Homily – 30th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

   My friends, the old adage, “This is where the rubber meets the road,” is a very good one to sum up the Scriptures for this 30th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time.  From the 1st reading in Exodus, through the 2nd from Thessalonians to the Gospel from Matthew; Moses, Paul and Jesus say the same thing—we must care about the “other”—our neighbor and love them as we would ourselves, in a perfect world.  I say, in a “perfect world” because, unfortunately; we don’t, each one of us, always “love ourselves,” but that is another homily. 

   The people of the book of Exodus were the people of the Exile—they knew what it was to be exiled, to be without a home—to be orphaned.  Moses, most likely the writer of Exodus, knew that, this had been their experience, so he could rightly say that, “They should not do this to others.”

   Paul continues this theme in his letter to the Thessalonians where he says of himself and his companions, Silas and Timothy; our preaching is not, “a mere matter of words.”  Paul and companions were telling the people to not pay as much attention to their words, as to their actions—reminding them of how they acted when they were with them.

   Those of you who are raising or have raised or mentored children know that it doesn’t matter nearly as much what you tell them to do as what they see you do and they will remind you of it when the two actions don’t follow each other. 

   I always remember when our kids were early teenagers, old enough to take care of each other while their parents had a night out.  Our kids were raised knowing that when they were out; they needed to let us know where they were and when they would be home. So, when we returned home later than our daughter thought we should; she accosted us with questions and her concern about where we were and why we were late without telling those waiting at home why we would be later than expected. Now, in our defense, this was before everyone carried a cell phone, but that aside; she was right, her errant parents needed to admit!

   Paul goes on to say that, “Joy comes from the Spirit”—an off-shoot of not only speaking, but acting in unison with the words, even if it brings, “trials.” 

   Jesus, in Matthew’s reading today, addresses the Pharisees of his time, who are trying to trip him up, as he points to the Shem—the most significant prayer of the Israelite religion, when they ask him to name the greatest commandment.  Jesus rightly answers, “You must love God with your whole heart and soul,” and then adds “mind,” so that the person’s whole being would be engaged and their response would not be a superficial thing.  Additionally, Jesus includes the piece that actually gets their prayer in the Shem, into their everyday lives—“There is a second commandment, no less great, you must love your neighbor as yourself!”

   Jesus is telling them and us, in no uncertain terms, that they can’t say they love God, whom they cannot see, and not love their neighbors, whom they do see!  The Israelite people know this in their hearts as they had the tradition—the belief really, that they were to show care for the traveler, the stranger in their midst—their “neighbor,” in the largest sense, giving them food and filling their needs, should such a “stranger” stop by their home, even if it was their enemy.  The Israelites had simply forgotten this and Jesus’ teachings were calling them to task. 

   Overtime, the laws became very complicated in how a good Jew was to live.  It may be of interest for us to recall that in Jesus’ time, there were 613 commandments, addressing practically every movement in one’s day.  Additionally, there were 365 prohibitions (one for each day of the year) and 268 prescriptions (one for each bone in the body).  This people had come to such a place that they were figuratively, “tied in knots,” and their brother, Jesus, stepped in to say, there are really only two laws you need to observe and on those two, “the whole Law is based and the prophets as well.”

   Now, we can imagine how angry, this no doubt, made the Pharisees feel, the keepers of all these commandments, prohibitions and prescriptions—the ways that they literally controlled the people. 

   We may think this ridiculous, but we can look into our past and recall the pre-Vatican II stress on, “mortal and venial sins, ember days, fasting and abstinence laws,” put upon us during Advent, Lent, etc. I think Jesus was telling the people of his time and us now, that you can follow all the laws—the minute regulations, or you can simply, love God and your neighbor as yourself, which the mature and serious follower of Jesus would realize, is,  a much harder task.

   Father Richard Rohr, in his book, The Universal Christ, has gone a long way, along with contemporaries, Ilia Delio, Diamuid O’ Mucho and others, to say that “Christ” (the resurrected Jesus) is part of all of creation and because of that we must treat all created life with respect.

   In a smaller, probably less-known book by author, Mary Ellen Ashcroft, entitled, Dogspell: A Dogmatic Theology on the Abounding Love of God, I think we get an image of God that is closer to the heart of Jesus’ message in such stories as the “Prodigal,” returning after squandering all the good gifts the parent had provided, to find, not, retribution, but only, over-the-top love and care for this errant one.  We can recall the father in the story not waiting for the son’s return, but upon seeing him, “running” to meet him and welcome him home. 

   I failed to tell you that the author has a picture of her dog, Cluny, a big, black lab—with long ears and tongue hanging out on the cover of the book.  Throughout her writing; she interchanges, “love of God” and “love of Dog”—notice the same letters—and shows us, or at least asks us to imagine a God who is happy just to “lay down beside us.” 

