Homily – 2nd Sunday of Easter in an Almost Safe Time Again!

Dear Friends,

Jesus asks us this week in the Gospel, just what do we believe?–perhaps a good question to ponder this week. We continue to be in this time of pandemic that doesn’t allow us to live as we might like to–we have had to be creative in how we reach out to others. Perhaps this time has made us appreciate others more–not a bad outcome if in fact true. Maybe this time has encouraged us to look again at how we live in our world and protect it, helping, not harming, the environment. Maybe these times have caused us to realize in a new way how everyone’s life, day in and day out, is not always on a level playing field. Friends, Easter calls us to these questions and more–may we each be blessed as we ponder and search for the best ways to be in our world that so needs people who can live from their hearts. Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please do not hesitate to be in touch if I can help in any way. Email-aaorcc2008@gmail.com or by phone-507-429-3616.

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Entrance Antiphon

Like newborn children we should thirst for milk on which our spirits can grow to strength. Rejoice in the glory that is ours and give thanks for being called to be part of God’s kindom. Alleluia!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Loving and merciful God, we no longer look for Jesus among the dead, for he is alive!  From the waters of death you raise us with him and renew your gift of life within us.  Increase in our minds and hearts the knowledge and awareness of the risen life we share with Jesus, who is the Christ.  Help us to grow as your people toward the fullness of eternal life. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, who lives and loves us with you and the Spirit Sophia—one God, forever and ever. Amen.

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Readings:

  • Acts 4: 32-35
  • 1 John 5: 1-7
  • John 20: 19-31

Homily

My friends, I believe many of us enjoy the post-Easter Sunday readings from the Acts of the Apostles that lay out for us how these first followers of Jesus, our brother, chose to live following the memory of his life, death, and resurrection.  We marvel at how they shared with one another, “No one was needy among them,” And it is easy, reading such text, to make the leap to the present and say, “Why can’t we do this in our world today?”  At the very least, why can’t we see to it that, “no one is hungry?”

   A reality check brings us to the fact that, “good ideas” and the people advocating for such, are always more successful at first.  Our continued reading in Acts will show that the love and sharing of everything in common grows thin in the day-to-day living out, of this most, amiable goal.  But does that mean we shouldn’t continue to try to see to it that there is, “no one needy among” [us]?   I would say, “No!”  As we live and grow, we are always called to more, not less, if we are truly trying to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. 

   This brings us nicely into the key thoughts that I gleaned from a select podcast within a group of such, entitled, All My Relations.  I became aware of this from my daughter, Eryn, who indicated that it might be good to use in a homily—sometime. She was right, so here goes.

   The issue being discussed in this particular podcast was the fire in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on April 15, 2019, nearly two years ago.  Two women, one a protagonist and the other, an antagonist, are speaking for or against, as the case may be, the fact that within hours of the fire, two prominent people were able to raise 300 million dollars to repair this icon of the Catholic church, a symbol for many of their long-held faith in the goodness of Christianity in their lives. 

   The woman speaking for the goodness—the rightness of these financial gifts seemed to be saying that it is all about peoples’ “sacred places,” and that it is important that we, “hold space for each other” when such tragedies happen in order that people can grieve. 

   The second woman stated that if this is so, why in the past has the same not been done when black church fires have happened?  Additionally, the antagonist takes issue with the Catholic church and the system represented by Notre Dame.  She criticizes the Catholic church as the biggest business in the world and suggests that the money might have better been used to feed everyone who is hungry in our world.  In her mind it is all about, “the will,” to do the right thing. 

   The main issue raised by the protagonist was that “now was not the time,” to make connections between the Notre Dame fire and other tragedies—that we should, “hold space” for others when tragedies happen and make connections later.  The antagonist follows with, “if not now, when?” She goes on to say that when another, yet another mass shooting happens, we can’t stay, “in the moment” and simply grieve, but must raise the obvious need that now, new, stricter, laws are needed to end violence with guns!

   So, my friends, no matter how you may look at this issue, from the side of the protagonist or the antagonist, the issue must be faced that much inequality remains within our world—a truth that is being played out in so many areas today: in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the murder case of George Floyd, in the inequality of vaccine distribution among black, indigenous, and otherwise poor communities which underscores the larger issue of “racism” in our country and the list can go on.  As Christians, who say we follow Jesus, our brother, we too must “hold space” for the lives and goodness of all—no exceptions.

