Church of the
Annunciation

7580 Clinton Street
Elma, New York 14059

716.683.5254

August 20, 2017

20th Sunday Ordinary

After the death of Moses, Joshua leads the Israelite people across the Jordan River to Jericho. Here the aspiring Hebrew Nation engages the local Canaanites for possession of the land. Animosity between Canaanites and Jews goes back a millennium. It is surprising that Jesus withdraws to the region of Tyre and Sidon -- a Canaanite district. A Canaanite woman dares to approach Jesus and cries out: “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” His disciples, likely uneasy about being away from home, attempt to shoo her away but she persists. Jesus replies to the woman’s plea: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel.” She pleads: “Lord, help me.” He responds (unkindly to our ears): “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Not to be outdone she says: “Please, Lord, for even dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Jesus is so impressed that he acquiesces to her request: “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” Jesus heals her daughter. Jesus crosses an ethnic and religious boundary and chooses not to exclude the woman and her daughter from the bounty of God’s mercy. Jesus fulfills the vision of Isaiah. St. Paul will follow Jesus’ lead as an apostle to the Gentiles.

We are deeply troubled by the violence that ensued when white supremacists, neo-Nazis and members of the Klan descended on Charlottesville, Va. What deeply disturbs us as a nation is their explicit denial of the dignity and humanity of other people.  

Although the News on Wednesday highlighted the confrontation in Charlottesville and exposed moral deprivation, bigotry and prejudice, there were two articles that revealed our higher angels and aspirations. One is about a famous whiskey (Jack Daniels) and another is about a Marine and a Japanese flag.

Fawn Weaver, an African-American, real estate investor and author, discovered the true master distiller of Jack Daniel’s is not Jack Daniel, a white man. He was the apprentice. Nathan “Nearest” Green, a black man and slave, was the master distiller. After doing considerable research, interviewing Green’s descendents, collecting 10,000 documents and even purchasing the farm and land where Nearest Green and Jack Daniel first distilled whiskey, Weaver is now able to tell the full story. Mark McCallum, President of Jack Daniel’s Brands, Lynchburg, Tennessee met for six hours with Fawn Weaver. He listened, reviewed her material and vowed to share Nearest Green’s legacy in promoting Jack Daniel’s Whiskey.

73 years ago, Marvin Stombo, a Marine, from Missoula, Montana, fighting on the Island of Saipan, stumbled across the dead body of a Japanese soldier. Tucked in his pocket was a “good luck flag” signed by his Japanese family and friends. Marvin kept the flag as a souvenir but in the back of his mind was the thought that one day he would return it to the young man’s family. Marvin had displayed the flag in his home. The Japanese soldier’s name was Sadao Yasue. On Tuesday, the 72nd Anniversary of Japan’s surrender, Marvin Stombo kept his promise and presented the flag to Sadao’s younger brother and older sister. Brother and sister buried their faces in the flag and then thanked Marvin. It was the first time Yasue’s family learned what happened to him. His younger brother remembered what Yasue had whispered to him: “It seems that they are sending me off to a remote island in the south ocean. I will probably not come back alive so please take care of our parents well.”

Like Jesus, Fawn Weaver and Marvin Stombo, bridge the divide that so often divides.  

More Homilies


August 06, 2017

Transfiguration of the Lord

I was intently listening to a conversation with a family – 3 generations talking about turtles on the beach in Venice, Florida. The small turtles break through the sand at night and claw & crawl their way to the sea. They spend 2-3 years in the relative safety of their food source of green seaweed off the coast and then venture forth into the ocean. Years later (35) ...

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July 30, 2017

17th Sunday Ordinary

Jordan Spieth, after winning the British Open in dramatic fashion, was asked about golf being the # 1 focus in his life. Surprisingly, Jordan said the most important thing for him is his faith, family & friends, girl friend and then golf. Remarkable how this golf champion, who has won three majors before his 24th birthday, sets his priorities. In the Gospel according t...

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July 23, 2017

16th Sunday Ordinary

What is the Kingdom of Heaven? How can we understand and describe something that we cannot readily see or measure or touch? Jesus chooses to use the language poetry and parable to offer sketches of God’s Kingdom. Jesus engages our imagination and draws us into the metaphor to give us a sense of its meaning and mystery -- like solving a riddle or putting a puzzle together...

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July 09, 2017

14th Sunday Ordinary

“Come to me.” It is an invitation from Jesus directed to “little ones” – disciples who are tired and burdened.  The only way we can receive and respond to the invitation of Jesus is by the Holy Spirit. St. Paul writes to the Church at Rome that the Spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us. Prophet Zechariah, speaking for the Lord, says... READ MORE

June 25, 2017

12th Sunday Ordinary

“Terror on every side!” These are the words the prophet Jeremiah uses to describe his situation of adversity. They seem sadly contemporary. Every day we hear news of reports about the atrocities carried out by ISIS -- indiscriminate attacks against all humanity and civilization. This past week ISIS destroyed an historic mosque. How would I respond to the threat of loom... READ MORE

June 11, 2017

Most Holy Trinity

The only way we can say something about God is because God reveals the divine. Some propose that there is a God gene or chromosome, a DNA receptor, in human beings that is responsive to this communication from God. God, enshrouded in a cloud, reveals God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. God says to Moses and to the Hebrew people: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, s... READ MORE

June 04, 2017

Pentecost

Why are there so many Jews in Jerusalem? They have traveled great distances to commemorate the Jewish feast Shavout. It recalls the Hebrew people camped at Mt. Sinai – 50 days after departing Egypt. Here Moses receives the 10 Commandments and God enters into covenant with  the People of Israel. St. Luke tells us in ACTS on this feast, after the Ascension of the Lord... READ MORE

May 28, 2017

Seventh Sunday of Easter

In the comic strip: “For Better or Worse” – Elizabeth can’t sleep. She goes to her older brother Michael’s room. He is awake too. They both can’t sleep. Michael: “I can’t sleep, Elizabeth…I’ve never known anybody who died before.” Elizabeth: “Me neither.” Michael: “Mrs. Baird was such a nice lady. I can’t believe she’s gone.” Elizabeth: ... READ MORE

Displaying Homilies -3 - 1 of 344

Stewardship

Stewardship is having the wisdom to understand that everything we have is a gift from God.

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