Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter with Accompanying Materials during a time of Pandemic

Dear Friends, 

We “gather” again, in our new way, during this time of pandemic, longing to see each other face to face, yet knowing that for now, this is best to keep us all safe. We “gather”  to reflect together on being “community” in the best sense of the word. We are challenged anew this week with the gentle, yet insistent call of our brother Jesus, “to do greater things than he,” skeptical at times as to if that is even possible as we many times feel our inadequacies for the task. Yet, he trusts us and lets us know that he will be with us always. So, with that my friends, stay safe and well–call, 507-429-3616 or email, krredig@hbci.com if I can be of service to you. 

Peace and love,  Pastor Kathy


Entrance Antiphon

Sing to our God, a new song, for God has done marvelous deeds!  Our loving God has revealed to the nations saving power, Alleluia!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer–Good and gentle God, look upon us with love. You have revealed to the nations your saving power and filled all ages with the words of a new song.  Hear the echo of this hymn, sung in love and praise to you in this season of joy.  We ask this of you, and with the Spirit, in Jesus’ wonderful name—Amen.


Readings:

  • Acts 6: 1-7
  • 1 Peter 2: 4-9
  • John 14: 1-12

Homily

My friends, it is fitting today at the beginning of this homily, to recall that 12 years ago, on this very day, Sunday, May 10, 2008; we celebrated our first Mass within the Lutheran Campus Center space on Huff Street in Winona, Minnesota! I can still remember the words of my sister priest, Alice Iaquinta, recommending that I not wait for this first until my Mass of Thanksgiving, which is customary for a new priest, but begin celebrating Mass immediately, the first Sunday after my ordination on May 4th.  Those of you that have been part of the parish from the beginning know that is what we did and as they say, “The rest is history!”

And on this Sunday, as our Scriptures tell the continuing story of the early church of the 1st Century learning what being “community” was all about, following in the footsteps of their brother, leader and pastor, Jesus of Nazareth, it is appropriate here to remember our humble beginnings.  We have been a wonderful work in progress as we try to keep our eyes on Jesus, checking and rechecking to hopefully, get it right.  The mere fact that we have not been accepted by the local powers-that-be is a sign that we are probably on the right road, as Jesus experienced the same in his time.

Our Scriptures today lift up a few key thoughts for us to ponder as we, in our time, consider what it means, “to be church,”—to ultimately be, community.

In the first reading from Acts, Luke tells the people that Jesus’ message was always meant to be heard on a grand scale, not just for a select group of Israelites in 1st Century Palestine.  The people that the apostles were encountering as the message of Jesus spread, were Jews, yes, but Greeks too, as well as many other groups and nationalities and the needs of all had to be considered as is demonstrated in the simple example of the “sharing of the bread,” physical bread that is, in the reading today.  There could be no favorites and the community called the apostles to task on this very issue.

A couple of things are important to address in this reading from Luke.  First is the goodness and wonder, really, of problems arising within the community, “The People of the Way” as these early followers of Jesus were known, referring back to Jesus saying that he is, “the way, the truth and the life,” in John’s gospel selection today, and the community having input as to the solutions.  Would that the same could be true in today’s official Church!

The second issue that we must address is the notion of the apostles apparently seeing themselves above “waiting on tables.”  They are distinguishing “speaking/spreading” the word of God” from “acting” on the word—“serving at tables.”  Apparently they all missed Jesus’ wonderful example at the Last Supper of, washing their feet!

So, clearly, the twelve probably did need help in, “spreading the word” and were right to appoint additional helpers “for the harvest,” but not because “serving or waiting at tables,” was beneath them or separate from, “spreading the word!”  Hopefully, some of these first followers of Jesus came to understand this key idea as they grew and fine-tuned what it truly meant to be Jesus’ followers. In our humanity, over time, it seems that ministers in the Church—priests, bishops, cardinals, popes would need to be reminded as Francis has done throughout his papacy, that he and they are to be “servants,” not “princes” of the Church.

In the 2nd reading from Peter, he speaks of Jesus as “the stone that was rejected.” Again, we in our parish can reflect on this notion as we continue to witness to our call to be a Vatican II parish in this community, even though not accepted nor recognized by the local bishop. But beyond that recognition; we remain an alternative place for the faithful to find God in Winona—a place that accepts all to pray with us—all that want to be with us, no matter faith background, who you happen to love, or any other perceived roadblock to unity.  Within this community people also find that God’s call to women as to men is recognized—a call to serve at the altar, to lead and conduct liturgy.

