Homily – 6th Weekend in Extra Ordinary Time

Friends, the exegesis of three years ago on today’s readings is still quite sound, so I thought I would run it by you once again.  Even a cursory look at the Scriptures for this week lets us know that each of us is called to goodness and that is a real rallying cry given all that is coming out of Washington these days.  We are given life—a wonderful gift and opportunity, to make choices that hopefully will reflect our best selves, not only for our own selves, but for others.  Our first reading from Sirach is a set of proverbs—“before [us] are life and death, whichever we choose will be given [us].”  The writer of Sirach makes it very clear, the choice is ours. The intent is that certainly we will choose the good, the right.  The writer says, “No one is commanded to sin, none are given strength for lies.” In other words, one has to work hard at being a liar, but as with all things, the more we do an action, the easier it becomes.  In this regard, it is instructive to keep in mind all the lies our president has told us in the past three years.

The psalm response affirms the choice for goodness—“Happy are they who walk in your law”—happy are they whose way is blameless.” Our prayer is one for strength that we may do what is right—“give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart,” the psalmist prays.

Paul in his letter to the Corinthians makes it clear that we, as followers of Jesus, the Christ, are called to more than this world asks of us—he speaks of a wisdom that comes from the Spirit and is held by “the spiritually mature.”  I am presently reading a new book by David Brooks, entitled, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life,  actually an unlikely pick for me—anything from David Brooks, in years past, as I have historically not agreed with his conservative ideas. I was drawn to it due to a PBS interview wherein he spoke about why he wrote it.  Climbing to the “second mountain” seems to be for Brooks, moving toward becoming more, “spiritually mature.” In his words, “Whereas climbing to the “first mountain” was mostly about him, the “second mountain” has become about service to others.” I can’t fault him for that.

Jesus of course, had this wisdom of the Spirit that Paul talks about today, that Brooks is in search of—Jesus lived life from his heart and that is the step each of us much discern and put into practice—we start with the law, but that is only the start.  Often, laws are established to guide and instruct—to give order to life.  But laws can be short-sighted, self-serving—thus Jesus calls us to a higher law—the law to love. I wanted to lift up, as we spoke of last week, that our walk with our brother Jesus is very much about responding from our hearts and not just our heads. That is the message again this week—in fact, where Jesus is concerned—that is always the message!  I believe Brooks would agree that climbing the “second mountain” is about this “heart work.”

In today’s gospel Jesus fine tunes what this law to love is really all about.  He was constantly being challenged in his life of preaching and teaching by the Pharisees who said he was trying to subvert the law.  He responds that he does not mean to do away with even one letter of the law, only to open it up to include everyone.  The law speaks clearly on the black and white issues—do not kill—but Jesus challenges the Pharisees and us to realize that we can also “kill” with our words—with our actions that exclude, with actions that say, one is better than another—one is more worthy.

The laws concerning divorce and remarriage are a case in point. Those who have written about this dichotomy in Jesus’ time make the point that the marriage and divorce laws were very one-sided, favoring men, and that a man could divorce a woman for little or no reason.

Because women had no standing in that society; there was no recourse for them. Becoming divorced put a woman and her children in great jeopardy, especially if she had no family to return to. There were no social programs for needy women and their children.  So much of the seeming harshness in Jesus’ words today concerning divorce and re-marriage was aimed at the men, accusing and convicting them of greed, lust and taking care of only themselves.

“The woman caught in adultery” may have resulted from a woman having been ill-used in a marriage contract and needing to take care of herself, turned to the only possibility open to her—Scripture doesn’t tell us who it is who is committing the adultery—that is why Jesus brings some even-ness to that situation and doesn’t join the crowd in condemning her. He simply encourages her to choose more wisely.  Jesus is advocating here for the law, but he is calling the people of his time and us to so much more—to the law of love and understanding.