   Easter, a period of six weeks every year, a time really of new life, calls each of us to remember all that Jesus did while physically with us.  When that time ended, he told those 1st followers, who wanted him to stay with them, that he would always be with them—in a different way, but that they would never be alone.  Additionally, he let them know that now, they must be his hands and feet, eyes, and ears—but more so, his heart in our world. 

   The first letter of John, the 2nd reading today seems to be saying that our God is always about “loving those that God has sent.”  This really includes all of us in the grandest sense.  In other words, our God is able to “love all of creation” through our loving actions in the world.  As Jesus said so well and so simply— “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself” –that’s it!

   I personally love that Jesus’ greeting most times after the Resurrection and especially in today’s gospel is, “Peace be with you!”  As you all know, if you regularly read my homilies; I have been working with the Great River Asylum Support Partners (GRASP), to assist a family from Honduras seeking asylum in this country and especially now, in Winona, MN! I believe if we were to ask them the question about what they are most seeking in this country, “peace” from the fear of losing their lives to gang violence in their own country would be high on their list.  Jesus’ prime message, after his Resurrection was to say to his faithful band who once again found their strength, through the Spirit, that he was now sending them—in his place. 

   He gave them and us, by extension some simple commands to follow—tools to use: “Whose sins you retain—whose sins you forgive—it is done!  He was basically saying—do what you feel, in your heart is right! This is not, you see, necessarily about a stated law.

   I have recently been re-reading Thomas Merton’s, Seven Story Mountain and it strikes me, that his basic struggle in life before his conversion to Catholicism and his entrance into a Cistercian monastery was to choose, in his own personal life, “the right thing” to do, as directed by his heart.

   In today’s gospel, Jesus is pressing Thomas, the apostle, and us too, to get out of our heads and into our hearts.  We say we believe, even though we have never seen Jesus, as did those 1st apostles.  The challenge is to name for ourselves, just what, in fact, we actually believe, because it makes all the difference in what we do next.  We are told that those 1st followers “ran” to tell the others that they had seen Jesus!  Does our faith cause such excitement within us that we would “run” to share it—to act upon it?

   Easter is all about bringing “light” into the “darkness” of what life can sometimes be.  And as our friend, Joan Chittister has said of Easter, “it is not a nice fairytale with a happy ending—it is just the beginning!  Amen? —Amen! —Alleluia!

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Prayers of the Faithful

Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

  1. Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially the least among us—let them be foremost in our minds and hearts, we pray–       Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • O Risen Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace, let us pray today in a special way for people who need “peace,” now, more than ever, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Jesus, risen Savior, you who were a healer in every way, freeing people’s minds, hearts and bodies of  illness of every kind, grant us health in these same ways, we pray—      Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Risen Jesus, grant each of us a renewed faith during this Easter Season to remain true to you in good times and in bad,  we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Risen Jesus,  our brother and friend, give hope to those who are suffering now due to job loss, illness of any kind, the ravages of weather—show them the way through this painful time, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Risen Jesus,  you gave us the gift of forgiveness—give us the generosity and care for others and for ourselves to be able to forgive, and to accept forgiveness from others,  we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Risen Jesus, in your new, resurrected life, continue to be our constant model of one who lived very simply upon the earth, and show us new ways to live accordingly, especially when we try to feed the physically hungry in our world, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Risen Jesus, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to always make a place of welcome at our table, but more importantly, in our hearts. We pray too for the success of the new family coming to our community soon from Honduras that their quest for asylum might be granted, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”
  • Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from COVID and all   other causes, give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus.”

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—pause, we pray, then response

Let Us Pray

   Jesus, you have truly risen!  Alleluia!  Be the strength we need each day to be people of the Resurrection—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world.  Give us the strength and grace to do what we can to make our world better—help us to be the change we want to see. Let us truly be Easter people of joy, people of forgiveness.  We ask all of this of you, our loving Savior and with the Creator and your loving Spirit— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.

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Let Us Pray—Again, we must be apart and cannot share the bread of the altar—but remember, and don’t ever forget, Jesus is always with us!

Prayer of Communion

 Loving Jesus, may the Easter sacraments, Baptism and Eucharist that we have received, live forever in our minds and hearts.  We ask this in your wonderful name. Amen.

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Homily – Palm Sunday in a Time of Almost Safety Again!

