Homily – 24th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

My friends, today’s readings, especially the lovely, long reading from the Gospel of Luke, speak profoundly about mercy and love.  In fact, the God that is depicted in the first reading from Exodus is the total opposite of the God in the story of the Prodigal in Luke.  Moses’ God speaks of mercy mostly through the absence of it!  The God we see depicted here could almost be said to be one of our own creation as humans, or in other words, this God acts as we humans are more prone to acting! It was for this very reason that the late Pope John Paul I, with us as pope only 33 days disliked the God of Moses! That in itself should tell us something wonderful about this pope who was with us such a short time!

Moses is given credit for much of the writing in the book of Exodus and we might say that he appears more merciful than God does, questioning God about being so violent toward the people.  This story shows us the need for having Jesus come into the world to make clear that his Abba is not so vindictive, but truly a God who loves us in an over-the-top way.  This reading from Exodus and its completion in the story told by Jesus of the Prodigal reminds us how important it is to allow God to be God—who is so much more generous, understanding, merciful and loving than we could ever be.

Jesus truly wanted the people of his time to get this one point—that of the over-the-top love that our God has for us by telling 3 stories depicting how much God does indeed, love us: The Good Shepherd, who left the 99 in search of the one, lost, the woman who turned her house upside-down in search of one lost coin—by the way, an equally wonderful image of God—and the best depiction of all—the story of the “prodigal dad.”

I put the emphasis on the “loving parent” because he is as “prodigal” in loving as his son is “prodigal” in not loving as is evidenced by his disrespectful, selfish and uncaring manner toward his father, his family and his community.

Again, a bit of back story will help us to truly understand the depth of love that is depicted by this dad. Family and one’s inheritance was everything to people living in this culture. All one had was their family, so for this son to turn his back on all of this was extremely selfish, uncaring and foolish.  To ask for one’s inheritance, which would rightly come only at the death of the father, was additionally, rude. And because families were so intertwined with the community-at-large, the Prodigal son’s actions were an assault on the community as well.

In that light; we can better understand this prodigal dad running to meet the returning son.  First, he runs out of deep love for the wayward son, telling him by this action, that no matter what he has done, the only thing that is important is that, he has returned. This great love here can be juxtaposed to that of the vengeful God of Exodus.

Secondly, this dad “runs” to save his son from the humiliation that awaits him at the city gates upon his return. Because his actions were not only an assault to his father and his family, but to the community-at-large, in rejecting their culture and way of life, a representative from the community met the “offending” member at the city gate and broke a clay pot at their feet, signifying the “broken relationship” that existed.  Apparently, there was no “fixing” this relationship—the offender lived the remainder of their life as an outcast. We humans certainly know how to punish, don’t we?!  But isn’t it wonderful that our God’s mercy, as displayed in the “Prodigal Dad” exceeds that of the God in Exodus?!

With that bit of explanation; we can more fully appreciate this loving parent being willing to take the shame upon himself and welcome his son back with full and open arms, instead of allowing the community to heap shame upon him.

An additional piece to this story which is good for us to know and remember because it speaks to the depth that love will carry a person to make that love known, is the enthusiasm with which this parent welcomes the son back—Scripture tells us that “he ran” out to meet his son, not waiting for him to get all the way home, and in order to do this, he would have had to lift up his garments, exposing his legs, something against the decorum of the day—you see, nothing was more important to this dad than letting his wayward son know, that he was loved—welcoming him back, not the sensible thing, not the righteous thing, not what was the culturally, religiously acceptable response, as the older son would have preferred—only the loving thing.  Those of you who have given birth physically or in other ways to children know the truth of this.

Jesus, our brother takes great pains, with 3 different stories, to make sure that we all get this one message—we are each, individually loved and cared about and will never be shunned, turned away—made to pay unceasingly for our misdeeds, or excommunicated—all these punishments are human-made and not of God.

The use of power to control people through shaming, exclusion, excommunication, whatever punishment we might come up with, are simply not of God, and we should wonder at a Church or community which would dole out such responses, especially when we hope to keep them interested in becoming their best selves and part of our communities.

