Homily – 16th Weekend in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

It was good to see 16 of us together yesterday afternoon and if you one, we enjoyed you being there! For those who couldn’t be with us, hopefully soon! May your week go well and may you be blessed in knowing the loving presence of our good God, all around you! Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

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   My friends, the beautiful rendition of the 23rd psalm— “Shepherd Me, O God,” speaks well, I believe of the desire of our loving God to not only shepherd and care for the flock—which is, all of us, but also, and more importantly—to care for each of us as individuals.  To God, we aren’t really, “a flock,”—a group that can be cared for, all in the same way, but individuals, with individual needs. 

   In order to get the full import of this “shepherd” mentality; we need to have an idea of where it came from.  Being that the community was a “shepherding” people, the metaphor of “shepherd” was a good one.  Originally, the “shepherd” metaphor referred to political leaders—specifically, the kings whose task and responsibility it was to care for the people and keep them from going astray.  The leaders in question, not only neglected the people, but actually did cause them to scatter. 

   In the Roman Catholic church, as well as in other Christian churches, there has been a long tradition of characterizing its leaders as “shepherds,” in the truest sense of the word.  The crosier, or staff used by the bishop, has long been their symbol.  Despite the fact that the crosier has become many times quite ornate, perhaps a sign that an individual “shepherd” is confusing his/her role, the symbolism is intended to be that of a simple shepherd’s crook. 

   We often hear stories of sheep as not being very smart and needing the guidance of a shepherd to gently bring them back to the flock when they stray.  Now with the thought that we are all, the sheep; I like to think of this creature as being “inquisitive” rather than dumb—simply wanting to check out the territory. In that, we like the sheep, sometimes get into trouble, not thinking through perhaps, our actions and like the sheep, straying after a “wonderful morsel” on the edge of a cliff, that might indeed get us stuck out there, not being able to get back. 

   There is also the reality that sheep, who are apparently quite trusting by nature, can blindly follow a shepherd without questioning where that shepherd is leading them—as long as their bellies are full and water is provided, with the promise of more to come.   It is good for us to reflect on the message of the “shepherds” in our lives—are these people true leaders—encouraging and bringing us closer to the dream of Jesus of Nazareth, that “all would be one”—that “everyone would be welcome at the table,” or are these “shepherds” more concerned about their own advancement and unwilling to do the really hard work of shepherding their flock, tending to needs and binding up their wounds?

   Each of us struggles throughout our lives with knowing the right ways to go—to act, and so much can get in the way:  our well-trained beliefs and whom we trust— “Woe to those shepherds,” who lead others astray!

    Our Catholic church unfortunately is in a bad place as roughly 50% of believers seem caught up in interpreting the “letter of the law” as they are led by their shepherds, who many times seem more concerned about, “keeping order” than about engaging our diverse and wonderful world, as did Jesus of Nazareth.

   Our loving God, through the prophet Jeremiah, minces no words, and apparently our God will show little mercy toward leaders who have led their people astray—again, “woe to you shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture. I am about to attend to you for the evil of your ways!”  Leaders whose ultimate motive, in the end, is of taking care of themselves—by way of advancement rather than tending to the well-being of their people, are no leaders at all! 

   Also, the expectation of a leader is one who will, from time to time, stand away from “the crowd,”—the “status quo” opinion, to speak the hard truth when those who are following (the sheep) are not moving in that direction. I, for one, for a long time, have been, “hungry” for this kind of leadership.  The 23rd psalm is probably one of the most beloved pieces of Scripture, speaking of the “good shepherd” and that is probably because of a deep need within each of us to be loved and cared for amid the trials and burdens of our days and throughout, our lives. 

   My friends—Jesus, our brother and friend shows us the way that we can be shepherds.  In some way, we all have the responsibility of leadership.  We are to tend to the needs of the kin-dom—whenever and wherever the kind-dom presents itself in our lives.  Even my use of “kin-dom” here, as most RCWPs use, speaks to our mission more than the older, more familiar, “kingdom” does.  “Kingdom” speaks to the realm of an earthly sovereign whereas “kin-dom” speaks more to the people that the sovereign, or shepherd is looking after—the needs of the many, rather than the one.  The “kin-dom” is truly what our brother Jesus was about!