A group of nearly 30 met on Zoom today to begin Holy Week–the holiest week of the year! Included here you will find my homily. Enjoy–be challenged and be blessed!–Pastor Kathy

P.S. Please be in contact if I can help you in any way or you would just like to chat. aaorcc2008@gmail or 507-429-3616.

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My friends, it was my thought as I prepared for this homily, to make it brief and to the point in light of the fact that our Palm Sunday Mass is full of extra things –so we will see how I do! 

   As I suggested in the bulletin earlier in the week, Palm Sunday sets us up to begin the “holiest” week of our Church Year—not at all, “the happiest” week.  Being “holy,” in my mind, is all about doing those things, in my one precious life, that are not specifically about my needs, but more broadly, about the needs of all of us. And for those who regularly read my homilies, you know that I always uplift the need that we must include ourselves in the good we do for others, otherwise, “our cups run dry!”  So, in other words, look for that balance in your lives—good for self and good for others—you and all others are worthy of good in your lives!

   Back then, to the “holiest” of weeks and why that is so.  Jesus, of course, is our focus and if we would know how it is that we can be “holy” too, we have only to keep our eyes on him.  From the get-go of this holiest of weeks; we see Jesus as a man of the Scriptures.  That first, short reading from Mark with which we began today, tells of his joyful entry into Jerusalem.  And how did he come into the city—on a horse with royal trappings—as a king in all his glory?  No, he came on the back of a donkey as the Scriptures said the Messiah would come.  Just as in his birth—he came simply, unadorned—for the poor. This is a piece that we simply can’t, nor should we miss. 

   Isaiah, in the 1st reading today, tells of what the life of the Messiah will be like.  Insults will be part of the life of this Messiah and those who follow such a person.  This is so because messiahs, prophets and the like will be compelled to speak truth to power, as it were, demanding for the least among us, justice in their lives.  Those who are into their power, wealth, or prestige, will not take such demands lightly—there will always be the need to silence such ones—to denigrate them.  But the prophet, Isaiah, is encouraging, saying that such people should know that even though denigration may come; they should not fear because, just as with Jesus, our God will be with us. 

   And even so, we hear the purely human cry that Jesus will utter, later in the week, with the psalmist today: “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?”  This cry of the psalmist today is one that has been repeated and echoed throughout the history of the world from Jesus and onward as he struggled and as his followers have struggled, in his footsteps, to save our people from injustice of every kind.  

   Jesus would ultimately pay the supreme price for such goodness, but because of who he was, he could do nothing else—turning away, remaining silent, protecting himself as many of our bishops seem to have chosen to do, was just not an option.  This is the true story of Calvary. Calvary was his world’s price for asking/demanding even, that the powers-that-be, be their best for all. 

   Palm Sunday, today, gives us a taste of what the entire week will be like, as Paul, in his beautiful letter to the Philippians continues: “Your attitude must be the same as that of Jesus…he took on the image of oppressed humankind…and for this reason, at Jesus’ name, every knee should bend—in the heavens, on earth and under the earth.” 

   My friends, I began today speaking of Holy Week as the holiest of weeks.  Holiness is not about, as I said, silence in the presence of evil, or fear to stand up and say what is right—is truth in any situation, even if we stand alone. 

   A family member recently said to me, “I need to write to the bishop and tell him that we need to hear from him on issues like climate change and gun violence.” I encouraged her to do it! You would think that would be, “Bishop, 101!”

   This week’s National Catholic Reporter (NCR) challenged the nation’s bishops as well, asking, where is their collective voice on climate change in particular, suggesting that if we don’t have an earth that is viable to live on, is that not too, a life issue!

   When we think of what actions are indeed, “holy,” I would lift up a statement made by our president at his first news conference this past week.  When speaking to reporters about the youth coming to our borders unaccompanied by parents and his decision to allow them into the country, he stated that unlike his predecessor, he would not turn them away alone—to go back to the violence they had left, “he just wouldn’t do it!”

   And of course, he has received criticism for this action, but he has made it clear that his actions are based on what is good and right; not on what is easy.

   Each of us, my friends, have like decisions to make in the course of our lives—hard decisions like the racism that lies at the roots of our democracy—an experiment that is touted in our Constitution, claiming that every person has the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

   Additionally, we, as a country of many, diverse people, trying to live out this democratic dream, must—simply must come to terms with gun violence in our United States. We all know what needs to be done and now is the time to do it!

