Homily – 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

   My friends, each week when I come to writing my homily; I first go to the Scriptures of the day to see what the prophets of the past, which of course includes our brother, Jesus, are saying to the people of their time—messages that we must examine and then of course bring to our time to find the meaning for us.  Because if the Scriptures we read each week, are just, “nice stories,” that don’t have any meaning in our time—for us—here—in 2021, then we are missing the point! So, let’s examine. 

   The prophet, Isaiah is foreshadowing a time when the long-awaited Messiah will come and how they will know this One: “When the blind see, and the deaf hear, and the lame walk, you will know that God is in your midst.”  And we all know that people experience the inability to see, hear, and walk in more than physical ways. 

   As we look around our country and our beloved Church; we see this inability in physical, emotional, and within our Church—spiritual ways, as well—to see, hear, and act in ways that can unite us and help us to do what must be done for the good of us all. 

   Three years ago, at this time, we were grieving from the reporting that over 1,000 of our children in Philadelphia had suffered the loss of their innocence through sexual abuse by their priests over the years.  And to this day, many of the systems, mainly, clericalism, that make this kind of abuse possible, are still in place.

   Our country seems so divided in its ability to come together to face certain issues—global warming being one.  There are some, but less now, who are still in denial that this is even happening, but with fiercer storms and wilder fires plaguing us at present, more are connecting the dots—and some, never will, until it is too late.

   Storms like Ida, that did so much damage in Louisiana and along the eastern coast, “are the new normal,” we are told.  But, the prophet Isaiah, foreshadowing our brother Jesus, says, “Take courage, do not be afraid.”  I place my hope in that friends, and I hope you can as well—because what Jesus is really saying here is, “I will not leave you.” 

   Our Church too, from its most conservative end, is joining others in preaching misinformation about vaccinations that is keeping people from being inoculated not only from a virulent virus that has killed well over 600,000 of our people, just in this country, but continues to then mutate into ever stronger variants. This is something that we should be united on, yet, we are not, and it has divided families and friends.   

   And then there are those on the other end of the continuum in both Church and State who seem to see clearly what needs to be done for the good of the many where climate, vaccinations, immigration, racism, sexism, and the list continues, who are simply moving on—some, leaving the Churches of their youth because they see no one leading to bring about the needed change, or speaking a relevant message for their lives, or acting upon the message of Jesus, that should truly, include us all. 

   At present, our country too, is so divided—unfortunately, in my mind, recent leadership gave voice to an element in our country that felt unheard and manifested itself in a rather, selfish, me-centered philosophy that touted, “Make America Great Again!”  Indeed, we should do just that, but in ways that the group chanting this slogan, haven’t yet considered. 

   As followers of our brother, Jesus, we must always hold that image against his words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  In today’s gospel, we have a truly beautiful image of this:  A blind and deaf man is brought to Jesus, who compassionately takes him aside—touches him, speaking words of comfort, showing us what the coming of God, in our midst, looks like—as the prophet, Isaiah foretold— “when the blind see, and the deaf hear—then, then….”  The gospel continues—”the one healed began to speak plainly” and, in my mind, he no doubt, “walked” as he never had before!

   Friends, the impasses we see in both Church and State, fueled often by misinformation begs for truth-telling, for compassion, coupled with strength that allows everyone to truly, “walk” in ways that are good for all—it’s a “seeing the forest” kind of thing, instead of getting, “lost in the trees.” 

   Being a Christian and even a citizen calls each of us to get beyond the needs of the one to see the needs of all.  This is a tricky thing because it calls for balance—we are called to see the needs of each one amidst the needs of all and come down in a place where no one is slighted at the expense of the other. Friends and acquaintances of mine have, in the recent past been forced from jobs because the powers-that-be have the need to, “control the message,” that fails to include us all and sadly, these are jobs within institutions run by religious orders, and more broadly, the hierarchical Church.  

   In this life we can’t have all that we want because then some, may have little, or none.  We need a Church and a State where all are considered and a system set up where no one, “falls through the cracks.” 

   To make this just a bit more plain,  if you have a friend or family member who believes the conspiracy theories where vaccinations are concerned, or believes a theology that is basically, “black and white,”—right and wrong, no in-between, or gray area with which to view life, then you have probably understood most of what I have said here today.   Usually those with a very narrow view of life, be it in Church or State, won’t allow any discussion unless it affirms their beliefs, which makes moving ahead in meaningful ways in our world that includes many who think and feel differently, to say nothing of cultural differences, most difficult.