   In the end, if we are about anything other than being, “Jesus” for our world—wherever that “world” is, be it large or small, seen or unseen, then we are perhaps, “missing the boat,” so to speak.  We may be very engaged, very passionate about what we are doing in the name of “religion,” but unless we are about, “the work of love” in our world; we might call that, “religious,” but it certainly is not, “Christian.”  Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – 16th Weekend in Ordinary Time

  • Mass on Saturday, July 17, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. in our regular space. In-person Masses are for those who are fully vaccinated. Children unable to yet be vaccinated can attend this setting of completely vaccinated adults without masks at their parents’ discretion. The best scientific advice tells us that children generally don’t infect each other and that the only way they would get COVID is from an unvaccinated adult. Adults that are vaccinated protect the children it is thought.
  • Just so that you can plan and feel safe, the following will be in place for the time being: no hand-holding at the Our Father, reception of communion in bread form only, and no physical expression (touch) at “kiss of peace” except among families–waves, smiles–fine!
  • July 25, 2021, Sunday, is our annual Mary of Magdala Mass on the Redig Farm beginning with Mass at 10 A.M. followed by a pot-luck lunch. If you haven’t yet signed up, let me know if you can join us and what you might be able to bring to share. We weren’t able to do this last year due to COVID, so we are truly looking forward to sharing this special time with you once again.

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Dear Friends,

“Sheep” and “shepherd” terminology are very much present in this week’s readings. Ideas about “trust,” “comfort,” and “love” rise to the surface, but also underscore the message as we try to be more, in close contact with our loving God.

Come; ponder all this with our community on Saturday.

Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please never hesitate to call, 507-429-3616 or email, aaorcc2008@gmail.com if I can help in any way.

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Readings:

  • Jeremiah 23: 1-6
  • Ephesians 2: 13-18
  • Mark 6: 30-34

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Homily – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, regular readers of my homilies have realized that I have lifted up the idea that during “Ordinary Time” in the Church; we, here at All Are One consider it as, “Extra” Ordinary Time because of the challenges given us each week to be so much more than “ordinary” in our following of our brother, Jesus.  But it came to me, this past week, no doubt from the Spirit, that the Church, in the deepest wisdom that can be found there, perhaps has the intention for us to consider that the, “ordinary” way to be a Christian is, in fact, to be “cutting edge,” as in, “top of the line.”  Just by merit of calling ourselves, “Christian” might mean that in the world, in which we live, we are to stand-out, and to stand-up as the “spirit, in the Voice” called and “brought” Ezekiel to do.

   Maybe being a Christian demands more from us in that ordinary sense than being a “mere mortal” does. Just a thought to ponder and so for the time being, I will drop the “extra” in my homilies and as a way to consider Ordinary Time. 

   Recently, I have been lifting up what has been happening in the world in which we live, and then, taking it to the Scriptures.  This week, I’d like to look at key thoughts from the chosen readings for today, and then take them to our world. Either way, it is what responsible Christians, those who take their faith seriously, are called to do.

   From Ezekiel, we know that often we might find the world and its people, “rebellious” and unwilling to do, the “right thing” –the thing or things that would make the world more fair and just, safe, and good, for everyone.

   And we see this in the face of so many who profess to be “Christians.”  How can that be?   A recent study, in the news, asked people 16-30 years of age to comment on what comes to mind when they hear the word, “Christian.”  Of the first ten highest-rated comments, only 3 were positive and the top 3 rated comments were as follows when hearing the word, “Christian.”

  • Anti-gay
  • Judgmental
  • Negative

If one weren’t a Christian, there is not much here that would draw a person to want to become one!

   But yet, our God says to Ezekiel, “Mere mortal, I am sending you…”  And if we think that God’s call here to Ezekiel is just for him, we would be wrong!  My friends, God’s call to Ezekiel, to “send him” must be taken up by ourselves too, and for us, unlike Ezekiel, we must allow ourselves to be sent in the memory of our brother, Jesus of Nazareth. 

   Jesus, in his time found, “stumbling blocks” –those who looked at the world through too small a lens—”we know his parents, his brothers and sisters—where did he get all this wisdom?”

   Wouldn’t it be much better to say, “Wow! How wonderful that Mary and Joseph, through their faith, produced such a son!  Of course, to say this, we have the advantage of “looking back,” instead of being in the “thick of things” in 1st Century Nazareth and surrounds. 

   So, how do we do in our own world?  Can we look about us and see “miracles,” see the prophets in our midst who are willing to stand alone at times, to say what must be said and rather than ask, where did this come from? —we can see it as part of something bigger than that person! Can we simply recognize when we have been visited by God?  Can we simply listen to the message we hear the prophet speaking and praise God for it?