   In our city of Winona, a Steering Committee that is an off shoot of the Winona Interfaith Council, going now under the name of Great River Asylum Support Partners (GRASP) is actively preparing to accept a family from Honduras and perhaps more in the future coming to our southern border seeking protection from life-threatening violence in their own countries. It will be our intention to help these families and individuals work toward full citizenship should they be granted asylum. At this writing, our group just heard that we have been accepted to receive our first family in a matter of weeks! I believe that all of us involved in this effort have a mixture of anticipation for being able to help in the ways that we can, but also the realization that this will not always be, easy.

   I believe what motivates our group is the knowledge that this is the right thing to do, plus the realization that the life-giving aspects will go both ways—us to them, but also all that they will give to us being from another country and culture, language, and lifestyle.  I will keep you all informed about the ways going forward that you will have opportunities to assist this endeavor.

   So, as we begin this holiest of weeks, let our prayer be that we, each one, might walk into it and through to the Resurrection, following in our brother Jesus’ footsteps, unafraid, trusting as he did, that our Abba God will be with us.  Amen? Amen!

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Homily – 4th Sunday of Lent in a Time of Pandemic

Dear Friends,

We continue our journey through Lent, keeping our eyes on our brother, Jesus who shows us the way. We hear this week that we are, “God’s works of art,” along with the challenge always to, “be our best selves” for us and for our world. Thinking about one of the messages that we always hear on our Lenten journey, that of “repenting,” this Sunday really calls us to see additionally, God’s mercy, in this consideration. My prayer for each of you is that you continue first and foremost, to be well and safe and get your vaccinations as soon as you can! Peace and love–call me, 507-429-3616 or email, aaorcc2008@gmail.com if I can help in any way, or you would just like to chat–Pastor Kathy

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Entrance Antiphon

I will prove my holiness through you. I will gather you from the ends of the earth; I will pour clean water on you and wash away all your sins. I will give you a new spirit says our Loving God.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Creator God, Jesus, the Christ spoke peace to our fragmented world and brought humankind the gift of reconciliation by all he endured for us.  Teach us, the people who bear his name, to follow his example—may our faith, hope and charity turn hatred to love, conflict to peace, death to eternal life.  We ask this through Jesus, our Brother, one God with you and the Spirit, who all live and love us forever and ever—Amen.

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Readings:

  • 2 Chronicles 36: 14-17, 19-23
  • Ephesians 2: 4-10
  • John 3: 14-21

Homily

   My friends, as I said in this week’s bulletin, the readings chosen for this Sunday give us somewhat of a negative tone, reminding us of our sinfulness—perhaps an attention-getter? If that is the idea, to get our attention; I am here to say that the predominant theme of this week’s readings—that of the mercy of our good God, where we are concerned, is much more of an attention-getter for me. 

   Many of us have lived long enough to know that we aren’t perfect, that we don’t always act in the best ways that we are capable of.  On any given day, we may be feeling tired, frustrated, depressed, lazy—even selfish, and it is much easier to not respond, walk the other way, or crawl under our “blankies” and ignore what should be our best, most loving response to our world and its people.

   Enter our good God, personified in the person of our brother, Jesus.  No matter what we choose to do on any given day, our God’s response is always the same—we are loved and accepted first—but always with the gentle nudge to start again, try once more—in fact, to be our best. 

   With the above in mind, primarily the predominant theme of mercy—I would like to lift up three lines for us to consider—take within, ponder today and into the next week:

  • From Chronicles—”You can go home again [!]”
  • From Ephesians— “We are God’s work of art in Christ Jesus to do the great things God created us to do from the beginning.”
  • From John— “God sent the Only Begotten into the world to save us.” [As Jeremiah suggests above, maybe a stretch,  “to bring us home”]

   So, let us concentrate on that first line from Chronicles.  We can only imagine what joy the Israelite people felt upon hearing from Cyrus, the Persian, that now, after so many years in slavery, they could go home! It was a “merciful” gesture and reflective of the mercy that our God shows us all.  Sometimes, we may not be ready for the mercy our God offers and for that reason, we may too, like the Israelites, have to remain, “enslaved” for a time. 

   It is always important to remember my friends, that Scriptural stories that appear to be about one thing are always intended to take us deeper, show us more—about others, yes, but about ourselves too.  Lent is about realizing, as we go deeper, that we can always, “go home again,” too. 

