Homily – 20th Weekend in Ordinary Time

My friends, the readings presented to us this week are challenging to our comfort level in many ways—look out for Ordinary Time!  First, the prophet Isaiah says simply, “Do what is right—work for justice.”  But we must face the question, is that “simple” to do?  In this day and age, it would appear not, when we find ourselves looking for leadership in Church and State and finding little in either place.  But yet, the challenge is there—do what is right!

The second reading from Paul to the Romans shows his dilemma in doing the “right thing.”  Paul has to come to the conclusion that as much as he wants to minister to his own people; he is being called to minister to the Gentiles, because they are the ones who are listening and believing.

Then, in the gospel, we see our brother Jesus ministering to his own people and basically turning his back on a Gentile woman who challenges him, “to do the right thing.”  So what are we to make of this?

We have talked often here about how Jesus sayings are multi-layered and this certainly is true when he speaks in parables—there is generally a simple, surface message, for instance, in the Sower and the Seed; if you throw seed among the rocks, it may not grow—and then there is the deeper message for which Jesus told the story in the first place; if we pursue evil rather than good in our lives; we may not flourish.

In the gospel today, one, by the way, that many of us find hard to take because we find ourselves saying, “Did Jesus really mean to speak to this woman in such a rude way, when she was simply asking for help for her daughter?”  His statement to her, “It is not right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs,” speaking of his ministry to the house of Israel as opposed to the Canaanites or Gentiles, can hardly be looked at in a favorable light, can it?  Let’s leave that for the time being.

This gospel today about the exchange between the Canaanite woman and Jesus is a very good one for us to consider when contemplating what it is to be human.  One of the most important things for us to remember when hearing this gospel is the reality of Jesus’ human existence—that he was totally immersed in his humanity.  While true that he was God, Jesus was totally human too.  This means that all of his actions aren’t always going to look perfect. That’s right; all of his actions aren’t always going to be perfect!   Part of being human is to be limited, including Jesus—if this were not the case; we couldn’t say that Jesus was truly human. It’s our ability, like that of Jesus, to rise above our limitations that will make all the difference in the way we live out our Christian lives.  Sadly, there were probably some who were part of the mob in Charlottesville who among titles, might have claimed to be Christians also.

Through Scripture study, scholars have let us know some of the history existing between the Jewish people and the Canaanites to help us understand Jesus’ reaction. Several cultural and social issues come into play in their exchange.   The Jewish people and the Canaanites were enemies because of the Israelites conquering them and taking their land.  The Jews saw their victory as a gift from God, and as a result, this made their land holy in their eyes.  Any group of people that didn’t believe in their God; they considered “pagans.”  Such was the case with the Canaanites.  Jesus would have known this history and to a point, probably believed it.

There was also the social taboo of a man talking to an unattended woman which would have been part of his upbringing in the culture in which he lived.  Jesus was completely immersed in his humanity and so when he responds to the Canaanite woman as he does, these cultural beliefs and practices would have come into play and right or wrong in our minds; they were part of his frame of reference.

The important thing that we should take from this exchange is that Jesus broke out of his humanity and did the right thing.  The Canaanite woman had culture, gender and religious commitment against her and Jesus had to move past all of that and do what was right.  What better way to bring someone into the fold then to show them through loving, compassionate action that there was something worth bothering over?  It is really something for us to ponder—how Jesus’ humanity and divinity must have warred with each other throughout his earthly life.

That having been said, many of us, including myself, still find it difficult to think of Jesus as less than perfect or in any way biased—but this Gospel shows us that he clearly was—just like us!  This fact should give us hope because Jesus had to struggle against his humanity, just as we do and in this example, we see that he had to struggle with the truth that this Gentile woman was challenging him to see.

Jesus was divine, he was human—fully on both counts—he had to struggle to be true to both parts.  In this example, we see that his divinity didn’t necessarily make it easier to do, “the right thing”—to do justice, as a human being.  We as humans are of God—we are divine too—becoming our best selves means to respond to the divine within us.

Scripture scholar, Diane Bergant says that if we don’t accept Jesus’ at times, shortcomings—than that minimizes the extraordinariness of those of his actions that break through the limitations of his culture, his humanity.  Being completely human, Jesus became a man of his own limited time and culture—but at the same time, he was open enough to break out of that limitation.

