Homily – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends, 

Another homily from Pastor Dick Dahl–enjoy! –Pastor Kathy


 

February 11, 2018

Today’s first reading from the Book of Leviticus describes how in ancient times Israel dealt with perceived dangers to the community. When someone had symptoms that might develop into a virulent disease like leprosy, the person was brought to an authority, at that time the priest, and if confirmed, the person was excluded from the camp. It was a severe form of quarantine, but similar to the initial action taken with ebola victims a few years ago.

We need interaction and relationships with other people for our psychological health, our spiritual health, and even for physical well-being. This is the reason that quarantine, exile, deportation, even being shunned are such painful experiences.

Today, however, instead of being forcefully separated from others, people often choose to enter into communities of separation. Walls in Israel and along our own southern border are built to keep people out. On a more local scale, we have  “gated communities.” We may recognize in ourselves a tendency to mainly interact with people we have natural patterns of association with. Even our “All Are One” community–while being “all inclusive,” that is, open to all who chose to come and join it–consists of very like-minded people, people who share the same values.

I suggest that the affliction challenging us the most today is the difficulty so many of us have in listening to and finding a way of communicating with those whose values differ from us–especially in religion or politics.

Three years ago I gave a homily at this time of year about an interview Bill Moyers had had on public television with Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist. Haidt, had recently authored a book entitled “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.” I think the main points of that interview bear repeating today given the ever increasing divisions in our society.

Haidt pointed to the way in which people have chosen to self-segregate. As we concentrate mainly with people who are just like us, we are less and less able to understand those who’re not like us. Without a human connection it is harder to like and even respect those whose views and patterns of behavior differ from our own. We can end up in separate moral universes, each with its own facts and experts.

Furthermore liberals and conservatives differ in the importance they give to certain values. Liberals give top ranking to caring and compassion. Fairness is also important to them but caring will top that when push comes to shove. They also tend to believe that in the long haul cooperation is more productive than competition.

Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to give high ranking to group loyalty, to authority, order and sanctity. They see it as unfair when government policies punish success and reward failure. They see this happen when welfare and other payments are given to people who aren’t working. They tend to think that bad example needs consequences.

Haidt said that many people, especially Baby Boomers, are prone to Manichaean thinking. Manichaeus was a third century Persian prophet who preached that the world is a battleground between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. And everybody has to take a side. Some people have sided with good, and of course, we all believe that we’ve sided with good. But that means that the other people have sided with evil. And when it gets so that your opponents are not just people you disagree with, but when it gets to the mental state in which I am fighting for good, and you are fighting for evil, it’s very difficult to find common ground or compromise.

Conservatives tend to sacralize institutions like country or church and symbols like the flag. Liberals tend to sacralize victim groups. Haidt pointed out that once we sacralize a group or idea, we become blind to contrary evidence.

Haidt offers a path toward positive communication by helping us first recognize the values passionately held by those with whom we tend to disagree. Haidt also proposed that we identify and avoid demonization. We can disagree as much as we want, but if we dismiss other people and demonize their motives, we’re usually going to be wrong about that. So if we could begin to see this in ourselves and each other and even challenge each other and say, “Hey, you’re demonizing.” Disagree with them but stop attributing bad motives to the other side.” That would at least be some progress.

Finally I want to call your attention again to the Red Boot Way which I’ve spoken about frequently in recent months. You may remember that it is a nationwide organization created by Molly Barker, who believes that people simply don’t know how to listen to each other. Its purpose is simply to gather people to discuss how they see the world and why, and to then share what they believe their role in it to be.

Among its “11 Steps” are the following:  (Step 5) “We came to see that, despite sometimes being fearful of those who are not like us, we have more in common than we realize. We approach those we meet with positive intent and likewise assume that they come to us with positive intent. We are open.” (Step 7) “We came to see that, despite wanting at times to ‘be right’, we best serve the world by seeking first to understand and then be understood. We humbly put aside our own agendas and listen with our whole heart before responding. We are present.

In closing let us remember that in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus did not withdraw or separate himself from the disfigured, leprous man who came to him. He first touched him. Then the healing took place. In a similar manner his example challenges us to strive for respectful contact with those we differ from so that healing communication has a chance to take place.  And as Paul urged the Corinthians, “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Give no offense…just as I try to please everyone in any way I can, I do this by seeking not my own advantage, but that of the many….”

Homily – 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Robert and I have been away on a cruise to see the Panama Canal and actually travel through it! It was a wonderful get-away and it is good to be back now. We were able to do this because of the generosity of my colleague and friend, Pastor Dick Dahl. I will be sharing today, the first of the three homilies he gifted us with in my absence. Tomorrow another and on Saturday, the third. Enjoy! -Pastor Kathy


Homily, February 4, 2018

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells Simon and Andrew, “Let us go elsewhere so that I can proclaim the message. That is why I came.” In the second reading Paul writes that he put himself in slavery and accommodated himself to all kinds of different situations so that he might share the benefits of the Gospel with others.

What was and is the message Jesus was eager to move on to proclaim? What really is the news or Gospel that Paul went through many perils to share with others?

Marcus Borg, theologian and New Testament scholar who died in 2015, wrote: For the author of John’s Gospel, Jesus is the revelation of God’s love.

Through the centuries since Jesus and Paul lived physically among us, many have claimed to know and preach that Gospel, this Good News. In the process, sadly, the distortions of the message have led whole groups of people to feel and be excluded and condemned. Instead of revealing God’s love for all, these distortions of the Gospel have been used to justify even slavery, torture and wars. Rules and laws have led many to bear burdens of guilt and fear of God, rather than rejoice in God’s unconditional love and unearned GRACE. It has led to feelings of alienation in those who weren’t guilty of sin and false justification in those who were.

This has not been the whole picture, of course. Many people, countless people, both known and unknown to us, have lived lives of love, compassion, generosity and mercy. Nevertheless, the distortions of Jesus’ message have led many to reject Jesus, Christianity and religion altogether.

Vince Hatt, the former director of the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, said in a recent talk, “There is no ‘they.’” In other words we must not allow our minds and spirits to divide people into them and us. That road to dualistic thinking makes “them” the people who are wrong while we are right, the people we can criticize or even persecute for their beliefs or their actions, in other words, the enemy.

The Sermon on the Mount is the best summary of Jesus’ teaching. It is the very blueprint for Christian life. Francis of Assisi put it this way to those who followed him: “Preach the Gospel; use words if necessary.” In other words, while words may help clarify the message, it is mainly shared through lives that speak compassion, generosity, tolerance and respect for all others, in short, love.

The Gospel message is authentically proclaimed and shared by those who like Francis of Assisi live by love, not by power or insistence on  being right. When you reflect on which people you think best proclaim the Gospel to you by their lives, who comes to mind? You each have people, who are not known beyond your personal acquaintances perhaps, but who witness to the love and presence of Jesus by how they live.

Sometimes, others have a better sense of God’s love than we do. Jesus’ story of the Samaritan who cared for the man beaten by robbers made this point. As Father Richard Rohr points out, “Truth is public domain.” We need to recognize, welcome and rejoice in it wherever we find it—in our Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist brothers and sisters, and also in those who consciously profess no faith but whose lives reflect the care and love of neighbor that is the sign of God’s presence.

I keep running into people who say they are former Catholics or “recovering Catholics.” What are they recovering from? It is certainly not from the message Jesus proclaimed that we are loved and have been from the beginning of time.

We live in the mystery of a benevolent universe even though it seems to be an indifferent one. And depending who we are, or when and where we live, evil and unjust suffering is experienced to an overwhelming extent, often by both the just and the unjust, and especially by children and the helpless.

What difference does God’s love make in such a life? This seemed to be the lament of Job in the First Reading today. What we do know is that Jesus spoke with his actions as well as his words. We know that Jesus was misunderstood. He was betrayed by a friend. He was imprisoned. He was humiliated and tortured. He suffered an agonizing death in which at the end even he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” He went through the ordeal, not to satisfy a sadistic god, but to prove he stands in solidarity with all who suffer. He is God’s promise that evil and tragedy will not have the last word.

I am closing with a statement by Father Rohr that I have quoted before but I repeat because it summarizes what this homily is all about: “Jesus did not come to solve a problem but to reveal the love of God for all creation. Jesus came not to change God’s mind about us, but to change the mind of humanity about God.”

 

 

Bulletin – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

  • Mass on Sunday, February 25, 2018 at 10 A.M.
  • Last Sunday for grocery donations for the Winona Food Shelf–please be generous! 
  • TAKE NOTE:  On this Saturday, February 24, 2018, from 10 am–12 noon at the First Congregational church, 161 West Broadway (6th Street) Winona, there will be a Sanctuary Church Information Meeting.  All Are One is a sponsor for this activity along with the Quakers, Unitarians, Lutheran Campus Center and the Winona Interfaith Council.  No advance registration is required, but RSVP for planning purposes is requested.  Email: winonainterfaith@gmail.com or Phone: 507-450-6405.  This should be a very informative meeting! 

We continue our journey toward Easter as we ask ourselves what we believe about our God who wants to be in relationship with us.  The answer we give to this question determines everything else in our lives!

Come; pray and celebrate with us this week!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings:

  • Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18
  • Romans 8: 31-34
  • Mark 9: 2-10

 

First Weekend of Lent

Dear Friends,

Mass on Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 4:30 P.M. –Pastor Dick Dahl will preside.

NOTE: February 14, 2018 is Ash Wednesday.  All Are One Catholic church will not be meeting for liturgy, although, if you haven’t received ashes, this ritual will be offered at the Saturday liturgy. 


Once again, we look to the psalmist for the overriding theme as we begin the holy season of Lent as a community: “All the paths of our God are steadfast love…”  Interesting and significant I think that Lent began on our national day of love, this past Wednesday.  We hear from Mark’s gospel today that “the reign of God is at hand”–let us use this time to renew our relationship with our loving God through our brother, Jesus.

Peace and love and blessings upon this Lent for us all,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Genesis 9: 8-15
  • 1 Peter 3: 18-22
  • Mark 1: 12-15

 

Bulletin – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass this Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 10 A.M. –Pastor Dick Dahl will preside. 

Remember your non-perishable gifts for the food shelf!


The psalmist cries out to God for deliverance–this is our cry as well to a God who will deliver us from whatever trouble we find ourselves in. Paul tells us that we must imitate Christ who showed us the way to live.  We see from Jesus in the Gospel today that the good we do for others originated with our loving God who wants to continue these good works in us, if like Jesus, “we are willing.”

Come; celebrate with the All Are One community this week.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Leviticus 13: 1-2, 44-46
  • 1 Corinthians 10: 31–11:1
  • Mark 1: 40-45