Homily – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends, 

My friend and colleague, Dick Dahl gave our community this fine homily last week in my absence–enjoy! and thank you Dick! –Pastor Kathy


I recently attended a film and discussion entitled “Going, Going, Gone” from the national research sponsored by Saint Mary’s Press of Winona about the dramatically high numbers of young people who are abandoning religion—not just the Roman Catholic Church, but other Christian churches, synagogues and religions.

Over 60 percent say that this disaffiliation took place in them between the ages of 10 and 13. What they experienced at church was not meaningful to them. Furthermore they sought connection and inner transformation. Instead they said they felt they were going to a club to which they felt they no longer belonged.

They did not want to be part of a church that seemed mainly judgmental, a church that seemed to separate and divide people rather than bring them together. They sought connection with a Higher Power but felt the truth had gotten lost over the centuries in interpretations that became a barrier rather than a window or a light. They sensed that there were different valid paths to the truth, to what is meaningful.

Being out of doors in Mother Nature was important to many of them. They sought to become better persons. Unconditional love and openness to others made sense to them. Social justice and the findings of science also made sense.

They did not usually leave the church in anger, rather often with some sadness.  They sought connection with others through friendships, in dinner groups, in working out at the gym, in local commitments.

With these contemporary changes going on about us, especially in the younger generation, can we just go on as we always have? Or are we called to recognize and respond to ways in which the Spirit is acting? In what ways might the Spirit be calling us to be open to other ways of thinking, to the experiences of other people?

Although these causes of disillusion in many young people may be a far cry from what led Jesus into the desert, I’d like to suggest a possible connection. Isn’t it dramatic that after about thirty years, he was moved to change his way of life and begin to act publicly? He may have been prepared for this by change by contact with his cousin, John the Baptist, but it was the Spirit that then led him into the desert.

Also I have known that “forty” is a symbolic number in Scripture but I have learned recently that it usually referred to whatever length of time was necessary to achieve a goal or purpose. So the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years, but not necessarily literally forty years. The Sinai is not that large an area! Jesus’ time of prayer and fasting for forty days in the desert was for as long as was necessary to prepare him for the change in his life that was about to occur.

When he emerged, he challenged “the system;” he challenged the way many of the traditions had enforced rules but had lost their inner meaning. I think the disaffiliated young people of today would have felt energized by Jesus as they have come to distrust institutions. Based on their stated resonance with social justice, they would have welcomed the way he reached out to the stranger, the foreigner, the outcast.

The reasons many young people give for leaving religion often describe a hunger for what religion, especially Christianity, should be offering. Religion should be open to what is true from any and all sources. It should be a force that brings people together, that overcomes divisions, that focuses on transforming love and mercy.

Eleven years ago Father Richard Rohr wrote a book about Scriptural Spirituality. He began by saying, “We need transformed people today, not people with answers.” He quoted Eugene Ionesco, the French-Romanian playwright who wrote, “Over-explanation separates us from astonishment.” Father Rohr says that for many people too many words have separated them from astonishment, as if the right words can substitute for inner experience. He asserts that the marvelous anthology of books and letters we call the Bible “is all for the sake of astonishment.” It’s for “divine transformation…not intellectual…coziness.”

Fr. Rohr says, “We have made the Bible into a bunch of ideas—about which we can be right or wrong—rather than an invitation to a new set of eyes. Biblical revelation invites us into a genuinely new experience.”

In his letter, “Joy and Gladness,” Pope Francis wrote, “…a person’s perfection is measured not by the information or knowledge they possess, but by the depth of their charity.” To the extent we miss this, religion is failing to transform and enliven our spirit and our communities.

In today’s first reading Abram was astonished when the Lord promised him that he and his wife Sarai, who were in their eighties, would be the parents of offspring who would become as numerous as the stars in the sky. Then in the Gospel reading, having eight days earlier warned his disciples that it would not be easy to follow him, Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain where they were astonished by his Transfiguration before their eyes. They heard his Father’s voice, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

The transfiguration of Jesus prepared him for his “exodus”—his coming Passover through a horrible death to the transformation of his Resurrection. His Spirit is now leading us through this time of Lent, our time in the desert as it were, to be silent, to be astonished, to listen to the Son and be transformed.

Homily – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Just back from a rather vigorous trip to Chile, visiting Santiago, Valparaiso, and our ultimate destination of Easter Island, which took us into the culture of the Rapa Nui people and their ideas of the spiritual expressed through the outstanding creations of the Moai statues; I opted for parts of a homily from three years ago today—but be looking for more about our Chilean experience in later homilies!

