Deacon Ken’s Homily

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 24th Sunday in Ordinary Times

      Did you ever feel like God was giving you a nudge to do something, and that something wasn’t something you wanted to do? It happened to me on Monday morning. I opened my Christian Prayer Book guide and saw the date: 11 September 2023. September 11th. I’ll never forget that date. Everybody born before 11 September 2001, can tell you where they were and what they were doing on that day. I was hauling asphalt out of Spring Valley when the plant operator called me up to the tower saying: “Ken, you’ve got to come see this! I saw a replay of the first plane fly into the tower. I’m sure you would agree when I say it was horrific!

     I think of the poor souls who were instantly vaporized by the flames. I think of others trying to escape through fire and darkness only to have the building crumble down on them. I can still see the image of a man leap from the building to escape the flames from a height no one could survive.

      As I finished my morning prayers, I felt a need to pray for all of the victims of 9/11, the ones in the towers, the planes and the Pentagon. And then I felt the nudge to pray for the terrorists who killed so many people. I didn’t want to. I thought: “why in the world should I pray for those terrorists?” My cousin’s wife Laura was one of the lucky ones to escape from the towers, but her escape was short lived. Five years later she died of a respiratory disease, like many others who had breathed in the toxic air that day.

       I had printed out the readings for today and had them folded up in my trouser pocket and the words seven times seventy Ken, seven times seventy came to mind It was then I began to pray for those horrible creatures. They were God’s creatures, and they were in need of forgiveness.

       Forgiving over and over again sounds easy in theory. However, it doesn’t seem to me to be that easy in practice. That comes from my own experience and from my own observations. Scripture makes it very plain that if we want to be forgiven of our sins, we MUST forgive those who have sinned against us. Forgive others as God has forgiven us. It doesn’t mean that we have to forget the sin committed against us, it means that to love God we have to love our neighbor, and to love our neighbor we have to forgive them. If we choose not to forgive those who have sinned against us, then we have become their judge. God tells us: “Do not judge, for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged” (Mat 7:1-2). When we begin to judge, where does it stop? Does it stop at the one who has sinned against us? Do we judge the way someone dresses? Do we judge the person with the blue colored hair? What about the individuals who stand on the entrance and exit ramps asking for money? Do we judge them? God is the only authority who can judge, not us.

       God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), even those who commit the most despicable sins. When we choose not to forgive, we are telling God that this sinner is not worthy of HIS love and are deserving of Hell. There is no offense, however serious, that God and the Church cannot forgive, there is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided their repentance is Honest. Christ, who died for all, desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin. God will never stop pardoning our unfaithfulness and sins.

     Brothers and Sisters, be merciful, as your Father is merciful. When we choose mercy, we choose life for the other, and for us.

      Hell is relevant. It is hot, it is chaotic, and we should want no part of it. When we need to forgive someone, we only need to recall Jesus’ words from the cross when He said: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. Forgive others, as your heavenly Father has forgiven you.

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Times

     Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just. The scene is 1943, Rome, Italy. Rome has just been seized by the Germans. Colonel Herbert Kappler is selected to represent the German government. His duties are to arrest Jewish people and send them to concentration camps. Additionally, he is tasked to round up escaped Prisoners of War and, return them to the POW camps. He is also tasked to arrest revolutionaries. Colonel Kappler was a brutal man.

      Colonel Kappler’s nemesis is Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty. Monsignor O’Flaherty has organized an underground network to assist Jews, escaped POWs and revolutionaries. The Monsignor hides these people in houses, farm buildings and church buildings and, supplies them with food and false documents so they can escape over the mountains into Switzerland. It is estimated that Monsignor O’Flaherty assisted over 6,500 people during the German occupation. After a subsequent length of time, Colonel Kappler realizes what Monsignor O’Flaherty is doing and orders that should Monsignor O’Flaherty ever leave the Vatican, he is to be shot and killed on sight.

     Towards the end of the war, with the Allies advancing on Rome, Colonel Kappler asks Monsignor O’Flaherty to get his (Kappler’s) wife and children safely to Switzerland, as Kappler believes that the partisans will murder them if they don’t escape. Monsignor O’Flaherty tells Colonel Kappler: “You ask me to help you after all the damage you have done here! I will see you in Hell first.” Miraculously, Colonel Kappler’s family escapes to Switzerland.

Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just.

   If you’ve never seen the movie “The Scarlet and the Black”, I highly recommend it. You can get from the local library.

      In today’s language, the Canaanite woman was being a Mama Bear. She was being obnoxious and pushy, but Jesus and the apostles weren’t even going to give her the time of day. After all, she was a Canaanite and, they were Jews. They had been bitter enemies for a number of years. It was the Israelites who marched around Jericho, a Canaanite city, and blew the trumpets on the seventh day, which caused the walls to fall. No love lost between them. Mama bear wasn’t going to go down without a fight. She hounded and pestered until Jesus was forced to a respond to her. Jesus compared her to a dog! Not to be outdone, the Canaanite woman shoots back “even dogs get scraps that fall from the master’s table”. This Mama bear wasn’t going to leave without her daughter being healed. Jesus relented and healed Mama Bear’s daughter. Jesus has a plan, a teaching moment for his apostles. A teaching moment for us! Do you suppose Jesus recalled the words of the Prophet Isaiah?

“Observe what is right, do what is just”.

     Jesus is teaching his apostles and us that when it comes to love, there should be no barriers and no prejudices between us. Not nationality, not gender, not skin color. God’s love is for everybody, even an impetuous Canaanite woman who needs God’s mercy and love and a little Canaanite girl who needs healing, and even you and me. Today, God is offering us proof of His great love. God offers us Proof of his love through the words of scripture in the story of a Canaanite woman who came to faith, and whose daughter was healed. God offers us proof of his love in the true story of a brutal German Officer who came to know God, in a military prison with the help of a kindly Monsignor who once was his nemesis. In all of this, God offers us the proof of his love, when we share his love with the “outsiders of society”. God’s love transcends all boundaries, and is given freely for those who accept it. God offers us proof of his love through His Son Jesus who died on a cross for a Canaanite woman and her sickly daughter, a brutal German Officer, and us, that our souls might be made clean.

May the word of the Prophet Isaiah,

“Observe what is right, do what is just”

Be our guide as we walk this path called life.

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Times

       Did you ever wake up from sleep and have an urgent thought come to mind? Friday morning when I woke up, my first thought was… I didn’t take the trash can out last night! I was a bit worried. Sometimes our garbage man comes early morning, sometimes early afternoon. I didn’t know what it was going to be that day, but I wanted to be sure our trash went out. The garbage can was pretty full and heavy. I had gathered all the trash from the little trash cans in the rooms and had emptied them into the larger trash can in the kitchen. On the kitchen counter, I saw a big brown paper sack with what I thought was dried flowers from a flower arraignment Susie had on the table on the porch. I took the garbage bag out of the kitchen trash can and replaced it with a new one, grabbed the paper sack with what I thought was dried flowers and headed to the back porch to take all the trash down to the road. I found out a short time later that brown paper sack contained stems and buds which our son Tony was drying so he could collect seeds to plant next year’s garden. Oops,

      Like all parables, the “Seeds and Sower” parable is not about seeds and sowers at all. It’s about people, hopefully disciples of Jesus and what they do with the word of God. To some, they hear the word of God and are unbelieving or are indifferent to the word of God. Some hear the word of God, but they don’t let it “sink in”, so it doesn’t stay with them long. Some hear the word of God but are much too busy for the word to bear fruit in their lives. But some, hear the word of God and act on it, and it is those disciples whose lives will bear fruit. And what is the fruit? Our Salvation!

       The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord plants his word in us and that His word will not return to him void, but will do his will achieving the end for which he sent it. God is doing his part, He is planting the seed. He’s planted it at just the right depth for it to do exactly as he wills for us so He can have a maximum yield. We are the soil, in which the seed is planted. What type of soil are we? I truly believe that all of us, at different times in our lives, fit the description of each soil, the path, the shallow soil, the soil among the thorns, and yes, even the rich soil. Saint Paul tells us that we have the first fruits of the Spirit planted in us and that we have to fight the way of the world. We allow the world to push us around. The world tells us that it is okay to act the way the world wants us to, and not act like Jesus wants us to. The world tells us what we should think, especially when it comes to others who are not like us. We will groan within ourselves, but we have to work through the present time to get to the glory prepared for us. How sweet it is going to be! But how do we get there?