   My best advice is to then, as always, keep our eyes on Jesus—who said to the deaf man today, “Be opened.”  We must walk into this world with hearts and minds engaged, as we need both—speaking truth as we come to know it by the Spirit and asking for the strength to do what is right, as much as possible, for all.  And this is how the Eucharist, which we all will receive in a bit, truly becomes, “bread” for our world. And this is what, amid all the suffering in our country, Church and world gives me hope, because I believe that there is the will for many of us, to be that “bread” that so many need. Amen? Amen!

Homily – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time gives us a selection of readings that calls us to ponder the place of law versus love in our lives.  Moses, James, and Mark, speaking for our brother Jesus, are asking, encouraging, and even imploring at times, for the people, to consider the laws given—yes, but to not get stuck there.  Laws are guides, which must always be laid upon our hearts, to get their full meaning, their full import—in my view, this is what our brother, Jesus did. 

   Mark gives us Jesus’ words, who is actually quoting Isaiah, in this regard.  “These people honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me.”  Jesus is trying to get the Pharisees and us, by extension, to see that what makes us, “unfit” or “unacceptable” (which, by the way, we never are in God’s eyes) doesn’t come from the rituals we do or don’t do—evil, but just as much, good, and the capability for either, reside in our hearts and just as selfishness, injustice, and all other evils come from our hearts, so do, mercy, understanding, kindness and all-abiding love. 

   It may be easy for us to incriminate the Pharisees today, as did Jesus, saying, “They just don’t get it!”  But, my friends, how about us?  Are we any better? 

   Most of us here are old enough to remember pre-Vatican II times when our lives were pretty well ordered by fasting, abstinence from meat, obligations for Mass on Sundays and holydays.  It might be good to reflect back on these times and truthfully answer whether those practices and laws were done out of love, or more so, out of fear—fear that I might not go to heaven when I die.

   I have memories of being at weddings, complete with Mass on Saturdays and people asking the priest if this would “count” for their Sunday obligation?  When I was ordained, there were people on both sides of my family who couldn’t bring themselves to attend because, “Father said they shouldn’t.” Even the bishop scolded me for “confusing” the people. Both these examples are about following the law, not much else.

   Some might say that in pre-Vatican II times it was easier, “to be good” –we knew if we did, 1-2-3, we were a, “shoe-in” for eternal reward.  After Vatican II, we were more encouraged to do the “loving thing,” whether or not there was a law demanding it, or at least this is what my read of the Scriptures told me.  Vatican II encouraged us to dig into the Scriptures more, which previously hadn’t been encouraged, and see what in fact, Jesus did—what in fact, the powers that were operative in his time, crucified him for.

   When all is said and done; it was because he advocated for the “widows and orphans,” that James talks about in the 2nd reading today, that those in Jesus’ time, with power to make a difference, would afford justice to these abused and forsaken ones. Not sharing with these lowly ones, of course added to their power through accumulated wealth, so they weren’t about to change.

   Jesus, many times, had to stand alone, as he sought justice for those who needed it.  We, my friends, if we choose to follow our brother can really expect no different as we advocate for the “widows and orphans” of our day.

   And who are these present-day “widows and orphans?” They are those in our midst without homes, not enough food, immigrants seeking asylum at our borders who can’t make it past the “red tape.”  They are those suffering today as a result of climate change—too much rain, not enough rain—resulting in wild fires and crop loss, more powerful and devasting storms, and the list goes on to include those in this country whose government was formed to recognize all as equal and free—with justice for all, who still today carry the burden of racism, sexism and every other “ism” that seeks to divide rather than unite us as a people. 

   Yet, the Scriptures today give us hope.  Moses tells the people, and again; we are meant to see ourselves by extension, that their God is very close to them and has given them the commandments to help them live well. 

   James tells the people and us that, we should, “humbly welcome the Word planted in [us] because it has power to save [us].”  But he continues, don’t just listen, but act on the Word! 

   In today’s Gospel, it is precisely, failure to act on the Word that Jesus is getting after the Pharisees about.  They are only, “scratching the surface” with all their ritual acts of cleanliness, “on the outside” –he wants them to look inside to see if the actions that are coming from within are, likewise, “clean.”

