The Roman Catholic Church of Southern Missouri


Lighthouse January 18, 2022

Be observant

Last week we stressed the importance of keeping our eyes on the star, the Word of God or there will be negative consequences. This week as the mainline churches listen to the Gospel of John telling the story of the wedding feast we are reminded of the need to keep our eyes open to the needs around us. We hear of how Jesus' mother observed that the wedding feast was running out of wine. Imagine that. Jesus just brought all his fishing buddies to the party. Notice too, that Mary brings the matter to Jesus and leaves it in his lap. Even though he says 'what's this to me.' he proceeds to solve the problem in a way far greater than any could ever imagine. Not only in terms of quantity, but quality. In that we will see how John takes this event and turns it into something much more. It's not just a miracle; it's a 'sign' for John. So yes, we should observe the needs around us. After all Jesus said what we do to the least of these we do to him personally. Beyond that though John does call it a 'sign' (something pointing beyond the event). Then, as he always does in his Gospel and the Book of Revelation, John gives us clue words pointing to the eschatology, the end times of the story of salvation. Notice that John has Jesus referring to Mary as 'woman'. Just as he began his gospel with the words: 'in the beginning was the Word', he's showing us that he is writing about the new Genesis. Genesis begins with God's greatest creation being Adam and Eve, marriage. They failed, but God says to the devil that the 'woman' would crush his head. Now this woman is telling her son, Jesus, that His time has come even though he said his hour had not yet come. At Jesus' baptism the Father had already commissioned him by saying 'this is my beloved son.' And, if you notice, all the apostles were at both occasions. Now, in response to his commissioning by his mother, what does he do? He goes beyond what any could imagine, six large full jugs of water turned to wine. Again, John uses hyperbole, as he often does, to accent the point. The point being, six is always short of the glory of God. God's rest is the seventh day in Genesis. In the rest of the Bible seven is a reminder of the eternal rest with God. All the covenants of old come up short of the permanent marital union God promised to have with his people. Again, Jesus is the seventh, the perfect wine offered in the 'cup of my blood.' Again, as I said, John calls this a sign. It's not just about any wedding but the 'wedding feast of the Lamb'. In having Jesus provide the wine John is pointing him out as the true bridegroom and in calling Mary 'woman' he has her representing all believers, the true bride. And so, eventually, at the end of the Gospel, we hear Jesus say 'woman' behold your son while pointing to John who obviously represents all believers. We all become children of God knowing that He has indeed provided 'the best wine' as we prepare for our share in the full glory of God's Sabbath.   

