Homily – 5th Weekend of Easter

A day or two ago when I was lamenting to my sister-in-law, Jane, that I hadn’t yet written my homily and that time was short due to Mass being on Saturday this week; she said, “Make it short!” So Jane, this one’s for you!  The truth is; I always begin thinking about what I might write early in the week, but for one reason or another, this week, it just didn’t get done until yesterday!

As I suggested in the bulletin this week; hope might be a virtue for each of us to hold onto during the Easter Season and especially during the times that we currently find ourselves. We look to Church and State for leadership and find little in either place to be hopeful about.  That having been said; we do need to applaud the Minnesota bishops for their March 25, 2019 statement in support of “Driver’s Licenses for All,” already passed in our State House and slated to be taken up by our State Congress soon.

As you know, this would give the undocumented already living and working in our state more safety in driving as they would need to pass the same exam as we all do, which makes driving safer for all of us, plus it would allow them to get insurance, which again, protects us all.  In addition, it is the neighborly thing, and dare I say, Christian thing to do for those who harvest our crops and care for our animals that supply our state with dairy products and other produce—jobs that we basically don’t want to do.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the joint letter from the Minnesota bishops; I have put it on our website and our Face Book page—please take the time to read it!  Now if these same bishops could be in touch with each of their parishes, calling attention to their joint stand and encouraging dialog with their people through real, individual leadership; this would be great!

After you read their letter, you might take the next step and email our senator, Jeremy Miller, asking him to get on board with this most needed measure and support the bill coming before him very soon.  At present, this is clearly a political issue for him and we need to raise the bar so that he can make this a human, perhaps even, a spiritual issue.

With regard to all that is happening in Washington, or lack, thereof, our best action might be to pray along with those early Gentile followers of Jesus brought into the fold by Paul and Barnabas, spoken of in the first reading from Acts today.  And the prayer I am talking about is that of a committed, consistent person, every day, in every way.  I have realized, with some of the wisdom of the years, that I cannot make anyone change except for myself, but I can ask the Spirit of Jesus who we are told is continually, “renewing the face of the earth” to open the minds and hearts, ears and souls of those in public and church service to re-commit themselves to that noble goal that got them involved in the first place for the good of themselves and for all of us!

Luke, in the reading from Acts today also challenges us to “right living,” “persevering in our faith,” no matter, “the trials that we must undergo,” ever believing that we can, and do make a difference.  None of us can do it all, but each of us can do our part, no matter how small that might be.  The virtue of hope helps us to do this!  We should pray for an increase of faith and hope every day.

Each of the Scripture readings for this Easter weekend has a nugget to hold onto—to hope and believe in.  Revelation tells us that our God will always be with us,  that we will live to see an end to death, mourning, crying and tears, because Jesus has, “made all things new!”

My friends, I have to hope and believe that these Scriptures are true or I couldn’t do what I do pastoring this parish, in the face of no visible support from my brother priests. My prayer and wish for each of you is that you would continue to believe and never lose hope that good always triumphs.  I am grateful to each of you for all the generosity that I see in you, week after week, year after year.  We all here are an experiment attempting to show what an inclusive, Vatican II church can look like, a church in the memory of Jesus of Nazareth.  Have we succeeded?  I don’t know, but probably the true measure of our success or not will lie in Jesus’ words to us in today’s gospel from John—“all will know that you are my disciples,” [if they see you truly loving one another].

So friends, if we can own up to any action in our lives and truly say, “I did it out of love for God and my sisters and brothers on the journey,” then, we have been a success. If all we can say is, “I followed the law,” that really doesn’t make the grade! Following Jesus is really about opening our minds, hearts and souls to the face of God, all around us, in every creature, in all of creation—that is what Easter and the Incarnation are really all about and if there is a reward at the end of all that, well, good, but not a reason to do it in the first place!  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 4th Sunday of Easter–Mothers’ Day

Dear Friends, 

I asked my daughter, Eryn Redig Potthast to do the homily this morning reflecting on what it means to be a mom. In addition, I told her if she could “tie” her reflections to the Scriptures of the day, all the better. Now with all humility, even though she is my daughter; I think she did an excellent job, on both counts! Thank you Eryn and Happy Mothers’ Day! 