In the letter selection today from Romans; we see Paul’s continuation of the struggle with his own people that they would accept Jesus as the Messiah, and as he comes to accept their inability to see and believe what he has come to see, that Jesus is the Christ, he knows in his prophet’s heart that he must break out of his limitations too—his love for his own people, and share the truth with those who will accept it—the Gentiles.

The notion that Jesus was completely human and for a time while with us, appeared less than perfect, should, as I said before, be a point of great hope for each of us in our humanity as we strive to be more like God.  I often find myself praying with Paul—“I know what is the right thing to do, but often I do the wrong thing.”  Friends, like Jesus, we are subject to our cultures, our upbringing, our limited existences as human beings.

Sometimes we get down on ourselves because we see so many problems that we can’t fix.  Our humanity calls us toward having a life-giving experience while here. Enjoying all that is good, struggling with the injustice that we see and attempting to bring good and not bad to those around us. We, like Jesus, must continually break out of our limited existences, do what is right and just as Isaiah spoke of today, remembering that the promises of help from our God are meant for all of us—for no one is a foreigner,

an enemy—but all are welcome and all are friend in our Universal God’s kindom.  A wonderful group in our community of which I am proud to be part of, The Winona Interfaith Council strives to recognize all people as God’s people—a noble task for us all.

In conclusion, this week in Ordinary Time calls each of us to move past our limitations as Jesus, our brother did, “get out of our boats” of comfort, as we discussed last week and attempt to “walk on the water” as Peter did.

We were all saddened and horrified to see the violence and hatred that came out of Charlottesville last weekend and the lack of moral leadership out of Washington. Let us pray friends for each other that we can be strong in the face of this and always, “do the right thing!

 

Homily – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends, unlike our forebears in the faith, who thought that God would come in power and fury—in the wind, in fire; we see today that Elijah finds God not in the power of nature, but in a gentle whisper.  Sometimes we have to be present and be quiet enough to hear God’s whisper, to see God’s face—in the delicacy of a violet, in the cool summer breeze, in the innocence of a baby’s face covered with food in the attempt to eat, and even in the fiery eyes of justice.  God doesn’t come in the ways that we might think, but in the randomness of every day.

We know that Elijah discovered God in a whisper, but we see from the reading that Elijah is looking for God on a mountain, in a majestic place.  We need to understand that Ancient peoples had the belief that it would be in majestic places that they would find God and because of this belief we hear of covenants in the Old or First Testament made between God and the people on mountains—Sinai and Horeb.

Exegetes tell us that because neighboring Canaanites believed in Baal and that their god would appear in fury, storms, fire and earthquakes, the Israelites wrote about their God in the same way, almost as if to say—“Our God is great too!”  But commentators today agree that God will be found in the small and insignificant events of life. It is so easy to be impressed by the impressive and overlook the everyday—right in front of us.

In the gospel of Matthew for today; there are several events happening and all are related to each other.  Jesus sends the disciples on ahead of him—he goes to the mountains to pray after feeding the 5,000—he then walks on the water—Peter attempts walking on the water too and then the disciples in the boat declare who Jesus truly is by what they have witnessed.

The disciples in the boat came to know and believe because they saw.  Perhaps, seeing is believing, but they had to struggle too, as we see Peter struggling in this gospel, to believe—as do we.  At other times I think we come to believe because others before us have believed and have shared the “Good News” with us, and in loving and respecting them, we can more easily believe.

In support of Jesus’ first followers, especially Peter, who seems to vacillate in his faith, it is good to remember that even today, the Sea of Galilee on which the disciples were crossing, is known for its storms which seem to come up out of nowhere.  The light was also not with this fear-filled group, with this event occurring in pre-dawn.

Making the natural assumption that what they were seeing could not be so—Jesus walking on the water; they thought the “vision” was a ghost and cried out in terror.  All quite natural, we might think, but Jesus says, “No.”

They came to realize little by little that Jesus was not a natural phenomenon—he spoke words of comfort to them that have accompanied divine revelation in the past, “Do not be afraid!” To this Jesus adds another connection to their past religious history—an indication of his divinity—“It is I—I am who am,” as Moses heard God say on Mount Sinai.

Another important element of this gospel that is important to keep in our minds as we reflect on the message for us today is to remember that water had a great significance for these ancient Near Eastern people.  They revered water because it sustained life, but they also feared its power to destroy—the chaos that it represented.  We have seen the truth of this in the floods in this country these last months.