    My friends, there is always that tendency for any of us to just follow, “the letter” of the law, instead of the “heart” of the law.  The pre-Vatican II laws told us to get ourselves to Mass every Sunday and that apparently was enough to be within the law.  Vatican II said, “Yes, come to Mass—receive the Body and Blood of Christ, but then remember your call to, “be bread” for the world.  Or, as I shared in an earlier homily, from a black sister priest within Roman Catholic Women Priests, “Do Jesus, just do Jesus!”

   It is always easier to stay, on the surface, it’s less messy there—but going a little deeper opens up so many more possibilities for being all that we can be—our best selves. 

   Perhaps then, a way to tie everything together would be to say that living, “out of our heads” may help us to do the sensible—perhaps even, “right thing,” as it is determined by law; but it seems to me that our brother Jesus demonstrated quite clearly throughout his earthly life that it is always better to do, “the loving thing” and if we get “crucified” for that, we will at least know, that we were part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, plus we will be in some very good company.  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 21st Weekend in Ordinary Time

My friends, we come together again—to be community, and we thank our loving God who has called us to be such.  We are also grateful that in the milieu of a sitting bishop who does not accept our existence as a church—in good standing, nor its pastor as legitimately ordained within its ranks, we have the faith to believe and to accept what we do here as legitimate, good, and holy, so I applaud all of you for that. 

   The readings for this weekend call us to add another theme—that of “faith” to what we should be pondering this week.  The past 5 weeks have called us to concentrate on what being, “bread for the world” is all about. 

   In most countries around the world, “bread,” in some form, is a staple of everyday sustenance, so to take that element of daily food and enlarge upon it, saying in faith, as did our brother, Jesus, that when you eat this bread, in the context of the liturgy, you are eating, “my body,” is quite an astounding thing! Do we totally understand how this happens? No…., but our faith, which is stronger than our doubt, helps us to believe in what we can’t truly fathom.  Additionally, when the Eucharist is introduced around the world, it would behoove those who do so to have communities use whatever form of bread that is common to the people, to bring home the point that our God, in Jesus, “sustains” as does the bread of their daily lives, in the same way, only in so much greater a way.

   As we think about what “bread” represents in whatever form it takes around the world, we can understand more fully the greatness of the gift that Jesus left us.  “Bread” is a universal term for “life”–that element that keeps us physically going and as a result, emotionally and spiritually as well.  It is for this reason—that our physical bodies need to be fed, that when missionaries go into a country, they see to peoples’ physical needs first, because until the basic needs are met, nothing of a higher nature can be attempted, and accepted. 

   I have mentioned in past weeks that I am reading, Ibram Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning, on racism, and given the above truth that our physical bodies must first be fed before our minds, hearts and souls can be lifted up, one realizes the fallacy of the Europeans coming to our shores thinking they could, “use and abuse” even, the bodies of slaves, yet, “save their souls.”  And in fact, to add insult to injury, that this ultimate, “saving” they thought, justified enslaving their bodies!

   Each generation has its own issues to deal with and to somehow make sense of as humans, as perhaps followers of a greater entity than themselves.  Joshua, preaching to the Israelites, puts the question to his people— “Do you believe in Yahweh?” He lets them know that it is important to believe in some god, either Yahweh, as Joshua does, or another one.  This belief, he makes clear, will make them strong, following someone who guides and shows them the way.  Joshua reminds them as well that this God, Yahweh, has been there for them in the past and will continue to be there in the future. 

   Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians says as much as he teaches the people about how they should be, in relationship with others.  This should be an equal relationship—no one should be over another—no one master—no one slave.  All of you will remember today’s reading, as in older texts speaking of “wives obeying their husbands,” which speaks to an inequality within relationships.  The group, Priests for Equality,  has made this reading more inclusive for women in the current form, plus has opened up an otherwise “closed” reading to gay couples.   

Paul continues, “Love others as you love yourselves,” which would seem to point, in action, to each of us being inclusive of all others and treating them with equality.  Groups like, Priests for Equality, encourage us to look at our Scriptures from time to time, to see if, in fact, the written words are true to the message of Jesus, or if the words that at one point in time, had meaning, still hold true to our experience and understanding today. 

   A very good case in point is the recent feast day of Mary’s Assumption, body and soul into heaven and its adjacent feast, the Immaculate Conception, which both really call into question, Mary’s humanity and likewise, that of Jesus; if in fact, Mary was truly conceived without original sin.  Until very late in our history, women were not given credit for supplying half of the chromosomes making up a fetus but were seen merely as a “receptacle” for the growing child. 

