Fifteen of us met this morning for liturgy and as in the previous few weeks, it has been wonderful to be in person again! If this didn’t include you today, we hope you can join us soon!
Remember to continue signing up for our July 25th gathering on the farm, which is a Sunday to celebrate Mary of Magdala and all women as chosen, and found worthy by our loving God, in Jesus.
We will follow the 10 A.M. Mass with a pot-luck picnic, so write soon to let us know that you can join in and what you can bring.
We are putting some things in place for those who experience difficulty with walking and I will share more on that in the next two weeks. Have peace all and share your love with others in extraordinary ways! Be in touch with me if I can ever help in any way–email@example.com or 507-429-3616. –Love to you all–Pastor Kathy
My friends, last week I gave up, for the time being, using “extra” with Ordinary Time to suggest that calling ourselves “Christian” carries with it, already, the challenge, to do more, standing up, standing out, from the crowd. That having been said, with the challenges we have had the past few weeks and today to be prophets—where we live, in our seemingly, ordinary lives, with the realization that it is part and parcel of what it means to be Christian, you can see why my emphasis on this time, being, “extra,” so as not to miss the point. But we will keep to our thinking for now that Ordinary Time always calls us to be more.
We will probably always struggle though, as do the main players in today’s first two readings, that, truly they are—Amos and Paul, called to be prophets—it goes with the territory, when we say, we have faith, or claim our Christian heritage.
Now, our “Catholic” heritage—well, that is another issue. There was a time when we could say, with more pride than at present, that we are Catholic Christians. The hierarchy of our Church has sadly, sullied this heritage by forgetting, too often, who it is that they follow and remaining true to that memory.
We only need think of the attempt to use the Eucharist as a weapon to keep high profile people in line, or the despicable uncovering of mass grave sites in Canada of First Native children, “incarcerated” in mostly Catholic-run schools to obliterate their cultures and languages, making them into “acceptable” human beings. And when they died, which far too many did, from illness and abuse, they were buried on the school grounds, never returning them to their families. My, the need for prophets was huge here!
Being a prophet has never been an attractive, nor desired position, but a needed one, just the same. Jesus knew that and often prayed for the strength of his Abba to do what he knew he must.
Amos, in today’s first reading did not want the role and when he is rejected, he says, [Look,] “I did not want to be a prophet, but God said, go,” so I went! We get the sense here, that when God asks, the faithful one responds in the affirmative.
In the selection from the Ephesians today, Paul spends most of the reading speaking about how Jesus came to redeem us of our sins. Most reparable theologians today deny that this was Jesus’ mission, so what Paul has to say here regarding this issue, I will simply let lie. The end result though, that we would become “heirs” in the family of God is closer, I believe, to the truth.
The wider, grander view—is that Jesus is our hope, yes, and the “salvation” he truly offers us, is “the way, the truth, and the life”—that is, how to live—our one precious life—being the best people we are capable of being.
The Gospel passage from Mark gives us a view of the compassionate brother that Jesus was to those first followers. Knowing that being a prophet can often be a lonely task, “he sent them out in twos.” The purpose, no doubt, was for support and strength—a reminder to us as well—that at times we may have to stand alone, but, when at all possible, a companion for the journey, is best.
That is why our community here, All Are One, becomes so important, as we struggle to faithfully, and courageously, carry out our part of Jesus’ mission on earth. Through our prayer, listening to the Word and sharing the Eucharistic meal, sign, symbol, and reality of Jesus with us, we acknowledge our deep need for companions and our call to be “companion” to others. We stand for something different in the Catholic community of this area—we go against the grain—some say, we cause “confusion” for others, and therefore, we do need the support of each other to be the prophets that Jesus calls us to be.
Additionally, Jesus asks his followers to, “go out simply,” and they were supposed to be prepared to “shake off the dust!” In Jesus’ day it was common practice to, “shake off the dust” when leaving a foreign place as a sign that their views were not the same. In our present day, I think we struggle with knowing when to be accepting of others’ stands and when to stand our own ground for the perceived right. After all, most of us, brought up with religious backgrounds, learned well not to question, but accept, and then of course, there is “Minnesota Nice” to contend with! Perhaps there is a place in the middle, a balance between listening-hearing, and acceptance.
The other piece of their task was, “to proclaim repentance as they went.” I think we sometimes don’t proclaim the message of our loving God in its fullest sense when we look at this line too narrowly. Was Jesus simply telling these first followers to “forgive sins,” or was there more?
I read this to mean, our loving God forgives all that has been, in order that, putting the wrongdoing aside, we might have the strength to pursue our best once again.
If we simply stop at the wrongdoing and concentrate on that, (Jesus died for our sins), there is no movement forward to something better. In this regard, I think of the compassion of Jesus with the woman caught in adultery, (presumably an action she did by herself) who received Jesus’ pardon, but not without his encouragement to go forward in a better way.
So, this brings us full circle—our call as Jesus’ followers, just like to the first ones, to the task of prophesying. Why is it, do you think, that people of old and people in present times find that so difficult? Do we lack the faith to know and believe that we can do anything to make a difference? Perhaps. I think sometimes we are of the misconception that to be a prophet means we have to travel or be someone important, more than educated, of some means, and the list goes on to discount ourselves from even considering such a “lofty” task.
But let’s look at who God has chosen: fisher people, shepherds, tentmakers, the poor, the afflicted, women—no less, to speak truth to power in a way that because of their ordinariness, ALL people will know that the power unleashed through them—through us, is really the power of God.
All the readings today confirm for us that God chooses ordinary Christians and gives them extraordinary responsibilities! Really, this is another sign of how we are loved and trusted by our God. When you think about it—don’t we mere humans give the tasks that take the greatest responsibility to those we love and trust most? Our loving God will not be outdone by us.
All of us are simple people too, educators, grandparents, electricians, farmers, in the social and human sciences, nurses, moms and dads, pastors, children—and it is within these ordinary professions and stages of life that we are called to make a difference by the way we live our lives—it is where we touch hearts and minds and souls with the tenderness of our God—it is there that we heal people with our touch, our words. It is there that we help to drive out the “demons” that have strangleholds on people—just as those first apostles did. In very ordinary ways, ordinary people are called to do extraordinary tasks for the kindom.
In the first decade after the Second Vatican Council, we used to sing a hymn— “They Will Know We Are Christians by our Love” and that wasn’t just a catchy tune! Amen? Amen!