Several creation myths tell of warrior gods battling the chaos of nature—they never quite conquer it, but keep trying.  Here, Jesus is seen as a conqueror of chaos as he walks on the water.  What he does calls forth great faith in Peter as he impulsively jumps out of the boat to follow Jesus.  But because Peter isn’t God, he becomes fearful and Jesus does what Jesus always does—he moves with compassion—he stretches out his arm to save.  The psalm readings of today and in the next weeks continue this theme of showing the goodness of our God—a God of justice, kindness, compassion and truth.

This entire event of “walking on the water” is a manifestation of the power that resides in Jesus to save.  Not only is this gospel for those first disciples, but for us.  We are awed by Jesus’ power as were those first followers and are invited along with Peter to get “out of our boats” of comfort—to hear the voice of our God wherever it can be heard, even if it comes in the form of a whisper.  We might reflect today on why we so often are reluctant to “get out of our boats”—do or say that which needs doing, say that which needs saying!

The Church lost a wonderful prophet this past week in the person of Capuchin, Fr. Michael Crosby.  He was definitely one for whom it could be said,  “He got out of his boat of comfort!”  He died on August 5th and throughout his more than 50 years as a priest and friar; he challenged the Church and State, “through boardrooms and basilicas,” as Brian Roewe, staff writer for the National Catholic Reporter stated recently. He challenged these entities as he challenged all of us followers of our brother, Jesus.  He encouraged his Capuchin order to buy stock in tobacco companies so that he could address them as a shareholder at the corporate level and get them to add warnings to their packaging. This took a long time, but Michael Crosby was willing to be about the long-term work of a prophet.

He wrote extensively through 19 books and countless articles stating to the Church he so loved, that clericalism was directly responsible for the abuse crisis within it.  This is just the “tip of the iceberg,” so to speak, in Fr. Crosby’s advocacy.

We learned today that people went to the mountains looking for God in majestic places. Scripture scholar, Diane Bergant says: “Life itself is a mountain experience of God!” So it would seem that we don’t need to go to a mountain to find God, but if we have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” we will find God, in our midst each and every day!

My friends, let us open our eyes and ears and not miss the manifestations of our God in our very midst—in the young, the old, the sick, the well, those unlike us, those we find hard to like and ultimately, to love, those we consider different and perhaps unacceptable, the funny, the sullen, the serious, the playful, the beautiful, the ugly, the small, the big, the loud, the quiet, the disconnected, the beleaguered, the poor, the rich—all, absolutely each one, a manifestation of God in our midst!

Homily – 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In preparing for today’s homily; I came upon one that I did nine years ago, the year that I was ordained and except for some changes to update to our current year, I feel it is quite sound, so I’d like to share it again.  It is interesting that trying to live out Jesus’ way, truth and life does look the same from year to year, the challenge the same, the issues may have changed, but we are always called to respond as we believe Jesus, our brother, would have. If we forget his message to us and fail to live as he did; we can hardly call ourselves his followers!

It is always easier to follow the crowd, than to stand up, often alone, to do the right thing—to say, “Enough is enough.”  Jeff Flake, Republican senator from Arizona has apparently done that in a new book entitled, A Principled Conservative.

In it he talks about how there had always been a certain decorum among members of Congress when talking to each other and he has seen that deteriorating over the past years—we all remember, the statement thrown at former President Obama during an address to Congress, “You lie!” It is hopeful that there are others like Senator Flake who will say to their colleagues that basically, “We are better than that!”

Hope is the operative word in the three readings that we just heard.  We have a God who freely gives to us all that is needed in life to be happy and this happens in really a wonderful way.  God has first loved us and that power to love so completely, so fully, so freely, does necessarily rub off on each of us. If we can slow down enough,

believe in the goodness all around us, we can then believe that we are loved mightily by our God—we have spoken recently of the Cosmic Christ and simply put, this means that God is in all of creation manifesting the God-head. And once we are sure of this love; we can then share the love with others.

When a person knows that they are loved and cared about, there is no end to what they can accomplish.  If we think about how we felt the first time we fell in love, we recall that it seemed like, nothing could stop us—we could conquer the world with that one special person standing by our side loving and supporting us.

This is the kind of love that Isaiah is talking about today in addressing God.  We are all invited by God to be refreshed and nourished—whether we can pay or not. God is presented here like a street vender; only what God offers is free! There is nothing we can do that would be bad enough for God to give up on us! That isn’t the message that many have received over the years.