   Now that we do realize this significant role that women play in the conception of every child, it would behoove us to update the Marian feasts as well.  It is always good to remember that our loving God made us imperfect as we are and chose in time to enter into our “imperfectness.”  If God is OK with that fact—we should be as well and not come up with untruths that “support” a certain way of thinking!  In my mind, it says so much about this good God of ours choosing to come into our “imperfect” existence showing us how to make the best of this gift.

   We move then to the gospel today from John which continues the previous weeks’ selections from this same chapter where John is recording Jesus’ words about,  “Eating his flesh and drinking his blood,” and that if we are going to be part of him, must be accepting of these and other, hard truths.  

  It is at this point that we need to reflect back to my earlier words about the place of “bread” in the lives of us all, of how we need physical, emotional, and spiritual “bread” to sustain us in life.

   We know from reading Jesus’ teachings in Scripture that his words were always meant to be taken more than just in a surface way. Jesus was known for, “turning concepts on their heads” such as when he preached on, “caring for your friends,” something everyone already believed and probably, for the most part, practiced.  But, he taught something new—sharing that he also wanted us, as his followers, to care for our enemies. 

   We know too that Jesus’ teachings most often had a deeper, or second meaning such as in the parables.  Take that of the “Pearl of Great Price”—not just about an actual pearl buried in a field, but about what we truly hold most dear in life—what are we willing to give up to have what we consider most dear in life?  This question then calls to mind, “Is my life just about me, or is it truly about, others, too?  Many today, by the wider world, are being called upon to reflect on their responsibility to get vaccinated to assist those they share this world with, because this action is truly not theirs to decide, just for themselves—personal freedom is always about considering how that freedom affects the freedom of others.  If one lives on an island by themselves, that is another story!

   The people in Jesus’ time as people in present day experienced and will continue to experience things that we just can’t understand, like, “eating his flesh and drinking his blood.”  Perhaps Jesus meant so much more than the physical body and blood, maybe, he was speaking about, “his life—his teachings, all of him,” shared for the world.  Sometimes the confusion can call us to turn from the true message of Jesus because we want to believe in something we can get “our heads around.”  If that is the case, then Jesus’ message won’t be for everyone, especially those living just, “out of their heads.” The message of Jesus calls us to more—to living, “out of our hearts.” 

   May we each today pray for the strength to believe and have faith, even when we don’t always, “have the sight!”  Amen? Amen!

Homily – Assumption of Mary into Heaven–a new look at this old friend

My friends, as I mentioned in the bulletin this week, “The Assumption” is somewhat of a curious feast in that we don’t hear of this event anywhere in Scripture and it was only promulgated as a holy day of obligation in 1950 by then, Pope Pius XII.  The “obligation” piece, that is, to attend Mass on that day, no matter which day August 15th would fall on, should tell us something about the mindset at the time in “controlling” the narrative. 

   Thus, I would propose that, even though part of the thinking may have been to give, honor and glory, and rightly so, to Mary, our mother, sister and friend, the primary purpose was to keep her in her place—a place that the powers-that-be had determined for her. And of course, by extension, to keep all women in their places.  If this were not the case, why not lift her up in more profound ways, for the life she lived on earth? For, in reality, she was the first woman priest giving the world the body and blood of Jesus! But, for obvious reasons, given the hierarchical Church’s stance on women priests, this is something they wouldn’t want to be teaching.  So, let’s leave that for a bit and go to the Scriptures that I have selected from those available for this Sunday.

   If today weren’t August 15th, the designated day for this feast, as mentioned above, we would be using readings from the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  As a result, I chose the 1st two readings from the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time and the gospel from the feast of the Assumption—Mary’s wonderful canticle to Elizabeth in the face of Elizabeth’s faith in what God had done in her, but more so, what God had done within Mary.  The interesting thing is that I found the three readings fitting marvelously, together.  Each of these readings, from Proverbs, Ephesians, and Luke speak of “wisdom.”  Let’s take a look.

   Proverbs is already considered, “Wisdom Literature,” so it would not be unusual to find the theme of “wisdom” there.  My take on this reading is that we are being called, “past the words on the page,” to see a deeper meaning, and to grow in “understanding” of the nature of life.

