Homily – 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends,

Find below a homily that Pastor Dick Dahl gave in my absence on October 1, 2017. My apologies for the lateness. Pastor Dick has given us a wonderful message as always–Enjoy!

 


 

I often find myself saying or reading the liturgy as one might read a book. The words flow, but the richness and depth of their meaning can be just skimmed over, rather than slowly savored and appreciated. I find the following words in today’s liturgy utterly amazing when I stop to think what they really mean:

The opening Antiphon, for example, speaks of God’s “greatness of heart.” Who comes to mind in your life whom you would describe as having “greatness of heart”? Obviously the words of the Antiphon are having us unconsciously transfer our experience of such a person to our awareness of God.

The Antiphon goes on to ask that we be treated with God’s “unbounded kindness”—not just kindness, but unbounded kindness—no boundaries based on our worthiness, the strength of our faith.  God’s kindness is not based on us, or on our behavior, but on the very nature of our God.

The opening Prayer today speaks to God who shows us “mercy and forgiveness” and who does so “continually!” Have you ever asked someone to forgive you? Has someone ever asked you to forgive them? Have you given or sought that forgiveness “continually?” This is what we acknowledge God does for us.

The prayer also asks that we be “filled.” What do we ask to be filled with? “Your gifts of love.” What are gifts of love in your life? What gifts of love have you treasured? What gifts of love do you desire? We ask to be filled with God’s “gifts of love.”

The prayer then expresses a desire—“to see you, God!” How? “Face to face.” We want to know God as God knows us. We express in this prayer a desire to be intimately close to God,  as a lover is with his or her beloved, face-to-face.

This reminded me of a scene from the Vietnam War series by Ken Burns that was televised during the past two weeks. In one segment a member of the North Vietnamese army described how many of their men deserted but were not punished because it was known that these men would return. They often just became so homesick that they left their comrades to walk a thousand kilometers north—to see their mothers “face to face” which comforted and renewed their will to return to the horrors of fighting and often dying. Our Prayer today expresses a similar desire to experience God “face to face”—so that we can be comforted and continue with the daily challenges of our lives.

In the Post Communion Prayer we (will) ask “make us one with you.” As we share the bread and wine, which Jesus tells us are his body and blood, we seek and surrender to this oneness with him.

So, although we know that Liturgy can be viewed as a repetitious, mindless formula, it becomes clear that if we let the words soak in and refresh our spirit, they can become a reponse, even a rapturous response to a Lover, a face-to-face encounter with the One who loves us—who always has and always will.

I also want to call your attention to today’s second Reading, which Paul wrote to the Christians at Philippi in Greece. He quotes an ancient hymn of the first Christians. It reveals revolutionary insights. The hymn marvels at the thought of God becoming a human creature. Think what this means for the entire material world and universe. For the land and all its resources, air, water, all creatures great and small. And then—as if this were not enough—the hymn sings of this incarnate God emptying himself completely—to humiliation, torture and death. This cannot be read quickly and passed over. It cries out to be dwelt on, unbelievable as it is, and absorbed.

Our liturgy then is about awakening, becoming aware of what is, the mystery that enfolds us. Father Richard Rohr writes, “The spiritual journey is about realization, not perfection. You cannot get there, you can only be there.”  He notes that this foundational Being-in-God can seem too hard to believe, too good to be true. “Only the humble can receive it because it affirms more about God than it does about us.”

The message has often been: “You can only come to God through us, by doing the right rituals, obeying the rules, and believing the right doctrines.” This is like telling God who God is allowed to love! The problem is: we don’t know who we are. . . . We suffer from the illusion of separation—from God, from Being itself, from being one with everyone and everything.

Meister Eckhart (1260-1327) was a thirteenth-century German friar, priest, mystic. For Eckhart, heaven is now. We are invited to participate in the eternal flow of Trinity here, in this lifetime. The only thing keeping us from God and heaven is the ultimate and damning lie that we have ever been separate from God. Before transformation, one prays to God, as if God were over there, an object like all other objects. After transformation one prays through God, as official Christian prayers say: “Through Christ our Lord. Amen!”

News Item – Red Boot Group

Dear Friends,

Pastor Dick Dahl has shared the following information with me about a group he plans to start and wanted you all to know about–it sounds as though it will be spiritually fulfilling. His contact information is below–please direct all inquiries to him. Thanks Dick for offering this group–blessings to all–Pastor Kathy


I would like to invite members of the All Are One Community to participate in a Red Boot group I am forming. A description of it follows.  Thanks, Dick

The Red Boot Way (formerly known as the Red Boot Coalition) was begun by Molly Barker. The name was inspired by the gift of a pair of red boots from her two kids on her 50th birthday. Having participated in a Washington DC bi-partisan commission seeking ways to bridge the political divide in Congress, Molly decided the problem was bigger than Congress. It was all of us.