   I would like to conclude today with a refreshing look at how our God truly loves us, from Mary Ellen Ashcroft.  Those of you who have dogs will recognize these “doggy” traits.  Flip the word “Dog” – “God” and imagine…

   “No one would call Cluny standoffish.  The adjectives; ‘cool,’ ‘reserved,’ or ‘snobby,’ do not spring to mind.  No wonder dogs are brought in to reach out to Alzheimer’s patients or the dreadfully traumatized—it’s hard to resist the nuzzle and lick of love.  Cluny has never thought, ‘Okay, enough of people for today…just leave me alone.’  As Cluny is her dogself, free to be entirely, doggish, she’s an inspiration to me.  I crawl up to her on the kitchen floor and put my head on her side and feel her breathing. 

   Cluny assumes the best in people.  She knows if someone heads for the door, it is likely that they want to take her for a nice, long, W-A-L-K.  If she hears a bread bag crumple, it probably means they have it in mind to give her a little something to snack on.  She knows she’s loveable, and so of course folks will want to go out with her or give her little treats. 

   But if no one heads for the door or picks up the leash, Cluny finds ways to remind her family that it’s about time for fellowship in the open air.  She subtly brings the leash and puts it on your feet.  Or she might stare and stare and stare and stare and stare until you say, ‘Okay, darn it. We’ll go, but just for a short one…’

   And then you get outside…and the moon is picking up little sparkles on the snow or the lake is a dusky purple or the wind is tossing the branches of an old tree and you notice for the first time that the swirls of its trunk look like a Van Gogh sky.  As you walk on, you realize that you wouldn’t be out here without dog.  No dog, and you might have forgotten what was most important—fresh air, stars, time with dog. 

   But even as you enjoy the winter evening, you know that dog is present in it more than you can ever be.  You don’t know who came by earlier today, but dog does; she picks up a scent and follows it. She stops and sniffs for a minute, and you know that if she wanted to, she could tell you a whole story about who’s passed there and why.  We both come in from a walk with fresh air glancing off us like blessings, but she has a story to tell.  Walking with dog is an Emmaus experience:  Each time our eyes are opened and we see something afresh. 

   You come in an put the leash and the coat away.  Now what? Dog just wants to sit with you.  Often, Cluny finds that she’s accidentally slipped right up onto the couch, which means she can put her head in my lap.  When you stir, she licks you.  You could stay like that forever, as far as Cluny is concerned—you and dog who loves you, sitting and snoring and dog-dreaming dreams of homecoming and rescue” (pgs. 65-66).

Amen? Amen!

News Item – 10-25-20

Kathy Redig is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

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Bulletin – 30th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

ZOOM MASS this Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 10 A.M.–Watch for Zoom link later in the week!

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Dear Friends,

In these remaining weeks of [Extra] Ordinary Time; we continue to be called to not just say what we believe, but, in fact, do what we believe! This won’t always be easy, but then Jesus never promised that it would be!

Come; “Zoom” with us this Sunday!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please call me 507-429-3616 or email, aaorcc2008@gmail.com if I can help you with anything, or if you would just like to chat.

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Readings:

  • Exodus 22: 20-26
  • 1 Thessalonians 1: 5-10
  • Matthew 22: 34-40

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Homily – 29th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends,

We continue to walk with our brother Jesus, and that walk is not always easy, but each of us, as the Scriptures say, this week, “are called by name,” to choose the right, the just, the good. Jesus, our friend and brother, is always with us–let us not forget to ask for his help each day, to be our best for the good of the world. Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please call 507-429-3616, or email, aaorcc2008@gmail.com if I can be of help in any way, or you just need a friend to talk to–don’t hesitate!

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Entrance Antiphon

We call upon you, God, for you will answer us; bend your ear and hear our prayer. Guard us as the pupil of your eye; hide us in the shadow of your wings.

Let us pray:

Opening Prayer

Loving God, you guard us under the shadow of your wings and search into the depths of our hearts. Remove the blindness that cannot know you and relieve the fear that would hide us from your sight. We ask this of you, through Jesus, our brother, and the ever-renewing Spirit, who all live and love us forever and ever—Amen!

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Readings:

  • Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5
  • Matthew 22: 15-21

Homily:

My friends, there is much to reflect on this week in [Extra] Ordinary Time as is often the case—if we have eyes and ears open. 

   First, a bit of my past week as I always feel compelled to unite what is going on there with the message/s in Scripture.  I believe, much like the Persian king, Cyrus, who was used by our God, even though he was unaware of it, to show love and compassion to the Israelites in captivity, inviting them to return home; we too aren’t always aware that God works through our actions to bring “good” and not bad to our world.  I think it does help if we are prone to live in the “mind of Jesus” so as to be about love and not selfishness in our actions for our world.

   This past week, many have been talking about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (Brothers All), if we translate it, word for word.  In response to the objections of prominent women within the Church that the title is “exclusive,” we have been told that Pope Francis meant it to be read, “Brothers and Sisters, All.” 

   In an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter, (NCR) this week, the exclusive title is named as, “very serious,” even though, as they said, “It might be heard by modern Italians as “brothers and sisters.” 

   So, we might look at this example and say that our God is using this questionable title to address the fact that women are constantly left out of the language by the hierarchy of the Catholic church, i.e.; still the use of “men” in the creed which apparently, is meant to include us all as well.