Lighthouse January 11, 2022

Today, as I write this, on the feast of the Epiphany I can't help but wonder: what would have happened if the three wisemen hadn't gone to Herod? Have you ever been there? Have you ever gotten a present which says 'some assembly necessary' and, looking at it, decided it was too intuitively simple so you dove right in only to discover you needed the directions and consequently needed to undo a couple pieces you already installed? I did that with a new podium I bought which only has four basic pieces. I tried every way but the right way, and I consider myself good at puzzles. Maybe you've had that happen with some software or taking a trip. You might have even used a GPS till you got close to where you were going and decided you knew you knew the rest of the way, only to discover. Can you imagine, as too often happens, someone is tired at night and gets off a four lane highway to take a break and when they want to get back on they turn back onto the lane they exited with? Even if their spouse says; 'you're going the wrong way.' they may plow ahead only to meet a disastrous consequence. Let me tell you, as Paul Harvey used to say, 'the rest of the story' with the three wise men. Because they apparently told Herod they had been following this star for 2 years I'm betting it was an angel God sent to get them to Bethlehem at Jesus' birth. God often used angels, messengers, in the old and new Testament. He even did so for the shepherds, so there is no problem thinking He did so with the wise men, only in the guise of a star. Anyway, you can see that after traveling so long when they got close to Jerusalem they instinctively said: 'that's it! Look at the big city. The new king must be there.' And, taking their eyes off the star, they hurried to see the king of Jerusalem, thinking his son would be who they were looking for. Can you imagine their thoughts when they discovered Herod didn't have a new born son. 'oh, oh!' In the process of going to Herod they took their eyes off the angel, the guide God gave them. Lucky for them God still led them to Bethlehem with the star. They had to do a little back-tracking. Coming from the east there would have been a point where Bethlehem was just as close as Jerusalem but Jerusalem got their attention. It was unlucky though for those innocents who would be slaughtered in Bethlehem. These wise men stirred up the jealousy of one who was not afraid to kill his own sons and his wife. God got them and Jesus safely out of Bethlehem now, not by an angel, but by a dream. What a lesson for us. How does God guide us today? Sometimes He still uses angels, as at Fatima. Most generally though He calls us to know HIS WORD. As St. Jerome said, 'to be ignorant of scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.' and He calls us to listen to His pastors. He told Peter “he who hears you hears me.” So, we have all the guidance we need. Do we sometimes lose sight of it and think we are good going our own way? Yes. If we do so do we not realize there will be consequences affecting this world and the next. But, just as God still used the angel to guide the wise men to Bethlehem He calls us to repentance and to turn again to listening to His Word and His pastors. And young people, if you happen to be reading this, do you not know that your parents are your guiding star? I might suggest you catch Fr. Schmitz's podcast 'The Bible in a Year'. It seems to really be gaining worldwide favor. Again, may your new year truly be 'anno domini', a 'year of the Lord.' lived one day at a time. 

Lighthouse January 4, 2022

Happy New Year 2022 Anno Domini. Sorry, maybe that's not right. Is it CE, common era? Last week in sharing about the birth of Jesus we talked about not knowing exactly when he was born but that it was important to celebrate it. We begin to realize that the way we mark time is a human construct. In other words we have been marking time for millennia. The most common way seems to have been the lunar, watching the cycles of the moon, as you only have to remember back 28 days. Greater accuracy came up when some, as the Romans and Aztecs marked a solar cycle, observing the recycled events of the sun. Over the centuries we have become more and more accurate in aligning the moon and sun to realize there were 365 days in the year. But, the the Persians were able to determine it was 365 + ¼ + days and so we eventually ended up adding an extra day every 4 years and really need to add another day every 400 years. Now, where do you start from? The beginning of this or that dynasty? Of some battle? Of Alexander the Great? Of Caesar? Or even of Napoleon? For many centuries Christians have been able to dominate the agenda with a universally accepted calendar recognizing Jesus as the center of history and referring to years before Him being BC, before Christ, and years after Him as AD, Anno Domini, Year of the Lord. Some years back there was a move to remove any recognition of Jesus from anything having to do with our public life and so it became politically correct to say BCE or CE as Before the Common Era and Common Era. What is the Common Era? What is the starting point? It just happens to correspond to the birth of Christ. So, why remove the designation of Christ who was a real personage? Why change a universally accepted standard where everyone knows what you're talking about? If we need to remove Jesus' name, why not Thor for Thursday or Mars for March. Janus for January or a political personage of Augustus Caesar for August? Why isn't there any effort to change all those? Are pagan gods okay but not the Christian God? Or, are they just cartoon characters and therefore make a joke of us all? The Chinese will continue to mark their calendar. Next year is the year of the 'pig', my year. They have been doing a cycle of 12 animals for 4716 years. The Jews will celebrate 5780 in theirs. Neither Jews or Chinese will give their calendar, up no matter what politically correct language one tries to use so why are Christians so willing to change the designation of BC and AD centering around Christ when Christ is the greatest figure in history, religious or non-religious. I don't know about you but I will continue to mark my calendar as such and remember that for me each day, every day of the year is meant to be lived in the Spirit of Christ. I pray you may truly seek to live this year as a Year of the Lord, Happy New Year 2022 AD.