   In both the Proverbs and the Ephesians’ readings, the idea of being, “foolish” in how we live, and act, is raised.  Paul writes to the Ephesians, “Keep careful watch over your conduct. Do not act like fools, but be wise and thoughtful…”

   And then the gospel! —talk about wisdom and in one so young!  Scripture doesn’t give us the details, but this trip to see Elizabeth had to be quite treacherous, yet Mary knew that this was what she needed to do, no matter what, and we see how she is blessed in this effort—the confirmation of what her, “yes” truly meant and that what she knew instinctively had happened within her body, was true—as Elizabeth confirmed it! Imagine a presence coming to you, conveying in some way that you would conceive an unearthly child and that your, “yes,” would give this ONE, humanity! Think about that!

   Why do we never hear the wonder of this preached about in our churches?!  Probably because it is much easier to have a docile virgin who once in time uttered a simple, “yes,” and was then relegated to a pedestal—out of sight, out of mind, never to be heard from again.  Talk about “foolishness” and who is and who is not, “foolish!”

   But, my friends, Mary’s canticle gives the lie to this type of thinking—she has a voice in this reading that must be heard, again and again, and that is why I have chosen the words of the sung, Canticle of the Turning, by Rory Cooney to be prayed today as our beginning and ending prayer.   Within both, Mary speaks of a God who, “has done great things in her,” which would seem to attest to the fact that this same God thought her quite capable to minister in this world.  She speaks about a God that has and continues to show, over-the-top mercy to each and every one of us.  Additionally, she speaks of a God who has and will continue, “to scatter the proud in their conceit, and depose the mighty from their thrones…raising up he lowly,” in all justice.  This God she says, “will fill the hungry and turn the rich away empty.”  Wow! No withering vine here! There is a reason that those of us women who have, “attempted,” in the words of the hierarchy, ordination within this Church sing this beautiful and powerful canticle at our ordinations!  And, it would seem, those into their power and with controlling on their minds, would not lift up such a memory! It is kind of like lifting up, “the subversive memory of Jesus of Nazareth!”  If we do so, in both cases, it calls us all to quite a different reality, I would think! 

   But instead, our hierarchy is satisfied to proclaim a feast that takes Mary into heaven, body, and soul.  Part of me wants to say, without insolence, but more, just as a query— “So what?” Is this all you can come up with? —in the face of so much!

   Mary, our mother, sister, and friend came into existence as a singular, faith-filled, strong, and devoted woman—someone to be taken seriously, as many do, because of the love, mercy, justice, and honesty she gave the world through her wonderful son, Jesus, the Christ! She is a model for women and men too! The time has come that our Church, in its hierarchy, take her seriously too, by giving us a truer picture of who she truly was and can be for all of us!    Amen? Amen!

Homily – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

A few years back, I shared a reflection from Sister Mary Eliot of the Rochester, MN Franciscans who was speaking of the relationship that the Sisters of her order strive to have with the lay group of Cojourners and vice versa. She describes most beautifully what she means by referencing the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams. 

   Most of us recall that this is a story of a toy rabbit that becomes real through the love of a little child.  In the character of the Skin Horse, who is real, the rabbit learns what it is “to be real.”  “It’s a thing that happens to you when a child loves you for a long, long time…then you become real.”

   The rabbit wants to know, “does it hurt?” The skin horse answers, “Sometimes, [but] when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.”  The skin horse goes on to say that it doesn’t happen all at once, [becoming real] and it doesn’t happen to those who “break easily,” or have “sharp edges” or have to “be carefully kept.”  And by the time you are real, “most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes drop out, you get loose in the joints and very shabby.”  The skin horse concludes by saying that “those things don’t matter…because “once you are real you can’t be ugly except to people who don’t understand.” 

  I know there are days for me when I feel like the Skin Horse, with all, “my fur” rubbed or loved off—tired and misunderstood like Elijah in today’s first reading.  Each day I bring to my life and work all that has made up my years, the ups and the downs, the joys and the mistakes and each day, a chance to give it a try once again. 

   I have been thinking about “racism” of late as I am working my way through, Ibram Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning.  Thus far, I am impressed with the fine job he is doing uncovering “why” racism is so deep and long in our country’s history.  And like so many other “isms” that our country and Church faces, it is about power and control. 

   Our founding fathers and mothers grew their wealth and prestige on the backs of African slaves, plain and simple.  The old eastern colleges of note, Georgetown, Harvard, William and Mary, and many more are in present day being called upon to make reparations to slave families for their labor in building these institutions. Many times, this was done under the auspices of religion.

   Thomas Jefferson, a graduate of William and Mary, who wrote beautifully about inclusivity in his, and eventually our, Declaration of Independence from England, clearly didn’t consider his 120 slaves that basically made him a rich man over time, part of those he wrote about when he penned, “All men are created equal under God.” If this were not the case, he could hardly have kept slaves.  A sidelight—he wasn’t necessarily thinking of women either, but that is another story.