   And that moves us nicely into the next line that I lifted up for us today from Ephesians— “We are God’s work of art” …called, “to do the great things God created us to do from the beginning.”  In other words, as someone wiser than me has said, “We are truly spiritual beings, here, having a human experience!  Our free will, both gift and perhaps, “hinderance” at times, depending how we choose to use it, does, as we know, allow us to choose the good and the not-so-good.

   Keeping this in mind—our ability to choose good or evil, is a very good reason to keep checking back with our brother Jesus as he is truly, our “north star,” pointing the way for us to follow. Now, we only need to do this, if we want to consider ourselves, Christians—his followers! When we are in doubt about a decision to go one way or another, we must consider if this action would be one Jesus would do and if we can answer, “No,” –then our path is clear.

   Now, that having been said, I must add my disclaimer for good, personal self-care.  We must always, always, consider ourselves in the equation of who we are caring for.  Even Jesus took, “time away,” to care for himself! 

   The third line from the gospel of John that I lifted up for us to consider is, again, “God sent the Only Begotten…to save us.”  I see this line really as an extension of what Paul said to the Ephesians.  What Jesus came to “save us” from, was ourselves—our humanity, our less than perfect selves—in other words, to show us the way so that we could and can do those “great things God created us to do from the beginning.”  We short-change ourselves when we simply consider that Jesus, “was sent” and “came to die for our sins.”  That leaves the action with Jesus alone.  I believe we were always meant to do our part and that is the fuller piece of Cyrus’ invitation to the Israelites that, “You can go home again.” 

   During this 4th week of Lent, as we consider, “how we are doing,” I think it is good once again to look at the “Incarnation” and ask ourselves what that was truly all about.  Simply put, rather than our God being about “wanting to punish us” for our wrong-doing, the Incarnation really tells us about a God loving us creatures so much as to want to be, “one-with-us” in the person of Jesus—of Jesus wanting to step into our sufferings, our joys—to be one with us—to again, show us the way. 

   Often during the Season of Lent, we hear the word, “repent.”  In conjunction with today’s first reading with the Israelites and us—by extension, being told that we, “can go home again,” it is good to remember, in this broader context, that, “repent” and “return” come from the same Hebrew word. 

   I think that many of us “long-time” Catholics, some of us, “cradle Catholics” have lived many of our years enduring a scourge we called, “good ole Catholic guilt” and at some point, decided that we weren’t going to continue doing the good we did because we would feel “guilty” if we didn’t. We wanted to have a higher motive.  The “black and white” rules, “Do this, don’t do that” fall into this category. And if living and doing the good you do falls under, “I will feel guilty if I don’t,” makes you a better person, then that is the way for you.  But I would suspect this is not the case for most of us. 

   Our readings for this 4th Sunday speak about the People of God continually, “choosing unwisely,” yet their God’s response was always to treat them in a loving way—in fact, God’s response came to be spoken about as, “lovingkindness”—one word. 

   God’s response to this People and to us was and is more than likely so because God knew most of what they and we do, we don’t do willingly, at least not in a pre-mediative way—it comes out of our human selfishness—at times, to protect us from supposed hurt, etc.  and causes us to do some of the “isms” that plague us, even to the present day—sexism, racism, ageism and so on.

   “Racism” is something our nation has been called to look at squarely in the wake of the death of George Floyd nearly a year ago, and his murderers being brought to hopeful justice in the next months.  But none of us can put this issue of racism at our roots to rest when these trials conclude—we are really all on trial here! 

   The whole notion of “sexism” in our country and around the world was raised this past week with our National Women’s Day, celebrating the many and varied accomplishments of women.  In fact, since 1987, March has been designated as National Women’s History Month.

   We might ask if such days even affect us—a good question to ponder in the remaining days of Lent. Where and when do I witness women placed in second class positions or denied entrance to a particular field simply because of how they happened to have been born—no fault of their own! And furthermore, what am I going to do about it going forward?

   One of the things I like to do to advance the cause of women for equality in our world in the realm of the Church is to search out “who” Mary, Jesus’ mother, truly was.  Our church hierarchy tends to put her on a pedestal, lifting up mainly that she said, “Yes” to God with no further input sought out or even asked for. 