I just finished reading Sister Joan Chittister’s book, The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage and it is basically a work on prophecy and of how each of us is called to the work of prophecy.  Chittister says, “The prophet is the person who says no to everything that is not of God.  No to the abuse of women…the rejection of the strange…crimes against immigrants…to the rape of the trees…the pollution of  the skies…the poisoning of the oceans…the despicable destruction of humankind for the sake of more wealth, more power, more control for a few of us [and] no to death.”

With hope, Joan continues, “And while saying no, the prophet also says yes…to equal rights for all…to alleviating suffering…to embracing the different, yes to who God made you, [and] yes to life.”

We can’t just say what is wrong Sister Joan teaches, but what is needed in its place, and what part of the work we will do! There is a real urgency in her writing for us as individuals, for our country, our Church, our world.  If not us, who? If not now, when?

And along with the urgency came a bit of reality too—“whatever you’re doing to bring justice as well as mercy, keep on doing it.  Do it, even when it doesn’t seem to work.  Do it when it’s long and hard and boring.  As the Roman poet, Ovid wrote, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force, but through persistence.”  I think of the persistence of the postcard-writers each Thursday morning at the Blue Heron, I think of the work of this small community of faith-filled Vatican II believers who keep speaking truth to power by our existence—believe that it all makes a difference and don’t ever give up! Amen? Amen!

 

Bulletins -24th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

First of all, my apologies for the lateness of this bulletin–busy week and when I did get to it, my computer was being cantankerous! Thanks to our webmaster, Blake, I am back to it!!


Mass is on Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 10 A.M. 

OUR SATURDAY MASS ISN’T UNTIL NEXT WEEK–REMEMBER, IT IS ALWAYS THE THIRD SATURDAY AND THIS SATURDAY IS THE SECOND!–Several of you asked me about this.  Actually, this is as late as it can be in the month!


Remember our weekly collection of non-perishable food items for the Winona Volunteer Services Food Shelf–if you have extra garden produce, please simply take that to the Food Shelf and have them record it for All Are One Catholic church–thanks!


This week we are called to mercy and love just as our loving God has shown these attributes in such an over-the-top way to us.

Come; share the joy that this knowledge of being so loved should bring us!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Exodus 32: 7-11
  • 1 Timothy 1: 12-17
  • Luke 15: 1-31

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 – 23rd Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

“For a perishable body presses down on the soul, and a clay house weighs down the restless mind,” the Wisdom writer tells us today.  This is probably a good place to start with these readings, full of challenge and hard sayings because I think it says well our very human response sometimes with what life brings.  We, as human followers of our brother, Jesus, often face being his followers with a willingness to do the right thing, but our very humanness weighs us down, gets in the way of doing what we could, would, if not for our humanity; at least, this is what we tell ourselves.

This reminds me of a conversation I had recently with a friend who is working on becoming a Cojourner with the Rochester Franciscans and I am mentoring her process.  We were talking about mysticism and the ability of saints like Francis, Clare, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, to rise above their physical, “clay houses and restless minds,” and commune in a special way with our loving God, expressing our desire to do more of that, and realizing that we are far from this level of “communion.”

The author, Susan Pitchford, of the book we are studying and reflecting upon, Following Francis: The Franciscan Way for Everyone says that if we desire to commune with God in this way, we should simply ask God, as God desires this same communion with us.
   It is for this reason that we have built the two minutes of quiet into our liturgies after communion—to give us time that we don’t always take for ourselves in our busy days, to simply “be” with our God who wants to “be” with us.

As my fledgling Cojourner-to-be, friend said, “It gets easier the more that I do it.”  This is true of course of anything that we really want to do.

This kind of practice, communing with God in quiet times during our days prepares us with assurance, strength and will to do some of the hard things that we are called on to do by the memory of our brother, Jesus.  Because, after all, that is our mission as his followers, to more fully and clearly, over our lifetimes, reflect his actions in our lives.

The gospel from Luke today has some hard sayings.  And once again, as always, with Jesus’ words, we have to take the broad view.  We might question his insistence that we turn our backs on our families, mother, father, brothers and sisters, but that would be taking the narrow view.

