There is much urgency in the readings for this Sunday as we move relentlessly toward the end of our Church Year. This urgency seems to reflect the mood in our country at present as we await the results of the presidential election. We are called to practice patience as we wait, in order that, as has been said, “We get it right.”
So, my friends, I invite you through this weekend to reflect on the Scriptures given us and consider how we need as a country to move forward. Let us keep our eyes on our brother, Jesus, to know the way to proceed.
I send you my prayers and my love–may you have peace–Pastor Kathy
P. S. And as always, please don’t hesitate to call if I can be of assistance to you–in any way–507-429-3616 or by email–firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let my prayer come before you, O God; listen, and answer me.
Let Us Pray
Loving Creator God, strong is your justice and great is your mercy. Protect us in the burdens and challenges of life. Shield our minds from the distortion of pride and enfold our desire with the beauty of truth. Help us to become more aware of your loving design so that we may more willingly give our lives in service to all. We ask this of you, in Jesus’ wonderful name, along with the Spirit, One God, living and loving us forever and ever—Amen.
- Wisdom 6:12-16
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
- Matthew 25:1-13
My friends, I don’t know about you, but this entire week has left me so very tired—in body, mind and spirit. I think many of us had the hope that with this election, the good people of this country would have made a clear choice against the abhorrent lack of truth-telling these past four years that gave us a virus-out-of-control, evidenced by over 230,000 dead Americans with no resolution in sight, economic chaos and the uncovering, primarily, to white folk, finally, finally of systemic racism in this country through the Black Lives Matter movement. But yet, that has not been the case.
As we move toward the end of our Church Year this month, we have some fine instruction this week in the first reading from the book of Wisdom. The Wisdom writer tells us that [wisdom] is, “Understanding fully grown.” We are further told that we should, “Watch for her at dawn and [we] will not be disappointed.” Those who seek her will recognize her; we are told. Wisdom will, “graciously” appear in [our] path and meet [us] in every thought if indeed we do seek her. Joan Chittister says of it, “We must live with attention.”
It seems to me, in these times that, “wisdom—understanding fully grown” is so needed as we try to heal as a country in the aftermath of this election and what it has told us—basically that we are a very divided nation.
Sean Michael Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter shared a piece this past week; he said that if Joe Biden wins the presidency; he should follow-up his campaign promise to unite the nation by going to 5 or 6 states that voted to give the president four more years, and hold town halls to basically, listen to them. “Understanding fully grown”—wisdom, that is, comes from listening—learning the views of others, so as to understand where others, “are coming from.” The Wisdom writer basically says that “wisdom” wants to be found as much as we want to find her.
I have to believe that at the heart of all Americans there is a desire for peace, for what is best in all of us, to be front and center. Unfortunately, we are all capable of bad as well as good and it is particularly worrisome and abhorrent to me, when the worst that we as humans are capable of is stoked from on high instead of what is best for all.
It may seem to be a bit of an aside, but actually, it is not, to realize that the virtue of wisdom in the Old Testament text is spoken of in the feminine. Wisdom is spoken of as “graciousness,” a term often connected with the feminine gender. The words describing “her”—“love” and “desire,” seem to indicate that we will find, “wisdom” through the “heart.”
This may perhaps be why many in the hierarchy and priesthood in general of the Catholic church, don’t speak the message of Jesus in any consistent way as they tend to rely too heavily on, “the mind,” through rules and regulations. Jesus’ words to the Pharisees are reflective of this, “mind-first” tendency; “The Sabbath is for [people], not [people] for the Sabbath.” This is just one more reason to involve women in leadership within the Catholic church.
In these troublesome times, it gives me great hope to reflect on Paul’s words to the Thessalonians today where he is in fact comforting them in the knowledge that our brother, Jesus, is always with us—in Romans 8: 38-39, Paul says the same, “That nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus.”
I believe that we too my friends, in all that we do going forward, must keep our eyes on Jesus as we do the hard work that is before us to unite our country and that begins at home with family, with neighbors and with friends. As suggested above–we must listen, listen and listen some more—even when we may not agree with others. The listening may uncover some areas where we as individuals have not understood the plight of others. We must follow our brother, Jesus’ lead, showing compassionate love and concern.