Lighthouse December 28, 2021

Christ, not yet, … not yet over. Some would say, 'what do you mean, we took our tree down, our lights are gone, the cards have been pitched and we've already finished, through use or breakage, with a number of the gifts. What do you mean, it's not over?” as Westerners we like to reach goals and then move on. Some are already preparing for the next big events of Superbowl or Valentine's Day. Have you heard of the 12 days of Christmas? Have you ever checkout out what the verses mean? Why are there 12 days, Jewish and Christian tradition often looks at an octave, 8 days, as a fullness of celebration. Do we really know what day Jesus was born? no. that is the problem. The Scriptures tell us during the reign of different leaders. They tell us of the shepherds being in the fields with the lambs. But when? Few, important leaders, had their dates acknowledged on certain days. As a matter of fact, often you did not know they were important until they died. Then you acknowledged that day and with it grew the belief that great people died on the anniversary of their birth. So, with Jesus, we knew he died within a day or two of the Passover, but, what year? By the time Christians got serious about wanting to celebrate an exact day they had already gone from a lunar calendar to the Julian solar calendar which was itself off by a couple months and not corrected until Pope Gregory the Great. Anyway, they knew they didn't want to celebrate Jesus birthday the same day as His death. There were two different schools of thought as to when His death was. The East figured it to be April 6 and the West figured March 25. If they made that the time of Jesus' conception instead of birth they could figure December 25 and January 6 respectively. With that we came to an agreement to celebrate 12 days of His Birth. To this day, the East and West still celebrate Easter, Jesus' Resurrection, on different days. Anyway, why not celebrate 12 days? Why get in a hurry to move on, unless it's about the money? Why not take time, as Mary did, and ponder these things in our hearts? What are the consequences of God becoming man, like us in all things but sin? What are the consequences that he did so at a particular time, in a particular family, culture? One little boy who came from a poor and abusive household and received nothing for Christmas made the comment: “dogs make other dogs; cats make other cats; why can't Jesus make other Jesuses?” and that is precisely what He tried to do. You and I are called to be other Jesuses and show God's love to the world. Why not celebrate 12 days of Christmas, why not make it 365 days a year. Merry Christmas, yet.

Lighthouse December 21, 2021

Jesus, transponded to earth. Did God just decide to see what it would be like to walk, think and feel like these puny humans He created and then just use this willing woman who would allow Him to appear on earth through her? A key word there is use. Does God just use people as if they were an object and he were being transponded from some star ship? No. Jesus came to earth emphatically as a human being. As a matter fact each of the Gospels describe his genealogy in a different way to make sure we know this. Have you read Matthew's account lately? Were you able to pronounce all those different names tying Jesus back to Abraham? Matthew makes sure to show Jesus was connected to all peoples. Not only that but he points out “the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to Christ, fourteen generations.” Why spell out these numbers? Divide fourteen by 2 and what do you have? 7. That's God's rest. In other words it gives you 6-7s. The seventh day is to enjoy God's rest. The land was to rest every seventh year. And, after 7x7 years there was to be a jubilee for restoration of all things. Jesus says to forgive 70 x 7 times. So, again here, Matthew is showing that we've gone through six cycles of seven. Six is imperfect, so 666 is really imperfect. Matthew is saying that Jesus is the seventh set of generations. His is the time of renewal; the time of restoration, the time of jubilee. And guess what. That means, consequently, everyone who accepts Jesus as Lord is a part of that final and perfect generation. As a matter of fact, notice that, in the above quote Matthew doesn't use his name 'Jesus' but rather he points to him as the 'Christ', the 'anointed one'. To make sure we don't miss the point. And, if that isn't enough to blow your mind, how about this. Did you know that the blood on the Shroud of Turin, the blood from several different consecrated eucharistic hosts over the centuries, and the blood from a bleeding statue of Jesus have all been scientifically tested without the scientist knowing the source (blind tested) in different universities and labs, and all have come up with only female DNA, no male. So, no, God has no DNA. God used and totally became a human through the DNA of Mary. With that behind us, let us now truly celebrate Christmas and wonder at the miracle God performed in becoming one of us and accepting all our messy background as His own. He became like us in all things but sin to prove how much He truly loves us and wants us to know He understands our weaknesses and efforts. Rejoice in the Lord always and proclaim “Merry Christmas”.