In our time, we see Pope Francis doing the same regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage.  As we spoke of last week—some bishops are prone to deny communion to the divorced and remarried as a punishment and Francis has said that communion should not be used that way—it is food for the hungry.  Unfortunately there are present day bishops fighting him on his merciful counsel.

Women over time have struggled with this very text from Matthew when it comes to needing to leave a marriage and then subsequently choosing to marry again.  It is important to remember that we cannot always take Jesus’ words literally; that it is so important for us to understand the context in which they were delivered.  We need to realize that Jesus’ messages have deeper meanings than what are at first apparent.

He was always about equality—what was good for the men, was also to be applied for the women—something we continue to struggle with today in Church and society.  Jesus of course, set the standard and was a man of the law; but the “more” that he advocated for, was the law to love, to understand, to extend compassion. Certainly our loving God intended compassion and understanding to be applied here, with marriage laws and everything else—laws are not for the sake of laws, but for the good of people and when laws don’t bring about the gifts of the Spirit; peace, joy, mercy and so on, in the religious sense or what is best for the majority of people in the civil sense; they need to be changed!

So friends, we are called to follow the law of love, ultimately, but there is this caution—living out the higher law will not necessarily make our lives easier and in fact, may make our lives uncomfortable at times. Jesus, our brother, was not understood in his time—he asked too much apparently of the holders of the law and they responded by attempting to silence him. We know though that the mystery of Jesus, which is our hope, is that his death was not the end, but led to life—life in abundance. Paul speaks of this life today: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love God.”

We talk much here about how it isn’t the big things that we are necessarily called to in our daily lives in the attempt to live as Jesus’ followers; just the simple, everyday things—the reaching out in the ways that we can. Many of us have been very discouraged these past three years by what we see coming out of Washington—the untruths, the selfishness for the so-called, “needs of this country” over and above the needs of the world in which we live, under the guise of national security—targeting the innocent because of race and religion. The slashing of programs that support the arts, the free education of all of our children, the dropping of safe guards to protect the environment, our planet, making our schools safer from gun violence, against measures to uplift all our people of color, our women, and the list continues with each passing day.

We have our task set out for us friends.  We can’t tire in making our voices heard to our representatives in Washington—we need to attend marches, and demonstrations—this is way beyond political—it is truly about the integrity of our country, but more importantly, our integrity as individuals, as Christians—as followers of our brother, Jesus.

Mother Teresa, loved by many for her ministry among the poor and sick in Calcutta, often quoted from Damien of Molokai, “We may not do great things in our lives, but we live fully in doing small things with great love!” I know many of your stories and of how you do just that, day in and day out, giving where you can, giving as your faith calls you, reaching out in small, but most significant ways and you are making a difference!  We must never become disappointed, but keep struggling on, doing what we know to be right. A clear and present example of this is All Are One’s commitment to covering the month of February with Home Delivered Meals and Michael Maher’s leadership in making this happen.  Thank you to all who participated in this!

So, we are brought back to our Scriptures today. We, each of us, have the freedom to choose how our life will be—we can choose life or death and that choice will sometimes mean our life won’t always be comfortable.  We think of the heroes during the impeachment trials in Washington in this regard. But our lives will always be meaningful if we react to what life presents us, ultimately, from the heart.  The question that we must always ask—is this action that I am doing bettering the life of the many, rather than the few?  If we can answer, “yes,” responding from the heart, on a regular basis, we will be choosing life in all its abundance.  Amen? Amen!

 

Bulletin – 6th Weekend in Extra Ordinary Time

Mass on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 4:30 P.M. 


The Winona Warming Center is having a collection of needed items from February 8- March 31. Needed items are the following: adult winter clothes of all sizes, wind-proof hats and gloves, garbage bags in the following sizes, 33, 13 and 2 gallon sizes, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food. THEY ARE NOT ACCEPTING BEDDING, APPLIANCES OR TRAVEL-SIZE HYGIENE PRODUCTS!