Molly traveled from Charlotte, NC to Las Vegas, Nevada listening to hundreds of people who talked about their fears, concerns and hopes. Many themes emerged from this wide variety of conversations and these became the foundation on which she created an 11 step program to give people a way to engage in honest sharing and compassionate listening. In the Red Boot 11 Steps we create places where people feel safe, connected, and loved.

I have been through the 11 Step program a couple times and have recently completed training to guide a group. It will consist of people who agree to meet one a week for an hour for eleven weeks. Each meeting focuses on one of the 11 Steps. which are listed below (in very condensed form).  The guidelines are to speak only for oneself by using words like “I” or “my” and avoiding saying “you” or “we.”  No one has to speak but can pass when their turn comes if they prefer to give the gift of compassionate listening. Participants are guided to avoid the urge to fix, save, advise, or correct anyone else.

Step One: We matter.

Step Two: We are empowered.

Step Three: We are transparent.

Step Four: We are intentional.

Step Five: We are open.

Step Six: We are trusting.

Step Seven: We are present.

Step Eight: We are joyful.

Step Nine: We are grateful.

Step Ten: We are whole.

Step Eleven: We are engaged.

If you would like to participate in a Red Boot Group, please contact Dick Dahl by e-mail (richard.dahl580@gmail.com) of phone (507/453-9861).

Homily – 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, you may have noticed that there is a great deal of overlapping in the texts chosen today, and all seem to point to the message that to follow Jesus will not be easy, but like Jeremiah, once started on the path in faith-filled response to our loving God; there is no help for us, but to follow.  Jeremiah said “yes” to God at a young age; he was naïve—he didn’t know what his “yes” would mean, much like any of us, making a commitment—he didn’t realize that there would be suffering, ridicule, heartache—he only knew that God had touched his heart and soul and that he must respond.

We can also think of our sister and the mother of Jesus, Mary of Nazareth in lieu of her feast day, August 15th as one who, in faith, like Jeremiah, said, “Yes” to her God, not knowing what that would mean.

Peter in today’s Gospel responds in the same way. Last Sunday we heard his proclamation of faith—“You are the Messiah, the First Born of God”—and now in this Gospel today, Jesus lets Peter and the others, as well as us, know what that will mean. Jesus will have to suffer and die—but he will rise! The same is true for us! Peter, being the perfectly human person that he was (remember, to be human, means, being imperfect), says, “No, you can’t let that happen!”  Peter was impetuous—he loved his master, but he just didn’t get it—not yet anyway, and we can hardly blame him as he had no point of reference.

A couple of weeks ago; we talked about the fact that Jesus was completely human in dealing with the Canaanite woman, subject to all that we as humans are subject to—our culture, its mores, its beliefs, its prejudices.  Jesus too struggled with his humanity just as we see Jeremiah struggling today with his—“You duped me, O God.”  And Jesus in Gethsemane, “Abba, take this cup from me.”  Jesus and Jeremiah show us the way—we have such strength in our humanity walking in the path that they did.  As  Jeremiah says—“You duped me, but I let myself be duped”—your words burn within me and I have to speak. What are we called to speak today?—each of us?

Jesus was quite harsh with Peter in today’s Gospel—“Get behind me Satan!”  Jesus knew what was coming and the temptation was to be purely human—to not curb his desires, to run away from the truth burning in his heart, like Jeremiah and that temptation must have been very strong for Jesus to counter Peter in the way that he did.  His own agony in the garden was about the age-old struggle between our human nature and our spiritual nature.  Through Jesus’ dying, many more would be raised up with him, but that could only happen if he was willing to give of himself and give totally. That was what his entire life with us had been about, so that when he physically left us; there would be no doubt of how much our God loves us.

I have shared with you in the past the writings of Sr. Ilia Delio, Franciscan, and one such piece from her book, CLARE OF ASSISI, A Heart Full of Love, is appropriate here. She speaks of the great love Clare had for God in the person of Jesus and especially, Jesus Crucified. It is in his crucifixion, she says, that Clare saw the deep love of our God for us and for her, it was not about Jesus saving us from our sins.  It was all about Jesus taking on the worst that humanity could offer in order that we, his sisters and brothers could then recognize him in their sufferings and those of others.