Lighthouse December 14, 2021

Is the Christmas Time Schedule Possible

I thought I'd share with you a story I wrote some time ago having St. Joseph tell the Christmas story in his own words.

St. Joseph: “Some time after the angel told me not to be afraid of taking Mary into my home and how she would have a Divine Son whom I would name Jesus I was told to go to my ancestral home which was in David's town of Bethlehem. Isn't that something? I would name him. He would be my son and share in David's ancestry. Anyway, Mary insisted on going with me. I guess I didn't realize how close the delivery was. It would only be a three day walk to cover the seventy miles and I was pretty sure I could stay with relatives. Well, I didn't realize how many descendants David's family would have and was surprised to find that no one had room. One of them said I could use the stable if I wished. After all the sheep were out in the field this time of year so it would have to do. The child came quicker than I ever expected. I guess God has His reasons. After all, he is officially a descendant of David. When Jesus was born and after Mary had cared for him she needed some rest so we fixed up the hay trough for him. Isn't that something? Born in Bethlehem which means 'house of Bread' and laid in the manger where mule, cattle, sheep would feed. I couldn't help but think of the prophecy of how even the lion would eat hay with the cattle. Is he really to be the Prince of Peace? Anyhow, he was not more than settled before some shepherds came saying they were led by an angel to see this child. Then, wouldn't you know it there were others who were astrologers and said they had been following this star for two years. Apparently it was another angel who had been leading them well before his birth. But, they said when they got close they knew this king they were looking for would naturally be the son of the king here in Jerusalem and they went straight there without paying attention to the star. Boy were they surprised to discover there would be no child there but that the scriptures foretold it would be in Bethlehem. And sure enough, that star, that angel continued to lead them right here. Little did they know that Herod would kill his own family to protect his power. So, after giving their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh they were told to get out of Dodge and return home a different way. I couldn't help but appreciate the meaning of gold for a king, and frankincense for a God, but the myrrh for burial I would never understand. The gold came in handy, as like the astrologers, we were told to flee. As Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem we were told to go south to Egypt which was the same distance as Jerusalem to Nazareth. We took a little more time than usual but were able to make it in five days and on the eighth day Jesus would be circumcised in Egypt. Thankfully, we were safe. And strangely enough we were able to head home after a few days. By the fortieth day we were able to be at the temple for Jesus' presentation as a first born son. There we heard some wonderfully strange prophecy that Jesus would be the rise and fall of many and that he and Mary would experience suffering. In any case, in another five days we made it back to Nazareth where he would grow and learn my work as a craftsman. Then, there was one other incident which really stood out. When he was twelve we went to the temple as usual but this time Jesus stayed behind without us knowing it. We found him there with the leaders and answering all their questions. I'm sure they didn't realize the significance of his seemingly taking his bar-mitzvah at the age of twelve but later I did. You can take the bar-mitzvah at twelve if your father has died but I was there. I wasn't dead. So, for Jesus it meant he simply didn't have an earthly father, and I was good with that. I pray your journey on earth is good. And it will be, if you trust God in all its ups and downs. We don't have to understand everything but we have to trust.  

