Faith is believing and trusting when life tells you otherwise.
Jesus is telling us today that we are all loved by God no matter who we are or what life we come from or what need we have. When we come to him, we are being called to come in faith and persistence, and as such, we will not be turned away.
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Sermon

July 31, 2011

The Sixth Sunday after Trinity

When we find ourselves shrinking, shirking, shivering and sniveling in fear and doubt, God breaks through to say: "Hello! I’m here!" In fact, have you ever wondered what God thinks about us sometimes when we do or say quirky things? Let me give you just a tiny bit of what I mean.
A survey commissioned by United Airlines found that 38 percent of passengers never use the lavatory during a flight, 60 percent do, and another 2 percent aren't sure. I'm fascinated by that 2 percent. But I sure hope I never sit next to one of them on a flight!

Julee Sharik, from Orem, Utah gave birth to a 7-pound, 5-ounce son, and just 12 hours after learning she was pregnant. She explained: "Looking back, I remember times when he was moving around a lot, but I thought it was just gas."

A prison inmate escaped on the 89th day of a 90-day sentence; he was captured and had to then serve 1-1/2 more years.

A robber allowed a store clerk to make one call during the robbery--and was flabbergasted when the police arrived on the scene.
A brick-throwing, smash-and-grab thief knocked himself out, thus discovering that the shop owner had installed Plexiglas windows.
All true stories related in the news. Sometimes we need to laugh at life a little, but sometimes we simply want to cry. Sometimes we let our worries take complete control of our lives. I’m not in denial – I do it as well. Blessed Mother Teresa had what is referred to as “Dark Nights of the Soul. Yet, God is standing at the door and knocking, waiting and hoping we will simply let Him into our lives. He is always there. He’s answering us always, but sometime with the answer we don’t want, so we feel that He hasn’t answered when He has.
Paul's words of comfort in today's Romans text should cause all of us to sit up and take notice. They call out a big "Hello!" to every shrinking, shirking, shivering, sniveling one of us who lets doubt overcome conviction and fears overwhelm our faith.

If we are worried about a client, the security of your job, or the state of your finances, St. Paul calms these worries by asserting, "All things work together for good for those who love God ...." Paul offers more than the assurance of simple love. He asserts that we are considered no less than brothers and sisters of Christ and that God's sovereign will has predestined faithful men and women to become members of the divine household.

If our individual wimpy-ness before the divine love and miracle of Christ's sacrifice is embarrassing, consider the track record of the Church--the body of Christ. Armed with Paul's words that nothing is able to "separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus", the church chooses to panic over-- the loss of "status" as an institution before our government and its policies; the distance between "conservative" and "liberal" church attitudes; even little things like which translation of the Bible is best. . . .

To which, God says, "Hello!"

The problem is that Christians have let their god become too small. They have allowed their salvation to be microchip miniaturized. We are eager to pray that our checking account has enough funds in it for the transaction you are about to proceed with -- but we are hesitant to ask God to deliver the many factions around the world (and even in our own cities) from the simmering pot of hatred that keeps them locked together as bloody adversaries.

It is the transformative power of God, embodied by the once-for-all-time sacrifice of Christ, which refuses to let our lives fall prey to the clutches of evil and despair. Paul's message is not some popeyed Pollyanna optimism. The apostle is not promising that nothing bad will ever happen to us. We will experience the full forces of evil--loss, hardship, heartache--over the course of our lives.

But the promise God has made to us, through Christ's revelation of God's heart on the cross, pledges to us that such events will not overpower God's presence beside us, within us, alongside us, everyday. Our lives are forever trained toward the Light of Christ--and nothing can pull us off or away from that course. In the words of Brendan Manning, "
The Lord reveals himself to each of us in myriad ways. For me, the human face of God is the strangling Jesus stretched against a darkening sky. In a letter from prison, Bonhoeffer wrote, “'This is the only God who counts.' Christ on the cross is not a mere theological precondition for salvation. He is God's enduring Word to the world saying, 'See how much I love you. See how you must love one another.'"
God is with us, wherever we are and whatever we face.

Does our faith falter when it contemplates the challenges that surround every human life? What is on our minds right now? These are exactly the circumstances that enable Christians to live Paul's creed with confidence.

I don’t mean to stand here today and make it seem that we should not have any worries. We all do, and we all will. Some will over power us and others will fester for some time and others come back for continuous rehearsal of emotional drama. As we read in Romans last week, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” When you think about it, those words are a joyous conclusion to the argument that St. Paul has carefully unfolded in the preceding chapters of his letter to the Romans. The opposition of unbelievers and Satan will never succeed, since God is for us.
Those who have come to faith in Christ will never be found guilty, for God declares them to be right before the entire world at the divine tribunal. So Paul repeats the question, “Who then is to condemn?” As Christians we may rejoice with the certainty that we will never be condemned; for Christ died for us and paid the full penalty for our sins. He was raised, which showed that his death was effective. He is now seated triumphantly at God's right hand. He intercedes for his people on the basis of his shed blood. For interceding signifies intervention.
Paul is not saying that difficulties will not strike Christians; they are not exempted from suffering or even from being killed. Christians are more than conquerors, because God turns everything, including suffering and death, into good. Paul answers his own question with absolute certainty that nothing can ever sever God's people from his love in Christ.
Sometimes when people come to me with different problems that they want help with. And if I happen to know the person reasonably well, I will sometimes use my jovial style of sarcasm, which they are probably used to, to answer their questions and concerns. As an example. Some people know that I like to bake and make sweets. So I have the sarcastic analogy I will sometimes use. In reality I didn't develop this particular analogy; I simply have adapted it to my use. So when someone comes to me and says, something to the effect of, “My husband just got laid off; I had a pet who has just died; the son is rebellious; and I've just learned I had cancer” They want to know why and how God can allow all this to happen to them in such a short time. I will respond in this way: “You like the cakes I make, right?” “So how about some flour; would you like a spoonful of that? How about this vegetable oil? Would you like a spoonful of that? And how about baking powder? A teaspoon of that maybe?” And of course everyone will always say no make faces to each question thinking I am making light of their situation. At which point I will simply tell them that they like my cake, but make faces at the ingredients! All those ingredients go together into the batter to make the cake that you like, but you do not like the ingredients! Sometimes life is like that.
The sad truth of it is that life is much like a cake. All the good and the bad have to be put together to make the whole. Without all those things added to the batter that we do not like individually, the cake would not come out right. Life is no different really. We struggle with that sometimes - we even fear it. But God doesn't want us to fear it. He wants us to trust in him. St. Paul is telling us from his first-hand experience that we can trust in God and be assured that all will be well. It may not seem that way at that moment, sometimes, but all will be well.

In the face of death ...
there is the Resurrection.
In the face of illness ...
there is eternal healing.
In the face of danger ...
there is the right arm of God.
In the face of adversity ...
there is "blessed assurance."
In the face of confrontation ...
there is confidence.
In the face of the Serpent ...
there is the gift of the Cross.
In the face of greed ...
there is the abundant life.
In the face of pollution ...
there is God's redemption of
all creation.
In the face of hunger ...
there is a legacy of loaves and
In the face of homelessness ...
there is compassion.
In the face of hardship ...
there is the promise of goodness.
(Author: unknown.)
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.