Monday, October 24, 2016

October 23, 2016
The Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity
One afternoon a carpet layer had just finished installing carpet for a lady. He stepped out for a smoke, only to realize that he had lost his cigarettes. After a quick, but fruitless search, he noticed that in the middle of the room, under the carpet that he had just installed, was a bump. His cigarettes! he thought.

“No sense pulling up the entire floor for one pack of smokes,” the carpet layer said to himself. So, he got out his mallet and flattened the bump.

Not long after, as he was cleaning up, the lady came in. “Here,” she said, handing him his pack of cigarettes. “I found them in the hallway. Now,” she said, “if only I could find my parakeet.”

Oops. My bad.

Sometimes we know when we’ve made a mistake. Sometimes we don’t. It’s the ones we don’t see that can really bite us.

There was a magazine article that I read sometime back that had a list of the 20 greatest mistakes in history. A couple of them were:

The mistake that burned down London. On the night of September 1, 1666, (you like that number??, anyway) the oven of the royal baker to the king of England sparked a fire. It wasn’t a spectacular conflagration, and it seemed like no big deal at first, but the fire burned for five days. In the end, it wiped out 13,000 homes and leveled 80 percent of the city.

Then there’s The mistake that sobered America up. Prohibition in the United States lasted from 1920 to 1933, and during this period it was illegal to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages. It seemed like a great idea at the time — outlaw liquor, and you eliminate a whole range of alcohol-related social ills. But Americans like to have a drink or two, and Prohibition opened our eyes to the ways in which organized crime will meet this demand in profitable, violent and destructive ways.

Now here’s one that tends to lead toward one of those conspiracy types of things: The mistake that killed John Wayne. Much of the filming for the movie The Conqueror was done in Utah’s Snow Canyon, which is located about 150 miles downwind from a nuclear testing facility. At least 91 of the 220 people who worked on the movie contracted cancer, and more than half of them died — including John Wayne.

A spark jumps out of an oven, and a baker fails to snuff it. A well-intentioned ban is placed on alcohol. A movie is filmed downwind from a nuke facility. These are small oversights, errors and miscalculations that we do not tend to see as major mistakes.

But secret problems can hurt us. They can quickly get out of control and kill us. They should drive us to our knees, cause us to do some searching self-examination, and lead we to confess what the Bible calls “hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12). In other words, they should cause us to admit to God, “My bad.”

Jesus tells the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector, addressing it to people who feel self-righteous, and regard others with contempt (Luke 18:9).

In other words, he is speaking to us — average people who, when we are honest with ourselves, tend to see themselves as better than average. Studies show that nine in 10 managers rate themselves as superior to their average colleagues, as do nine in 10 college professors. According to professor of psychology David Myers, most drivers — even those who have been hospitalized after accidents — believe themselves to be safer and more skilled than the average driver.

“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background,” notes humorist Dave Barry, “is that deep down inside, we all believe that we are above average drivers.”

Jesus says that two men go up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and one a tax collector. The natural assumption made by anyone hearing this story is that the Pharisee is the devout person — the good driver! The tax collector, on the other hand, is the sinner, the bad driver.

Sure enough, the Pharisee steps away from the crowd in order to maintain his purity before God, and launches into a list of all his religious accomplishments: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” He does everything right, according to the standards of the day, obeying all the religious rules of the road. In terms of keeping God’s commandments, he is way above average.

Then the tax collector bows his head, beats his breast, and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He’s feeling so ashamed that he cannot even raise his hands and look up to heaven, which is the standard position for first-century prayer. The tax collector doesn’t make any boasts or excuses — he simply asks for God’s mercy.

There’s no reason to assume that this tax collector is a particularly spectacular sinner. If he were a thief, a rogue or an adulterer, Jesus would say so. It’s much more likely that he is confessing a set of secret, hidden faults — a collection of oversights, errors and miscalculations or maybe some lies that only he would know.

So the above-average Pharisee boasts, while the sin-sick tax collector says, “My bad.” They both make a connection with God, right?


In a surprising twist, Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “I tell you, this [tax collector] went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The tax collector restores his relationship with God by asking for forgiveness, while the Pharisee moves farther away from God by boasting of his righteousness.