To the above list another request has come for hand warmers and requests for the following non-perishable food items: Many of these items listed below people could take with them to eat during the day hours. All Are One will be collecting these items through the end of February–in stead of our collections for Winona Volunteer Services–please be generous! Thank you!

cheese and peanut butter crackers, beef jerky, applesauce, pudding, fruit cups, granola bars, power bars, cereal bars, single serving Chef-Boy-R-Dee items, Ravioli/Spaghetti-os, single serving soups with pull tab openings, Ramen noodles, packaged nuts, Trail Mix, Fruit snacks, dried fruits, peanut butter, canned vegetables and fruit with pulls tabs, individually packaged chips, pretzels/Goldfish, boxed drinks and juices, Vienna sausages with pull lids, Pop Tarts, individual packages of oatmeal, plastic spoons, canned tuna


During the winter months please know that when we have heavy snow overnight before a scheduled Sunday mass we will cancel on that Sunday. We want you to be safe and not come out if the weather is risky.  I will always confirm on Sunday that there won’t be Mass due to weather, but you can use this as a general rule.


February is Home Delivered Meals month for All Are One–many of you are helping with this endeavor–thank you very much! 


Dear Friends,

Once again, we are called “to shine our lights,”  “to be salt,” to be our best selves–speaking our truth as needed–doing the loving thing.

Come; be with us this week–to pray for our world and its people.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings:

  • Sirach 15: 15-20
  • 1 Corinthians 2: 6-10
  • Matthew 5: 17-37

All Are One Roman Catholic Church Safety Policy

 Every effort will be made to ensure the safety of all attendees at All Are One services and social activities.  Any violation of this policy will be reported immediately to local law enforcement.  (This statement was updated and reviewed with the Board of All Are One Roman Catholic church at the July 2, 2018 board meeting and was reviewed with the parish).

All Are One Roman Catholic church Statement as a Sanctuary Support Community

“We affirm that as a congregation of people of faith, we are taking seriously the call to provide sanctuary support in the Winona Sanctuary Network. We recognize that our immigrant neighbors are a vital part of our community and local economy and that due to a broken immigration system they have not all been allowed the legal protections that they deserve. To this end we will use our privilege and our resources to stand with our community members that are in fear of deportation. As a sanctuary support community we are able to do this by providing; prayers, security, time, money, advocacy, relationship, and fellowship to the degree that is within our power.”


 