I spent much of the space within this homily uplifting the virtue of wisdom–“seeking after it,” because never before, have we needed—so much, to be clear thinkers and compassionate hearers. In addition to the initial gift of wisdom—“understanding fully grown,” that is, which comes through the Spirit of God; the additional gifts of peace, a sense of security, of meaning and fulfillment, also come.
Thus, when we wonder if, in fact, we are on the right path—we should check to see, if we are—basically, at peace. That has always been “my check,” with myself—am I basically at peace? In all my major decisions in life—to join the convent, to leave the convent, to marry and to seek ordination as a priest; I have sought my answer in the Spirit and when there was a sense of peace, I knew, as much as anyone can know, that this was God’s desire for me.
The psalm response for this Sunday comes from #63 and we can sing with Marty Haugen—“O God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you, your love is finer than life.” We all need to reach out in love these days to all that we meet and interact with, just as Jesus did in his world. Love heals and covers over so many sins—it’s truly what our world needs now as the popular song goes—and not just to those that are already in our hearts…
We conclude today’s readings with the parable from Matthew’s gospel that says so well, “Stay awake”—in other words, “Be vigilant, [because] you do not know the day, nor the hour.” All the Scriptures in these last Sundays in [Extra] Ordinary Time have an urgency about them. The Wisdom writer encourages us to, “Seek wisdom early in the morning.” I would suggest we do that throughout our day, asking for the assistance to be our best for ourselves and others—we must be, “pro-active,” the Wisdom writer tells us—always “seeking” the help that we need.
The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew for today might sometimes strike us as a bit cruel—that there seems to be, “a time element” for those allowed into the feast. Again, we must not read literally here, but focus in on Jesus’ true message, which is the fact that, “being prepared” is something that only we can do for ourselves. If we aren’t of a heart and mind to do what is right and just and merciful in our world, for ourselves and others, then we will miss many opportunities to do so.
Our lives, my friends, as Jesus’ followers are about being ready, every day, to be our best—to be good and true and just—this kind of living takes a good deal of practice and it is for this reason that we don’t give our children everything that they want, as we want them to grow strong, realizing that they can’t have whatever they want and must be about sharing the good of this world.
These past four years have unfortunately been about too much selfish rhetoric, devoid of care and concern for others, almost as if, in childish fashion; we have a right to whatever we want, no matter who is hurt by our unbridled desires.
Jesus calls us to so much more—to truth, to goodness, to concern for all the needs in our world. Let us hear the urgency of this call, today—through the Scriptures and pray that perhaps, in this new time of November 2020, we might start again—Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful
Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
- Bless your people, O God, help us all to find a place in our busy lives for you, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
- Dear Jesus, help us to respond in our world with the compassion and love that you did in yours, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
- For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body, mind or spirit, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
- For our country of people so divided—send us your Spirit, dear God, to find our way to more unity and a desire to truly listen to each other so that we can move forward, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
5. For each of us here and for our wider Church, that we would realize today and always what a loving and compassionate God we have, slow to anger and rich in kindness, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
6. For our community, All Are One, continue to send your Spirit upon us to enable us to be an inclusive community, open and welcoming to all, we pray—Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
7. For all those who have died this week from COVID 19 and all other causes and for their families who grieve their loss—may they all be at peace, we pray, Response: “All loving God, hear our prayer.”
***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, then response
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, then response
Let Us Pray
Loving God, we thank you for your great love for us in sending Jesus, our Brother and Friend. Help us to model our lives after his, selflessly giving to those in need, being people of truth, faith and trust in your word. Let our lives humbly reflect mercy, goodness and joy to all that we meet. Help us as a faith community to realize our responsibility to always be welcoming of all who come to our table—realizing that you, O God, first welcomed us. Help us to make the wise choices that will allow us to truly care and make our world better, even when the choices may be hard ones. Bless us, keep us, and hold us in your love—we ask all this of you, Creator, Savior, Spirit—one God, living and loving us, forever and ever, Amen.
Let Us Pray—Again, we can’t be at the table together, but help us to remember that our brother, Jesus is always with us.
Prayer after Communion
Jesus, our Brother, we thank you for this community of love that we are privileged to be part of. Pour out your Spirit upon us and keep us single-minded in your service—we ask this is your wonderful name—Amen.