Christ, the Light of the World

May you experience the presence of Christ, the Light of the World, everywhere, in everyone, so that hope will abound in your life and the world you live in. There is no corner of the planet where Christ is not. And may you share the light of Christ that is within you with everyone you meet, wherever you are, everyday.

Wilfredo Juan Baez

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What the Hell?

What the Hell?
Luke 16:19-31 and Matthew 25:31-40
Wilfredo J. Baez

The rich man in Luke’s gospel woke up after dying and looked around.  “What the Hell, what am I doing here!  He didn’t like it at all!  What had he done to deserve this?” He looked across a wide chasm and saw Lazarus with Abraham at his side.  “What in heaven’s name is he doing over there!” the rich man exclaimed. He obviously was a sinner.  I deserve to be over there and he over here!

The rich man had lived a good life.  He wore the finest clothing and the richest foods.  He was recognized by his community as well-deserving of his riches.  Lazarus didn’t have it so good during his lifetime.  He used to lie at the gate of the rich man’s gate hoping to win a scrap from the rich man’s table. As far as the conventional wisdom went the rich man belonged in heaven and Lazarus in Hades.  Tormented by his fiery environs the rich man pleaded with Abraham to send Lazarus with some water to cool his tongue.  He was even maintaining his status in Hades expecting the like of Lazarus to be his servant.

Abraham reminded the rich man that he received his reward while alive on earth.  Now you are in agony.  Lazarus suffered every manner of evil, now he is comforted.  And besides, crossing the chasm between Heaven and Hades was not possible. The rich man pleased with Abraham to warn his brothers so they can live in ways avoid this torment.  Abraham told them that they already had warned by Moses but didn’t heed Moses.  And if they didn’t heed Moses and the Prophets, they wouldn’t believe someone who rose from the dead.

What the hell is Jesus doing, telling a story like this?  Where is the mercy?   The mercy is in the story.  When Jesus preached he made use of faith promises and faith threats.  The audience for this story was Jesus’ disciples and the Pharisees.  The disciples were those who would do what Jesus would do.  If they had come upon Lazarus they would have offered him a bath, bandaged his wounds and fed him.  They were the sheep in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goat.  Lazarus was one of the least of our brothers and sisters.  Whenever someone cares for one of these they cared for Jesus.  The Pharisees are the goats in that parable.  They would have ignored Lazarus.  And when the neglected Lazarus they neglected Jesus’.

This parable of the rich man and Lazarus and the parable of the sheep and the goats aren’t about heaven and hell.  They aren’t about reward and punishment in the afterlife.  Jesus is trying to get the rich man’s attention.  He is trying to get the Pharisees’ attention.  How you treat Lazarus, how you treat the poor matters?  Hey, you or your family may end up in dire straits and may need the very help that you’re not providing now.  You may seek mercy and there be none forthcoming.

A preacher’s job is to wake us up.  If we expect mercy we have to be merciful.   What did we sing last Sunday:  What does the Lord require of you?  Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.  What does the Lord require of you?  Too many are concerned, like the rich man, with what they require of God and what they require of the church and of others.  Life is about them.  The church is about them.  But what if the church was about us and them, a new US and bigger US, so there is no them.

.Our Wednesday night community meal is very important as important as our Sunday morning gathering.  The people there matter.  Our Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday basketball team is very important.  The kids on that team count.  The initiatives being taken for drug addicts and their families and for the incarcerated are important.  Anyone of our own children can end up hooked by drugs and be swallowed up in the criminal justice system and a nightmare existence. Some people in this church are working to make our church and our ministries even more about others and expanding our understanding of us to include all God’s children.  That’s the groundswell happening here.  We are recognizing more and more the sacred worth of every person and every creation.

Jesus was telling the rich man and the Pharisees to change.  I think that President Obama has been telling us all to wake up and change.  He has been telling the rich man from our story, the rich in our country, to pay more taxes and for our congress to close more tax loopholes.  He’s been saying that there are too many Lazaruses, too many least and last of us and too many falling by the wayside of our winner take most society.  The end will be a society where the winners become losers perhaps through violence directed at them.  It’s a dangerous end game, this status quo that we are playing.  That’s what Jesus’ hell language is about.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015



Because I live
In the illusion of the body
I suffer the death of the body,
Even my dear friend’s body
And I cry.