An interesting aside with regard to Jesus as, “the stone rejected” is a point that Pastor Dick Dahl inferred with his weekly bible study group when he said that, “rock or stone was as plentiful in 1st Century Israel as trees and woods were in early America.” We always think of Jesus’ earthly trade as that of a carpenter and then come to the conclusion that his building material was wood. In all actuality, Joseph and his earthy son, Jesus, were probably stone masons—carpenters yes, but with the medium of stone.  In this sense, Jesus being “the stone that was rejected” is all the more meaningful.

My friends, in our own “fine-nuancing”—a life-time task, of what it is, to live as Jesus did, his words in John’s gospel today are most uplifting:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled!”  Basically, I am with you and will show you the way.  And many times, we get stuck, I  think, in small things like Thomas does in the reading today when Jesus assures him and the other apostles, and us, ultimately, that he will guide us because having been with them for three years already—“they know the way.”  Not the way to a place, but “the way” to a life!

And finally, Jesus addresses an issue that is key to being his follower. He tells the apostles [and us] that this experience of his time with them on earth has been all about them being able to understand how much they are loved by God. Because of how Jesus loves them and in their seeing and experiencing that love, they truly have seen God! This, my friends, is something that we too must get—we need to be able to see God in our sisters and brothers on earth and if we can’t, then we very likely won’t ever be able to see God anywhere else, either.

In my neighborhood of rural Winona this past week, we all lost a wonderful woman, neighbor and friend in the person of Sandy Kammerer Stiever—a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and friend to those who knew her.  I was privileged to walk with her in her final year and in her words, “help her to come to peace,” over the cancer that would eventually take her life.  Sandy was someone who continually reached out to others, giving her best to make life better for others, as a nurse at our local hospital, as wife to Roger, mom to Jill and Jana, gramma to 8 kiddos and friend to so many.  I always saw Jesus in the ways she gave to others, and thus, saw God too.

I would like to conclude with a story from Sister Joan Chittster as she speaks well to what our life as Jesus’ followers must be about:

“An old rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when night had ended and the day had begun. ‘Could it be,’ asked one of the students, ‘when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it’s a sheep or a dog?’ ‘No,’ answered the rabbi.  Another asked, ‘Is it when you look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?’  ‘No’ answered the rabbi.  ‘It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because, if you cannot see this, it is still night.’ ”

Friends, we must always see life on a larger scope than the students in the story did—Jesus, the Christ who came to be one of us, we remember as, “the Light of the World” –if we are to truly follow him, we must too, bring light and not darkness.

Joan ends her reflection of the old rabbi by saying, “Pay attention to the new nativism,” [that seems to be spreading from Washington and the followers of the present administration, because] as Joan continues, “if you don’t, we may never know when the night has ended and the day has begun.”  Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

 Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

  1. Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially the least among us, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

3. Jesus, you who said that we will do greater things than you, we ask that you would always remain close to us guiding our lives in the ways of love, especially now, during this time of pandemic, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

  1. Jesus, grant each of us a renewed faith during this Easter Season to remain true to you living our lives in truth, justice and love, we pray—

      Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

  1. Jesus, be with those in leadership positions both in Church and State—let your Spirit guide them all for the good of all, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, during this month of May, help us to look to Mary, your mother that she might be a guide for us toward compassion, strength and care for our world, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, help us to see you every day in the faces of all we meet—help us to see your face in all the ordinary events of our life , we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to always make a place of welcome at our table, and help us now to remain a community, during this time of separation due to the pandemic, we pray—Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

9. Jesus, send your Spirit into the lives of all your followers to enable them to do all within their power to renew your church so in need of that renewal, we pray—       Response: “Loving God, hear us.”

  1. Risen Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially those who died due to Covid 19—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  “Loving God, hear us.”

***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—(pause) we pray, then response

Let Us Pray– Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom.  We ask that you would give us peace—filled and loving hearts—the energy to always seek after peace through the gifts of lovingkindness and mercy.  Help us to remember that our real task in this world as followers of Jesus, our brother, is to love your people and this world. Help us always to look for inspiration from your mother Mary, who we especially remember during May, as a pillar of strength, faith, gentleness and courage. We ask that we might have the strength for these great tasks.   All this we ask of you, Creator God, Jesus, our Brother and your Spirit, one God, living and loving us, forever and ever, AMEN.