This isn’t what the hearers of the parable expect. They’ve been taught that good behavior draws you closer to God, while bad behavior drives you away. But Jesus is insisting that unless we are aware of our secret faults, and humble enough to know that we need forgiveness, we’re going to discover that our minor mistakes can get out of control and destroy us.

It’s always better to say “My bad” than to boast “My good.”

Think again of the historical mistakes that seemed so small at first, but then caused enormous problems. Prohibition may have been a noble idea, and a spark from a baker’s oven may have seemed like no big deal, but both turned out to be huge problems. In the same way, the Pharisee’s fasting and tithing seemed noble at first, and his pride in his good behavior seemed to be a minor mistake, but together these factors created a disaster. Without humility, there was no way for him to be right with God!

When you trust God, you get God. But when you trust only yourself, you get … only yourself.

So, what are the mistakes we make, sometimes without knowing it? It’s time for us to do some searching self-examination, confess our hidden faults, and say to God, “My bad.”

One mistake that can really bite us is our failure to see the image of God in the people around us. Step into a trolley or bus, and you tend to see differences — different skin colors, hairstyles, tattoos, piercings, body shapes and makeup choices. Some of these differences repel you and you step back, just like the Pharisee moved away from the crowd, not wanting to associate with unclean people. But these differences are all superficial, and most don’t reflect the true nature of a person. The really deep truth about a crowd of people in a trolley or bus is that they are children of God, created in the image and likeness of God. That is what we ought to be looking at.

Another mistake is to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves. Think of the times you have felt your temperature rising as the line at the post office moves at a glacial pace, and then, when you get to the counter, the clerk messes up your transaction. You want to lash out, saying, “Pay attention and get it right!” We’re quick to judge others, but slow to judge ourselves — in our own daily work, we go easy on ourselves because we know how hard it is to focus when we are ill or tired or distracted by a personal problem. Like the Pharisee in the parable, we see sin in thieves, rogues, and adulterers, but not in ourselves. And this leads others to see us as judgmental and hypocritical — which is not always far from the truth. We will oft times do not agree with this assessment, but deep down it is true.

Finally, we err when we are not honest with Godor honest with ourselvesabout our need for forgiveness. The tax collector saw himself clearly, and he confessed his sinfulness, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

All of this begs the question: HOW do I get to a place where I see the image of God in others, show mercy instead of judgment, recognize my own need for forgiveness?

The answer lies in this simple prayer, and we should pray it — regularly. How can you fail to see God in others around you when you’ve started your day by praying to God: “God, please show your mercy and grace to me today because I realize I am needy and must rely on your help”?

Pray that prayer every morning and you’ll be less critical of others, you’ll look at yourself more honestly and at others with more compassion.

And, let’s face it; this is a prayer that each of us can say, because each of us has an ongoing relationship with at least one of the seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Each of us needs to be forgiven, whether we acknowledge it or not, just as the Pharisee needed to be cleansed of the sin of pride when he said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.” It’s time to get honest — honest with God, and honest with ourselves. We cannot go home justified, restored to right relationship with God and one another, unless we admit that we need to be forgiven.

The opportunity comes to us here, just as it came to the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple — the opportunity to see our mistakes, confess our hidden faults, and ask for the gift of forgiveness.

It all begins with two words, honestly spoken: “My bad!”
Let us pray.
Father God, let us just say, “My Bad!” Often times we walk thru life much like the Pharisee in Your parable and think to ourselves that we have been this excellent religious person and been a faithful Catholic in life. Yet, when that moment passes, we can see within our souls, if we take but a moment, and see that we have not even been half-heartedly religious and not a very good Catholic at all.
Help us, dear Father, to walk a life with greater humility and to always be honest with ourselves and with You. There are always things in our life that we have failed to live up to Your expectations, our faith’s expectations, our friend’s, our family’s and our own. When we learn that to even come close to living up to all this, we must have faith and rely on Your help and love. It is thru Your grace that we are able to live as we ought.
And so, dear Father, we ask You today; “God, please show your mercy and grace to me today because I realize I am needy and must rely on your help”! We ask this, thru Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Love You +++
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church

San Diego, Ca.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

October 9, 2013
The Twentieth Sunday after Trinity
He was of another race, region and religion. But of a group of ten who were healed by Jesus, he was the only one who really knew how to live.
Jim Carrey has played The Grinch and even played God for a day in Bruce Almighty. He’s a comedian/actor who went from playing dumb to playing God. Not bad work, if you can get it.