Jesus cried at the death of Lazarus
Because Jesus loved his friend
And he loved Mary and Martha.

So as Florence has died
Her husband and children cry,
Her family cries, the university cries,
I cry and the whole world sighs.

But Jesus knew, “I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me will not die.”

It is in our loss of Florence
That we discover in ourselves
That Florence lives.
The flesh is not an illusion.
It is a living image in the dream of the creation
On a path of return to its origin,
To the heart of its Creator; the Divine Love.

All of these images of God;
Old Testament and New, Koran, Vedas, Upanishads
Are artifacts of our search
And of our longing to return to our home.
And so where Florence is,
Jesus is.
Where Florence is
The Holy Spirit is.
Where Florence is
God, our Father-Mother is.
Where Florence is
The saints and angels are.
Where Florence is
Our ancestors are.
Where Florence is
The future is.
Where Florence is
I am and you are.

Our passage in time is transient,
Impermanent and illusionary.
Our destination is permanent.
The Mind we are all a dream of
Is who we really are.
In love this is what we know.

(c) Wilfredo J. Baez 2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My Father’s Business
Luke 2.41-52
Wilfredo J. Baez

“I must be in my Father’s House . . . I must be about my Father’s business.”  In contemporary terms, “I must be one with God and I must be about God’s business.”
I remember when I first decided to become a Pastor.  One friend said “You?  Come on!”  Another said, “I could never do that.  It’s too big a change.  How can you give up everything you have?”  Marcia wasn’t so keen about the idea.   My sister wondered, “Wasn’t I Roman Catholic?”  Members of the Board of Ordained Ministry were afraid that I was too Buddhist or too Hindu.  

But I couldn’t live my life any longer apart from God’s will and going about my own business.  I needed to get with God and conduct God’s business.

Being a Pastor has changed for me over these past twenty years.  It became about overcoming racism.  It became about diversity.  It became about GLBT issues.  It became about Interfaith.  It became about Inter-spirituality.  It’s been about justice.  It’s been about inner transformation. It’s been about educating my-self and others.  And all along people were saying. “What are you doing?”

And what it all comes down to is that I must be one with God and about God’s business. 
That’s what Jesus said to his parents.  You have certain ideas about me and my future; about how I spent my time but this is where I belong  . . . in God’s house doing God’s business . . . I’m becoming a man . . . I need to listen to my heart and follow my heart . . . I need to be true to my inner self . . . I need to serve God . . .  I’ll go home with you now but ultimately I need to leave my biological, physical, material home and move into my spiritual home . . . Yes, I need to grow up and learn to live in the world but I need to find what God’s will is for me and go about doing God’s will . . . I need to find my purpose, pursue it and fulfill it.

So, what is it is for you . . . being in God’s house . . . being about God’s business?  What is God calling you to be and sending you to do?

Jesus, at 12 years age is differentiating from his earthly parents and declaring himself a son of God, a child of God, a spiritual being in the flesh who has a particular life calling, a contribution to make to the society he lives in.

Whereas before the source of Jesus’ identity was his parents and his religion, now the source of Jesus’ identity was God and the Holy Spirit.  What amazed the Temple priests and teachers was what Jesus believed, his knowledge and capability at such a young age.  He’s have to bide his time until he was ready, until he grew in stature, years, wisdom and divine favor.

We don’t grow up spiritually to men and women of God all at once.  It takes time.  We start as spiritual children and as we learn to trust and obey God we change . . . our beliefs change . . . we believe in ourselves the way God does . . . We become more capable as our beliefs in ourselves and what humans are capable of change . . . and then our behaviors change and our impact upon the world changes . . . We no longer accept the limitations we once accepted . . .  We discover that all things are possible in Christ, with God . . . We only need to believe . . . or be willing, have the intention to believe and put our faith into actions, one step at a time, not knowing how we are going to do it, only that we are going to do it.  Try it.  Choose one thing that you haven’t been willing to do that you know God wants you to do and declare your willingness and intention to do it . . . Then see how God comes alongside you and you are able to do it.  And when you do it share it with the people you love.  Victory!