We return once again in the Church Year to Ordinary Time having completed the Easter Season. At All Are One, as you know, we name this time as [Extra] Ordinary Time because the challenge is always there for us to be our best selves–this is no time to coast!
We are also looking forward patiently toward next weekend to begin in-person services once again after 14 months apart! We ask our God’s blessings upon us as we make this transition.
In the meantime, always know that you are in my prayers that all is going reasonably well in your lives. Please don’t ever hesitate to call or email if I can be of help to you, or even if you would just like to chat. 507-429-3616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace and love, Pastor Kathy
Loving God, hear my voice when I call to you. You are my help; do not cast me off, do not desert me, my Savior God.
Let Us Pray
All wonderful God, we rejoice in the faith that draws us together, aware that selfishness can drive us apart. Let your encouragement be our constant strength. Keep us one in the love that has sealed our lives; help us to live as one family the gospel we profess. We ask all this of you, Creator, Savior and Spirit, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.
- Ezekiel 17: 22-24
- 2 Corinthians 5: 6-10
- Mark 4: 26-34
My friends, Paul tells us this week that, “we walk by faith, not by sight” and it is upon these words that I would like to base this homily. I am perhaps taking these lines a bit out of context as Paul no doubt had in mind as did most of Jesus’ first followers that Jesus would be returning sooner, rather than later. This is probably the reason that Paul sounds rather negative in this reading, stating that he would rather be with Christ.
That having been said, it is probably fair to say that what any line or lines in Scripture might say in one time or place can and do mean something different to others in different times and places and through different experiences. Through the Spirit that we all received at our confirmations, the same as on that first Pentecost, perhaps without the “tongues of fire” and the “mighty wind,” but the Spirit, just the same; we have the strength that allows us to face our lives, as Jesus’ followers with “faith” when we don’t always have “sight.”
As most of you know, each year in May, we at All Are One Catholic church remember our humble beginnings in 2008 with my priestly ordination in a Church, in its hierarchy, that said, “No” to such an action labeling my ordination and those who came before as well as after me, “attempts at ordination.” But I, like my sister priests could only, “walk in faith,” prompted by Sophia, the Spirit of the Living God.
Three years ago, at this time, we remembered in a public way our humble beginnings at our 10th anniversary as a Vatican II parish—one open to any and all who wanted to be with us. Those humble beginnings after I was ordained a deacon in August of 2007 included several preparatory meetings as we discerned with others in our community whether we could in fact, start and nourish a parish here, in the seat of an unsupportive bishop.
As I reflect on how Jesus’ Spirit “continuously renews the face of the earth,” a phrase most of us learned from our catechisms as children, this calls to mind something that happened at the first of the preparatory meetings that I spoke of earlier. I sent invitations to a couple of dozen people to come to a meeting to discuss founding a parish that would be open to all, inclusive, in other words, respecting our God’s call to women as well as men to serve in ordained ministry and other important issues that were absent in the Catholic church of the hierarchy’s making.
The meeting was scheduled for 7 P.M. and was being held at Holzinger Lodge in Winona. As many of you know, Holzinger has a porch out front of its entrance. At five minutes before the meeting, no one had yet arrived. At this point, Eryn, our daughter and Robert went out onto the porch to see if anyone was coming. At that time, they experienced what they could only describe as, “the Spirit!” There was a gust of wind, just one, enough to notice and enough to wonder, if maybe, “a storm was coming!” And looking down the road, they saw the lights of a line of cars proceeding toward the lodge! “We walk by faith!”
I believe that many times the Spirit, Sophia is “circling,” moving in and out of our lives, if we but have the faith to see “happenings” in our lives as such. One such “happening” that our Winona Sheltering Network is considering is the buying of a larger house of 8 separate units that may come onto the market in later fall.
I personally see this as the movement of the Spirit because so many things seem to be lining up with the need that we see to bring more families seeking asylum to our country. I would preface this discussion by saying that we have been looking at properties and we know that there are many out there in not very good condition that owners are asking a good deal of money for. So, in other words, we know a “good deal” when it presents itself!
So here are all the reasons several of us on the Steering Committee feel this property is worth pursuing and those of us, coming out of strong faith backgrounds—myself included, see all this as the Spirit affirming this work for us:
- the owner is supportive of how we would like to use the house
- the owner is related to one of our Steering Committee members
- the owner has maintained this property well over the years as affirmed by our Steering Committee member—not always the case
- while the owner can’t give us a reduced rate, if we are able to make a reasonable offer for this property that several others are competing for, we could have a good chance at securing it even though we may not be the highest bidder—which of course means fund-raising for a down payment
- the property is near a local college campus and usually is rented out totally, so it has income continually. Eventually, we would keep two apartments for housing immigrants and add more for our use as the house is paid for. “We walk by faith!”
- Generous people are beginning to “walk by faith” with us by pledging large and small gifts to assist us in purchasing this house. We do indeed, “walk by faith.”
The other two readings this week from Ezekiel and Mark have similar messages. First, in Ezekiel, we have the image of our God “planting” us in fertile soil like the cedar, promising that we will grow branches, bear fruit and become, “splendid!”
Mark’s gospel is the story of the mustard seed, the “smallest of seeds” that becomes the “largest of shrubs” that “all the birds build their nests in.” My take from this reading is that our loving God believes in us so much, loves us so much and knows how much each of us is capable of if we can only, “walk by faith” and especially when we can’t fully “see” the end result. Amen? Amen!
Prayers of the Faithful:
Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
- O God, as we see Jesus reaching out to all, making everyone welcome, help us to see opportunities in our everyday lives to do the same, we pray—Response: “Jesus our brother, hear our prayer”
- O God, continue to be with those looking for meaningful work—let them not become discouraged but remain hopeful that they will find work. Additionally, be with those offering work to do their best to offer a living wage, we pray— Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
3. Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind and spirit–especially those struggling with life—threatening illnesses—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, as they walk through what life brings, we pray—Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
O God, help us to be true followers of Jesus, willing to speak truth to power, to not remain silent in the face of evil, we pray—Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
O God, help us to strive to be people of peace, not war—help us to remember that Jesus has glorified our humanity by his presence in it and help us to treat people and our world accordingly, we pray—Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
For our community, All Are One, give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us, and inspire us in new ways to reach out to those most in need of our ministry, we pray—Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
7. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all other causes—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, and be with members of our community especially who have lost loved ones, we pray— Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”
***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause—then response
Let Us Pray
Gentle God, you who loves us beyond all imagining—be close to us each and every day, shadow us under your wings and be the strength that we need to live as you did, conscious of being inclusive of all, loving others when it is easy and when it is not so easy. Give us the strength and courage to live out our task given by you for the people of God. Help us to forgive those who wrong and hurt us in life because you were so forgiving of others. Give us your deep and abiding peace that we would not worry, but trust and believe that you will always be with us. All of this we ask of you who are God, living and loving us forever and ever—Amen!
Let Us Pray—Again, we can’t be together at the altar, but always remember that Jesus, our brother is with us!
Prayer of Communion
Jesus, always be with us in many and wonderful ways. Grant this in your wonderful name. Amen.