The film Bruce Almighty shows what happens when an ambitious TV reporter is temporarily given God’s powers. Hilarity ensues, including scenes of canine toilet-training. However, in the end the movie delivers a serious message. It’s all about “not seeing your blessings,” as Jim Carrey put it in an article in USA Today a few years ago, a problem that is “a common thing for a lot of people” he continues.

Although Carrey is no longer almighty, he still knows the power of counting his blessings. In fact, he reports that he is in the habit of making lists of things that he’s grateful for. In words you don’t expect from an A-list Hollywood actor, he says, “I would challenge anybody in their darkest moment to write what they’re grateful for, even stupid little things like the green grass that made them feel good, the friendly conversation they had with somebody on an elevator. You start to realize how rich you are.”

Count your blessings. Just as the song goes that Bing Crosby made famous many eons ago, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings. Remember to be grateful. Realize how rich you are. Take the time, especially at Thanksgiving, to give thanks for everything you have been given. Jim Carrey does it. Bing Crosby says he did in his hit song.

And so does the tenth leper that we shall call “Mr. Ten.”

In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus is on a road trip, moving between Samaria and Galilee on his way to Jerusalem. As he enters a village, ten lepers approach him and call out from a distance, raising their voices in unison, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” They are desperate for healing, but as unclean people they don’t dare rush up to Jesus. They know that they are supposed to keep their distance, and live outside the community. That was the Judaic law.

Jesus sees them and feels a desire to be merciful toward them. Then he gives them a rather unusual command: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” To us, these words sound odd, but in that time period, a leper who was fortunate enough to be healed had to show himself to a priest. Only a priest could certify that a person was truly clean and able to return to the community.

As the lepers make their way toward the priests, they are miraculously cleansed, and one of them, Mr. Ten, turns on his heels and races back to Jesus, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrates himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks him incessantly.

Only one gives thanks. One out of ten. “Were not ten made clean?” asks Jesus, sounding a bit perturbed. Can you just imagine the emoji Jesus uses in His text message?! “But the other nine, where are they?” Jesus asks.
Only one takes the time to count his blessings. Only one bothers to come back to Jesus and say thanks.

A 10 percent return. That’s pretty pathetic. But are we doing any better today?
Keep in mind that the other nine lepers did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They were obedient. They followed instructions. They were doing the will of God. Can’t fault them for that.

But gratitude and thanksgiving move us beyond the standard or the acceptable and even the ordinary. A gracious attitude and lifestyle makes one extraordinary, unusual, blessed, a cut above the rest.

New research is showing that people who count their blessings may find themselves sleeping better, exercising more and caring more about others. People who remind themselves of the things they are grateful for — people who count their blessings one by one, consciously, every day — show significant improvements in mental health, and even in some aspects of physical health. And these results appear to be true whether you are a healthy college student or an older person with an incurable disease, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Here’s how the study was conducted: College students were asked to fill out a weekly report of five things for which they were grateful. They listed such things as “the generosity of friends” or their favorite musical artist.  Another group, made up of adults with incurable diseases such as polio, were asked to write down a list of things that made them thankful.

Comparable groups were asked to count their hassles, instead of their blessings. They listed aggravations such as “hard to find parking” and “finances depleting quickly.” Instead of focusing on how rich they were, members of these groups focused on their poverty.

The results were predictable. In the end, the grateful groups felt better about their lives and more optimistic about their prospects. The thankful college students exercised more, and the chronically ill adults who focused on blessings reported sleeping longer and waking up refreshed. The members of the grateful groups were also nicer to neighbors and more willing to help people with personal problems, leading the researchers to conclude that gratitude can serve as a “moral motivator.”

Being thankful is good for your physical, mental and moral health. It doesn’t seem to matter what you are grateful for, as long as you count your blessings. You can be appreciative of green grass, or generous friends, or loving family members, or pleasant elevator conversations. You can even thank God for the Justin Bieber or Beyonce. (Okay, so maybe some of us would choose someone else, but you get the idea.)

In the story of the ten lepers, the biggest surprise is that Mr. Ten is revealed to be a Samaritan. This comes as a shock to most of Jesus’ followers, because they see Samaritans as low-life losers, second-class citizens, members of the wrong race, region and religion. The Samaritan is not a respectable member of the community at all. Racial and religious prejudices have been around since the beginning of mankind practically.