Let Us Pray—Remembering that the “bread” in this time of pandemic will come in different ways—and the reminder that we must, each, be that “bread” for each other—in the ways that we can.

Prayer after Communion–Jesus, be with us each and every day. We believe as you told us that we will do great things in your name—give us the grace to follow your lead—we ask all of this in your loving name, Amen.


 

 

 

 

 

News Item – during a time of pandemic

Dear Friends,

During this time of pandemic, through your generosity; we have been able to give two gifts to our community of $300 each. The following are some of the comments I received from each in thank you notes that I thought would interest you:

First came a note from the Winona Volunteer Services with much gratitude expressed for our generosity and especially during this time of pandemic. Sandra Burke, the executive director let us know the changes they have been called to make to assure that their staff and clients are save in the wake of Covid 19.

At first WVS was allowing only one person to come in and “shop” at a time and very soon after they were required to simply give out pre-packed food boxes from Channel One Food Bank as an added measure to keep folks safe. Only one person from a family can come into the building, waiting in a designated area with a staff member placing the box into a cart for the person to take to again limit exposure to each other. They are also offering curbside pick-up.

Sandra concluded by saying that we should remember that our generosity makes their work possible!

The other donation was to Habitat for Humanity. In the spring of the year,  Habitat usually has two fund-raisers that cover many of their needs throughout the year along with the ReStore which now is closed. In lieu of needing to cancel the fund-raisers, Habitat asked for donations from the community to assist their work in absence of the other income.  Amanda Hedlund, executive director said of our gift to them:  You help us do so much. You help Habitat provide an essential service, and that work must go on! Thank you for helping to build wheelchair ramps for people who can’t get safely in and out of their homes. Thank you for helping to repair roofs for people getting rained on inside their homes.  Thank you for painting siding before it weathers beyond repair, and for cleaning brush before it lifts siding from the walls.  You are so important to Habitat for Humanity–you make this work happen.

So, my friends, there you have it–I wanted you to know the good your gifts do! Stay safe and well—Pastor Kathy


 

Bulletin – 5th Sunday of Easter during a time of pandemic

NO MASS AGAIN this week, but do look for my homily and accompanying materials for your reflection later in the week.  


Also look for another post sharing thoughts and information from groups that we have given financially to during this time of pandemic.


Dear Friends,

This Sunday, May 10th marks the 12th anniversary of All Are One Catholic church becoming a community of practicing believers in Winona, Minnesota.  Since that first Mass celebrated in our space shared with the Lutheran Campus Center; we have become a parish!  Thank you all for your faith in me and in each other.

And during this time of pandemic; we are not able to physically meet, but will as soon as is possible again–when it is safe to do so.  I hear some talk about the weekend of May 31st as a possibility for diocesan churches to reopen with a whole catalog of precautions. I am of the mind that this is yet too soon with the idea of keeping you all safe in our small space.  Until more people are able to be tested in our state and there is more assurance of who is sick and who isn’t through tracing; we will err on the side of caution.

Peace and love to all–stay safe and well,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Acts 6: 1-7
  • 1 Peter 2: 4-6
  • John 14: 1-12

 

Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter and Accompanying Materials during this time of Pandemic

Dear Friends, again we are separated when we would wish to be together–we are a community in spirit as well as in body and let us pray for each other and all that may be on our hearts–of concern. Peace and love to each of you–Pastor Kathy 

P. S. And of course, if there are ways that I can be of help, individually, do let me know–krredig@hbci.com or 507-429-3616. 


Entrance Antiphon

The earth is full of the goodness of our loving God; by the Word of God the heavens were made, Alleluia!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Loving and Ever-Living God,  though we walk in the valley of darkness, no evil should we fear; for we follow in faith the call of the Good Shepherd whom you have sent for our hope and strength. Attune our minds to the sound of Jesus’ voice, lead our steps in the path he has shown, that we may know the strength of his outstretched arm and enjoy the light of your presence forever. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Brother and Friend and with the Spirit, who is with us, God, living and loving us, forever and ever, Amen.


Readings:

  • Acts 2:14, 36-41
  • 1 Peter 2: 20-25
  • John 10: 1-10–as a response to the readings, you might want to sing the refrain–“Shepherd Me O God, Beyond my Wants, Beyond my Fears, From Death into Life.”