   Kendi lays out in extensive detail how, from the time colonists came to our shores, white people set up a system of hierarchy with themselves on top and anyone of darker skin less equal and as a result, able to be used and abused, and again, they found ways within their religious beliefs to do just that, such as, “we can use their bodies, but save their souls.”  This, in their minds, justified the abuse.  It is perhaps easy for us in present day to look at some of this abuse and say, “I would not have been complicit in this behavior!”  But do we know that in all certainty—if we were raised in the milieu where keeping slaves was commonplace? Kendi really calls us to go deep and get to the heart of the matter, so to speak. Many religious orders of Sisters today, are looking into their histories for any complicity with racism. 

   Part of what Kendi and others writing on this topic are lifting up for us, “privileged white folk” to look at and address, is how in fact, we all have been part of the problem. Remember how last week we talked about the fact that because we may not have an answer to a problem doesn’t give us permission not to see the problem.  Each of us white folk can wake up each day, send our kids to school, go to our places of work, and so on, and never even give a thought to how we might be misunderstood, accused of wrongdoing with little or no proof and be treated more harshly than others because of the color of our skin. White folks have “a pass” that black folks don’t!

   This was never more clear to Robert and I then on one of our last camping trips where we crossed the southern border and returned later having to go through security before entering back into the country.  When our turn came, the guards, noticing the color of our skin, gave us an immediate pass and didn’t ask to check the back of our camper, which could have been filled with undocumented immigrants.  Across the way from us, in another line was a car with several dark-skinned individuals pulled over and the car was being searched.  So, let’s leave this for a bit and see what the Scriptures today can tell us about how to proceed. 

   Elijah, in the first reading flatly states, “I have had enough!” – a statement that anyone who has ever tried to minister to others has probably expressed a time or two.  I think of that “skin horse” whose fur has all but been rubbed or loved off.  God answers his plea by sending an angel with food, water, and rest, not once, but twice.  If we were to walk away from this story with nothing else, let it be that this God who loves Elijah, is consistent, is constant. 

   We, my friends, can look for the same from this God.  I think here of the beautiful New Testament story of the Prodigal and of how the Loving Parent (God) holds nothing against this “Lost- one- for-a- time,” but runs to meet and greet and welcome this one home!  The psalmist today says it well, “O taste and see that God is good.” (Psalm 34)

   So even though we may have, “had enough” too at times, our baptisms and confirmations call us again and again to, as Paul says to the Ephesians, and I paraphrase, get rid of all the negative traits, bitterness, anger, malice of every kind.  Instead, be kind, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, imitating “God as beloved children.” 

   These past Sundays of Ordinary Time have continually been calling us to “be bread” for our world.  Jesus, in John’s gospel today says that “he is the bread [coming] from heaven.”  This is a multifaceted statement, one that we can’t take lightly, or we will entirely miss, like those in the gospel today did, the height and breadth of our brother, Jesus’ message.  This statement has physical, emotional, and spiritual content for us to take in and digest.

   All of Jesus’ hearers would have understood the surface message of “bread”—physical bread that feeds our physical bodies.  We can’t though, as some did, get stuck there.  We must see Jesus’ larger, grander message.  He said elsewhere, “I want you to have life and life to the fullest.”  That means friends, that our God, through Jesus, was telling us that, his presence will be with us in physical, emotional, and spiritual ways.  Look for me in all the people I send you, in my name, to care for you and give you life in the fullest of ways.

   We all know the story of the person crawling to the top of their house to avoid the rising flood waters, refusing all the help that God sends in the form of a boat and a helicopter, awaiting instead for God-her-him-self to be the savior.  Did this person really believe that the Creator of the Universe was going to come and snatch them off the roof?!

   Our God, friends, is a universal God—here for each and every one of us—bringing life to the fullest, if we can simply be, “the bread” needed at any given time.  Jesus, our brother said, “I am the bread, [coming] from heaven.” Because we are part of this great family, aren’t we too part of the “same loaf?”  I would say we are! And even though we may be tired of it all at times and maybe have no answers to present-day problems, we have to keep in the game!  We may need a nap, some bread and water, like Elijah and the knowledge that as Jesus said, “I will be with you all days,” and holding onto that, keep moving into our world, with love.  Amen?  Amen!