 

Thank you for the opportunity this morning to share a few thoughts with you on this Mother’s Day, 2019.  The readings today don’t expressly talk about being Mothers, but there is some wisdom to be seen, I believe, that we can tie into this special day.  

To begin with, in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see Paul and Barnabas trying to convert the Gentiles after they run into trouble with their own people who become jealous of the popularity they are gaining with the city.  You have to want to see this, but this isn’t too different from being a parent, and often a Mom, especially with a strong-willed child. You can try all the arguments – “But this really is good for you! I’m just trying to help! I’m actually giving you something you want!”  In the case of Paul and Barnabas, it’s everlasting life being offered (pretty good right?), but with your kids, it could be anything. Sometimes though, if it isn’t their idea, or they see someone getting more attention than them, well, there isn’t much you can do to change their mind.  What you find you can and need to do, as a parent, is be patient, which is by no means easy. God, as parent, has to become patient with us too, as we figure out what is good for us, and come to our own decisions. It takes longer, but in the end, if you can own that decision, you are much more likely to want to stick with it.  God, thankfully, is a patient parent, a patient Mom.

In the second reading from Revelation, although it probably is not directly referring to this, in light of the day we are celebrating, I’m going to see this as a metaphor for a parent who is responsible for nurturing and caring for life.  First of all, we see an immense crowd with all represented – all types, all nations, all tribes, all languages. So, this applies to us all. And in this reading, these are those who have been tested – parents, yes? Who of us who are parents (or those who have cared for children) have not been tested? Repeatedly?  But in the end of this reading we see the beautiful idea of the Shepherd, taking care of us. They will never be hungry, never thirsty, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes. If that isn’t a parent, I don’t know what is. At our basic levels, isn’t this what we are doing? Elliot says to me, “Water in my eyes!” when he gets upset or needs comforting.  I know that means he wants me to wipe away his tears – and I do so because I am his Mom. God is a Shepherd – a Mom Shepherd.

The Gospel from John is short and sweet, but it talks about the Good Shepherd – The Sheep will hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. When you first become pregnant, what do people always tell you?  Talk to your baby so he/she will know your voice. I used to read to Elliot when I was pregnant, and Adam and I would talk and sing to him. He knew our voice. My Mom came and helped us out for 6 weeks, as you all remember, when Elliot was born, and she spent a lot of time with him and talking to him when he was so little – they know each other now on a level that few other do, because of that voice connection.  I think the important take away here is that we are connected deeply to people because of communication in many forms, but that connection through our voices is unique to each of us and because of that, we know where are loved ones are when they call out to us. When Adam and I would walk into the NICU after Elliot was born, we could hear his cry from down the hall because we knew his unique voice. Each time I hear his voice in a crowd of other kids, I know him because I know his unique voice.  God is the parent who knows our unique voices.

So that’s the readings, but I have just a couple more thoughts about Mother’s Day.  There was a time in my life when I thought I would never be a Mom, even though I always wanted to be one.  My hold up was that I wanted to find the right person to share the experience with and raise a child with, but I hadn’t found him yet and thought I never would.  So, I immersed myself in my friends’ kids and tried to be, not their Mom, but someone who could be a responsible person in their lives who they could depend on. Then I found Adam and we are now on this parent adventure together, but that time of being a surrogate parent to those cool kids was something I always treasure (and thank my friends for allowing me to be a part of that).  It truly takes a community to raise a child, right?

When Mom asked me to consider doing this reflection, I thought, huh, so what do I have to say about being a parent?  Or a Mom? These five years have gone fast and being a parent is hard work, but so unbelievably rewarding – and I’ve learned so much! I look around this room though, and I see a wealth of wisdom to draw on from those who have been on the journey much longer than I.  For that I’m eternally grateful. And Mom and Dad, after experiencing some of this stuff, especially with Elliot where I can see myself looking straight back at me, I respect you even more than I grew to do over the years already.☺ There were times when I know raising me was not easy but I’m so glad you took the time to be patient with me, to be a Shepherd to me, and to get to know my own unique voice.

