Palm Sunday Homily

The Way of the Cross c. J. Patrick Mahon

The Way of the Cross
c. J. Patrick Mahon

Today is Palm Sunday. We began with a Gospel reading describing Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem right before Passover. Then we read a section from Isaiah about the Suffering Servant—an apt description of Jesus for the early church. Then we read Paul’s vivid description of Jesus who humbled himself unto death as a prelude for the reading of the passion and death.

This week we focus on the death by crucifixion of Jesus. If I were to ask you, “Why did Jesus die?” how would you answer me? . . . You readily told me that Jesus died for our sins. This was not the thinking of the early church. This view of Jesus’ death only came about with Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century. It made sense then but no longer makes sense. What God, but a vengeful medieval God, would require the death of God’s beloved son to make up for our sins? Continue reading

Contemplative Nonviolence

DB0A2719_DxOAt a retreat this past weekend with Pax Christi Florida, Fr. Bob Cushing, a contemplative activist, who is a nonviolent follower of the God of Peace, brought me to a new level of awareness. He woke me up from my comfortable slumber.

How can I live nonviolently in a world of violence—wars and rumors of wars, heated, violent political invective throughout the country, multinational companies that place profit above people, millions living in poverty, nuclear weapons at ready, children starving every day, one out of six people in the land of plenty living in poverty? The list goes on and on. Break out the sackcloth and ashes—lamentation, grieving is in order. As Father Bob and John Dear remind us, we have to grieve before we can move into nonviolence. Continue reading

Our Path

Taken with Canon FX film camera

Taken with Canon FX film camera c. J. Patrick Mahon Photography


My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. (Thomas Merton, (Thoughts in Solitude)

Homily Third Sunday Lent

We can fly like eagles or scrounge like vultures

We can fly like eagles or scrounge like vultures

Today’s readings offer much food for reflection. We could talk about commandments, the Law, the Torah. Suffice it to say that, for Jews, the Torah, the Laws, are seen as a positive thing. The Law sets them free. This is much different from our individualistic Western approach where we often disdain law as confining us. The Torah sets the structures for people living together. Religion is never just about me. It is about us. True religion fosters love and compassion for all others. Sometimes this is not the case. Back during the time of the great Haiti earthquake, I heard a conversation at the pool—you can learn a lot at the pool—about how great the Gospel sing had been the night before. The next conversation of heard was, “I do not know why we are bring all those injured Haitians here and treating them at our expense.” True religion has to be based on justice and compassion and the Law set the foundation. Continue reading

Ash Wednesday Homily

The Lenten Path c. J. Patrick Mahon

The Lenten Path
c. J. Patrick Mahon

It is that time of year again—Ash Wednesday. Lent has always been seen as a time for repentance. Pope Francis defines repentance as thinking and acting differently. Joel tells us that God does not want tokens and sacrifices. God wants hearts that are open to the Christ dwelling within.

Lenten practice should allow Christ to come more alive in our hearts. Traditionally, even going back to Judaism, the practices are prayer, fasting, and alms. Hence Jesus’ admonitions in today’s Gospel. By prayer we do not mean repetitive lists of wants and needs directed toward God. Lenten practice should deepen our prayer life as resting in God. Listening to God, not chattering away about our various wants and needs. Almsgiving is central to Christian practice. This week, Pope Francis opened three shower facilities on Vatican property for the homeless—almsgiving to the ultimate. Fasting means refraining from food and many other things. Fasting from consumption and consumerism is not a bad idea. Continue reading

Boehner Has Invited an Anarchist to Address Congress

It Is God's Creation

It Is God’s Creation

“Instead of listening to people, the president is standing with a bunch of left-fringe extremists and anarchists,” Boehner told reporters Wednesday. Boehner’s comments really chapped my grits. I oppose the XL pipeline on religious and environmental grounds.

I really took exception to being called an “anarchist.” I am not proposing the overthrow of government or anything like that. I am simply saying that we do not have hegemony over God’s creation. I also know that, if we mine and use up all the fossil fuel still unmined, we will self-destruct. The environment cannot handle all the carbon dioxide that will be produced by such wanton and reckless choices. Continue reading

Homily 2_7

Mating Blue Herons

Mating Blue Herons

If today’s message ended with the lament of Job in his pain and suffering, I would end the sermon right now. But, I will not. Today’s readings offer hope and chicken soup for our souls.

But first, a little side trip. The Gospel reading tells us that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law. Did you ever think about what Peter was thinking? I have. I bet Peter was thinking that if Jesus heals her the nagging will start all over again. “Peter, when are you going to get a job? Why don’t you go back to fishing so you can support your wife and kids instead of following this wild-eyed preacher all over the backwoods of Galilee?” Poor Peter!