      Prayer is the life of the new heart. Using meditative prayer we are able to discern God’s word, and it brings us into God’s light. We ask ourselves, Lord, what are you asking of me today? How can I bear fruit for you today? God’s word always calls us to action. Brothers and Sisters, we owe it to ourselves to allow God’s seed to be sown in our hearts lest we resemble the first three kinds of soil found in the parable of the Sower. May our thoughts, words, and actions aim at what is is pleasing in God’s sight that we might help harvest a bountiful fold, and obtain our salvation.

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Homily for Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Times

What does your super-hero look like? We all know that superman wears a big red “S” on his chest. We don’t have much of a description of God other than in Revelations. John portrays God in his vision as having a robe with a golden sash, white hair, eyes like blazing fire, feet like bronze and a voice like rushing waters. He holds seven stars in his right hand and has a double-edged sword coming out of his mouth. No big red “G”, no snappy suit or cape. I don’t know about you but, that’s not the looks of the kind of hero I would want to flock to! Just sayin’. That leaves us to take God at his word when he says that He is love. Pure and simple love. A love so good, that you and I can’t even comprehend. All God ask of us in return is to keep our covenant with him, that we might be his special possession, dearer to him than all other people. This covenant transcends to us through the new covenant of Jesus.

God proved his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. God has redeemed us through the sacrifice of his son. He has set us free from sins and forgives us of the sins we have committed, and the sins of omission. Remember this phrase: “what we have done and what we have failed to do”. Having set us free from sins, God has given us a purpose. That purpose is to help others come to know, love and serve God. How do we do that?

Through baptism, we serve as priests to bring other people to God. We do this when we offer our time, talents, treasures and abilities to God. Through our sacrificial efforts we invite others into our church, our homes, our lives, where they discover what a relationship with Jesus looks like. We serve our community as prophets when we spread the word of God and the community sees the deeds we perform. We serve as kings in our efforts to lead others, and to serve others when we use our talents to spread the Kingdom of God, especially to those who need to hear the Gospel.

Just like in Jesus’ time, the world is still full of those who are hungry, poor, confused and hurting in some way. Jesus still looks around and sees people ‘like sheep without a shepherd’. He tells us that the laborers are few. That’s why it is so important for each and every one of us, no matter our age or gender to answer the call to his service. Just a Jesus called the twelve then, Jesus is calling us now to continue his loving ministry.

In his song “Help is on the Way”, Christian artist Toby Mac sings:
Well I’ve seen my share of troubles
But the Lord ain’t failed me yet.
So I’m holding on to the promise y’all
That He’s rolling up His sleeves again
He’s rolling up is sleeves again

Brothers and Sisters, it’s time for us to roll up our sleeves for the Kingdom of God is at hand. Today, people need to know that the kingdom is real and reachable. Today God is telling us to go out into the world and give of ourselves, just as God has given to us. Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s who wear the big red “D” on your suits,
work uniform, scrubs and bib overall. You are super-heroes!

Deacon Ken Stewart

I Am Yours Prayer
Based on Psalm 100

Lord, you know me so well.
Your love makes me want to serve you.
I am happy when I am close to you.

I know you are God.
You created me and I am yours.
You are always watching over me and protecting me,
Like a shepherd watching his sheep.

So I come before you full of joy.
I praise you and thank you.

Your kindness lasts forever.
Throughout the ages you have rescued me.
I know I am treasured.
Thank you.


Deacon Ken’s 2nd Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy)

     I read a story not long ago about a Bar in Texas whose owner wanted to expand the bar. The owner had the land to accomplish his wish. A certain church in the town, desired that the bar be done away with completely, so the church began to have prayer services asking God that He would do something to prevent the expansion of the bar. Sure enough, about a week before the bar was to open with its new expansion, lightening struck the bar and burned the entire structure to the ground. The whole church congregation gathered and bragged about how their intercession had brought the demise of the bar. Naturally, the bar owner was furious with the church. He hired a lawyer and sued the church claiming that the actions of the church were either directly or indirectly the cause of the fire. Of course, the church denied all responsibility for the damage to the bar. Having read the bar owner’s complaint, the Judge exclaimed: “I’m not sure how I’m going to settle this claim. It seems I now have a bar owner that believes in the power of prayer, and now, a whole church congregation who doesn’t”.