   Sadly, if we are waiting to see such “prophets” among our religious leaders, we will be waiting awhile.  Most, if not all, are “stuck” looking at a small picture, when a view of the “grand vista” is needed!  Why do we hear their voices regarding “the beginnings of life” and not “throughout the lives of these same individuals? Why is it an abomination to end a life in the beginning stages through abortion but not at the end through capital punishment?  Our God is so big, so inclusive—why are God’s so-called leaders so small in what they can see as good, holy, and miraculous?!

   The psalmist today has a direction for us— “So, [keep your] eyes on God!” 

   And Paul, who suffers from, “a thorn in the flesh,” presumably to keep his human nature in check, is a reality check for us too.  Sometimes what we strive for, and think is best is not always what is best, and the Spirit helps us to shift gears. Sometimes this is hard to do, but experiences, “of the heart” tell us to keep trying, keep moving forward and the way will become clear.  If we just, “stay in our heads,” ceasing to believe in what we can’t yet fully see, we make it impossible to see and “do” miracles, just like in Jesus’ time.

   Our God tells Paul in his pain and suffering that, “my grace is sufficient for you.”  Additionally, that, “power is perfected in weakness.”  Paul is eventually able to say for himself, “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.” 

   Too many times, my friends, I think we forget all that is back of us when we make attempts to do good in our world.  We experience setbacks that deflate our enthusiasm and say, “Well, that’s that!”  instead of seeing an apparent failure as an opportunity to grow, become better, see, or hear a new plan or idea—become all that God is calling us to—to, in fact, be the “prophets” that our baptisms empower us to become—to speak the truth that is ours to speak—the words that if we do not speak, very possibly won’t be spoken by anyone else! 

   And in the end, whether we are accepted, or our words are listened to, or acted upon is not as important as that, we—speak them!  And if nothing else, the hearers of the words will know, as did the hearers of Ezekiel’s words, “that a prophet has been among them!” We aren’t, my friends, called to anything more than this, but we are certainly called to no less! Amen?  Amen!

Homily – 13th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Nine of us met for our first Sunday Mass in 14 months and it was very much like, “old home week” –we visited, some of us until 1:30 p.m.! We solved all the world problems! If only that was the case! But, these past two weeks have been so good being with those of you who could come. Let’s keep working our way back to each other!

Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please be in contact if there is anything that I can do for you–aaorcc2008@gmail. com or 507-429-3616.

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Homily

My friends, last week I mentioned another, good friend, Dan Corcoran and of how he brought everything he had done the week before to bear on the homily of the present Sunday. And of course, moving into the next week, the pattern continues as it should—life—living—taking it to the Scriptures—then back to life.  We must always keep living and reflecting on the life of Jesus to know, “how” to do, what we decide to do.  So, let’s first look to our Scriptures given for this day.

   The first reading comes from Wisdom literature.  The writer tells us that, “we are modeled on the divine” and I would submit that because we are, modeled on the divine; we are called to act in accordance with the high and profound “creation” that each of us is.  In simpler terms—as always, we are called upon, to strive for our best.

   We know from all the Scriptures re-telling Jesus’ life among us, that to emulate the divine, to rise above our humanity cannot be just for ourselves, but about what is good for everyone.  

   The Wisdom writer continues, “God created all things to be alive—all things of the world are made to be wholesome.”  It would seem, that true justice comes in here.  A couple of things from this past week might lift up this point:

  • Derek Chauvin received 22.5 years in prison this past week for the death of George Floyd. He didn’t receive the maximum sentence requested, but more than the original conviction stipulated.  George Floyd’s brother speaking before the sentencing, indicating the sentence he wanted, stated, “My brother got life!”
  • A Lutheran minister friend of mine asked me this week what I thought of the Catholic bishops attempts to place restrictions on Catholic public figures’ reception of the Eucharist based on their stance on abortion. I immediately replied that this action will negate the sacrament they are attempting to restrict. Whatever else it might be, it has ceased to be Eucharist in this case!

   This reminds me of an author from my Masters’ Program, Edward Foley, who wrote, From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist.  In this book, he shared one, wonderful thing that I’ve always remembered and for which the book was worth whatever I paid for it.  Foley’s take on Jesus’ “table service” on the hillside was that because everyone wasn’t acceptable in the synagogue due to gender or ailments of the flesh, he took the meal “outside” where everyone was welcome! Eucharist is about “uniting” and should never be about “dividing and conquering” us.