Raising a child is not easy and it takes many wonderful people to help bring a pretty cool kid up in this world.  I was lucky growing up because I had my Mom and Dad, but I also had my Grandma and Grandpa Redig living across the yard from me, and I had my Aunt Jane and Joan growing up with me too.  It was like having another two Moms available to help guide me, give me advice, and keep an eye on me. There are many people in this world who aren’t biological parents, but they sure put in the time, love, and care, and are devoted to kids in the same way.  And these women should be celebrated today too because they are the support system that make this lifelong job a whole lot easier.

So today, I ask you to celebrate all those women in our lives who help to bring up the little people in our lives.  Our lives are much bigger, richer, fuller, and complete because of all who care for children. We strive today, together to be patient, to shepherd our little people, and to let those unique voices shine.

Amen? Amen!

Homily – 3rd Sunday of Easter

These first weeks of Easter, we have been asking ourselves a simple, yet profound question, depending, that is, on how we answer it. The question is, “Just what does it mean to me that Jesus rose from the dead?”  Now the answer is simple if we are just responding to a belief system we have long held onto without really asking what difference this occurrence makes in my day to day life.  If you do ask this final question, then, as it is said, “The rubber meets the road,” and the answer becomes more profound.

This past week as I was trying my best along with medication to feel better after a case of strep throat; I can assure you that I wasn’t being too profound!  My prayer was quite simple and selfish, “Please God, be with me and help me!”  I wasn’t even asking to be well as much as I was asking not to be sick anymore! Now, on the other side of a slug of amoxicillin; I am beginning to zero in again on more of the profound.

A couple of things always happen to me when illness strikes, over and above the PLOM syndrome (poor, little, old, me) for which I am grateful; not so much that I wish to be sick, but grateful, just the same, in retrospect.

First, there is humility in realizing that I am not so self-sufficient and strong as I may think—I don’t suffer well—ask Robert.  Second, there is a great sense of compassion that comes over me for the suffering that my sisters and brothers in this world are called to bear with every day, and much of it so much more than my small pains. Now while I don’t at all think that God causes any of us to suffer;  I do think that God uses suffering, which is part of this world, to call each of us to that which is best in us, in humanity!

Simple suffering like I experienced this last week called me to humility and compassion within myself.  Those in this world who are called to more suffering than it seems is humanly possible to bear; the hungry, the homeless, the immigrants, the jobless, the abused and so on, should call the rest of us to seek justice and have righteous anger, working to bring to all, equality of services and basic needs; peace, instead of war, honesty, instead of lies, integrity of mind and heart, mercy and understanding, instead of selfishness and greed.

If we look at today’s readings for this 3rd Sunday of Easter, all these simple, yet profound messages are here as well. Acts tells us in Peter’s voice, “Better for us to obey God than people.”  Doing the “right thing” often comes down to this—choosing who to obey—to follow, even if at times, we stand alone!

Jesus was nothing, if not understanding of what it was to be a human being—our strengths along with our weaknesses.  He looked lovingly upon his apostles, spending a good deal of time, even after his resurrection, helping them to see, helping them to make all the connections between the prophesies and their fulfillment in him.

In the gospel from John today; we see that for a time, the apostles returned to what they knew by rote—many of them had been fishermen.  Perhaps, in the ordinary—every day, they could once again, find their strength, their direction, to reclaim what they felt on a certain day, when Jesus called them and they walked away from their nets and followed him . Talk about asking what the resurrection really meant to them!

These apostles, as their turned-upside-down and inside-out world settled for them, in the days after the resurrection, would find, with Jesus’ help, the renewed call of their brother to live lives of love, integrity, mercy, understanding, justice and equality for all.

What they were ultimately to make of the resurrection; we don’t entirely know.  But on some level, they saw that the process of resurrection had changed Jesus—he could no longer be hurt or scorned.  In addition, he would live on through them, if they allowed it.  If they baptized in his name, taught in his name—lived lives of love as he did, in his wonderful name, than life in its worst sufferings could not stop them as it had not stopped Jesus, as it will not stop us, my friends.

Resurrection, as we have said, is not the same as resuscitation—but a new way of being, of moving beyond this life.  Can we understand it? No, we can’t; but we can trust that a God, who has loved us so well in Jesus, has prepared something wonderful for us, one day, when this life of living simply and profoundly is completed.  Resurrection is about choosing life at every turn—it is the call of our baptisms—it is the call of being Jesus’ follower.    And in the meantime, I don’t think God wants us to worry or fret about it, but to live our lives as best as we can, simply and profoundly, trusting and believing.  Amen? Amen!