   I made the attempt through a group of Franciscans that I am part of to address this issue of exclusive language within an otherwise, fine treatise by Pope Francis on how we should be in our world as followers of our brother, Jesus, and really didn’t get too far.  While a few in the group, were, as we say, “on the page” with me, the majority kept shifting the discussion to the “good” of the document, which I will too, in a bit.  I would only say, that when it comes to changing from something a group has done for so long, it is extremely difficult to change and no longer enable that which simply, does not include us all, no matter the objections.

   Some within the discussion thread couldn’t understand, I think, why I would spend so much effort on the language and not get to the, “meat” of the document, to which I said, “Language does matter!”  If we as women have no words to name us, it is indicative of having no real place, nor real importance, except for what men decide is acceptable for us and this is played out quite succinctly within the Catholic church—we have nothing to say in any decision making, nor can we truly minister at the altar because the men guard and control the discussion. 

   Even Pope Francis could not find it within himself to quote any women theologians within this otherwise fine document on economics—for the good of all, discussion against the death penalty and war, “as ever a solution,” and peace.  He did, although, quote 8 times from a document on, “Human Fraternity.”

   All of these issues—a fair economy, death penalty, war and peace, are “front and center,” an editorial in the NCR reads this week, as opposed to the “single issue of abortion” as uplifted by U.S. bishops, for Catholics to consider going to the polls this year.

   So, my friends; I will conclude this discussion on Fratelli Tutti in all fairness to Francis, for the “real meat” of the encyclical by giving you some quotable quotes and thoughts: *(the following quotes are from an NCR editorial this week)

  • Pope Francis uses the model of the “Good Samaritan” as a prime example of how we should be in our world, “paying attention to the suffering around us rather than looking away.”
  • “We can no longer think of war as a solution, because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits.”
  • “Individualism does not make us more equal, more fraternal.” [Shall we say, “Sisterly,” either?]
  • The Pope doesn’t name our president directly, but makes a statement concerning world leaders that definitely makes one think of him. [Leaders who] “are able to exploit politicians and peoples’ culture under whatever ideological banner, for their own personal advantage or continual grip on power.”

  Friends, I said earlier that our God works through all that is part of our lives, whether we know it or not, to bring good into the world; simply put, LOVE, just because God can, and because, that is Who God is! Just as Cyrus didn’t realize that he was being, “called by name” to show God’s love in his world; we too many not ever know how much of God’s love was bestowed through us, simply because we, “showed up.”

   The beautiful message from 1 Thessalonians this week continues this theme:  Paul is thanking the people for their faith, “their laboring in love and their constancy of hope.” He tells them and us, by extension that we “are chosen” too, to ultimately be about the goodness, the love of God in our world.

   The example of “the coin and paying the tax,” in the gospel, meant to trip up Jesus, is just another way the he is able to cut through what really isn’t important in this life, the material, but rather, showing what is—that we share what is good with all, that we live justly in our world—loving as we have first been loved.  Amen?  Amen!

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Prayers of the Faithful

Response:  “Loving God, hear our prayer.”

  1. Help us O God, to be accepting of all your people and be willing to return the gift of love that you have so generously given to us, we pray—      Response: “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For each of us here and for our entire Church, help us to be the change we want to see in our Church and world , we pray—Response:  “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community,  in body, mind or spirit and especially for those in our area completing their life journeys at present, we pray—Response:  “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For those who are currently suffering from the ravages of weather, storms, flooding, fires—give them the strength to know that, somehow, “All will be well,” we pray—Response:  “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For our world and its people, that peace would reign in our hearts and that we would do all in our power to bring peace to our world, remembering that peace begins first and foremost within each one of us, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • May the wisdom and grace of the Spirit overshadow all elected officials and those who seek office, that they will truly work to care for the least among us and strive to bring peace to our world, we pray—Response:  “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For our community, All Are One, continue to send your Spirit upon us, especially during this time of separation, to enable us to be an inclusive  community, open and welcoming all, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • For all in our world who are called to suffer because they are seen as different—open our minds and hearts O God to be accepting of all your people, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear our prayer.”
  • Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially from COVID 19 and all other causes—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  “Loving God, 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 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!

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Let Us Pray—Again, we are without the physical presence of Jesus on the altar, but we remember that our brother is with us always!

Prayer after Communion

Dear Jesus, remain in our hearts and prompt us to always share the gift of love which is you with all that we meet. We ask this in your loving name—Amen!

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Bulletin – 29th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

No physical Mass this Sunday, October 18, 2020, but next Sunday, October 25, 2020 will be our monthly Zoom Liturgy–watch for link next week to “zoom” with us!

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Dear Friends,

Another week is upon us to consider and reflect upon if our country, church and world is a just place in which all humanity can live. If it is not, our work is not yet done!

Peace and love to you all,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. As always, let me remind you that if I can do anything for you, please don’t hesitate to be in touch–aaorcc2008@gmail.com or 507429-3616.

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Readings:

  • Isaiah 45: 1, 4-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 1: 1-5
  • Matthew 22: 15-21

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