Lighthouse December 7, 2021

Give. Give generously. Give for the joy of giving. And 'don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.' Mt. 6:3 And thus we have the growing popularity of Santa Claus. How so? Everyone knows that Santa Claus derived from St. Nicholas who was bishop of Myra in Turkey in 260 AD. It seems Nicholas was born into a wealthy family and his parents died early. Knowing the danger of money he chose to help many and was especially known for having rescued three daughters of a poor man who could not afford a dowry for them in order to marry. Unless a lady was able to bring a certain amount of assets into the marriage relationship she may not be desirable. So, each night Nicholas would throw a bag of coins into the family home and the father was able to find each of them a husband. Other stories have grown up around this, like, throwing the money through the window and it landing in the girls shoes, or, dropping it down the chimney it lands in their stockings. After this it seems Nicholas became a common name. Now, the rest of the story. Believe it or not it was not Catholics but Protestants who brought Santa Claus into notoriety. In order to help make Christmas a more family centered event it was John Pintard who introduced St. Nicholas in 1810 to New York Historical Society on December 6 which is his feast day. Then two weeks later a poem appeared in a New York paper describing Santa Claus as one who rewards good children. The great writer Washington Irving wrote a popular story in 1812 called Diedrich Knickerbocker's History of New York which has St. Nicholas riding his wagon over the tree-tops. Starting to sound like Santa Claus? Then in 1823 The Sentinel in New York published a poem 'Twas the night before Christmas' for which Clement Moore took credit. Only after that was St. Nick closely associated with Christmas and gift giving at that time. His image continued to develop as the poem described him as looking like a peddler with a sack on his back. By the end of the 1800s stores would have Santa Claus ringing bells at the door to draw customers in. Coca Cola sealed the deal for his looks in 1931 looking as he does today. So you can understand the elaborate extent we go to to give credit to Santa Claus. Through him we are able to give anonymously. Whatever Santa looks like Christmas truly is the season for giving with hearts full of joy. It is a time to give to those less appreciated, to those who have little. We can give through our time, treasure and talent as we continue to give thanks to God for Jesus being the greatest gift of all. Can you take time to figure out how to give not only to family but to those in greater need. After all, as Jesus would say: “do not even the pagans do that.” (give to family that is).

November 23, 2021

Lighthouse, giving thanks for all things

'The Lord be with you' the celebrant says, and the people respond: 'And with your spirit'. 'Lift up your hearts.' he says, and they respond 'we lift them up to the Lord.' Then he says 'Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.' and they say: 'It is right to give Him thanks and praise.' Then the celebrant proclaims a prayer which begins with: 'It is truly right and just to give Him thanks.' That is the opening dialogue we have as we begin the most important part of our worship service which we call 'the mass'. That same dialogue has been used consistently ever since the second century. I say that not as an instruction on the Catholic service as much as to emphasize the importance of giving thanks to God. The entire mass is called a 'Eucharist' which means 'thanks' from that part of the Last Supper where Jesus took the cup called 'the cup of thanksgiving'. This week we celebrate Thanksgiving as a nation. It is right and just that we do so as a nation and as individuals. Our lives ought to be filled with thanksgiving from the moment we get up until the day is over. We have no natural right to anything we have and so recognize everything as a gift from Him. St. Paul says to give thanks to God for all things. He was thankful for the many sufferings he endured as an opportunity to share 'in the completion of the sufferings of Christ.' And if one wants to have a joy-filled life that is so necessary. All one has to do is to look at the joy of those in third world countries when they receive even a little; and the joy they have in sharing that little with others. Now, the real trick is, St. Paul says, is to give thanks for all things. Did he mean those things we don't particularly like as well. Yes he did. If we as a believing people believe that God really wants the best for us. If we believe He would not let anything happen to us without somehow intending it for our good then we must give thanks. Does not Jesus say 'If you know how to give your children what is good, how much more so does your heavenly father.' I remember in grade school we were taught to say thanks even when the teacher punished us in a corporal way. The punishment was not to give them some sort of satisfaction but to help form us and get a message through our thick skulls. As you look around your table this week, around your home, around your neighborhood, around your country, how big a list do you have to give thanks for? Now. Are you ready to include that fender-bender? That bout with the flu? That unkind thing someone said about you? Yes, we should give thanks for our many blessings, counting them one by one. But don't forget the things you didn't like.