 

Homily – 2nd Sunday of Easter

Dear Friends,

So sorry for the lateness  of the homily, but strep throat “found” me this weekend which I finally had diagnosed on Monday at Urgent Care and am now laying low, sleeping lots and taking my medicine. In between naps, I wanted to get my homily out to you all–wishing you all the best, Pastor Kathy.


 

My friends, just as it takes us at least six weeks to prepare for the awesome feast of Easter, it takes that long as well to fully celebrate the mystery of the resurrection. We can’t fully understand this event and that is why we call it “a mystery.”

At the Easter Vigil, I shared a couple Scripture passages—that of Mary of Magdala meeting Jesus in the garden and Jesus walking with disciples on the way to Emmaus to highlight the fact that resurrection is not the same as resuscitation.  A definite difference in how a person looks apparently happens in a resurrected form—or else Mary and the disciples would have known Jesus on first sight.  Scripture tells us that Mary only knew Jesus when he said “her name” and that the disciples only recognized him in “the breaking of the bread.”  This is a mystery that we can only hope, one day, to understand.

The important thing for each of us to hold onto is that Jesus came to show us the way—not only how to live and to love, but how to die and to rise one day.  So much of this we take on faith because we can’t fully understand, but part of the joy we should feel through this season is the hope that this life is not the end.

Jesus told the apostles, and we are ultimately included in this, that he is going to prepare a place for us of which we simply can’t imagine—also a mystery!  None of us can imagine what this will be and sometimes, I am more inclined to think that heaven is not so much a place as it is a state of heart and mind.

Perhaps we enter what we call heaven after we have journeyed through this life striving to become our best selves; when our mind and heart is set on “feeling the joy” only when others—all others, can know the same joy, knowing the happiness of family nearby, caring for one another, only when others, all others, know that same happiness; living in peace with all or most of our needs met, only when others in the world, all others, live in that same peace.

The Easter Scriptures, in the days and weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, with the apostles fully filled with the Spirit of Jesus, are reported to have shown great powers to heal—a mere shadow of one of them passing over an affected person brought a cure.

We can look at these cures as pure power, or we can see them as a result of great faith, or probably, a bit of both.  Jesus was always a bit disappointed when people came to him simply for a physical cure—when they weren’t willing to see his mission about anything more.  Of course, he understood and had mercy and compassion—but I think he really was about changing people’s hearts.

The reading from Acts today records the fact that “through the hands of the Apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people.” This statement I’d like to apply to what I just said above—mainly that the power that came to the first apostles and disciples was, I believe, always meant to be about more than curing physical ailments.  Through their hands, through our hands, many signs and wonders can and do occur.  We have the power of physical touch—a calming hand; the ability to physically care for others, to be with them in their need—cook a meal, pick up some groceries, visit a shut-in, take some food to a neighbor, offer a prayer.     I believe we sell ourselves short when we consider these Scriptures speaking of signs and wonders.  Each of us comes upon needs each and every day and we simply need to respond.

The reading from Revelation speaking to John the Apostle and Evangelist on the island of Patmos carries the simple message that was always on Jesus’ lips throughout his ministry, “Don’t be afraid!”  If we forget most of what we read in Scripture; we really only need remember that our brother Jesus was always about caring for our needs, loving us and asking us to love others.  In addition to the words imploring us to, “not be afraid,” Jesus’ other most familiar words coming our way, were, “Peace be with you.” In today’s gospel, we hear twice a wish for peace.

Jesus truly understood his apostles’ fear—he was telling them some seriously profound things—asking them to stretch their faith to its greatest degree.  Faith is truly central in these post resurrection days.  Nothing meaningful can happen without it!

Today’s gospel zeroes in on the apostle Thomas’ lack of faith.  It isn’t enough that his brothers in ministry have testified that, “We have seen Jesus!”—he isn’t going to believe until he can see with his own eyes, touch Jesus with his own hands!  We have to wonder what was going on for Thomas—there must have been a great deal of fear holding him back.