     There are a couple questions in the moral of this story that we can ask ourselves. What does it take for me to believe? Will I stick to my guns when I’m pressed about my beliefs?

     Poor “Doubting Thomas”. He didn’t say he couldn’t believe. He said “I will not” believe! That’s sad! Unfortunately, there is a little bit of doubting Thomas in all of us. Do we pray and believe that God will answer our prayers? Do we believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist? Do we believe that Jesus died to expiate our sins, rose from the dead, and is coming back one day for us? All hard to believe without seeing!

     What has to happen for us to believe without seeing? Which is greater, to see and believe or to believe without seeing? Which takes the greater faith? Do we have it? A great example of those who believed in God’s word and, Jesus’ actions and words, can be found in the first reading. In today’s vernacular “They had it going on!” Imagine living in a world where we could devote ourselves to the teaching of the apostles, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. To see or even just to hear about the many wonders and signs the apostles were doing. Some apostles were raising people from the dead. Imagine living in a world where we were all praising God and truly enjoying each other’s company. Imagine living in a world where the number one song was always “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.

     Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. The message of Divine Mercy Sunday is that God loves us – all of us, especially sinners. He wants us to know that his love and mercy are greater than our sins. God wants us to put our trust in him so that He can grant us His mercy. And, as we receive his mercy, He wants us to share that mercy with others. When we share his mercy with others, all will come to share His joy. Today, we are reminded that Jesus ate with Sinners. In his words and deeds He showed them the Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. The proof of his boundless love is the sacrifice of his own life for the forgiveness of sins.

      Not just today but every day, devote some time to the teachings of the apostles. Contemplate Jesus’ great love and mercy for us in the breaking of the bread. May we always remember that in this Holy house, and in our homes and hearts, in the words of the responsorial psalm, “Give thanks for the Lord for he is good, His love is everlasting.

     A most Happy and Joyous Divine Mercy Sunday to you all!

Deacon Ken Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Fourth Sunday of Lent

      One bright sunny afternoon, my friend Barry said to me: “your eyes are better than mine, help me look up this part number on my dump truck. Barry raised his hood and we cleaned a bit of dirt and grime from whatever part it was and there were the numbers, except we still couldn’t read them. Barry said: “A friend of mine said that when you are trying to look at something, even in broad daylight like this, if you can’t read the number, shine a light on it and you will see the number.” Barry took out his little flashlight, shined the beam on the numbers and I kid you not, the numbers just about jumped out at us! I couldn’t believe it!

      Ask yourself this question: What does “Light” mean in a biblical sense? Perhaps you would be like me and him/haw around and take wild guesses and still be unsure of what “Light” in a biblical sense really means. Like me you might come to the realization that “You think you know what light means”. And, like me, you might think “Surely the answer can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic church. Let me save you some time. You will find: Baptism as light, Children of light, light of faith, light of reason and on and on. You get the picture: no clear definition of what “light” is.

From today’s scriptures we can glean a couple of things about light.
1). Light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
2). It is so that the works of GOD may be made visible, not just through the man born blind, but made visible through you and I. We can look to Jesus as an example of how to live our lives so as to glorify GOD. Jesus had a heart for those who were on the fringes of society. He had a heart for the poor, widows, and orphans. He ate with sinners and challenged them to change their lives, and afterwards he forgave them and gave them a fresh start in life. He prayed for those who were suffering. As Jesus traveled along, he shared the Gospel, the way that Christians find their way to heaven when their earthly life is done. Jesus loved to the point that he gave his life for us. It’s these things that Jesus expects us to take to heart. When we follow his words and actions, we become light. As Jesus is the “light of the world”, we become “light for the world.

      As we continue our Lenten journey, may our focus be on being light for others. Here are a few prayers I’ve discovered that might help along the way: “God, give me the grace to rise above my human weaknesses”. “Wisdom of God be with me, always at work in me.” (Christian Prayer, Saturday morning Week III) And from that great theologian Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say I used everything you gave me”.

     My Brothers and Sisters, just outside the doors of the church, a battle is raging: A battle between good and evil, light and darkness. As we enter the battleground, may the light of Jesus shine in us, and through us. Semper Fidelis!