Homily

I begin today with a story as it serves well, I think, as a fine example of what we are each to be as Jesus’ followers:   A person stopped for the yellow light, and the person who was tailgating, furiously honked because they missed their chance to get through the intersection.  Still in mid-rant, that person heard a tap on the window. The officer ordered the person to exit the car with hands up, was ultimately taken to the station, searched, finger-printed, photographed and placed in a holding cell.  After a couple of hours, a police officer escorted the would-be criminal back to the booking desk and the arresting officer who said, “I am very sorry for the mistake, but I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, and giving the person in front of you the finger. I noticed the “What Would Jesus Do?” bumper sticker, the “Choose Life” license plate holder, “Follow Me to Sunday School” bumper sticker and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk, so naturally I assumed you had stolen the car.

Good to remember that people are watching!

   With this story as a backdrop; we can move into today’s main theme, which is clearly about a God who “shepherds” the beloved sheep—who, in fact, is a pastor.  This is Good Shepherd Sunday and John’s gospel lays out for us what a “good” shepherd is.  Now being that most of us have no notion of what being a physical shepherd of sheep is all about, a bit of explanation for us 21st Century Christians as to how 1st Century Christians would have heard Jesus’ words is in order.

Large sheepfolds were generally constructed outside of town and several flocks would be kept in one sheepfold.  Someone would be hired to look after the sheep.  There was one gate to enter the enclosure. Those who would be about the good—the welfare of the flock, entered through the gate. Anyone else, a thief, would sneak in another way.  When the owner of a particular flock came to retrieve their sheep, the owner would call their sheep in a distinctive way that only they would recognize, and come. Many shepherds knew their sheep as individuals and called them by name.  It is this same kind of care and attention that each of us is promised by our God and that Jesus had in mind when he said, “I came that you might have life and have it to the full.”

With that much of a prelude to today’s readings; I would like to turn to a piece of news shared this week through the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).  It seems that the president of the United States reached out to Catholic male leaders, “princes of the church,” some would say—bishops, that is, this past Saturday, via conference call.  Originally, there was to be a few key, so-called leaders talking with the president and when all was said and done, it turned out that 600 individuals were on the call!

Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York was a key figure on this call and it was reported that he gushed over the president and at one point, said that the president was “a great gentleman.”

And you might wonder why a “supposed” man of the Church would so prostitute himself, with regard to the personal record of this president in any number of human issues, and the answer is simple—for the president’s so-called support on the issue of abortion.  The cardinal was also looking for monies for Catholic education, but his primary issue was abortion.

The staff writers for the NCR have spoken of the bishops thusly in regard to this call:  “They [the bishops] lack credibility in this issue of abortion—an absolute rule for women from an all-male culture that has shown itself quite adept at accommodating a level of violence against already-born children, covering it up and wishing to move beyond the facts and the wrecked lives of thousands of victims and their families.    Their own behavior over decades of covering up abuse puts the lie to the sanctimonious posturing about the absolute dignity of every person.”

Now, it would be one thing for the bishops to claim their pro-life stance, if indeed it went beyond the one issue of abortion, but this same group doesn’t seem to be able to publicly call attention to their own abuses of children and the subsequent coverup, or the abuses of this president that they are cozying up to, with regard to his abuse of immigrants and their children, people of color, the poor, or his total disregard for women except for how they may bring him pleasure! These bishops who fail to speak up against this president and his actions that are devoid of anything we would name as “Christian” simply to get his so-called support for one human life issue, ignoring the rest, is abhorrent!  These bishops and their followers are simply abdicating their morality that allows themselves to say that they are Jesus’ followers! It must be remembered and history proves it, that this president was for abortion before he discovered that it was more advantageous to him to be against it!

Now if our bishops were to show the same concern for life once these babies are here, “the Seamless Garment,”  as Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, former archbishop of Chicago spoke of all life issues, that would be an entirely different thing, but, as it is,  these bishops, headed up by Timothy Dolan, are, in the words of the NCR, “lacking credibility.”

For now, it suffices to say that the issue of “abortion” in our Church is a very polarizing one and if truth be told, no one wants to get an abortion, but are many times forced down that road, because if one wants to be “a good Catholic” what options are given, that are acceptable?  If Church fathers want to rule women’s lives, then it behooves them to give women something to prevent the need for abortions.  Facts show that where viable birth control measures are available to assist couples in spacing their children, abortion numbers go down.  Another fact to keep in mind is that 2.6 million children die each year of malnutrition—that is, 7,200 a day, or, 300 every hour of every day! Yet, we hear no bishops decrying that fact and these are fully-formed, born children.