Clare spent her life immersed in the crucified Jesus in order that she could then recognize Jesus in all of created life. But she first needed to see her loving God in the suffering Jesus in order that she could make the leap to seeing Jesus in the suffering of humanity. The harder task is always to love; especially when that is difficult—when those we love will never return the love. We may have had persons in our lives like this who truly are difficult to love and we can only pray, perhaps, that God would love them through us—and not let us, get in the way. You probably have experienced a time or two in your life when you said or did exactly what was needed and you knew in your heart, that it wasn’t what you would usually do—that was the Spirit bringing the love that was needed!

This past week, the world over is remembering Princess Diana and her untimely death 20 years ago.  She left us, all who knew her, a precious legacy and her own words say it best:  “Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”

I believe our God always intended that we would one day, be one—all of created life—that we would find our way back to each other—all the races, all the faces, all the cultures, all of creation and see in each other a sister, a brother, a kindred spirit as Francis and Clare of Assisi did.

With the discovery of the human genome, scientists have been able to prove that humanity most likely began in Africa and there were several different family groups that diversified over thousands of years as they moved over the continents. It is fantastic to think that we truly are one big family and that we truly are literally brothers and sisters!

Jeremiah perhaps had some sense of this in his gift of himself, as would Jesus later.  His actions were not meant to make his life easier, but to do the work of his loving God, to speak the truth amid the ridicule—to make us one and help us to know that we are loved and to then act accordingly.  We are each called to speak the truth as we come to know it—to see God’s purposes in our smaller designs—each day that we are alive, we give God a chance to love one more individual—to perhaps bring them back into the fold.

Clare of Assisi’s life says in no uncertain terms that we as humans have been given life to enjoy, yes, but it must never stop there.  Each of us is here to interact with others, with our world—every decision needs to reflect not just my good, but the good of others.

Sometimes we wonder in our desire to do the right thing, how will we know that we have in fact, done the right thing?  As Jesus said, “By the fruits you will know.”  Doing the right thing should help those less fortunate, insure a place at the table for everyone who wants to be there, welcome all those rejected because of gender, race, sexual orientation, marital status—and so on.  Our thinking must broaden out.  Sometimes our thinking is narrow and short-sighted—the issue of being pro-life is a good example—we must realize that being pro-life is about more than saving babies. We must save babies, yes, but we must care about their moms too; we must care that some parents in this world don’t have the means to feed their children once here. Some don’t have other supports necessary to raise their children well—some don’t have the mental stability to even be a parent in the first place and the list goes on. We must care across the life continuum—that is what it truly means to be “pro-life.”

We can’t support politicians who take from the poor and give to the rich; we can’t support so-called leaders who hold their positions simply for self-gratification; we can’t support capital punishment as this, and the above examples fly in the face of all that it means to be “pro-life.” I realize that all of this is easier said than done, but the Scriptures today challenge us “to be of the mind of God,” so we must try!

When we realize how we are all connected, that in truth; we all came from the same building blocks of life; we can then realize the sin against humanity that it is to ever consider that one race is better than another, as we saw so blatantly demonstrated in Charlottesville. We can then realize that to be closed in our thinking about humanity and the God who made us all different, wonderful and beautiful with something special to offer of the face of God is equally a sin against our brothers and sisters with whom we share this planet.

I’m sure as Jesus died—as he gave the last full measure, after a life of service, speaking the truth, healing the sick, there was a profound peace, and his Abba’s words at the beginning of his public ministry in the Jordan would have come flooding into his very consciousness—“This is my beloved—in whom I am well pleased!”  This aspect of our God, this tenderness my friends, should always strengthen us—the God of Jeremiah, the God of Peter, the God of Jesus, the God of Clare and Francis, the God of the Psalmist—proclaimed today as “more kind than life itself,” is our God too! This God will never ask too much of us and will always be our help, watching over us as the eagle spreading its wings over its young.   May we each be blessed today for this awesome task of being Christ now for our world!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She calls women to courage and men to humility.

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

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

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

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

News Item – Francis and Clare Musical

Dear Friends,

As promised, here is the info for getting tickets to the Francis and Clare musical: This is at the Page Theater, St. Mary’s University.
Box Office Hours: 12 P.M. – 6 P.M  M-F
(507) 457-1715
Or online: go to Page Theater and the offerings are listed and you can purchase tickets
$18–adults
$10–students
August 4th and 5th 7:00 P.M.
August 6th 2:00 P.M.