Homily – 5th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

Those of us growing up Catholic remember devotions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There were pictures of the “Breck Hair” Jesus with a human heart stuck on the front of his robe and while the intentions of this pre-Vatican II devotion were good—to demonstrate in clear terms Jesus’ love for us; we sometimes lost that idea in the theatrics of the bad art. There were like pictures of the Sacred Heart of Mary—Jesus’ mother, with like meaning, but for my purposes here today, I will simply reference the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
I have shared with you in the past the monthly publication from Sister Joan Chittister, The Monastic Way, wherein each month she uplifts a different theme and shares daily reflections on it. Sometimes she has a running theme for the entire year which is the case for 2020 wherein she will reflect on “Mary of Nazareth”—showing us through the many aspects of her life, “the sanctifying power of a human being who has become fully human.”
Sister Joan, in this year’s Monastic Way will show us the many great human qualities of Jesus’ mother, a strong, confident, peace-filled woman who gave our world not only the Sacred Heart of her Son, but the whole, divine-human package. Through Mary’s inner peace, compassionate relationships with others, her strength, as Sister Joan says in describing her; we will come to know the great love of her Son for all of humanity. “To become like the Sacred Heart means to open ourselves to the rest of the world. That is our calling,” Sister Joan prophetically says.  And the “Sacred Heart” of Jesus art by Brother Mickey McGrath is so much better than that of past times!
And all of this talk and reminiscence on the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” is very fitting as we reflect on the words of the psalmist in 112 today. The image of “heart” is uplifted twice in speaking of what God honors and that is further “fleshed out” in the word, “tenderhearted” in explaining how we are to be in our world. Also, the character traits of generosity, mercy and virtuous living are mentioned by the psalmist as presumably ways of showing that our hearts are “engaged” in daily living.
Acting with “a heart engaged” is also the theme for the prophet, Isaiah, as he says that we must, “care for the poor, the homeless”—those without the basics and if we do, then, “our light will shine.”
We never have really gotten away from the theme of, “shining our light” since the beginning of the Christmas Season and should not throughout the Church Year, even if the actual words aren’t there—Jesus, our brother, “the Light of the World,” will always expect that of us!
In these troubling times, when all that our wonderful country used to stand for is over-shadowed by leadership apparently stuck on itself and promoting the same; we all need to go on doing good, no matter what—we certainly can’t look to Washington for any moral guidance in this regard—at least from those holding the power for change. And please know, I speak from a clearly moral and faith-based stance in making these comments. Except for Mitt Romney, who broke with his party’s deplorable lack of leadership; there was little, “light-shining” to be seen in the recent impeachment process.
The Republican Party, guided by fear of not being re-elected sold their souls this past week, abused the oaths they took at the beginning of this trial to give an impartial judgement, when the facts were clear in the case.
On a segment of the PBS News Hour this past week, anchor, Judy Woodruff was asking selected guests how they saw our country moving ahead from the partisan divide and negative culture that it now finds itself in. One female guest spoke to the need for herself of staying away from all the negative tweets and emails that tend to turn one side against another and do nothing to uplift a sense of good or a way forward. She said that when she concentrates on all the good being done in our world, she is really quite hopeful that the good will conquer at a certain point. Seems some good advice!
The words of the prophet, Isaiah, give hope as well: “God hears our cries and will answer, if we do good and not evil.” And Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, gives additional hope in letting his hearers know that his ability to do good comes from the Spirit who is his strength,” and ours, I would add. And again, from the psalmist we hear, “For the upright, our God shines like a lamp in the dark.” And the Scriptures for today conclude with the wonderful images of light and salt—that we are to put our “lights” out there for all to see. Also, the image of “salt” that meant much more in Jesus’ time when people lived without refrigeration; but an image that we can make use of, even in our times—that notion that food is tasteless, insipid even—without salt, can transfer nicely into character traits that lack, “character.”
As I have mentioned in the past; I have been reading Sojourner Magazine’s editor, Jim Wallis’ book, Christ in Crisis: Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus,
finishing it this past week. In a chapter on being, “Salt and Light” for our world, Jim had this to say:
“We have only so much control over what happens in the world…we don’t choose the times we live in, but it’s often the case that the times choose us. What this means about how we live out our calling to be salt and light will be different for each of us—different gifts and callings, but all for the common good. Speaking the truth and acting on behalf of what is right will take all of us to the deepest levels.  Preachers should preach ever more prophetically, teachers should teach formation and not just information, writers should write ever more honestly, lawyers should fight courageously for those who need their help, [and] reporters should report the facts ever more diligently and speak truth to power regardless of what the powers think about that.”

And he goes on through the arts—that artists would inspire, that those who know about climate change, would work for that, those concerned about a living wage, work for that—that human rights, voting rights, refugee and immigrant rights, LGBTQ rights, and women’s rights would all be advocated for and advanced. Talk about “shining your light!” But friends, we are called to all of this!
And we can’t underestimate the importance of each of us doing our good, at times, in ways that are visible to others—not with the purpose of tooting our own horn, but instead, to give encouragement to others to do the same. Many times in my life, I have had people say to me that they were grateful for what I said or did—that it encouraged them to act in like fashion.
So my friends, much to reflect on this week as we, “hold the Scriptures in one hand and the newspaper in the other,” as Jim Wallis asks of us, and with that in mind, I want to lift up just two more empowering ideas for our reflection:
1) February, as you know is black history month. In a piece in the National Catholic Reporter (NPR) this past week, the writer said this: [The fact] “That the country needs to explicitly set aside a time of recognition for black history unveils the uncomfortable truth that white people avoid facing that people of color reckon with daily. Structural racism is real, white supremacy is normative and the stories we tell about ourselves as a nation and a church are skewed in such a way as to subjugate and erase black oppression and white privilege.”