Deacon Ken’s Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

      A number of years ago, I heard a story titled “A Cat Kicking World” by a motivational speaker by the name of Zig Ziglar, and I want to share it with you. I’ve had to shorten the story, and even though the story is not as lengthy as Mr. Ziglar tells it, I’m certain you will get the point. The story begins:

     Mr. B is the owner of a sales business. He has gone to the Country Club for lunch, and as often happens finds himself going to be late returning to the office. He leaves the country club, burns rubber and is doing ninety miles an hour on the freeway. He gets pulled over by the long arm of the law and receives a speeding ticket. While receiving his ticket he yells at the officer that He is a law abiding citizen and that the police should be out looking for real criminals like robbers and thieves and should leave guys like him alone. Now, Mr. B was going to be forty-five minutes late returning to the office. He was upset! Mr. B did what most people who are upset do; he called in his sales manager and asked about the Reid account. Do we have it, or do we not? Mr. B’s sales manager said: “Mr. B, I thought we had it. I don’t know what happened, but it fell through for some reason.” Mr. B said “You better find another account to replace that account or I’m going to fire you and find someone who can! He was upset! But if you think he was upset, you should have seen the sales manager. The sales manager said: “I’ve been working for this company as the sales manager for eighteen years. If it wasn’t for me, this company would have gone under long ago.” The sales manager went to his secretary and asked: “Do you have the five letters I asked you to type?” She said “no sir, you told me to work on a different account first and so the letters are not typed.” He told her: I want these five letters typed today and if you can’t get it done, I’ll fire you and hire someone who can. He was upset! If you think he was upset, you should have seen the secretary. She said: “I’ve been at this company for eight years, I’ve done everything I was asked to do and then some and he threatens to fire me after all I know about him! Why, this company would have gone under years ago had it not been for me! She was upset! She took the five letters to the switchboard operator and said: “I want these five letters typed up right away. You sit out here and occasionally answer the phone, so you have plenty of time to get these done. If you can’t get them done, I’ll fire you and find someone who can. She was upset! But if you think she was upset, you should have seen that switchboard operator. She said, “I do more work around here than any three people combined. They all joke, goof off, carry on and gossip in the back. When something need to be done quickly it gets thrown in my lap, she was upset! But she got the letters done. That evening when she went home, she slammed the door behind her, went to her house and there was her twelve year old son lying on the floor watching the television with a big rip across the seat of his pants. She said: “Son, I’ve told you to change into your play clothes when you come home from school and now those pants are ruined. Because you didn’t listen, you can go right on upstairs to your room right now, there will no supper for you and no television for three weeks. Mommy works so hard to keep you fed and clothed.” She was upset! But if you think she was upset, you should have seen that little boy! The little boy said: “It was an accident. It could have happened to anybody. I was doing something for her and she never even gave me a chance to explain. Now I’m not going to have supper tonight and no television for three weeks. He was upset! As he was going to his bedroom, his tomcat made a terrible mistake and walked in front of the boy. The boy reared back and kicked that cat and said: “Get out of here, you’ve probably been up to some no good yourself!” Now think about this. Wouldn’t it have been easier on everyone in this story if Mr. B would have left the country club, drove to the switchboard operator’s house and kicked that cat himself!

      We do live in a cat kicking world. Sometimes, we kick another’s cat. Sometimes, we let others kick our cat. When someone kicks our cat, and we respond negatively, we let them bring us down to their level.

     Be Holy, for I, the LORD your God am holy. Can we really be holy? No way! But we can choose to respond differently from what the world dictates our response should be. It’s in our DNA, but not in our nature. But, we can strive to be Holy. Holy in this instance means that we as Christians are “set apart”. We are called to act differently and love differently than what the world would have us do. Saint Paul says: Don’t be like the world, for “the wisdom of the world is foolishness”. As disciples of Christ we are called to act at a higher standard. When the Gospel begins with “The Lord said to his Disciples”, guess who the Lord is speaking to? You and me. What he said to his disciples two thousand years ago, he is saying to you and me today. Be Holy, for I, the LORD your God, am Holy.