A final point would be to say that most modern-day women resent being told by a group of so-called, celibate men who clearly have no regard for their well-being, how they are to live their lives, by legislating rules for women without any input of women’s stories or how they are affected by their black and white decisions.  And again, I know there are differing views among the hearers of this homily, but until our Church, in its hierarchy, moves to a more even and just way for us, as women and men to be Christ in our world, such a one-sided answer to a very complex problem, really has no merit.  And it further has no merit when these same men are being duplicitous in their own actions as named above.

The reading from Peter today as well as the gospel from John speak of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, one who knows his own and calls them by name—who has “put up with suffering [for us] for doing what is right” and only asks that we try and do the same.  If our stance toward our world is going to be one of “pastoring” as opposed to that of “legislating,” we will have to see our world through a lens that is often more gray as opposed to black and white.

And with that idea in mind, it would be much better if the leaders of our Church would more consistently follow their brother Joseph advocating the “Seamless Garment” approach to life issues because it hardly makes much sense to be vocal on saving babies in the womb and then ignoring them, or worse, abusing them, once they are here.

I began this homily with a story that asked us to consider if we merely “proclaim” our Christianity or actually “show it” through our actions.  Only we can determine how that will be for us.  Only we can determine if we will live, as Jesus did—trying to understand, giving a response and action that is reflective of justice, mercy and love for each other, or not.  Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

  1. Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially, the least among us, we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, Good Shepherd, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, Good Shepherd, you who left the 99 in search of the one lost, instill in us the faith to know that you will always be there to support us in every way, especially now, we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, Good Shepherd, grant each of us a renewed faith during this Easter Season to remain true to you, living our lives in truth, justice and love, as we learn ever more clearly, what that means during this time of pandemic, we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”
  1. Jesus, Good Shepherd, guide us to see our world as a gift to everyone—help each of us to share in all ways that we can, we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

6. Jesus, Good Shepherd, be with the president and Congress of this great nation—be their light, we pray, to work as colleagues for the good of your people, especially now—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

 7. Jesus, Good Shepherd, help us to see you every day in the faces of all we meet—help us to see your face in all the ordinary events of our life , we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

  1. Jesus, Good Shepherd, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us in this time of pandemic into new ways to be “community,” we pray—Response: “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

9. Jesus, Good Shepherd, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially those dying from Covid 19—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  “Good Shepherd, hear us.”

***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—(pause) we pray, then response

Let Us Pray

Jesus, Good Shepherd, be the strength we need each day to be people of the resurrection—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world. Give us the strength and grace to do what we can to make our world better—especially now during this pandemic—help us to be the change we want to see—let the lessons of this time not be lost on us with regard to homelessness, and other issues that show the disparity between the rich and the poor.  Let us always remember your never-failing love for each person. Give us strength to live with the criticisms that may come due to answering your call of service for the People of God.  Help us to remember that you were many times received in like manner. We ask all of this of you, our Savior, Brother and Friend, with the Creator and your steadfast Spirit— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.


Let Us Pray  (Again, we remember, especially during this time of pandemic, that Jesus is always with us and for a time, we must be aware of his presence in a different way. Do share the “bread” with others in all ways that you can this week).

Prayer after Communion

The Good Shepherd knows each one of us and we know his voice—pray that we would each take time every day to listen for his voice in our lives, guiding us along right paths—we ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.


 

Bulletin – 4th Sunday of Easter in a Time of Pandemic

NO MASS AGAIN THIS WEEKEND.


Dear Friends,

No physical Mass once again this Sunday as we all social-distance to protect ourselves and each other.  This will be Good Shepherd Sunday as we reflect on our God who considers each one of us unique, calls us by name, and will leave the 99 to find us when we become, lost.

Robert and I continue our prayers for each of you and ask you to remember us as well.  We are a community and will remain one if we remember to hold each other in our hearts and prayers.  Our community has been praying for our brother, Eric B. and I wanted you to know that he has been able to return to his home in Willowbrook  with around-the-clock caregivers.  He is much happier now to be in this familiar place–thanks all for your prayers.

Stay safe and well and write, krredig@hbci.com or call, 507-429-3616 if I may be of particular service to you.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Readings: 

  • Acts 2: 14, 36-41
  • 1 Peter 2: 20-25
  • John 10: 1-10