If we wanted confirmation for what we stand for in this community, as a Catholic parish, proclaiming by our name that, “All are welcome at the table,” this reading from Isaiah would be it! It made me wonder nine years ago, as I still do today, when I read this passage if my brother priests and the bishops had ever read it.  Or if they had read it, how they could not make the connection between Isaiah’s proclamations of the intent of God that all are welcome and are invited to the table and their opposing actions of turning people away because they are not Catholic, not “straight” in their relationships, divorced, remarried, using artificial birth control or having voted for the “wrong” candidate.

We frankly would not be a parish if this rhetoric was common fare for us! The God of Isaiah is eager to re-establish the covenantal promise that was broken—God is always striving to bring us back—to make us one, not to divide us.  Our God’s table is big enough to include us all.

This reminds me of an interchange I had when I was first ordained, with a male priest who was reprimanding me for my, in his mind, “invalid” ordination by using the lovely words of John’s gospel, “That they all may be one” to excuse his unwillingness and that of other clergy members to make this prayer of Jesus, before he died, a reality, by pontificating—“One day, we will all be one!” It begged the question, “And Father, how is it that we will ever be one if you and others continually turn people away?”

Psalm 145 today displays a God who is open-handed, satisfying all of our needs.  The covenant made with the Israelites has been extended to a universal embrace.  Not, “I’ll come to you when you first come to me,” but a continual chasing after us offering something else, enticing us to come home—this last thought comes from the modern translation of the 23rd psalm in The Message.

The adjectives used in Psalm 145 are “lovingkindness” and justice—this is how God acts towards us.  “Lovingkindness” isn’t even a word in Webster’s,  but we get the idea—God is not just “loving,”  but God adds kindness to the loving—that deep compassion and other-centeredness that we read about in Matthew’s gospel today.  Jesus needs to get away for some R &R after he hears of John, the Baptist’s death, whom some think was probably, his cousin, thus the close relationship. Even in this out-of-the-way place; Jesus is besieged by the people, those who are sick and hurting.

The Scriptures tell us that, “Jesus was moved with pity.”  In the Hebrew, “Splanchnizome”  means, “profound inner emotion.”  So, in other words, Jesus was deeply moved seeing their need. He simply wanted to help them in their pain—there was no, “I will help you when you do this or that—there was no stipulation—no hoop to jump through,  just the simple invitation—“Come to the water.”  God has always been and always will be, my friends, “For us!”—we will always be welcome with all our infirmities, blemishes and unkindness—whatever—the God who is loving-us-with-kindness will never turn away—but will be there for us! This is a true message of hope in my mind—one for the peace of our souls and one that we can truly share with others.

We have all experienced times when a family member or friend needed hope to believe that something in their life would get better.  I can think of no greater comfort than to remind another that when all else fails—when friends seem absent—God is still there—God is with us—we are not alone.  For those who had the opportunity to see the musical, Francis and Clare, one of the songs sung by Francis is this wonderful message of us, “not being alone”—that God is with us in all of creation.

Nine years ago, I was a staff chaplain at Winona Health and part of my responsibilities then was to do spiritual groups with the seniors at Lake Winona Manor.  In one of those groups; we were using an Old Testament series that presented the Israelites in Egypt and of God working through Moses to bring them out of slavery.  The presentation was done by an evangelical group, so at times; it had quite a bit of drama.  The one thing that did touch me though about the presenter was his obvious faith in a loving God, one who would give every chance to an often, errant group of people whose faith seemed so fickle.  He stressed the thought over and over that God asked Moses, someone who couldn’t even speak well to be “the message” of God to Pharaoh, just as we, my friends, are asked to be “the message” of God to our world.

And how do we do that?  We do it by the way we live our lives—which means speaking out when we see injustice.  Nine years ago the economic gap between white and black Americans was growing, not lessening. I’m not sure, but I would guess that this is still the case. Our elected leaders, then and now, were and are working on a budget for our country—one would think given the message today that God is for all of us, not just the already rich, that the decisions on how to construct such a budget would be clear—for many, if not all of these Congress people probably claim to be “Christian”—we can’t be about making the rich, richer—we have to care for the least among us and we have to let our legislators know that this is our will in order to be faithful to God’s call that we be “the message” in our lives, of God’s love for our world—every one of us.

Nine years ago; I rose up for all of us that if we don’t do this here and now, then God’s action is silent in our world.  God’s love will only be present if it is present in us—we have been given that responsibility because we know Jesus.  Now, it can feel daunting at times when we see all the needs, but if each of us does our part; we can start a groundswell that moves around our world so that we don’t have to witness one part of the globe starving to death as it was in Africa nine years ago and is still true today while others have more than they can ever use.