      Jesus asks us to stretch ourselves and love those who are hard to love. How do we do that? The Catechism tells us that love “begins in the heart, where humans choose between the pure and the impure, where faith, hope, and charity are formed and with them all the other virtues. The Gospel thus brings the Law to its fullness through imitation of the perfection of the heavenly Father, through forgiveness of enemies and prayer for persecutors” (CCC1968).

     Father Thomas Merton puts it this way: “Speak words of hope. Be human in this most inhuman age. Guard the image of man for it is the image of God.”  Christ tells us to love our neighbors and pray for those who persecute us. By loving our neighbors and praying for those who persecute us, our actions give witness that love is greater than sin. It gives witness that the way of the world is indeed folly compared to the Christian life.

     As Jesus always did what was pleasing to the Father, we too, as Christ’s disciples are called to live in a way that also makes us pleasing to God and that God will recognize us as his chosen ones.

     Like Mr. B we can choose our actions. Listen again to the words of the Collect, the opening prayer: “Grant, we pray almighty God that, always pondering spiritual things we may carry out in both word and deed, that which is pleasing to you.”

     So my brothers and sisters, when you cross paths with a person who is short with you, gruff or downright mean, remember; someone has been kicking their cat, long before you got to them. Hopefully, we recall Zig Ziglar’s story of “The Cat Kicking World” And respond in a way that is pleasing to God. Be Holy, for I, the LORD your God am Holy.

Additionally, the URL  is Cat Kickin’ World by Zig Ziglar.

Zig Ziglar
Cat Kicking World

by Deacon Kenneth Stewart

Deacon Ken’s Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

They told us in the Homiletics course that when we are going to preach, to print the readings and carry them with us wherever we went. We were also told to do lectio divina at least once a day, which I did. I circled and underlined, I read the footnotes in the bible, I read all the paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that had to do with witnessing and service. Then I waited, and I waited, and I waited. You know what I got? A quote about Marines from President Reagan and some Marine Corps Recruiting Slogans.
This is what I got…
The quote:
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference in the world. The Marines don’t have that problem.
President Ronald Reagan

The recruiting slogans:

• “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure”
• “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”
• “We never promised you a rose garden” •   

       Like Mary (which is a really far stretch), I pondered these things in my heart, and I waited, and waited, and I waited some more. I thought surely God is teaching me patience and perseverance.

     On Thursday morning I went to the Barber. On a plaque on the wall across from where I was sitting was the “quote of the week”:
    “Nothing good ever came from a comfort zone”. It was then things started to meld together.

     As Christians, you and I have only one job. Our one job is to bring others to Christ. We do that by our witnessing and service to Jesus and to others. In our witnessing and service, others see our words and actions, and are drawn to Christ. Often, we think it is a difficult thing to do, but be assured you it’s not as hard as one would think. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

      His name was Roosevelt. He was from Mississippi, but had moved to Detroit so, he could better support his family. While working in a Ford automobile plant, Roosevelt met Ralph Lyke and Jim Stewart. Ralph and Jim were working their way through the Moody Bible Institute to become pastors. All three became good friends and soon began asking their factory worker friends to bring gently used clothing to the factory. The three men collected the clothing, and now and again would rent a van and haul the clothing to Mississippi.

      One day at a family reunion Roosevelt and I were on the same end of the horseshoe pit. Roosevelt jokingly said: “Ken, where I’m from, we throw horseshoes with one leg tied behind our backs.” I said: “Well Roosevelt, at my house, we throw the horseshoes with the horses still attached”.  We had a good laugh, but what he said next blew me away. Roosevelt said: “Ken, when you get to heaven, who is the first person you want to see”? I said: “Probably my mom”. Roosevelt said, “I want to see Jesus first, and thank him for all He has done”. Did you see how easy and smoothly he did that? Nothing extravagant. He didn’t quote chapter and verse. On that day, I learned to witness, and it would serve me well because later I would need to witness.

      His nickname was Squeak. He was the roller man at the asphalt company where I worked. I could tell something was really bothering him, so I went to talk with him. I discovered that his wife had divorced him, and he never wanted a divorce. Squeak was miserable. I said: “Squeak, do you go to church? Sounds to me like a trip to a church would do well for you right now.” Squeak said: “I did a long time ago, but haven’t gone for a good while”. I said: “Why don’t you give it another try”, and he did. Long story short, Squeak went back to church, met the woman of his dreams and got married. Today Squeak has two beautiful children who he is raising in the church. He is one of the happiest persons on the face of the earth.