   Lesley Hazelton, in a wonderful book entitled, Mary: A Flesh and Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother does well to further the cause of women as strong and called by God to witness to our God’s love.  The author stretches her readers’ minds and hearts to see this icon of Catholic faith as not someone to be placed on a pedestal, out of sight and consideration, but out front, challenging our Church to see the gifts of all.

   Hazelton delves into the culture within which Mary was born and lived. Women, and most were strong, or they didn’t survive, would most certainly have known much that was practical about caring for their health, their bodies, about bringing life into this world and caring for it, once here.  Mary, as one of these women would have taught her son all she knew about healing, about sustaining life.  Scripture tells us that Jesus grew, “in wisdom and grace.”  Certainly his mother added to his wisdom.  Yes, my friends, our God chose wisely in asking a woman to be part of the loving equation.

   And so, in conclusion, I call us back to our brother Jesus, whom we must always be checking “in with” in order to align our own actions for good in this world.  Jesus was always about helping the people of his time and that extends to all of us today as his followers, to live up to the fact that we are, “God’s works of art”—called to, “do great things.”  The “saving” of us that he does is to help us to be our best selves and we can do that if we keep “watching him” for the ways to be in our world.  We will then make of ourselves a true gift to, “go home with,” one day.  Amen? Amen!

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Prayers of the Faithful

Response:  “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”

  1. Merciful God, help us never to forget you—to always remember that you want good for us and not bad in this world, we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • Loving God, help our country and our world to be people who love peace and strive to  bring it about—thank you for being our strength and our light,  we pray—Response:  “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • Gracious God, bless each of us with healthy bodies, minds and spirits–be with those who most need you today, especially those suffering from COVID and all other illnesses, we pray— Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • O God, show us the ways during this holy season of Lent to grow closer to you, we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • O God, thank you for work and the ability to work and we ask you to be with those who have lost their jobs, give them hope for a new day, we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • Loving God, be with all those around our world who are suffering in war zones,  we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”

7.  Loving God, instill in our country’s people the flexibility and patience needed to struggle through these uncertain times—be with our leaders to bring justice, hope and peace to our country and to our world, we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”

  • For our community, All Are One, continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to always make a place of welcome at our table, but more importantly, in our hearts, and bring us back together—soon, we pray—Response: “Merciful God, hear our prayer.”
  • Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  Merciful God, hear our prayer.”

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—Pausethen response

Let Us Pray

   Good and merciful God, you are our light and our love.  You have proven again and again how much you love us—help us to never forget that and to always turn to you to with our praise and petitions. During these remaining weeks of Lent, show us the way to you that we would always have the strength to follow your lead, you who have never been anything but LOVE for us. Help us to remember that we are your hands, eyes, ears and heart for our world—help us to be generous with your love. All this we ask of you, in Jesus’ loving name and with the Spirit—one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.

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Let Us Pray—Again, we cannot be together at the altar, but our God, in Jesus is always with us!

Prayer of Communion

Loving God, you enlighten all who come into the world.  Fill our hearts with the light of the Gospel, may our thoughts please you and our expression of love be sincere. Grant our prayer through Jesus and with the Spirit, all one God, loving us forever and ever—Amen.

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Homily – 3rd Sunday in [Extra]Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

My friends, YHWH—our God, speaks to Jonah in the first reading, “Get up! Go!”

   The reading from Corinthians today may seem harsh, but we must remember that it comes right out of the times in which Paul and the early Christians lived—they thought that their brother and messiah, Jesus, would be returning soon.  Thus, the need to be prepared, to be ready, with no use bothering about the things of this world!

   From our perspective, looking back, clearly Paul and the others got it wrong.  Or, did they?  I think they perhaps had part of the truth.  Their sense was that Christ would be returning soon, but I think the piece that they and we often miss is that Jesus, the Christ, is here, right in front of us, in the next person that we meet—in the person we see each day—in the mirror!  So, always the need, to be ready, my friends! We all come from Divine dust, as someone said, and are here having a human experience.  How could we ever then, treat any person with disrespect, with a lack of understanding, without mercy or justice? 

   Now, I know you are thinking—but the people who are so hard to even abide—what do I do with them? I am not saying that it will always be easy—not at all. I am just reminding us of the words and actions of our brother Jesus that we don’t turn away, but keep trying and God knows, for each of us, there are those who are truly hard to love.  Amanda Gorman, young poet laureate, at this week’s Inauguration Ceremony spoke so well of it, “That even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried; that we’ll forever be tied together, victorious.” Our life in Jesus, friends, calls us to this awesome task and as our new president said in his comments this past Wednesday, “There is nothing we can’t do, if we do it together!”