We can compare his lack of faith with Mary of Magdala’s all-encompassing faith. One senses that she was someone who had been so touched, influenced, that is, by Jesus and his love and care for the world, that she simply could not, but, believe.

So, in the end, my friends; I think the question that each of us must face during this Easter Season is, “Do we believe?” And if we do, what are we going to do about it?! Amen? Amen!

 

Homily – Easter Vigil

Dear Friends, 

Happy Easter to all–Jesus is truly risen! Alleluia! Thank you to those who were able to be with us at All Are One this past week for Palm Sunday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday services–from Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to the solemnity of Good Friday to the joyousness of Holy Saturday with the Gloria and the Alleluias returning to the liturgy, it was very good to remember and celebrate our God’s over-the-top love for us in sending Jesus, our Brother. 

I am sending my wish today for all of you who couldn’t be with us to get my in-person greetings last evening and who join us reading this electronic copy. Rejoice today and throughout the Easter Season over a God who has loved us so prodigally! It is wonderful to know, I think, that from the beginning, as we read last evening at the Vigil  from the book of Genesis, our God looked upon us all and proclaimed that we are, “very good!”

Peace and Love–Alleluia! 

Pastor Kathy


My friends, we have experienced many readings tonight from what some might call, “salvation history,” but I would like to call it, the story of our God’s love for creation, culminating in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, our brother.

Tonight, because our service is already longer, I wanted to simply lift up a line or two from the readings for us to hold on our hearts:

  • In the creation story we hear that God looked on all of creation and said that it was very good. For that reason; I chose not to have us read the story of Moses fleeing the Egyptians and God drowning them in the Red Sea. It seems that as the prophets become more involved in the story of the Israelite people, God becomes a much more loving figure and certainly the God of Jesus was.
  • In the reading from the prophet Isaiah, we hear, “come to the water, all who are thirsty.”
  • And in the reading from Ezekiel, we hear, “You will be my people and I will be your God.”
  • We see the compassion of God expressed in the gospel selection from Matthew tonight as twice we hear, first from angels and then from Jesus, “Don’t be afraid.”
  • The epistle from Paul to the Romans speaks in a somewhat cloaked fashion of sin and the truth about being Jesus’ followers—simply that it will mean we have to leave sinful ways behind, striving to be our best selves. But that will come soon enough—now is the time for joy in the fact that Jesus is still with us.

Because we won’t be meeting on Easter Sunday, I wanted to add a few thoughts that are included in tomorrow’s readings that are very significant in understanding this most glorious day.

The Easter Sunday morning’s gospel comes from John 20:1-9. I think it is important not to stop after verse 9 but to continue on to verse 18 as it includes the beautiful encounter between Mary of Magdala and Jesus in the garden.  The reading shouldn’t stop after verse 9 as the story simply isn’t complete at that point.  The reading for the Easter Vigil stops short too and that is why I added verses 8-10 to that reading.

It is significant that these faithful women who stood by the cross to the very end would be the first to see Jesus in his risen state and only an all-male hierarchy would set up the readings in this way, completely discounting the women!

Another point in this gospel that is most significant especially for those who may find it hard to believe in the resurrection and might say, “The body was simply stolen will find an answer in the way John describes the scene at the tomb.  [Simon Peter] observed “the linen wrappings lying on the ground and saw the piece of cloth that had covered Jesus’ head lying not with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.”   Exegetes tell us that if one’s intent was to steal a body, you wouldn’t hardly unwrap it first and certainly not take the time to fold up a piece of cloth covering the head!

John also gives us another interesting tidbit in his account of the resurrection—when Mary of Magdala first encounters Jesus, now risen, in the garden—she doesn’t recognize him!  We might ask—how can this be?  Again, exegetes tell us that one apparently doesn’t appear the same in resurrected form as they would, if they were merely sleep and awakened.

The same phenomenon seems to be true in Luke’s account of Jesus joining the disciples the next day on the way to Emmaus.  Just as Mary didn’t recognize Jesus until he did something familiar—saying her name, the disciples on the road didn’t know him either until he likewise did something familiar—when he broke bread with them.

So, my friends, some thoughts to carry on our hearts as we continue now with the blessing of the water and our baptismal promises…..