All of our readings today show us a different face of God and together they leave God rather mysterious, not unlike the Moaian statues on Easter Island.   The Catechism of the Catholic church overtime has described God as all-knowing, all-loving, and all-present.  Moses’ encounter with God can only be said to be awesome—from the burning bush that couldn’t be explained, to the strange name, “I Am Who I Am,” that God used.  Clearly, God wanted to get Moses’ attention!

Exegetes can’t agree on what this name means.  They do agree that it is a Hebrew form of the verb “to be.” But whether it means, “I am who I am,” or “I will be who I will be,” they can’t agree.  So, is God claiming to be the source of all that is, or is God saying something about the future?  It could be God’s way of telling us that as hard as we try, we can never fully understand who God is.  This is a God who lets us see, but doesn’t let us see all.   Fr. Richard Rohr, in his book, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality,  seems to be saying that it is us humans who make God mysterious when all God really wants is for each of us to know that we are loved.

Rohr compares it to when we first fall in love.  The one loving us delights in us, enjoys us and when we are looked on with love, he says,  we feel like our very best selves. And as we are reflected in the eyes of the lover—we can do anything and this is exciting!    God looks on each of us with love and calls us to love in return—to live our lives in a way that understands that to be loved means that we will love in return—first God and then others. Meister Eckhart, a 13th Century German theologian says it like this, “The eyes with which you will look back at God will be the same eyes with which God first looked at you.”  To me, this sounds like a God who is very involved with us!

And, as wonderful as this seems; we humans often want to make it harder and more complex than God intended.  Maybe we can’t handle being loved in this way, so we keep God’s love for us on our own terms—more abstract, less involved. Rohr says, “We will always resist relational, practical truth in favor of abstractions”—and I believe this truth has been played out in our Churches over time.  A God of our own making allows for more control over our lives.  When we return God’s gaze of love as did Jesus, our actions toward the rest of humanity are clear—we must move in love toward all, and here it can get uncomfortable, and even, messy, at times.

Just as the first reading from Exodus is confusing, the Gospel account from Luke is as well.  It relates the story of the Galileans killed by Pilate and the people who were crushed by the wall.  This basically illustrates for us that we can’t understand why God allows bad things to happen to us—a question humankind has struggled with ever since the first covenant between God and people was made.

The one thing we do learn in this Gospel is that our loving God will always show us mercy as related in the beautiful story of the fig tree.  The owner is willing to give up on the tree—on us, whereas the vinedresser—God, wants the tree, wants us, to have a second chance.

Blessed John Duns Scotus, a 14th Century Franciscan believed that our God is about one thing and one thing only—love.  He proclaimed, unlike our Church Universal today—in its more conservative branches, and especially during this holy season of Lent that God’s purpose was to have an intimate relationship with humanity, not the traditional belief that Jesus came to die on the cross so as to save us from our sins.

Scottish scholar, Sister Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ states clearly, “The Incarnation was not plan B (because something went wrong in the garden)—it was always plan A”—God became one of us out of love, to show us in no uncertain terms, how to live and how to love.

For each of us, our journey through life is a process; coming to understand this mystery of how much God loves us. Few of us get to have a “burning bush” experience in our life-times like Moses did—something that seals in our hearts and minds that God is above, around, and within, and will not let anything happen to us. We have all struggled with the “whys” in life—why horrible and sad things happen to people, like the cyclone in Africa, starvation, drug overdoses, people who are not wanted or not considered by some, good enough, due to how our God happened to have made them; female, gay, trans, black. Much in the news today gives us reason to ponder and wonder why seemingly innocent people are made to suffer.

Sometimes we realize that tragedies happen due to people’s choices. But at other times, the ravages of nature can devastate, gun violence, due to the easy availability of these weapons in our society, leave us reeling. Our hope is that we as a world, as a nation, can do what we must to make it possible for everyone to eat,  to make our people safer going forward, taking the necessary steps on common sense gun safety measures as New Zealand did so decisively this last week.  If we truly are about protecting the children and all others, perhaps we need to, as a nation, give up the weapons, or at least reduce the amount that make the slaughter of the innocents all too common, all too easy.

The same can be said of clergy sex abuse in our Church.  We must as a Church be willing to do whatever it takes to stop this abuse and we must demand this of our so-called leaders.  Francis is a step in the right direction with admitting at least that the problem lies within the clerical cult.  We need to pray for him that the Spirit guiding him can break through so that he can see the real truth, and begin to dismantle the clerical structure that makes abuse of every kind possible.

Today, we are comforted in the story of the fig tree as it reminds us to always remember that our loving God is a God of mercy, who will be there to stand with us in our pain, to give us a second chance, when needed.