At the start of this homily; I asked you to recall when you first fell in love with someone and of how that felt—the fact that that energy made you feel like you could do anything, perhaps, move a mountain!  Let us, each one of us challenge ourselves this week to do one thing different that makes life better for another.  We might take a minute now to consider what that one thing might be….

With the one thing in mind and the intention to do it; I can guarantee you that your week will be different—your life will be better, fuller—and watch for the chain reactions—just as evil begets evil, good most certainly begets good. If God is for us and God is, who really can be against us?

 

Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, today’s gospel about the pearl of great price calls each of us to consider what is most important in our lives and of how much we would give for this most important item.  Our consideration of what is most important to us no doubt includes more than one thing; more than likely, the consideration includes several things, persons among the list.  Solomon in today’s first reading; asks for something outside of himself, for the good of others—that he would be wise ruler.  Would we do the same—ask for the good of others or would “the great pearl seeking” be all about us?

The story that Jesus tells today says that the merchant gave everything because the treasure he found was so great that he was willing to give it all to have that prize.  If we think about who we consider our most treasured persons, perhaps our values in life, would we indeed give it all? I think we have an example of this in the person of Senator John McCain, a long-time Republican senator from Arizona. Recently, as you all know, Senator McCain was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer.  I think this life-changing moment encouraged him to go after the “great pearl” placed before him, truth and justice, concerning health care and finally, “work across the aisle” with the opposing party, to do the right thing.

Jesus tells us that the kin-dom of heaven is like that—and the pearl of great price is the Word and way of God.  God has first loved us and asks merely that we love God in return. God loves each of us with an understanding heart, the gift that Solomon asked for in the first reading, to judge his people well and “do the right thing.”  John McCain’s significant vote in the early hours of Friday morning, added to the women’s Collins and Murkowski’s steadfast votes of earlier in the week, stopping a bad health care bill, that would serve so few very poorly, came from an understanding heart, a heart that was finally prompted to rise up, finally, finally, before it was too late, to do the right thing.

Paul tells us today in his letter to the Romans, “God makes all things work together for good”—sometimes it takes a while, but our hope is truly in our good God to change hearts!

Is our love merely something on our tongues or do our hearts become engaged too? Can we say, “I would give it all for the pearls of great price in my life?”  Are we willing to so conform our lives to God’s ways so as to make the changes necessary to truly be followers of our brother, Jesus?  How much would we be willing to give—our reputations, our livelihoods, our very lives?  As we see in the person of John McCain, our ability to make these great decisions to be who God has called each of us to be changes as we grow and change.

We are told in Psalm 119 today to “glorify the law of God,” but that doesn’t mean to take it in a legalistic way. Instead; we should remember God’s covenant with the people of Israel and by extension, with us. God’s covenant with all of us is about God loving us first. Let me repeat that as it is most important that we get this one idea—God, my friends, loved us first! The covenant continues from there—it’s all about following God’s lead, about us then, showing lovingkindness and compassion in our world.

In this, I am speaking of the Cosmic Christ, that life-force moving in our world that is bigger than any religion, ideology, or way of life.  The goodness that planet earth represents continually calls each of us to good, to make the wise decisions as did Solomon to give back to our world and its people the good each of us is capable of.   Our free wills allow us to choose solely for what is best for us as individuals and a country, but the life-force of the Cosmic Christ calls us, pulls us, strains within this universe and its people to choose wisely, being our best, not only for ourselves, but for everyone.

John McCain spoke eloquently these past days about doing the right thing for everyone and passing a health care bill that truly serves people.  And this will mean working with others, doing the truly hard work of listening to each other.  This doesn’t mean that everyone gets everything that they want, but that each side gets an equal amount and the two sides find a place where they can agree, while not stopping progress because  they can’t have it all—deciding which “pearls” can be let go of, which cannot.

Paul words that, “Everything works unto good for those who love God” isn’t the same as saying that everything will work out in the end—it is part of the human condition—we live imperfectly, now. God walks with us extending lovingkindness and compassion.  I think we don’t always believe that God is this good, because we don’t spend enough time in regular communication with the One who loves us above all others.

We are God’s pearls of great, great price.  If we are truly to believe this and act upon it in our lives, we will have to take time in our days to come to know this God of Love better.   God isn’t some being far off, unconnected to us and our lives, but with us, here and now, in the faces of our own “pearls of great price,” spouses, children, good friends—each can show us glimpses of our loving God if we can look with eyes of love, understanding and care.  The “pearl of great price” is always there, it is just for us to become wiser, see more clearly, love more deeply.