November 9, 2021 Lighthouse

Last week we heard a couple scriptures which sound so sweet, and yet so disconcerting. In Deuteronomy 6:6 we hear the great schema proclamation that every Jew says when leaving the house. And then in Mark 12:28 we hear Jesus himself reaffirming such and then adding 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Here it is: 'The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' that sounds so sweet doesn't it. Of course we love the Lord. But, as so often happens, we don't read or mean the rest of the statement. It says 'with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.' I have to ask, what does that look like if you put flesh on it? Maybe that is why God gave us marriage. St. Paul says 'Husbands, love your wives as God loves his church.' So, okay. In marriage we can understand that through the marriage nuptials two people totally give themselves to one another and become one. There is nothing left out. What does that look like when we apply it to our love of God? Do I/we find ourselves saying: 'Yes, Lord, I love you with everything but I'm not quite willing to put my tithe, my 10% into the treasury as you ask and then still look after the needs of others.' Do I find myself saying: 'Yes Lord, I love you with everything. But, I'm not quite willing to keep holy the Sabbath if that means taking time to worship as you say: 'Do not forsake the gathering of the assembly.' and perhaps visit you in your word and let you talk to me. Do I find myself saying: 'I can't always help myself using your name in an explicative even though you say not to take your name in vain. Everyone does it; and it doesn't really mean anything. Do I find myself saying: 'Yes Lord, I love you with all that I am, but, isn't it enough to get with you on Sunday morning. Do I really have to participate with all my heart and do I have to go more often than that? I wonder, do you really think He believes we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength? What would it take to make that more believable in your life? And, that's not even looking at what it might mean to love our neighbor as ourself. Do we?

Lighthouse November 2, 2021

God created the earth, the sun, moon, plants, animals and, even humans and He said 'it was good.' Do you believe everything God did and made was good? I hope so, for so it was. What happened? God said to Adam: 'the tree of good and evil you shall not eat.' God gave the power of free will which will never be taken away. It is a power to do good or evil; to build or tear down. We can take that which is naturally good and use it for bad or evil. Can we not therefore also take that which someone has used for evil and make it good? It reminds me of being at a pastors meeting years ago when they were discussing the casino coming to town. They were questioning if they could accept money won at a casino. Or could you accept money from a robbery if it occurred years ago and the robber had no way of refunding it? One minister responded: 'it seems Satan has had the money long enough, it was time for God's people to see what they could do with it.' This past Sunday many were focused on Halloween which is getting to be one of the most expensive celebrations of the year. They do so without even realizing what it is that they should be celebrating, just like many of our secular holidays. Was that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it is one more occasion where the secular world has capitalized on what belongs to Christians. Christmas and Easter being other examples. Just think about it. At the time of Christ, only the Jews worshiped the One God. When Christians spread out into the pagan world they began trying to make everything point to Christ. Just as St. Paul when he went into the Areopagus saw the shrine to an unknown god he pointed out that unconsciously made it for the only God. So it was in 610 when the church looked at the Pantheon, a beautifully constructed round building dedicated to the many gods and decided to rededicate it to all saints. Then the secular world, recognizing that Christians were focusing on the departed, capitalized on the scariness of the aspect of death, and bingo, what was a hallowed evening became a harrowing evening. Have Christians lost the fight? No. But it is a great witness as to how we need to be conscious of this tug of war between the sacred and the profane so as not to totally lose Christmas and Easter but to continue to claim all things for Christ. We are His, our lives, our bodies, our possessions, our celebrations. All ought to be dedicated to His glory. Isn't that what it means when we say we love Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul? What Christian feast do you like most? Christmas, Three Kings, Guadalupe, Easter, St. Patrick's, St. Valentine, Pentecost, Good Friday, Thanksgiving?  