“While it is good to uplift black history, the commemoration also ought to remind white women and men—such as [us] that ours is not the only history, our experiences are not universal experiences and our perspectives and cultures should not be viewed as normative.” And friends, in our country, due to the racist rhetoric coming out of the White House, all this is exacerbated, and we as followers of Jesus must shine our lights into that darkness.”
2) A bit of hope from the leadership of the Catholic church comes from a recent speech by San Diego bishop, Robert McElroy, entitled, “Voting with Faith and Conscience.” In his talk, he lists 10 areas of social justice concerns repeating the Church’s teaching on abortion reminding his hearers of this single issue that Catholics have concentrated their voting choices on for decades, as demanded of them by their bishops, to the detriment of all others and is now calling us to become more conscientious in our voting choices.
He uplifts the need today, more than ever before, to choose a candidate for public office, not a stance or specific teaching of the Church—faithful voting, he continued, involves careful consideration of the specific ability of a particular candidate to actually advance the common good. “Voters, he said, must assess the intelligence, human relation skills, mastery of policy and intuitive insights that each candidate brings to bear, for voting discipleship seeks results, not merely, aspirations.” He also added that the ability to “build bridges and heal our nation,” are most important.

I want to simply uplift McElroy’s phrase, “voting discipleship.” I think conscientious followers of Jesus need to remember this—picking the right leader of our country is discipleship because the power that this person has affects so many people—God’s people.
My friends, Robert told me recently that I should write a homily that is totally upbeat, leaves out all the negativity and I think this one has more that is positive than negative, but holding the Scriptures in one hand and the newspaper in the other really doesn’t allow us to leave the negative news out completely.
The positive piece though is that we are capable of so much good and hopefully, I have lifted that up for us today. I conclude with the words of Pope Francis in his 2015 address to our Congress. “A nation is great when it defends liberty as Abraham Lincoln did, when it seeks equality as Martin Luther King Jr. did and when it strives for justice for the oppressed as Dorothy Day did.” Bishop McElroy concludes, “Let us pray that our nation moves toward such greatness, in this election year and that faith-filled, prudent disciples are leading the way.” Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 5th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

Mass on Sunday, February 9, 2020 at 10 A.M. 


Remember our weekly collection of non-perishable food items for the Winona Volunteer Services food shelf


The Winona Warming Center is having a collection of needed items from February 8- March 31. Needed items are the following: adult winter clothes of all sizes, wind-proof hats and gloves, garbage bags in the following sizes, 33, 13 and 2 gallon sizes, cleaning supplies, non-perishable food. THEY ARE NOT ACCEPTING BEDDING, APPLIANCES OR TRAVEL-SIZE HYGIENE PRODUCTS!


Dear Friends,

We are back to [Extra] Ordinary Time for three more weeks and then we will move into the holy season of Lent.  Again, we are called this week to be “light and salt” in our every day lives.

So many challenges each and every day!

Come; pray with us this week!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Isaiah 58: 7-10
  • 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5
  • Matthew 5: 13-16

All Are One Roman Catholic Church Safety Policy

 Every effort will be made to ensure the safety of all attendees at All Are One services and social activities.  Any violation of this policy will be reported immediately to local law enforcement.

(This statement was updated and reviewed with the Board of All Are One Roman Catholic church at the July 2, 2018 board meeting and was reviewed with the parish).