My friends, to repeat, in other words, our God always wants good and not bad for us, is our cheerleader, our best friend—wants us to choose what is best for us and ultimately for others, because our lives are not just for ourselves, but for all that we touch in this world.

We may sometimes think that God doesn’t hear or doesn’t care when we pray for something that doesn’t happen. God’s walk with us in this life is not about rescuing us, but about giving us the strength to be whom we were called to be.  Again, John McCain and the Republican women senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are models in this now.

The misfortunes that happen to each of us in life are part of what it means to be human and prepare us for all that comes next.  But whatever it is that befalls us or graces us in this life; we can be sure that our God is there to share it with us—we just have to remember to not keep God far off, but front and center.

Every day, sincerely ask Jesus to be part of your day, allowing you to live a life of profound wisdom and always to make choices from the heart, not the head—the heart is a truer, more profound starting place.

Solomon, in the first reading today from Kings is a wonderful model for each of us in this quest to be our best selves.  He could have asked God for anything, riches of all kinds, money, a fine life; but instead he asks for wisdom and understanding that he might rule the People of Israel well—a nation so vast, they couldn’t be counted.  History shows us that indeed he did become a ruler like no other before or since, known for his wise and understanding heart.

What are the choices, my friends, that each of us will make? Who do we ultimately serve in our lives? What is the great pearl that we strive after and how much are we willing to give to have it? May we each be blessed with all we need to choose wisely.  Amen?  Amen!

 

Homily – Mary of Magdala Celebration–A Celebration of All Women

My friends, we have talked many times of who Mary of Magdala truly was, not a prostitute, but a priest and a prophet and an evangelist and in lifting her up, we lift all women to their true status. Women and men alike have always been called by our brother Jesus and always will be—that is what we are here to celebrate today!

A woman of our times, Sr. Joan Chittister, a prophet in her own right, in 2010 said well of Mary that she is “an icon for our Century.”  From her writings in, A Passion for Life,” she wrote in length about Mary and for my homily today, I would like to include her words which say so well, and better than I can who Mary of Magdala was and why we should look up to her in our day.

Her feast day was actually, yesterday, July 22—Sr. Joan has this to say:  “It is Mary Magdalene, the evangelist John details, to whom Jesus first appears after the resurrection.  It is Mary Magdalene who is instructed to proclaim the Easter message to the others.  It is Mary Magdalene whom Jesus commissions to ‘tell Peter and the others that I have gone before them into Galilee.’

And then, the Scripture says pathetically, ‘But Peter and John and the others did not believe her and they went to the tomb to see for themselves.’

It is two thousand years later and little or nothing has changed. The voice of women proclaiming the presence of Christ goes largely unconfirmed.  The call of women to minister goes largely unnoted. The commission of women to the church goes largely disdained.

Mary Magdalene is, no doubt about it, an important icon for the twenty-first century.

She calls women to listen to the call of the Christ over the call of the church.

She calls men to listen for the call of the Christ in the messages of women.

She calls women to courage and men to humility.

She calls all of us to faith and fortitude, to unity and universalism, to a Christianity that rises above sexism, a religion that transcends the idolatry of maleness, a commitment to the things of God that surmount every obstacle and surpasses every system.

Mary Magdalene is a shining light of hope, a disciple of Christ, a model of the wholeness of life, in a world whose name is despair and in a church whose vision is yet, still, even now, partial.”

So my friends, the challenge is clear to all of us—women’s voices in this Church will only be heard when we demand that they be heard, when we do not stand idly by in the face of discrimination, sexism, clericalism—when we no longer worship priests, bishops, the pope, but demand that they be the servants that Jesus, our brother called them to be; when we demand truth from them and accept no less.

And you might ask, who are we doing all this for? Is it so that women can have power over men instead of the other way around? No, it is all about seeing to it that women in this world are respected, accepted for who they are, what they believe, what God has called them to. If this is not done in our churches, it will not be done in the rest of the world. The world is right in looking to religious bodies for an example of how to be with each other—we must not let them down—for Mary of Magdala that she would have her rightful place in our Church, for our mothers and all women who went before us, for our daughters, nieces, women and girlfriends, we must not stop demanding equality, because we will only be richer, better served, both men and women. Amen? Amen!