Lighthouse October 19, 2021

How would you feel if all your life you had been taught that the sign of being blessed by God was to be wealthy and then discover from God it's not about what you have but about what you give away? That was the gospel we reflected on this past Sunday. In Mark 10:17ff we hear of Jesus encountering a rich young man who has kept all the commandments and when he asked Jesus what more he must do Jesus said 'sell all you have, give to the poor, follow me.' he went away sad. I think we can all understand that. I mean, in our society today, -and we are all certainly rich by world standards,- we don't feel like we are a success unless you not only have two chickens in every pot, two cars in every garage, a extended cab dually, a camper, a boat, regular facials and pedicures and then look down on those who live in the slums and drive an old Cadillac for their status symbol. I mean, wealth as a symbol of God's blessings was a problem in the book of Job when his friends counsel him and he finally responds that we bring nothing into this world and will take nothing from it. How true that is. How far we have to go before we learn that lesson. Jesus makes it point blank 'give to the poor'. As an industrialized society we seem to have ensconced ourselves in the meaning of wealth. There are some Indian tribes which speak of a man's worth as being based on his ability to give. I believe it's Hindu theology which establishes the epitome of being a fulfilled human being when in one's later years one can abandon all they have and go begging. It's a lesson I learned when visiting a Vietnamese friend a few years ago and before we left them they took some very nice things off their walls and gave them to me and my brothers. In Mark's Gospel Jesus simply challenges us in a very direct way to make sure our priorities are in order. What are those priorities? It's salvation, people, nature, things, in that order. Jesus told the rich man 'give to the poor and come follow me.' nothing but nothing should endanger one's salvation. There is simply nothing worth trading eternal life for. In a way, while some may look down on monks, or Christians who live an austere life, they are the ones who probably have it easier. They make a decision of not having wealth and find a freedom to live life. Those who have wealth have a tremendous obligation to realize they are stewards of what belongs to God and so must be ready to give an accounting of how they use it. So, one cannot trade their salvation for people, nature or things. Then next in order is people. Jesus says give to the poor. When we put nature or things above the dispossessed, the innocent, the unborn we fail to be the human being God created us to be. And, my friends, that applies to how we vote as well. Are we voting for politicians who will keep us wealthy, who will put things above the very life of people? And, on down the line is nature, which, of course, we must take care of for it to take care of us. And last in priorities is wealth or things which are given only to take care of the first three priorities. Today I challenge you. Are your priorities in order? What do you need to do to change? Jesus guarantees that when we keep these priorities straight we will have a good life: 'Peter you will have 100 times brothers, this life and next.'

Lighthouse October 12, 2021

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of the Lord.” Ps. 19:1, and then there is Psalm 148 which I pray weekly, calling for all creatures: angels, sun and moon, stars, sea creatures, creeping things and flying birds, kings and all peoples to give praise to the Lord. He created all things, including us, so how can we not praise Him. This becomes more and more real it seems this time of year. Last week I shared my joy in witnessing marriage, how a couple's love is to praise God by truly becoming one and sharing in His creation of other human beings. This week we celebrated the feast of St. Francis of Assisi who people of all faiths seem to have an affinity for because of his rootedness in seeing all creatures, especially humans, as being related to himself. Some see him as the most perfect example of Jesus himself in his absolute affection for all. Then too, for the past couple weeks I have been getting excited again and again witnessing the change of colors in the scenery. I seem to want to look for an excuse to travel. As I went into the Bootheel for the wedding I found it so exciting to see the fields of cotton which will help cloth people; then the rice, beans, corn being harvested for food and other products; then to see all the nut bearing trees, the pecans, walnuts, acorns all coming on with an abundant crop. And if that wasn't enough, my cousin Billy Bader, owner of Bader's Orchard, made it a point to go to the orchards and pick some late peaches for me. All creatures, animals, sun, and moon give praise to God by just being, doing what they were created to do. Humans on the other hand were given free choice. Much of our praise of God may certainly be spontaneous but by our free will we are called to praise Him in choosing to do all that we know is right. We think of the 10 commandments and how our lives conform to them and then we think of the Beatitudes, the various states of blessedness Jesus pointed out. We think of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the description of love in the words of St. Paul when he says 'love is kind, love is patient, love does not put on airs' and so on. We question ourselves about whether we are giving God right-worship. Are we taking time away from the world just to give our attention to Him? After all, Paul says to 'not forsake the gathering of the assembly'. We give praise to God by coming together as His children. So, yes, while there is a natural inclination this time of year to give praise with all of creation we have to be careful that we do not ignore His call for us to come aside from the world to focus on Him as a community. I pray you find praise in your heart at all times but especially when gathered together.  