     In our world, there are plenty of Ken’s and Squeaks who need but just a gentle nudge towards salvation. It is so easy to tell them that the God who created heaven and earth, snowcapped mountains and the depths of the oceans sits in heaven and says: “See that man, or that woman, or that child? I am especially fond of them. So much so that I sent my Son to take away the sins of the world by dying on a cross that everyone might live forever in heaven with Me.

Remember the quotes and recruiting slogans?

“Nothing good ever came from a comfort zone”:
We were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. If we would only do our part, the Holy Spirit would do his. To do our part, we have to leave the comfort zone.

“It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”
Being a Christian isn’t just a job, and it is an adventure. To think that we could have a hand in helping others come to Christ and then on to eternal salvation, WOW!”

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
Get going Christians! Witnessing isn’t as tough as we may think. It can be as simple as saying: “Put Jesus first” or “go back to church.”

“We never promised you a rose garden.”
There will be speed bumps along the way. Not everyone will desire to turn their lives to Christ. Not everyone will desire to do God’s will. Talk to them about Jesus anyway. Yours may be the only Gospel they will ever hear. And finally, at the end of days, God will say: “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they have made a difference in the world. “The Christians at Saint Augustine don’t have that problem” don’t have that problem.

God Bless you abundantly as you go and proclaim the Gospel of the Lord.
Deacon Kenneth Stewart

Deacon Ken’s -Fourth Sunday of Advent Homily

        Predicament – an unpleasant, trying, or dangerous situation. We’ve all been in a predicament in our lives at one time or another. I’d like to share one of mine with you. To do so, I have to leave the ambo and slide the big barn door open. As you look into the barn, there is a huge pile of straw at the back, probably sixteen feet across, length and width. The straw is piled about three feet high, And the straw is a perfect spot to land in.

      To the left is a farrowing room. A farrowing room is nothing more than a maternity ward for pigs. It is a wooden room inside the barn with a concrete floor. It has an automatic waterer, and a chute at the top which is used to fill a feed trough in the farrowing room. Seven steps lead to the top of the farrowing room. In the very center of the barn hangs a rope with a loop at the bottom. The rope hangs from a beam in the top of the barn. My cousin Jane brought her sons up from West Virginia, and I was about to show them a ride better than any E ticket ride at Disneyland. I grabbed the rope, climbed the seven steps to the top of the farrowing room, put my right foot in the rope, leaned back, and hurled myself towards that pile of straw. As I leaned back, my foot slipped through the loop and I was upside down, swinging wildly. I was trying to right myself, so I didn’t let go of the rope over the pile of straw. As I swung back towards the farrowing room, upside down, I crashed into the steps. It was then that I yelled: “Somebody stop me”! They couldn’t help since they were doubled over in laughter. They did eventually come to my aid and stopped my swinging. The predicament will forever be known by my family as “dope on a rope”. Let’s leave the barn and return to the Ambo.

       Today’s gospel finds Joseph in a big predicament! He is betrothed to a woman named Mary, and Mary becomes pregnant. Joseph has not taken Mary into his household yet so he knows he is not the father. His choices are that he either embarrasses himself, or he embarrasses Mary. Joseph really doesn’t want to make either of those choices. God sends and angel to Joseph to tell him that a good thing, a really good thing, is about to happen. The angel tells Joseph that the boy he will bring into his home, the boy that will call him Father, will be the savior of the world. The angel confirmed what the Lord said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel”.

       This time of year, we often hear of the importance of Mary’s “yes”. I think we often forget the importance of Joseph’s yes. Joseph’s predicament? Where should his obedience fall? Should he follow the law, or follow the instructions of the angel? Thankfully, Joseph did as the angel instructed. He practiced obedience of faith; the obedience of faith Saint Paul tells us about.

      The scriptures tell us of great acts of obedience of faith by his people. By faith, Abraham set out with his people to a land he had never seen, no clue where he was going. By faith, he lived as a stranger in the promised land. By faith, Sarah who was thought to be past childbearing age, conceived a child. By faith Abraham offered to sacrifice his only son. By faith, Mary welcomes the words of the Angel Gabriel who tells Mary that she would conceive a Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary didn’t understand, but she answered: “Do unto me as you wish”. These are just a few of many examples.