All Are One Roman Catholic church Statement as a Sanctuary Support Community

“We affirm that as a congregation of people of faith, we are taking seriously the call to provide sanctuary support in the Winona Sanctuary Network. We recognize that our immigrant neighbors are a vital part of our community and local economy and that due to a broken immigration system they have not all been allowed the legal protections that they deserve. To this end we will use our privilege and our resources to stand with our community members that are in fear of deportation. As a sanctuary support community we are able to do this by providing; prayers, security, time, money, advocacy, relationship, and fellowship to the degree that is within our power.”


 

Homily – Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

With Jesus and his life among us, there is always the two-tier, if not three-tier, and perhaps even more layers to all that he does among us.  Each action, at least those that are recorded, is loaded with meaning.  Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ earthly parents, were fulfilling the religious laws of good Jews in bringing the little Jesus to the temple to be presented.  They were on the run from Herod, most likely—but this they had to do first!

Coming to the temple, which was Jesus’ first time of several that Scripture records for us, was about fulfilling an earthly, religious law, but it was also about the beginning of a short life, fully immersed within humanity, doing what his God asked of him. This, my friends, is a good reflection for each of us, “doing what God asked of him,” and ultimately—of us.  In the words of the prophet Malachi, “the messenger of God’s promises is surely coming!”

The basic action of bringing a newborn to the temple to be presented to God with the prayer that this same God would protect the child and assist them throughout life was the top tier of the meaning of this feast.  There was a dual purpose for Mary, his mother—or any mother, presenting herself as a way to be, “purified” according to the law, after the birth of a child.  And again, Mary and Joseph, being good and faithful Jews, would have felt the need to do, “all that was right.”

With these surface actions fulfilled—those that all good Jews would do; we then must go deeper, to have well-known prophecies fulfilled, in order to make the connections to a greater plan.  We read in Luke today that, “Simeon was prompted by the Spirit to come to the temple,” on the very day that the parents of Jesus arrived to present him.  We also know that the Spirit had spoken to Simeon earlier, “a devout and just man,” Scripture says, that, “he would not see death until he had seen the Messiah of God.”

So Simeon and his counterpart, Anna, had the task of confirming for Mary and Joseph that their child was indeed the Messiah of God! We can only imagine in the day- to-day life of caring for an infant, and those of you who have done that know what I am speaking of, the miracle of all that they both had learned along the way of how this child had come into their lives, would need confirmation throughout their life times of who he truly was.  Simeon and Anna were two such people in God’s hands to “shine a light” into so much that this young couple more than likely just didn’t know.

And the layers of meaning continue—Simeon lets Mary know that, “a sword will pierce her heart.”  A reality check, yes! Again, she didn’t fully know what lay ahead for her precious child, “meant to be the rise and fall of many in Israel—a sign to be rejected,” the prophet continues. And then there was Anna, a prophet in her own right.    Don’t you wonder—what in fact, she may have said to the young Mary?  I like to think, a woman to another woman would have said what Simeon said, but through a woman’s compassionate heart and words for another sister to hear.  This is yet another layer to think about as we try to make this story real for our own lives.

Because my friends, these Scriptures, or any Scriptures really only have purpose and meaning in our lives if we take their lessons to heart—make them our own.  The Scriptures can’t just be “nice stories” that we read each week and forget about until the same time next year—but stories in fact that help us reflect on our own lives and how we are “to be” in our world, as followers, we say, of this Jesus, from a backward town called Nazareth, of which some asked in his time, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?! Indeed!

We cry out with the psalmist today in our search to make sense of all of this, “Who is this holy one?” And we might add, “Where can we find him?” And why does it matter if we do?  The writer to the Hebrews tells us basically that, Jesus is “strength” for us in our search for right living—he was one of us, having gone through all that we do.  In other words, we must keep our eyes on him, checking—always checking, with each new situation—how would our brother Jesus respond to this?