Lighthouse Sept. 21, 2021

Mt. 7:21 'Not every one who says 'lord, lord will be saved'. Mt. 25:35 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat, thirsty and you gave me to drink, naked and you clothed me...what you did to the least of these you did to me.' how these scriptures prey on my mind and heart. Is there any doubt that Jesus calls us to use the gifts he has given us, gifts of time, treasure, and talent, for building up the kingdom on earth; for recognizing the inherent dignity of every human being and asking ourselves how we can make a place at the table for them? I'm so proud of our community and the many ways our people try to work together and make these things happen. As treasure for the Clearwater Ministerial Alliance I have the privilege of receiving the regular checks from different churches, businesses and individuals to help with the food pantry. With the Outreach being right here by my house I get to see first hand the tremendous amount of items brought in for recycling making it possible to help so many with clothing, gas, utilities as well as helping other charitable organizations. I get to see all those who volunteer helping with food distribution on third Tuesdays and third Thursdays. The Boy Scouts and Post Office will again be collecting food as do different classes at school. If you would like those words of Jesus above to be addressed to you I invite you to help with the food distribution or volunteer even an hour or two a week at the Outreach and feel good about the difference you can make. Of course there are a number of other really good organizations like the Nutrition Centers in Van Buren, Ellington, and Williamsville who can really use help in delivering meals to those in need. I think the Lord gives us plenty of opportunities so we can freely choose how to use our gifts of time, talent and treasure. At the same time I think we will all have a hard time coming before Him and saying: “I didn't know.” Don't you? Think about it. Pray about it. What gifts has God given you to share? Will you?

Lighthouse Sept. 7, 2021

9/11 how that date is etched in our minds. Certain things you will never forget; where you were, what was happening, etc. when such monumental things occur. I was in the car heading for a meeting in Springfield listening to a radio station. Something I rarely do. For days we kept listening to the reactions of so many different people, especially those who lost loved ones in the buildings or in the rescue efforts. A major response we kept hearing was 'I will never forget. I will never forgive.' Those are powerful words. What traumatic events have happened in your life where you have said the same thing? If you live long enough there will be something. How are we supposed to deal with it? Every day Christians pray again and again: 'forgive me as I forgive those who trespass against me.' Of course, we tell ourselves: 'I have never done anything that serious.' We forget that the magnitude of an offense is based on the magnitude of the person being offended. Do we ever stop and think of how serious any sin is against almighty God. Yet, how does He forgive? 'Father, forgive them, they don't know what they are doing.' When Jesus died on the cross He made forgiveness available for everyone no matter who, no matter what. All we have to do is ask for it. The only sin Jesus said was unforgivable was 'blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.' And, what is that except a declaration on our part that we have no sin. We prevent the Holy Spirit from doing His job in us. 'He who says he is without sin is a liar.' so, 'forgive me as I forgive others.' even that? Yes, even that. Even if your spouse has cheated on you, even if one of the children denies you or destroys your heritage. We recall the story of the prodigal father who anxiously awaited his erring son's return. Now, why does Jesus demand that kind of forgiveness? Because He wants us to have a fullness of life. One cannot have a fullness of life if they are carrying unforgiveness in their heart. It will eat them up. Does that mean then we are to forget? Like 'forgive and forget.' Not at all. That would be pretty, let me use the expression, dumb. That's the danger of the woke culture. If we forget our history, personal or national, we are destined to experience something worse. No, in forgiving, justice demands that we seek to reestablish trust through a process of accountability. The Indians have a right to question treaties made with our government. Our government has a right to be a little skeptical of some nations. Yet, we must reach out to our one-time enemies like Japan or Germany or Italy and our current enemies who seek to do us harm and find ways to co-exist. On the personal level we also have to expect to take steps which lead to greater trust. We can't expect that to happen without effort. All things are forgivable and trust can be achieved. So, if you want peace, work for mercy.