Jesus is not asking us to literally turn our backs on loved ones, but to prepare us for the fact that in following him; his path, his actions; we may in fact have to “go against” family members.

I think of this with regard to my birth family and my ordination to priesthood—certainly not all of them have supported this; but for me, this is one of those issues where the call of God is what I must follow.

Others of us, in these times of deep divide in our country over many issues, have to go to our hearts, use our heads too, and decide which way to go—“What would Jesus do?” is an operative question here.  And basically, we must ask as he always did, “Is love being served here?” and then proceed.

This reminds me of a wonderful action that our grandson, Elliot’s kindergarten class is about for which I applaud his teachers.  Evidently, if I got the explanation right, the class has a bucket that they can place cotton balls in for each action they do in response to the question, “Is this taking from my bucket (sharing) or from some other’s bucket (not sharing)? And wonderfully, this past week, he reported that his class had 40 cotton balls in their bucket, so they would be enjoying a treat at week’s end for all the good they had done.

This is a wonderful practice for these young children to be about as it prepares them for a life wherein they will more regularly reflect on their actions, asking, in effect, is love being served in what I am about to do?  And even if the question comes after the action—reflecting upon “taking from another’s bucket,” to fill my needs; this is a good thing to help them be more attentive to being their best selves.

We see much the same situation in the reading from Philemon today.  Paul is writing from prison, yet his tone is all about love.  This in itself is a good reflection for us—whether we find ourselves in good times or bad, love is always the center from which we should move.

A little back story on Philemon is probably helpful in understanding what Paul is sharing.  Philemon is a slave-holder, an accepted practice at the time.  He is also a baptized follower of Paul and ultimately, Jesus.  Onesimus, the slave in question, although unnamed has gone to Paul in prison and Paul has taken up his cause with Philemon.  Appealing to his best self and the fact that he and Onesimus share baptism; Paul appeals to Philemon to see that the action of slave-holding is really against his new life in Jesus.

Paul says that the decision is Philemon’s and that Paul won’t force him one way or another. He will only help him to see the right way, with the understanding that, it won’t always be easy to follow our brother, Jesus.

Paul, in his ministry was always about helping others to see that following Jesus makes each one of us equal—we are brothers and sisters in Christ.  We recall Paul saying elsewhere—“There is neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female—all are one!

And finally, today’s readings remind us that our time is short and that “now,” as Sister Joan Chittister says, in her new book, is the time to do the right thing—if not you, me, who else will do it?!  Our world is so in need of people who will follow our brother, Jesus, realizing that in doing so; we give up forever who we can love.  But we must remember that we will not be alone in this action—Jesus’ Spirit will always be there, the Wisdom writer tells us today, so for just today, let us be confident that love is always the best response to what life brings.  Amen? Amen!

 

Bulletin — 23rd Sunday of [Extra] Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Mass on Sunday, September 8, 2019 at 10 A.M. 


Remember non-perishable food items for Winona Volunteer Services


This week’s readings clearly ask us to apply “love” to what we are about in our daily actions–is love going to be served by what I am thinking about doing?

Come; ponder this theme with us on Sunday!

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Wisdom 9: 13-18
  • Philemon 9-10, 12-17
  • Luke 14: 25-33

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 –22nd Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

My friends, I found myself this week thinking about the beauty of our precious earth, amid the burning of the Amazon and the heating of our oceans, this place we all call home, the only place in this grand universe that any of us or anyone that we have ever known has lived and died upon.  If we go out as far as technology can take us and look back at our earth, it appears as a very small, blue dot!  Yet, all the relationships we have ever known of for ourselves and all others happened here, and will continue to, for hopefully, a very long time.  As one reflects on this, it is a very humbling thing.

Sirach, in the first reading today, calls us to this kind of humility and to a sense of care for so great a gift.  The writer says, “Be gentle in carrying out your business/the greater you are, the more you should behave humbly.” In conclusion, this writer speaks of the great power and potential that lies within “charitable giving,” or giving from the heart.

With regard to the beauty of the earth and preserving that, I always enjoy September and the coming of the fall time of the year—I have fondly—over the years called it, “jeans and sweatshirt weather.” I personally wouldn’t need to have it ever be much warmer than 75 degrees with a gentle breeze at my back.  Of course, the farmers need warmer weather to make their crops grow, so that has to be part of the heat cycle for me as well. And when summer is past; I can have my favorite temps for a month or so.