   As someone recently shared on Facebook—the invitation to the Eucharist does not come ultimately from priests or bishops, but from God and it is not the responsibility likewise, of us humans to decide who is worthy or acceptable!

   In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus demonstrates in two different actions of healing touch how we must, each of us, approach our world, how we must, in fact, bring justice.   Healing is often needed when justice is not present.  Both examples speak of a certain kind of “death,” which we know, can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. 

   The unnamed woman suffering from an undiagnosed and misunderstood blood flow for many years comes to Jesus in faith and hope to be relieved of this ailment, which, to her, was like a death. She needed to be healed in more ways than one.

   Because her ailment was unexplainable, she was ostracized from the community and her family.  There were all kinds of taboos about associating with women during their monthly flow of blood, to say nothing of someone whose flow was continual.

    On top of that, women had no significant place in the world in which Jesus lived; thus, it was not even important, apparently, to give her a name.  And Jesus would have been aware of all of this, so that when she reached out in faith and hope, he reached back with his healing touch. 

   We hear a like story in that of Jairus’ daughter, again, unnamed.  Jairus is a man of faith and hope too.  Realizing that his daughter is gravely ill, and that physical death may be imminent, he reaches out to someone he believes can help.  Again, Jesus reaches back in love and caring, confirming Jairus’ faith in him. 

    So, are these two stories just for 2,000 years ago or do they have something to say to us today?  I would say they demonstrate for us how we are to be in our world.  We need to see past the fears that cause all of us to act less than divine and at times, less than human.  We need to see another’s suffering and pain as if it were our own.

   Most of us understand the dynamic when it is about our own children, our families—those we hold dear—but to truly be “modeling the divine” calls us to go to the next step and see the care of all individuals in the same light.

   Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, has some wisdom to share in that regard when he says, “The one who gathered much has no excess and the one who gathered little did not go short.”  As followers of our brother Jesus, we each must deal with this one.  If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that, “We did not pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps,” but that we had a good deal of help along the way.  So, if we are doing well, according to Paul, and Jesus would agree, we owe a share to others who may not be in a position now, to help themselves.  We could just as easily find ourselves in need one day!   Paul seems to be telling the Corinthians and us that we must seek “balance” in our lives—sharing the goods.  In present day parlance— “what goes around, comes around.”

   So, my friends, a final note as we think about our daily lives, bring them to the Scriptures—back and forth, in and out, one final bit from the past week that I need to lay on the Scriptures—to find the meaning worth holding onto. 

   In today’s Gospel, the synagogue official is afraid for his daughter’s life and Jesus responds first, to his fear, by recognizing it, “Don’t be afraid” and then giving him the solution, “Just believe.” 

   In today’s world, simple belief doesn’t always “cut it” with those who rely on facts and figures, plans, diagrams, and proofs.  But I am one who firmly believes that once as many facts, figures, plans and diagrams as possible, are acquired, and in place, and we aren’t yet sure, then “belief,” born of all the above, is in my mind, a fine way to go!  Amen?  Amen!

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Homily – 12th Weekend in [Extra]Ordinary Time

Dear Friends, as you know, we met last evening for our first in-person Mass and it was attended by 17 people! It was so good to be together again in person! We will continue to celebrate this new fact of “being physically together” in the next weeks as more of you come again for your first time with us. Next week we will meet on Sunday at 10 A.M. Have a good week and be in touch if I can help in any way–aaorcc2008@gmail.com or 507-429-3616. Happy Fathers’ Day to all the dads and granddads out there, both physical, emotional and spiritual!

Love and peace, Pastor Kathy

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   My friends, as we all bask somewhat in the simple goodness of being able to be physically together again; we must thank our good God, in our brother Jesus, who has brought us through these last 14 months, safe and unscathed, for the most part. 

   This weekend, we also remember all fathers, dads and grandfathers—grampas, both the physical and the emotional fathers among us as there are many ways to give “fatherly” support and care to the next generation—today, we remember and bless all those ways.

   With regard to the many men I have known in my life, who have “fathered” others; I will mention one physical father and one spiritual—emotional father. 

   In a personal way, I am remembering my own Dad who was with me just 39 of my now, over 70 years.  He was, as we say, “the salt of the earth!” Was he always, perfect? No, he was human, like all of us; but one thing I always knew about him—he loved me and my siblings and I believe we always knew, that one, significant thing.  This one significant thing—his love and care, sustained me in life—often, even after his passing, when trials came.