This less desirable is the only one to count his blessings. And that, according to Jesus, makes all the difference. It showed Jesus that while the others had experienced the healing of their bodies, this fellow had found healing in his soul. Everyone is equal in God’s eyes.

“Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” asks Jesus. Then he says to the Samaritan, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.” Jesus slams the nine perfectly respectable lepers who went on their way without so much as a thank-you, the nine ungrateful lepers who felt that they somehow deserved to be healed, the nine self-centered lepers who had so much to do that they couldn’t take a nanosecond to return to Jesus and express their gratitude.

“Your faith has made you well,” says Jesus to Mr. Ten. Jesus gives him a fist bump and a high five not so much for the faith that asked for healing, but for the faith that returned to give thanks. After all, it’s a grateful faith — not a gimme faith — that saves us.

Mr. Ten wanted some soul-healing, and it’s no doubt what most of us need today, and we’re not going to find it until we’re able to count our blessings.

So, what have you forgotten to say “thank-you” for today?

Our challenge is to count our blessings — large and small, significant and stupid — and to be grateful to the One who is the source of every good and gracious gift. We don’t deserve a thing, whether it’s green grass or mischievous kids or caring co-workers or healthy hearts, so our attitude toward each day should be absolutely thick with thanksgiving.

A Barna Research poll revealed that despite international tensions and domestic political and racial problems, nine out of ten Americans are happy with their lives and say that their religious faith has a lot to do with it. Nine out of ten Americans are happy, and they credit their faith. That’s an impressive statistic, but does it mean that nine out of ten regularly turn to God and give thanks? Probably not. We may feel good about our lives, but we don’t always give credit where credit is due. I openly admit that I literally have to force myself each day to find things to be grateful for. We all know how easy it is to find things we are unhappy about. For many of us, it is our nature. A nature that takes time and the grace of God to change.

If we can remember to be grateful, we’ll find ourselves even healthier in body, mind and spirit. We’ll feel better about our lives, more optimistic about our prospects and more helpful toward people around us. After all, Jesus proclaimed it, and modern research confirms it — a grateful faith can make us well.

Let us pray.
Heavenly Father. As humans, we sometimes tend to view the world with negative eyes and fail to see the good and dynamic next to them. Help us to see the world in a brighter light; help us to give thanks for the many other aspects of our lives each day that we tend to miss. We can always find that which is good in the world even amongst the bad.
Help us to understand that even as we need to give You thanks for the many good things in life, You do not actually expect us to forget the bad; fore sometimes it is within this “bad” that we are inspired to do good. Help us to know that we must seek Your help and guidance in relieving ourselves of the bad. We must not go from one extreme to the other and ignore the bad any more than we currently seeming miss the good. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
God Love You +
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2, 2016
St Francis Sunday
St. Michael and All Angels
Today we take time to honor St. Francis the patron saint of our parish and St. Michael and All Angels the defenders of the Church and humanity. Both, combined into a single special day, at least for us. They have a lot in common with our Gospel reading today, as St. Francis and all Angels live out something Apostle Nathaniel (AKA Bartholomew) is complimented for from Jesus Himself. Let us examine what it is.
"Sincerity is the key. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

Comedian George Burns said that. Here's something another comedian, W.C. Fields said when caught reading the Bible: "I was looking for loopholes."
Aren’t we all!

Evangelist Billy Graham has something to say about loopholes: "You're born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there's a loophole."

Loopholes and sincerity. I bring them up because the character who we're introduced to in today’s gospel reading is a person who's apparently quite sincere and isn't looking for loopholes. He doesn't need to look. He's just that nice of a guy.

It's quite a compliment Jesus pays Nathanael at their first meeting. When Jesus saw Nathanael walking toward him, he says, "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him!"

That's not something that could be said about everyone, and not even about every Christian; many of us, even many of us who have good intentions, tend to be calculating in our speech, weighing what we say to put our best foot forward or to avoid encouraging someone who's a pest.

"No deceit," which is the wording in the New Revised Standard Version, is an accurate translation of the underlying Greek word. However, we prefer the rendering of the New American Bible: "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him." Duplicity is simply easier on the ears. We don’t like feelings or thoughts of guilt.