      You and I have our own predicaments. God puts us in them to help us to grow in faith and obedience. Saint Paul says that perseverance through trials, helps us to grow in courage, wisdom and strength. Characteristics we need to fight the good fight. As we look and see where God is working in our lives, we are able to say without fail: “I trust you God, my faith is in you. I will forever be obedient to your will”.

     Isn’t it great to know we serve a God who will never abandon us in our predicaments? A God who can do the impossible and the unimaginable. day and forever in our predicaments. A God who can do the impossible and the unimaginable. A God who always has our best interest in mind? Emmanuel, “God is with us”, words from an angel to Joseph. Emmanuel, “God is with US”, today and forever in our predicaments.

Deacon Kenneth Stewart



Deacon Ken’s Twenty – Nineth Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily

Who could forget Tevye in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”. He was a Jewish man with a wife and three daughters. He was a milkman, delivering and selling milk and butter to the townspeople. He used a horse drawn cart to deliver his goods. Tevye and his family were living in the Russian Empire in a fictional village named Anatevka. Tevye and his Jewish friends were being forced into exile by the Russian Government. If you’ve never seen it, I recommend you do see it. Tevye was the ultimate prayer warrior. He had conversations with God as if God was standing right next to him, all day… every day. He made it look so easy. If it is that easy, then why aren’t more people conversing with God in prayer?

Here are some of my favorites Tevye conversations with God:

       Tevye, pulling the milk cart and looking up to heaven says: “Did you have to make the horse go lame?

      “Sometimes I wonder, when it gets too quiet up there, if You are thinking, “What kind of mischief can I play on My friend Tevye?”

     “It may sound like I’m complaining, but I’m not. After all, with Your help, I’m starving to death. Oh, dear Lord. You made many, many poor people. I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor… but it’s no great honor either. So, what would be so terrible… if I had a small fortune?”

      “I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?”

While this is not a conversation between God and Tevye, I believe it is a recommended way to pray for our enemies. The townspeople ask the Rabbi:

“Is there is a correct way to pray for the Czar who is forcing us into exile?” The Rabbi responds: “Yes there is…Lord bless and keep the Czar far, far away”.

The church has a beautiful definition of prayer. “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or requesting of good things from God” (CCC 2559). Jesus begins the Gospel by telling his disciples that the parable is about prayer.
In the parable, Jesus is teaching his disciples the need to pray persistently so that their faith and trust in Him might increase. Jesus tells them that God will secure the rights of the chosen ones who call out to him day and night. He’s saying:
“Knock and the door will be opened for you, seek and you will find” (Mat 7:7).

Picture yourself with Moses on a hillside observing the action below. The soldiers meet at the battle line, the place where both forces meet face to face’ As Moses lifts his arms the battle line moves forward, five yards, then two yards. When Moses arms weary and begin to fall, the battle line moves back, two yards, one yard. Aaron and Hur support Moses arms and the battle line moves forward again. The posture of Moses suggests that Moses was praying. Praying that God’s mercy and grace would be with his fellow Israelites. Praying that God would be with them in the struggle. Moses was praying for victory over Amalek, who waged war against them. The church calls praying for others “intercessory prayers”.

Reading or hearing scripture should always lead us to pray. Prayer is the beginning of dialogue between God and humans. We speak to God through our prayers, and he answers us through scripture. When we pray using scripture as our guide, we often find that we are who the scriptures are speaking of. We are Amalek when we are hostile to those who are different than us and are unloving to our neighbor. We are Moses when we pray for the good of others to the point of exhaustion. We are the widow when we pray seeking justice for a wrong done to us or others, and we keep “knocking and seeking”. We are the unjust judge filled with pride and arrogance. We are Jesus when we share the Word with others and love them unconditionally. We discover we have many things to pray for.

Paul says to remain faithful to what you have learned and believed because you know from whom you learned it. You have known the Sacred Scriptures, which have given you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Persistent praying leads to praying in faith.

May we pray for endurance in trial, strength in temptation, and gratitude in prosperity, so that when Jesus returns, He will find in us a praying community, steeped in faith.

Deacon Kenneth Stewart


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