In conjunction with this, I have always enjoyed the variety of weather that this part of the world provides us and I would never want to do anything to disrupt that cycle of variety that we enjoy here.

The second reading today to the Hebrews continues in this vein of “right living,” we might say, in laying out the true relationship that each of us should strive after with our God, others and the planet.  This writer says that our God is not one that we should consider as “untouchable,” but one who is “the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” one who is surrounded by “myriads of angels,” gathering for a feast.  To me, this God sounds very relational, and most concerned about “right living,” for all of creation.

The writer to the Hebrews is also speaking about a “just” God for all women and men, one who will judge us all, and the goodness of this God, who we know, is so perfectly shown in our brother, Jesus.

And finally, the idea of moving humbly in our world is once again shown so well through the words of Jesus in Luke today, “They who exalt themselves will be humbled.”

So, my friends, “humility” seems to be the operative word today as we reflect on who we are as individuals and of how we should responsibly engage our world, its people, and really, all of creation.  The days when we can deny, if we ever did, that our beautiful, blue planet is heating up, are over.  Regardless of political preference, this issue has grown beyond that and become a matter that all humans must consider!

I have mentioned in the past, the work of Brian McLaren in The Great Spiritual Migration and he has spoken well about how our thinking and ultimately, our action in our world must change at a very deep level—internally, culturally, politically and spiritually.

He tracks the “God” that has been a part of most of our lives in this country—denominationally, whether it be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or other religious groups.  He lists these “Gods” on a scale from 1.0—5.0.

The version of God, 1.0 is the one who was supposed to solve all our problems and people who believe in this God are angry when he hasn’t made their lives that of “a warm blanket or a dry diaper”—in other words, this is an infantile God.

The God, 2.0 is one who is gracious, wants all of us to be nice and get along.  This God is all that some people can handle, McLaren says.

God, 3.0 is for all those who are most comfortable living by the rules and would like to impose those rules on everyone else.

God, 4.0 is a “God of love” and if you believe in this version, you may want to convert everyone else to this God, having them, along with yourself, migrate from selfishness to other-centeredness, from self-interest to the common good, from me to we.

   This God sounds quite good, wouldn’t you say? The thing is, McLaren says, this God is still an exclusive God who shows favor to us, but not to them.  No matter the denomination, this God leads to affection, fidelity and forgiveness in family, community and nation—but only for people from our religion, ethnicity or tribe.

McLaren continues—so while God 4.0 moves us in a good direction from “me, myself and mine” (personal selfishness) to “we and our,” (social maturity), “this same God is still the violent God whose genocide card we keep in our back pocket if we are threatened, or if they have something we desire.  The word we, it turns out, can be pretty dangerous, because it can “otherize” and dehumanize those who aren’t like us.

Those of us Catholic women who have followed their calls to ordained ministry see this “God” displayed in Church officials and those who want to remain in good standing with them.

And finally McLaren offers this hope if we can accept it: “We need God 5.0 to emerge, a God of the inclusive we, the God not just of us, but of all of us.  Only a bigger, nondualistic God can unite us and them in an inclusive identity that is not limited to a tribe or nation, but extends to all of humanity, and not just all humanity, but to all living things, and not just to all living things, but to all the planetary ecosystems in which we share…we need to move to a grown-up God,” in other words.

So my friends, if we would choose God 5.0 to follow, then the days when we can stick our heads in the sand, refusing to do our part—whether that be speaking our truth within a group of friends, writing or calling our Congress people, leading our congregations to truth—with love, whatever it might be, are over.

Everything within these Sunday readings then, push us in the direction of truly knowing ourselves, coming to terms with how wonderfully each of us is made, with how much potential each of us has for good in our world, if we don’t set that aside for the comfortable way out.  What is called for, it seems to me is BALANCE—knowing our potential, yet standing humbly before our God, realizing that we need this “grown-up God” to stand beside us, to show us the way, to be all that we can be—all that our world and its people need.   Amen? Amen!