Many of us grew up with the message that God sent Jesus, our brother to die for our sins and Lent was a time to dwell on that notion. It wasn’t something we questioned as children and grew into adulthood believing.  In a black and white world such theology can, for a time, be acceptable, but when placed alongside the “gray” of what life brings, it often falls short. Ministers over time have tried to give consolation to parents who have lost a child with the fact that God understands their loss because of Jesus’ death.  That old theology said God sent or chose to have Jesus die whereas the grieving parents didn’t choose to lose their child, so there is a disconnect.

We have to remember God’s words to Moses about who God is:  “I am who I am” and not try to mold God into someone we can understand.  Perhaps reading God’s words and seeing the very best offered there should be our task. Our human experience is about “being on holy ground,” about seeing God’s continual mercy—about always giving us another chance to make good with our lives.

Paul’s reading today from Corinthians, basically relates the story of how God through Moses saved the people from slavery in Egypt and brought them into the Promised Land.  But this people forgot time and again their promises to God and felt they were invincible—that they could live as they wished.  Paul reminds the Corinthians that God in Jesus asks that they live and act with justice, mercy and love toward all, just as Jesus showed them, shows us, the way.

The God whom we hopefully all believe in is one of love who wants a loving relationship with us, and thus sent us our brother Jesus, to help us to truly understand. Yes, Jesus did die, but it was a direct result of how he had lived—not because of our sin. I believe a theology such as this makes sense to all of us and then allows God to bring comfort to a grieving parent whose love relationship with their child ended in tragedy, or simply too soon. And just as God cried when Jesus died, God, who is all about love, cries with us in our suffering—rejoices with us in our happiness.  We have a very relational God, my friends, a fact that we shouldn’t often forget!

The psalmist’s prayer today can truly be ours in hard times, “our God is truly kind and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in gracious ways.”   As we live our lives, I think it behooves us to have eyes and ears open to see the interventions God makes through parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers, neighbors—God is always there—we just have to have eyes to see and recognize. I think of the examples in my family’s lives—walking through cancer, loss of an expected baby, the loss of family members—times when we stood as a family, sharing the tears, giving the support—God was there as we shared our love and concern.  And I know it was so with each of you in your life’s journey. We must remember as in our first reading today, what God told Moses—he was standing on holy ground. We must realize the chances we have daily to share God’s love, God’s desire to be one with us in the encounters of each day.  We too are standing on holy ground!

So, if we are waiting for one “burning bush” experience; we may miss the gracious appearance of our loving God in all we meet and touch each and every day.  May the ordinary, seen through new eyes, become then, “burning bush” experiences for each of us!  Amen? Amen!

 

Bulletin – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

Mass will be on Sunday, March 24, 2019 at 10 A.M.


Remember that this is March Food Share month–please be generous in bringing non-perishable food items–thank you! 


Lent continues and we journey with our brother, Jesus as he shows us the way.  We hear in the first reading today that Moses “stands on holy ground.” We might think this week about how it would be in our world if we considered this thought oftener, that we too stand on holy ground, in every place, and with everyone we encounter.

Come; celebrate with us this week!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Exodus 3: 1-8, 13-15
  • 1 Corinthians 10: 1-6, 10-12
  • Luke 13-1-9

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.”

 

Bulletin – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

MASS DAY CHANGED!!! Mass this week will be on Sunday, March 17, 2019 at 10 A.M.  This would ordinarily be our Saturday Mass for the month, but due to Mugby Junction closing at 2 P.M. this Saturday and me being away with Dick Dahl covering, it would be much easier for Dick to do it on Sunday.  Thanks for your understanding and thanks Dick for being willing to change.  


Remember that March is Food Share Month–bring your non-perishable food items–please, as always, be generous!  Thank you! 


Robert and I will be away this week and we are leaving you in Dick Dahl’s very capable hands.

We continue our journey through Lent and it might be good for us to reflect on Peter’s words to Jesus in this Sunday’s gospel, “How good it is for us to be here” and what that might be saying to us this Lent.

Come; celebrate with the All Are One Catholic community this week!

Love and peace,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Genesis 15: 5-12,17-18
  • Philippians 3: 17–4:1
  • Luke 9: 28-36

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.”

Update–Change of Day for Mass this Weekend

Dear Friends,

Due to Spring Break and shortened hours for Mugby Junction–the coffee shop next to the Lutheran Campus Center, where our Mass is celebrated, and the fact that Robert and I will be away this weekend, it won’t work to  have our Mass on Saturday afternoon, as this is the third weekend. Dick Dahl will be presiding and Sunday looks a better fit for our Mass in the usual 10 o’clock time frame.

So, to repeat–MASS THIS WEEKEND IS ON SUNDAY MORNING, March 17, 2019 at 10 A.M. INSTEAD OF SATURDAY AFTERNOON!!  Come and celebrate with Pastor Dick and the All Are One Catholic community.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy