Homily – Easter Sunday

Happy Easter Friends—this is a day of joy and “Alleluia” truly is our song!  There is much mystery around this feast—we accept the resurrection of our brother Jesus on faith for the most part.  In modern times, our time, we might use the term, “magical” to explain what the Scriptures present as truth.  For us who have believed all of our lives, perhaps this isn’t much of a stretch—or perhaps we don’t even question the story that on Good Friday, our brother and friend, Jesus of Nazareth was put to death through the will of the powers-that-were at that time in Church and State, and that on Sunday, he rose to new life.  I believe to truly get the importance of what Easter was for those alive when Jesus was, we have to try and put ourselves in their shoes, so to speak. 

   Jesus’ apostles, when they could get their heads, and better yet, their hearts around what was truly happening, would recall that their brother had told them that indeed, after his death, he would “arise” in three days.  Having never experienced a resurrection, they had nothing to compare it with.  They all witnessed Jesus bringing Lazarus, “back to life,” and when he came out of the tomb, with his burial wrappings still on, and the same were removed, they recognized him. 

   Now, going back to the Scriptures, we read that those who saw Jesus, in his new life, didn’t recognize him until he spoke familiar words, or performed familiar actions, that would show his identity. 

   In John’s gospel today, in the longer version, Mary Magdala—Mary, the Tower of Faith, knew her friend and rabbi only when she heard him say her name, “Mary” in only the way that he would say it.  Another Easter reading tells us of Jesus, walking with others on the way to Emmaus, and of them not recognizing him until he stopped, at their home, and “broke bread with them”—something that he commonly did with his followers. 

   So my friends, it is good for us, who have heard these stories so many times, perhaps not even, really hearing them, to understand that what Mary, Peter, John, and the others witnessed was something entirely new to them—something out of this world! 

   And it is precisely for this reason that John’s account of what he and Peter found upon entering the empty tomb, is so revealing.  Remembering that the dead in Jesus’ time weren’t embalmed, but simply, “washed, and wrapped with spices” and put into a tomb, John’s account of finding the burial wrappings in one place, and the face covering neatly folded in another place, doesn’t speak of a grave robbing, as the Jewish hierarchy feared.  Someone stealing a dead body would hardly unwrap it first for obvious reasons. 

   John is trying to tell us, in so many words, that what they found in the empty tomb, was something out of the ordinary—Jesus had truly risen—whatever that meant to them!  John simply says, “they saw and believed!” Alleluia! 

   The other very important human notion for all of us to understand, more than 2,000+ years later, is how bereft and saddened Jesus’ followers felt.  We all within our community here can understand these truly human feelings as we grieve the loss of Shannon Hanzel.  Just as we can still, hardly believe that she is gone, Jesus’ followers felt the same.  For many, he was the answer to a life-time of prayers.  Many saw him as their “King”—someone who would defend them against their enemies –bring peace to their land. 

   The idea that Jesus hadn’t been vanquished by death was a new concept for them to understand.  So, if Jesus wasn’t someone who would rout out their human enemies, what was his earthly purpose?

   They would go back to this earthly question again and again until they fully understood.  Some of what they came to know is laid out quite well in today’s Scriptures. 

   The first reading from Acts, read by Eryn speaks about a Roman centurion, a Gentile, named Cornelius, whom Peter is speaking with, sharing the message of Jesus, the Christ—a message that Peter comes to know was truly meant for all people, all who would listen.  These first apostles came to know that Jesus’ true purpose in coming to be one-with-us, was not about “power over” others, but more so, “power for” –strength, goodness, justice, for all. 

   The 2nd reading, Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, done so well by Elliot, speaks about this “new way” to be in our world, for ourselves and others, in a way that the people would truly understand, and for present-day, “bread makers” as well. 

   Paul uses the idea of “yeast” and how just a little bit in a measure of flour, causes the dough to rise—to grow.  The effect that yeast has, can bring about good, as well as bad, in the case of when the yeast has gone flat. We know throughout Scripture that Jesus always wants us to take the message a bit deeper. If we start with the “dough” of goodness and truth, that is what will grow and multiply.  Likewise, if our “dough” is made up of selfishness, unkindness, injustice, power over others, that is what will grow. I think we see that in our world today.   

   Our brother Jesus came for one purpose—to show us how to live and to love and to grow and share that goodness with others throughout our one, beautiful, human life.  And it would seem that when we all, each one of us learn how to do that, we will have realized that “heaven” is here, now!  Alleluia!

   In closing my friends, just a word about why I used the longer version of the resurrection narrative from John.  If we had stopped at verse 9, instead of going on through verse 18, we would have missed the most beautiful encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdala, the “Tower of Faith” (true meaning of “magdala”).

   In this day and age, within our Church, where the hierarchy seems to feel that women do not “image” Christ, Jesus gives the lie to that notion! Easter calls us all, my friends, “to be our best,” in the footsteps of Jesus! Amen? Amen!  Alleluia!   

Homily – Palm Sunday

My friends, today, as I said in  the bulletin for this week, brings us to the start of the “holiest” of weeks in our Church Year.  Unlike Christmastime, which serves as the “happiest” time in our Church Year, because somehow, most, if not all manage to, for a few days—at least, open up their, for whatever reason, closed hearts and do and perhaps say what is within them, somewhere, but goes unsaid and undone for most of the year.  We call this, LOVE, and how we feel is often expressed best, through the eyes of children. 

   But Holy Week calls us to something else, to perhaps, “adulthood” in our faith—and perhaps this is why many of us shy away from its rigors—it commitments, calling us toward being our best—commitments we said our personal “yeses” to at our confirmations.  Responding to these commitments throughout our lives, is, let’s face it, not always easy—in fact, seldom easy. 

   If we reflect on the Scriptures for today, we see the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  The people shouted, “Blessed is the One who comes…Hosanna to the Son of David[!]” The joy of this day in Jesus’ ministry falls apart, as we know, at least in human reaction by week’s end, culminating in his physical death on Good Friday.  And if we were to stop there, we would be truly looking at a very sad week. 

   But our faith tells us that death is not the end—for Jesus, or for us—new life follows on Easter in a way that we can’t truly understand through our humanity, but only through our faith. 

   I am one for whom, “hope springs eternal,” as I believe many of you are as well.  The sadness that is part of this week in the life of our brother Jesus is a forerunner for our lives walking in his footsteps. The drama unfolded during this holiest of weeks, is not just about Jesus’ life, but about ours too. If his precious story is simply “words on a page” with no connection to our own lives, then we would have missed the significance of these events. Jesus came to show us how to live our lives and when the hard times especially, come, we are invited to ask Jesus to walk with us and help us to live these moments well. That is why many Christians, like my friend Bede Baldry offer modern-day Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, as happened last year and will be again this year. Modern day stations allow us to see that Jesus’ sufferings continue in our day and call us to do what we can to eliminate that suffering.

   These past 40 days have found many of you carrying your own personal crosses, through responding to sudden illness in yourselves or a family member, caring for a needy loved one, coming to terms with life-changing events within your families, and through death.  The new life that Easter brings can be ours as it was for Jesus through our faith.

   Our faith calls us to keep our eyes on Easter, at the end of sometimes, very long, dark, tunnels. We in our All Are One community have been companions for all who are hurting of late as we know they will be there for us when our time comes. 

   The beautiful Philippians’ reading about Jesus today indeed shows us the way—it is not about power, fame, who we know, but about being a servant. And so as to not be misunderstood, I am not only speaking about, “caring for others,” but about keeping ourselves in the equation too—balance, in other words.

   Isaiah, in today’s 1st reading, gives us, “the way to go” as it were and I paraphrase, “God has given us ears to hear, and voices to speak.  He does not promise that we won’t be put down or humiliated, but that God will be with us. 

   Our strength can really be taken from Jesus’ example who prayed to the God that he knew loved him, “if it is possible, let this cup pass me by…”

   So my friends, that tells me that our faith in God and our attempts to do what is right, don’t always have to look perfect.  The passion today tells us that Jesus, “relied on God,” and so should we.

   And because you have already been here for longer than usual, I want to end now with some rather prophetic words from the author of Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who when speaking of the tough times of COVID 19 in its beginnings said, “We are exactly the leaders that we have been waiting for—we were made for these times!”

   And when you think about it, this was our brother Jesus’ entire message to us throughout his life—he wanted us to know too that we have within us all that is needed to make our world the place God intended for us. Perhaps that is the Easter message! Amen? Amen!

Homily – 5th Sunday of Lent

My friends, the previous week of my life always serves as “the good soil” for what I say to you each week, as I try, along with the Spirit, to make the Scriptures of so long ago, still vibrant and meaningful in our lives today. 

   First of all, just a note on today’s gospel selection from John.  Those of you who attended our Mary Magdalen service last summer or read my homily later, know that I presented new exegesis on the “Marys” in the gospel readings.  Cutting to the chase, for our purposes today, I merely want to remind you that centuries ago, there was some “toying” done with this particular reading from John, that we are using today, to take the faithful proclaiming of Mary and put into Martha’s mouth today, the same proclamation by Peter, that, “Jesus is [indeed] the Christ!”  These words, taken from Mary and given to Martha make them less, as was the hierarchy’s intent, than if Mary, who was so much more the prophet, had exclaimed them instead.  I tell you this just to keep in mind as we/you read the gospel –I am going in a different direction with the homily, but wanted you to know that I hadn’t forgotten. (: 

   Our readings this Sunday are all about “dying to the parts of our humanity that get in the way of us being our best selves, in the Spirit of our brother Jesus.”  I will share a couple of examples from this past week that demonstrate this point:

  • Darren Walker, the president of the Ford Foundation was high-lighted this past week on the PBS Newshour to talk about his new book, From Generosity to Justice.  This book looks at philanthropy in this country, how it is done, and for whom, and challenges those who do, apparently “generous” things with their wealth to look toward actions that are more about “justice” than generosity. 

   It seems that most of the philanthropic gifts in our country go to large schools and hospitals—probably not the neediest of places.  The givers of these gifts, often very generous, receive tax-free status on the same because they are gifts.  Walker states that there are so many needs in our country and world that could use generous gifts, but most often don’t receive any help, such as homelessness, hunger, etc. 

   I haven’t yet read the book, so can’t really say more except maybe to share a quote from Walker.  He asks those with means to, “interrogate your privilege.”  This reminds me of the out-going head of the World Food Organization, David Beasley, also on the PBS Newshour this past week who spoke about the fact that he has consistently pressed the billionaires in our country to do more, stating that we could solve world hunger if they all had a will to do so! 

  • The second example of a group who could do so much better is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in their recent statement on Transgender Care of Youth in our country, entitled, “Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body.”

   Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity, USA, stated that [the bishops] “put inflexible dogma over the needs of the individual.”  The article from the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) speaks at length of the pain and suffering that young people experience within their own bodies that they don’t feel comfortable in, and of the stress of their parents in trying to find appropriate care for their children.

   The article goes on to speak about so much listening that goes on with these young people by their parents and medical and psychological professionals before any drug therapies or surgical measures are even considered.  I would, as well as have other compassionate folk in this world, suggest that the hierarchy of the Catholic church become “listeners” of these stories, and respond more from their hearts than their heads. 

   The leader of Dignity USA’s Young Adult Caucus, Madeline Marlett had this to say.  “The distress caused by gender dysphoria can lead transgender people to self-destructive behaviors, sometimes ending tragically in suicide. For many, [herself included], gender affirming healthcare was the only option for preservation of [her] God-given body.” 

   The phrase, “God-given body” were words that the hierarchy took out of Pope Francis’ writings to use against the transgender community, indicating that one should “accept” their “God-given body” as is.  As is so clearly laid out in the NCR article, it is a matter for many, of choosing life over death. 

   Another opinion article from Franciscan, Daniel Horan, high-lighted in this week’s NCR is entitled, “US Bishops’ Document Against Transgender Care is a Disaster.”  His opening sentence really states the lack of understanding, compassion and care with which these “so-called” leaders penned their statement:

 “Though it should seem obvious, it is worth restating that just because something is new or unfamiliar to you, does not mean that it is necessarily novel or invented, and just because you don’t understand something does not make it wrong or sinful.” 

   With those two examples, let’s turn, my friends to the Scriptures for the light that they can shed today.  The prophet Ezekiel simply says, “I will put my breath in you, and you will live.”  Now if we truly believe that we, each one of us, come from God, and are filled with the Spirit, it would seem that we should be careful about “pontificating” what another’s journey through, “their one wonderful life” should look like; or worse yet, demanding that everyone must live their life in one narrow fashion. 

   Our brother Jesus, in his earthly life listened to, and acted upon the words of the Spirit of his Abba God, the same Spirit that lived and moved through him, and the same Spirit that he gave to his followers, us included when his physical days on earth had ended.  Paul encourages his converts in Rome to “live in the Spirit, not the body, [because the Spirit is what] gives us new life.” 

   And finally, the gospel from John today lays out the best way that we should face our world as Jesus did—with compassion and care, balancing our human instincts and our spiritual sense too, to always do what is best for all. 

   We see Jesus coming to be with friends who have lost a loved one and he responds as a compassionate human would—he weeps with them.  And within that drama of human life and death, he remembers his mission of letting these beloved ones know that there is yet—another life—one that he will show them, as the way and the truth, and as each of us attempts to model his way of compassion and truth, comes his assurance that we don’t ever do it alone.  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 4th Weekend in Lent

   My friends, many times as we age and continue to engage with our world, and its people—family, friends, and others we come in contact with, we often can find “gratitude,” in all that life brings—even while some things and people are taken from us.  To the simple question, “How are you doing?”—many responses might come… “Well, I’m upright!” or, “I’m doing good.” 

   I tend to be, for the most part, at least in public, a fairly positive person.  Lately, I have been dealing with “a knee” that isn’t behaving properly. I was out, in public several times this week for needed errands and appointments and to that customary question of, “How are you doing?” my response has been, “I’m OK—a step down from, “I’m good.” 

   Lately, I have been hearing from others who have been experiencing changes in their health or that of a family member, and I must comment on the faith and strength that they are showing in the face of more serious conditions. 

   When speaking of gratitude, I was reminded in my prep for this homily, that three years ago, we experienced our first Sunday of closing due to COVID 19.  I marvel now to think that at that time, I had said, “We will close for 2 weeks to see where we are with “spread” after that.  None of us thought that we would be shut down basically for a whole year and then only gradually, with outdoor Masses, liturgies on Zoom, and messages over email, and then with the precious vaccines, would we, in limited ways, be able to gather once again.  So, we found ourselves being grateful for each change and step-up that could help us come together once again as a community. 

   This weekend finds us at the 4th week of Lent and the Scriptures continue to remind, in almost a steady stream since Christmas—“to be light in our world.” We can’t just be “status quo” folks, satisfied to do the bare minimum.  Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, our 2nd reading today, affirms this challenge—“Live as children of the light.”  So what does that actually mean?  The other two readings for today, from Samuel and from John show us a bit of the way.

   The 1st reading from Samuel gives us the wonderful story of how God chose David to be the new ruler for the Israelite people.  We see that, in the words of Scripture, “God does not see as people see.”  And additionally, [God looks at] “the heart.” 

   In the gospel of John, we see the furthering of this idea in Jesus’ challenging, to some, yet, comforting to others, words, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  This was his response after giving physical sight to the blind man.  As he engages the temple authorities, in their” spiritual blindness,” we see, as in all of Jesus’ words, and actions, that there is always a deeper message, one that unites his words of so long ago, to our present time. 

   It is of course, through Jesus’ Spirit that his human words become timeless—that make them as meaningful and challenging for us today, as when they were first spoken. The 1st reading today from Samuel says as much.  When the youngest of Jesse’s 8 sons finally appears as God’s choice to lead the people, Scripture says, “The Spirit of God came mightily upon David from that day on”[!]

   My friends, we should be encouraged by the above words—we should know and believe that once we too say, “Yes” to our brother Jesus’ call, “to walk in the light,” we will never have to do it alone.

   Again, in John’s gospel, we see that Jesus instructs the blind man whose eyes he had rubbed mud on, to go to the pool of Siloam and wash.  In the Greek, “siloam” means, “sent.”  If we were to take one word or message from this gospel, it should be this one, “sent.”  By the nature of our baptisms and confirmations, as followers too, of the “Chosen One,”  Jesus, our brother, we are sent to make a difference in our world. 

      This past Monday, I had the privilege of speaking via Zoom to a group of Rochester, Minnesota Franciscan Sisters and Cojourners (lay, non-vowed women and men following Franciscan values in their lives) on my call to priesthood.  I was joined by Marianne Niesen, a former Franciscan Sister who likewise followed a call to ordained ministry. 

   As you all know my story, I would like to share here a bit about Marianne as her journey was different from mine.  She followed her call in the early 1990’s well before there was any way to do this within the Catholic church.  I share her journey because I want to lift up all that was asked of her to say, “Yes” to God. 

   She had been a Religious for 18 years, was established within her order of Franciscan Sisters, and had many friends.  Following her call meant leaving all this behind, including in some ways, her Catholic faith and its rituals, as she pursued ordained ministry within the Methodist denomination. 

   If you asked her, I believe she would tell you that she has always remained “Catholic” at heart, but in order to minister in the way that she felt God was calling her, meant that she would have to give up the Catholic “practice” that she knew.  As a result, Marianne continues today in retirement, after more than 25 years leading Methodist congregations, to advocate for denomination-less communities, where, much like our All Are One community, “all are welcome at the table,” because we are more alike that we are different. 

   Marianne, I believe, like me, knew that her call was stronger and more important than the law that said that she couldn’t do what God was asking, so proceeded with faith and trust, knowing that if this was of God, she would not fail.

   So, my friends, for each of us, we can’t use excuses, “that we are not worthy, or capable, or any other excuse.  David, in today’s 1st reading, is our witness and model, as is my friend, Marianne and others who have listened to their hearts, above their heads. 

   Today’s readings call us to be “grown-ups” in our faith—I believe, Joan Chittister said this.  In the same way that Jesus asked the then, cured, blind man if he believed in the Chosen One, we are being asked that same question today.  The cured man wanted to be sure, so his follow-up question was, “Who is he that I might believe?” Jesus’ response, “It is he who is speaking to you” [!] Upon recognition, the cured man gave his answer, “I believe.” 

   My friends, each time we learn that someone needs help, our brother Jesus is inquiring of us, if we too believe.  We must earnestly try and see Jesus in all who come our way—we may not always be able to physically help, but we must not fail to recognize the needy among us, and perhaps help at another time.  This won’t leave us feeling comfortable, nor should it.  Someone once said, the suffering we experience is sometimes the “very door” where God will enter—to draw us closer. 

   We continue our Lenten journey toward Easter—spring, and new life.  I began this homily reminding us where we were 3 years ago as we learned of a deadly virus among us.  We are most grateful to have come through that time and look forward to continued faith and strength as we become more open to one another again.

Amen? Amen!

Homily – 3rd Sunday of Lent

My friends, each week as the Spirit and I prepare a message, I look to the Scriptures to see what is there for us to ponder.  I continue to think it is important to reflect on the readings that the Church Universal uses in order to tie us, as it were, to the rest of believers.  Sometimes, I think we wonder at what we find there, but we then have the opportunity to unite the themes and “mine,” so to speak, or dig into, what is given, either accepting the message, or trying to clarify that what we, “are to get” –is it this and not that, or what?

   We sometimes see, in letters from Paul, which we know, weren’t all penned by him, and probably reflect more the cultural underpinnings of the times, such disparaging texts as with regard to women, “being silent, etc. and we question whether he wrote these as we know that Paul was often very complimentary of women that he ministered with and of how they assisted him. 

   So, looking at the readings today from Exodus, Romans, and John, along with Psalm 95, I have highlighted the following for us:

  • A question that I would assume we all ask, especially in times of trouble comes from Exodus, the 1st reading today.  We find our ancestors in the faith struggling in the desert and lamenting, “Is God in the midst of us or not?”  As I write this, I think of a dear friend who is walking through a new diagnosis and perhaps pondering this very question. 
  • Paul, who in my mind, as I indicated above, doesn’t always get it right, does in fact have a pearl for us today in his letter to the Romans: “Hope in Jesus, the Christ will not leave us disappointed.” These words he wrote to the community in Rome as he assured them that as they struggled to “become all that God has intended,” they would not have to do it alone—God, [Jesus] would be with them.

   He was asking this community and us to believe that Jesus’ Spirit lives and breathes and moves through us.  This perhaps is another good question to ponder this Lent—do we believe this statement?  I shared with my friend who is learning to live with the new diagnosis that as, a wise person once said, “God is closer to us than we are to ourselves.” If we can wrap our “hearts” around this truth, we might experience what Paul is talking about today. 

  • Then, we have from John’s gospel today, a wonderful invitation from Jesus to the woman that he meets at the well, and, by all “cultural” mores, should have ignored.  “If only you recognized God’s gift and who it is who is asking you for a drink…”  Jesus speaks of himself as “living water” in this reading, which confirms for the woman in question, as well as us, that we must always “go deeper,” “mining” the wealth that the weekly Scriptures hold.
  • Psalm 95 seems to encourage this “deeper look” –“if today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.”  Sometimes we need a tangible reminder of this and for that reason, I have supplied us with stones to carry in our pockets this week. (:

   We know from so many other places in the New Testament that Jesus expects us to go deeper, to see him in those we encounter each and every day.  Our lives as his followers, are truly not about reading stories each week about, “a good and holy man,” with no carry-over into our own lives—“If you only recognized who it is who is asking you for a drink, for some food, for a bed, for respect, and so on…”  Friends, it only matters that Jesus gave himself as gift so many, many years ago, if we can then see him today in the imploring of the needy in our midst.  “Open your eyes and see, [he says], the fields are ready for the harvest!” 

   Again, studying and reading about Jesus in the Scriptures only makes sense if we carry over that message to the present and act.  With regard to the prayer of Psalm 95 today that we “harden not our hearts,” the alternative is that we would respond from, “hearts of flesh.”  This is perhaps the only thing that can once again make our Church Universal something that is truly vibrant in our world. 

   It is “hearts of flesh,” not of “stone” that recently passed House bill 28 in Minnesota which reinstated the right to vote to citizens on parole.  It would have been a “heart of flesh,” not “stone” that would have moved our current bishop in the Winona/Rochester diocese to “even” respond to our board’s letter and subsequent request that he join us for a meal to discuss the reality of our All Are One Catholic parish on his very doorstep.

   Our brother Jesus became, “one with us” to show us the best ways to live out the wonderful gift that each of our lives is.  His hope, I am most sure, was that as we looked around our world, following his example, seeing any suffering—the homeless, the down-trodden, the abused, we should see the deeper presence, there, of him.  Truly, that can only be done with a “heart of flesh.”

   This month of March has been designated as one to remember women—all the women who have been important, meaningful, helpful and often, unsung in our lives. We all have these special women in our lives, who have made a difference for us, and March is a very good time to tell them so. 

   I would personally like to give a shout-out to the Rochester, Minnesota Franciscan Sisters and Cojourners for sponsoring an evening to hear the stories of two Catholic women who followed their God-given calls to ordination as priests, one in the Methodist church and the other within the Roman Catholic Women Priests—me.  They also go on to say that the stories of the two women are “our” stories.

   If we really believe that the Spirit is continually renewing the face of the earth, then we as Jesus’ followers must be open to how that same Spirit is working, in so many different people and places to bring about the kin-dom. 

   In conclusion, I would challenge each of us during this month of March, dedicated to remembering and celebrating our women and girls, to “mine”—dig into the whole issue of “sexism,” alive and well in our world.  If you are a woman and don’t think there is a problem—this challenge is for you.  If you are a man and don’t realize that by the very nature of the way you happened to have been born, you have a “step up” in society and Church, above every woman, then the challenge to you is two-fold! 

   I believe the truth of this uneven playing field was explained so well after the selection process for the Democratic Candidate for president in 2020 by Elizabeth Warren.  She was asked if “sexism” played a role in this contest, and she basically said that a woman would be put down regardless of her take on this issue.  If she stated that women were and are held to a higher standard than are men as they strive for these positions, (sexism), she would be called a “whiner.” If she went the other way and denied that “sexism” was afoot, then all her female supporters would say, “What planet are you living on?!” 

   Friends, sexism is alive and well when candidates are considered, less on their abilities to lead and more on their presumed, “fragileness” of character. You may recall at the Democratic Convention in 2016, celebrating Hillary Clinton as the 1st woman candidate of any major party where male reporters commented, not on the rightness of her candidacy and her lifetime qualities and remarkable talents to do the job, but ON WHAT SHE WAS WEARING!!! This type of thing would never have been mentioned if the candidate was a man.  And unfortunately, these attitudes run deep, so that often times we aren’t even aware of them. 

   One of the most wonderful gifts that I ever received for ministry came from a Southern Baptist minister who was my supervisor during my residency in Clinical Pastoral Education to become a chaplain. I had been struggling with the fact that women should be allowed to become priests in our Church and this same supervisor said to me one day, “Kathy, you don’t need permission from anyone to do what God is calling you to do!”  This was in 1994 and it took me a while to follow, but his words were the affirmation I needed to act when the time became right.

   This example of women “trained” to “need permission” from men to follow God’s call is called, and is, sexism, and it is alive and well in churches when women’s gifts for ministerial roles are discounted and they are denied access because of how they happen to have been born. 

   Interesting isn’t it that the same types of “taboos” that Jesus dealt with in his time, still run amok today? This is the kind of thing that Jesus calls us, in our lives, as his followers, to address.  When something in your heart and soul says, “This is wrong, we must speak out, whether for women, men, the poor, the sick–whomever! 

 Amen? Amen!