Or maybe we would prefer "guile" over “duplicity” because even the word has a dark sound to it. A person with guile sounds like someone you'd want to avoid. Almost Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-ish. The word "guile" has its roots in the Old English word wigle, which denotes witchcraft and sorcery. That word was picked up by French speakers where it became guille, which came back into Middle English as guile. In modern English, the word has lost the witchcraft connotation, but it retains the sense of deceitfulness, or of "snare." (In fact, the Greek word John used that's translated as deceit or guile is dolos, which was derived from an even older Greek word meaning "decoy.")

But Nathanael, Jesus declares on their first meeting, is a true Israelite, without guile or duplicity -- he's not crafty, not deceptive and not out to take advantage of others. Some bible translations  paraphrases Jesus' statement as "There's a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body." Sounds more like our American way of putting it.

Some Jews who may have grown up learning the Hebrew Bible would immediately recognize other biblical connections behind Jesus' comment about Nathanael. Psalm 32:2 declares, "Happy is the one whom the LORD does not accuse of doing wrong and who is free from all deceit". And Isaiah 53:9 describes the suffering servant of God as one who has "no deceit in his mouth."

So if Nathanael was without guile, it means that he makes no claim about himself that he does not strive to live up to. He does not wear a mask in public to hide his true feelings. He gives honest answers. He's sincere and upright. He doesn't look for a loophole; he's not angling for some ethical wigle room.

It was a great compliment Jesus gave him.

Because Nathanael has no guile or duplicity, Jesus calls him a "true Israelite." There's a certain irony in that, for the person in the Bible who was originally given the name Israel, and from whom the people of Israel took their name, was Jacob. He was the one who, as a young man, took advantage of his hungry twin brother Esau and persuaded him to hand over his birthright for a bowl of stew. He's the one who later tricked his father into giving him the blessing meant for Esau. He's the one who later fled from his father-in-law's house after deceiving him about his intentions (Genesis 31:20). In fact, even his name Jacob means "He supplants." (And supplanting is defined as "usurping the place of another, often by underhanded tactics.")

Yet after Jacob wrestles with a divine figure, God blesses Jacob in the form of a new name, Israel (which means, "one who strives with God"). It's not clear that the new name given to Jacob results in a character change, however. Even later that day, after a peaceful reunion with Esau, Jacob deceives him as well, dissembling about where he intends to travel next (Genesis 33:12-14).

Jesus' comment about Nathanael's being a true Israelite, however, indicates that however Jacob/Israel behaved, God's intention for the people of Israel is that they be without duplicity -- people of integrity. So Jesus' "no-duplicity" remark makes Nathanael a model for the kind of character Jesus' followers should embody and display.

That's reinforced by one more allusion to Jacob which Jesus makes in his conversation with Nathanael. After Nathanael declares his belief that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus tells him that he will see " heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man." That references the dream Jacob had of angels, ascending and descending, connecting heaven and Earth (Genesis 28:10-17). In the original event, the place where Jacob had the dream, Bethel, came to be considered holy, but Jesus is saying that the angels will ascend and descend upon Him as they did on Bethel.

So, what’s the lesson here? This reminds us that for Christians, Jesus himself is the holy place. As God dwelt at Bethel, so he dwells in Jesus and wherever Jesus is present.

So what Jesus is saying is that honest character, like that of Nathanael, is to be one mark of the people of the new Israel -- those who respond to the call of God in Christ Jesus, which, of course, includes us.

Now, what does it mean for us to be people without wigle? Maybe we can understand it better by thinking about what it does not mean.

To be without duplicity does not mean to be pushovers or naively trusting of all. In the animal kingdom, dogs comprise one species that's surely without duplicity. It's generally easy to know what dogs are feeling, because it shows all over their bodies. If they're happy to see you, you know it. If they're frightened, you know it. And so on. What you see is what they are. They don't seem to possess the genes for deceit; they essentially are simple, trusting creatures who can be easily fooled. They're without duplicity, but also without human wisdom.

Jesus is not calling for us to be dog-simple or easy targets for scam artists and identity thieves. When Jesus sent his disciples out to proclaim the gospel in the towns of Palestine, he told them, "See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Matthew 10:16).