Our present lives have many places for us as followers, we say—of Jesus, to first ask, what would he do and when we have figured that out, doing likewise.  And you see, for each of us, this is where we often get stuck—following through! We are often like Paul who said, “I know the right thing to do”—it’s doing it, is the thing!  I will offer just a few examples for you to consider that I looked at and reflected upon this week:

  • Jaimie Mason, writer for the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) wrote on climate change in this week’s paper, quoting Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s words. “We have to be converted to the Earth,” adding that our care for the planet must become, “an intrinsic part of our love for God.” She continues, “The ecological crisis makes clear that the human species and the natural world will flourish or collapse together.”  This seems true, doesn’t it as Australia and its wildlife burns, as storms—hurricanes and tornadoes become more lethal, as temperatures on the planet rise and ice sheets, long intact, melt.  We, each of us, who sees these changes and can make the connections, must do our part and speak out when the leadership of this country continues to weaken the safeguards put in place over the years by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect our planet. And when we realize that these protections are being done away with merely for momentary, monetary gain, we should feel righteous anger at this endangerment.
  • We recently watched a public television program on the sand dunes in Indiana and of how in the early part of the 20th Century, this complex system—home to a great variety of plant and animal species was almost lost forever to what some considered necessary material advancement in the form of a shipping port on the Great Lakes. In this case, through the advocacy of concerned citizens, a national park was eventually established, saving some of the dunes and establishing a shipping port as well. The point here being, all this natural beauty would have been destroyed except for concerned people speaking up.
  • Another writer for the NCR, Father Thomas Reese wrote this week about the appointment of Bishop Nelson Perez of Cleveland to replace retiring Archbishop Charles Chaput, an ultraconservative in the Philadelphia post. Chaput followed Cardinal George, also a conservative who died in 2015. It has been the practice of Pope Francis, in his papacy, to replace bishops when they reach the age of 75 if they have disagreed with him in his pastoral approach. Chaput’s offense was to respond to Francis’ directive that remarried Catholics should be allowed to take communion by stating that, in his diocese, he would allow this, but only if the couple refrained from having sexual relations! Francis’ contention has always been that communion is food for the wounded, not a reward for the perfect, and Chaput’s successor, Perez, sees communion as Francis does.  Reese makes clear that Perez won’t make all the changes that many Catholics long for; birth control, ordination of women, and gay marriage, but his focus will be care for the poor and marginalized as Francis has directed for his bishops—that they cease being about clericalism and return to being shepherds, and this is a least, a very good start!  With the naming of Bishop Nelson Perez, the memory of pastoral leaders such as Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who died in 1996, and led American bishops in reforming the Church after the Second Vatican Council is again raised.
  • And finally, I will just lump together a few things in closing—the fact that 10 years ago, Citizens United was sanctioned by the Supreme Court of our country, allowing unlimited amounts of dark money into our elections, basically buying great influence for the rich and powerful, to the detriment of the rest of the people—an action in need of change! At present, the Senate of our country is basically preparing to say,  that for all time, the president is above the law—that the person holding this office can do whatever they want, (forget the checks and balances of the other two branches of government) if they claim that they did it in the national interest!

Now, if you are sitting there wondering if your pastor had gone off the rails here—what in fact all this has to do with the Scriptures—let me say, “it all fits,” as Father Richard Rohr would say.  Our God is all around us—not, “out there, somewhere,” —in our lives, in our beautiful world for all of us to enjoy—in all the plants and animals and people, given into our care to protect and love as we say we love God.

Today we remember Jesus’ presentation in the temple, basically being offered back in service to the God who sent him—the God who sends us through our baptisms and confirmations.  If we as his followers, truly wish to follow him, we too must present ourselves as servants, seeing as many of the connections as we can, naming untruth, injustice, lack of mercy and understanding, hoarding of this world’s goods by the top 1% to the detriment of the rest in this world, pursuing war to get to peace instead of pursuing peace by eliminating war and demanding that these infractions to the law of love not be allowed to stand! We are all better than this and it is time, as our world struggles with poverty and the lack of basics for so many, where violence rather than goodness seems the tone in our own country, to speak our truth, saying, “Enough is enough! Amen? Amen!