After the healing, the Gospel tells us that Jesus healed many and drove out demons. Jesus was ministering to the people. Jesus is the face of God. God ministers to us. Yes, God is the Presence ministering to us. Blessing is a form of ministry. The Hebrew word for blessing is barukh which is related to a Hebrew word for knee. The beautiful symbolism is that our God bends God’s knee toward us in ministry and blessing. We are created in the image and likeness of God. God blesses us so that we can flourish. God ministers to us; we minister to one another. Continue reading


Light in the Darkness

Light in the Darkness

Today is the feast of the Epiphany—the culmination of the Christmas season. In the darkest days of the year, we have been proclaiming Christ made manifest as the Light of the World that is in darkness. In Christian Orthodoxy, this is the Christmas. When we first moved to Georgia, I learned two things. I was extremely jealous of my Jewish playmates. They got presents for 12 days! I also noticed that Christmas decorations came down right after Christmas whereas in Pennsylvania they came down after Epiphany. Continue reading

Christmas Reflection

DB0A1089If “God” is not up there and out there, if the “God” of theism is dead, then incarnation (Christmas) takes on significant new meaning. Incarnation means that divinity is refreshed in matter, in the physical and material. The Cosmic Christ speaks to incarnation. Divinity has been enfleshed in materiality from before that explosive moment in time when the divine became stardust, when hydrogen life began. “God” is Life as it comes at us, Life bursting forth.

The Buddhist perspective gives me a new focus on the Cosmic Christ. Buddha is not divine. The Buddha became more than what he was. Buddhists are very aware of the Buddha within. The Buddha, more than most, became the incarnation of compassionate living. Buddhist prayer is distinct from Western Christian prayer. Buddhists do not pray to a superpower up there and out there who will come to their rescue. Buddhists bless one another. They are Buddha to one another.

In post-modern thought, the Christ is not divine as coming down from above to rescue a fallen humanity. In the case of Jesus of Nazareth, myth has been translated into fact. For example, when I stood in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I did not think for one moment that I was at the actual place of Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born in the backwater town of Nazareth. Interpreting Jesus, the early followers came up with the Bethlehem story to show that the Christ was descended from David. Jesus, like the Buddha, became more than what he was. He became the Christ.

The Cosmic Christ, enfleshed “divinity,” now lives in all of creation and in each of us. Paul had it right–“I live. Now not I but Christ lives in me.” This is Christmas. This is incarnation as all mortal flesh keeps silence, pondering the immensity of Love pouring forth. Incarnation is a growing awareness of unity with all that is. Christmas is compassion.

Incarnation is justice, right order, flowing down like a mighty river. Incarnation is reaching beyond our survival instinct to become more than what we are.

Thomas Merton had a profound experience of Love incarnate at the corner of Fourth and Walnut (now Muhammad Ali Boulevard) in Louisville when, looking at the people scurrying about their daily business, generalized, “I am one with all these people. . . It is a glorious destiny be a member of the human race, though it is a race dedicated to many absurdities. . . If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, No more cruelty, No more greed.” Merton further described his experience as enfleshment, as incarnation, “I have the immense joy of being [human], a member of the race in which God became incarnate.” When we accept and bless others, we become more than what we are, more Buddha-like, more Christ-like, more divine, more of what we are meant to be..

Russ Parker, an Episcopal priest from the UK teaches that we are called to be people of blessing. When we have positive expectations and bless others, powerful things happen. The Cosmic Christ–Love Incarnate–works all things for good. The Cosmic Christ Love Power bends the universe toward justice where slalom wholeness rules. Cosmic Christ Love changes the game. Poverty is power.

Love pours forth as blessing, blessing for the cosmos and all creatures. A few weeks ago, as I was approaching the Wal-Mart in Titusville, I saw a woman walking on the sidewalk. She had a purse and a shopping bag and had just finished talking to another man. As she looked at me and approached, I was beginning to wonder what she wanted. Was she going to ask me for a handout? Then, I was completely taken aback as she said, “Can I pray for you.” I said, “No.” Then, for some reason, I stopped and went back asking, “Pray for what?” She said, “For your healing.” (I should add that I had just finished a one hour bike ride before my shopping trip and I had a hitch in my giddyup.) I said, “Okay.” She took my hands and prayed for me and my legs. The evangelical tone of her prayer made no matter. The fact that she blessed me with healing prayer mattered. I came out of the store. She was no longer there. I was haunted for the rest of the day with, “I was visited by an angel–Love in the flesh.”

Christmas tells me that we are here to be Christ for others. We are here to bless all creation. We are here to be Love incarnate for one another.

Have a blessed Christmas.