Likewise, to be without duplicity does not mean to deny that we are complex individuals who are sometimes driven by motives that we're not even aware of or shaped by experiences and scars from earlier times in our lives. In the living of our days and in our dealings with others, we sometimes use defense mechanisms such as denial, rationalization or passive aggression. When we're able to be radically honest with ourselves, however, we can work to get past such mechanisms and deal with conflicts in more straightforward ways. But still, it's doubtful that Jesus was trying to make us feel guilty for being human. Being without duplicity is not a call to deny our complexity, but to live by our highest values.

Consider the old TV show House. Its main character, Dr. Gregory House, is a diagnostician at a major medical center. He's clearly a complex man but one who is filled with duplicity. His highest allegiance seems to be to logic, not to honesty or kindness or fair play, and certainly not to God, who doesn't fit into his view of the world. Yet those who know him best tell him he's actually driven by the desire to avoid the pain of honest relationships.

House's behavior makes for interesting television, but it would be a cold world if everyone were like him. Further, he operates on the assumption that everybody lies, and he frequently reminds his team of that assumption. Often, when faced with a patient whose illness he's having trouble diagnosing, he sends members of his team to break into the patient's home to see what the person might be hiding. He assumes that his patients have not told the truth while giving their medical history. And sometimes he's right. The shows were often a study in duplicity.

To be without duplicity doesn't mean that we have no social skills. Often social skills are taken to assume that we lie in relatively innocent dealings with others; we tell so-called white lies. We say, "No, that doesn't look like a toupee at all" even when we can spot it a hundred feet away, or "The cookies were great," when we didn't like them or "What an adorable baby!" when we're thinking, "Too bad she looks like her father!"

Actually, it's possible to be sociable and friendly without lying, though it takes a bit more thought, or finesse as some like to call it.

More importantly, to be without duplicity means to live with our hearts open to truth, and not run from it. It means that when we become aware of unflattering truth about ourselves, we make the necessary changes truth requires of us. We don't bend facts to fit some false idea of ourselves. We're truthful with others and truthful with ourselves. And we admit it when we have made a mistake or a misstep. (Note how Nathanael quickly abandoned his prejudicial statement about Jesus -- "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" -- once Jesus spoke with him. One commentator describes Nathanael as "a good man, hampered by prejudice, but quite willing to be enlightened.")

Have you ever lived or worked around someone who is sneaky? How did it make you feel to be around that person? Probably not good. Fr. Roy Cimagala, a priest in the Philippines, writing about this Scripture reading on Nathanael, says that people without duplicity are ...

“Humble enough to accept things as they are, never bending them to make the pieces fit [their] own ideas. Rather, the contrary. That's why you immediately feel good every time you meet such persons. They always exude such welcome and wholesome aura about themselves in spite of their imperfections. They contribute in making society more at peace and in harmony.”

Make no mistake, living with integrity and exuding a wholesome aura is not the sum total of Christianity. And there are certainly wholesome people of integrity who are not Christians. To follow Jesus also means to live by the Great Commandments, to follow the example and teachings of Jesus and to embrace him as Savior and Lord. But living without duplicity is one expression of loving God and loving neighbor. We are all called to this life in the examples we see in our Patron, St. Francis and that of the good angels, like St. Michael, Raphael and Gabriel.

There come times for all of us when to lie, to be sneaky, to take advantage of someone else, to misrepresent our actions, to deny our wrongdoings or to do some other devious thing would be expedient. But Nathanael, St. Francis and all the Angles can serve as a reminder for us that our Lord praised living without guile or duplicity, and so that makes it the Christian thing to do.
Let us pray.
Father God, in the world you created and we have hence misshaped, we are people of duplicity when we are honest enough not only with You, but ourselves. We have found life to be so much easier to be one person to someone and yet different person to another.
Father, we ask You today to help us see that the only true way of living out our lives as Christians is to be true to You, ourselves and especially to others. No one wants to cause hurt feelings, of course, but we must gain the finesse to speak the truth in ways that shows whom we are talking to that we love them even if we are speaking of something about them we may disagree with.
Help us to be more like Your Apostle Nathaniel who, thou doubted at first anything good could come from Nazareth, had an open mind and a willingness to believe there is still good in the world and good in everyone. When we are open to seeing and learning that our biases can be wrong, we become better Christians and more able to love You and Your created works – our fellow mankind. We ask all this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Love You +++
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.