   The other example of a “father” was a spiritual one whose memory I’d like to raise today.  That person was Father Dan Corcoran, who pastored the Newman Center here in Winona back in the days when Newman Centers were still “cutting-edge” places that witnessed Christianity in action. 

   Dan Corcoran also pastored the little church of the Immaculate Conception at Wilson in the years when Robert and I and our family were members there.  I can still remember his first homily to that little parish.  He rambled on about everything he had been about all week and at first “hearing,” I can remember thinking, “What a jumble!” 

    But later, upon reflection, and with more contact with him, I realized, “This all fits—it is all about the message of Jesus.”  And when you think about it, isn’t that what we should be about each week? Reading the Scriptures and then asking—“How do these words fit into my life?”  That first Sunday that Dan Corcoran was with us, his big issue, as I recall, was the “B-1 Bomber” and his thought was definitely that this was something that serious Christians should not be supporting! This was probably one of the first times that I recognized a “prophet” in my midst! And a church leader, no less!

   Today, sadly, the message coming from too many of our religious “leaders” is quite weak, if there at all, with regard to pressing issues of our day—the deep-seeded racism in our country, lack of concern for our earth and its preservation, those who live in poverty in our country and world, because we don’t have the collective will to make the needed changes, care for those who may seem different, such as our LGBTQ sisters and brothers, inequality and lack of acceptance of women—one-half of the population, who are often used and abused in our larger world and the list can go on. 

  Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians today reminds us, that in Jesus, “everything is new!”  My take on that is this—Jesus has shown us a better way to be in the world and it would behoove us all, if we say, “We are Christians,” to shed some light on the darkness of the prevailing issues listed above.

   My friends, our God has always loved us—why else would we have been given life in the first place? Why else would we have been given a free will to choose how our lives might play out, even though our God, like most earthly parents, often struggle with controlling their children’s choices, to protect them, versus allowing them to grow through their lived experiences—how much to “let go,” how much to, “hold on.”  I wouldn’t think it is any easier for God, as our parent—mother, father, however we choose to name God, than it is for earthly parents. 

   Take the first reading from Job today.  The verses that aren’t included in this reading, tell a story of much sadness and suffering in Job’s life—the death of his wife and all his children—he in fact loses all his material possessions and then is inflicted with a menacing skin disease.

   If we were to look at these happenings at face value, we might say, “So where was God in all of this?”  The section of the book of Job given for our reflection today comes a bit later in Job’s life—at first he still kept faith in God—it was only later, when all of Job’s friends left him too that Job finally turned on God. 

   Our God, his God, responds with a series of questions that when we boil down to their simplest meaning say—“I have always been with you—I have never left! We can think of the times in our own lives when we watch our own children suffer through whatever it might be, helping where we can, but knowing we can’t take it all for them.  And what do we do as human parents?  Because we love them; we don’t give them everything they want, knowing that, “everything” is not what is best.  We also sometimes, cry with them, and we stand by them—until things are better.  Our God, my friends, does the same. 

   The psalmist today affirms this message: “Give thanks to our God who is good, whose love endures forever.” 

   Again, looking at Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we read about how Jesus’ death should be a sign and a symbol for us—if he died for all, we should live for all and truly pick up where Jesus left off—being his presence in our world.  It is significant that we keep in mind that Jesus is only present in our world if we, in fact, allow him to live through us—if we become “bread” for our world.  His body and blood that will become present here and we will receive, was never meant to stay here, but through us, move into our world. 

   So, in conclusion my friends, let us look very briefly at Mark’s gospel message to realize how our God truly does, “walk with us,” does truly love us, is always with us.  We heard the story of our brother—in the boat, of how he “calmed the waves,” and the incredulity of the apostles, “who is this that even the wind and sea obey?!”

   We all have experienced times in our lives when we knew that, “we weren’t alone”—that something happened that was beyond what we said or had done and it is at these times that we have to answer Jesus’ question to the apostles, because it is his question to us too—“Have you no faith?” 

   Our world my friends, has so many needs and each of us who say we follow our brother, Jesus, must face our world with faith and do what he would do, even when we sometimes, seemingly, have to stand alone—because in reality, we are not alone!  And we can’t wait for the powers-that-be to lead—when they should, and don’t.  We must listen to our hearts, where Jesus’ Spirit speaks, walk with faith and do the right thing—always, always! Amen? Amen!     

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