   And in the gospel from Mark, the evangelist with the fewest of words simply conveys Jesus’ message by telling us to, “Change our hearts and minds…”

   Being Jesus’ followers was then, in his time and now, in our time, all about seeing a bigger picture, acting with a larger heart than many are accustomed to doing. It simply isn’t enough to care for, “what I need,” “what I want,” “the people I love”—we must grow our hearts and souls to at least see the pain with which many people in our world struggle and once we see that pain, do our part to alleviate it. 

   This past Wednesday with the Inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, many of us felt a weight of selfishness lifted with the promise from our new leaders that they will lead and care for all the people.  They, I believe, will lead out of their hearts and souls as they have proven in the past through their individual positions in state and national leadership. 

   They will no doubt be accused by their enemies of doing what they do for “political gain,” but they won’t let that get in their way as both are committed to closing doors on the virus from without rampaging across our country, COVID 19, on the virus from within—400+ years old, systemic racism, as well as fixing our economy so that it works for everyone, and finally beginning again to put policies in place to care for and literally save our beautiful earth, home to more than 7 billion of us, not to mention all the plants and animals!

   My friends, always in my words to you; I challenge all of us to, “look at the fruits” in the actions of those you choose to follow, to know if indeed, we are “walking and talking” correctly.  As I prepared for this homily, so many images were floating through my mind and heart from the Inauguration, that from my perspective was sculpted from start to finish to begin to heal the hurts of the past four years, to say in no uncertain terms that we as a nation are better than our past and want now to work on a future world that we are truly proud to hand to our children and grandchildren—to all who are coming next.  In that light, I would like to include here just some of the wonder-filled encouragement of many from the Inauguration Ceremony and others challenging us to be our best—to live in our world, in our time as Jesus did in his.

  • From our gospel today; we are reminded that Jesus always met people where they were in their lives and called them, in that time and place. In today’s gospel he calls fishermen and invites them to now, “fish” for people.  In our lives as parents, grandparents, nurses, farmers, social workers, educators—whatever it might be, Jesus calls us to give our world, as President Biden said in his inaugural address, our [very] souls—in other words, the best we have.
  • I was touched by the fact that Jennifer Lopez, within her singing of, This Land is my Land, This Land is your Land, she recited in her native tongue—Spanish, the words from our Pledge of Allegiance, “one nation, under God, indivisible—with liberty and justice for all,” signaling that this new administration in Washington will truly be aware of all in our beloved country.
  • I was equally touched by the black, female fire-fighter who delivered our Pledge of Allegiance, both in spoken words and sign language—one of the many times that brought tears to my eyes for this awareness of  those without the gift of hearing. 
  • For those who look forward now with hope for what the future brings and whose enemies think that all, those with hope propose to do, can’t be done—it is good to remember one of the great spiritual documents of Hinduism, the Bhagavad Gita, which teaches, “…effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure.” In other words, we might say, “attempting to do our best is always success!”
  • In this vein, when those who would look at our efforts negatively; I always remember Michelle Obama’s words, “When they go low, we go higher.”  My, friends, there will always be those in our path who will doubt that the good can rise, but we must keep our focus and keep moving on.  Amanda Gorman said, [don’t gaze on] “what stands between us, but what stands before us.”

   And in all of the above, we must remember as columnist David Brooks said in a bit of commentary on Wednesday, “the importance of gratitude.”  He reminded all the white folk among us that we should really have gratitude for our black sisters and brothers in the person of Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina who really was able to jumpstart Joe Biden’s campaign by his endorsement late in the primary season, which ultimately elevated Biden to the position of the Democratic nominee and now our president. I would add too, the name of Stacey Abrams in her stellar work in her home state of Georgia making it possible for many more people to vote.  And this, friends, Brooks reminded us, came from a group of people whom white folk have so abused for far too long.  Finally, David Brooks reminded us of the words of another, “where there is gratitude, joy cannot be far behind. “

   In closing then, as Amanda Gorman again said so well, [our] nation isn’t broken, but simply unfinished…there is always light.  If only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”  My friends, this is our call today in present-day prophets and in the words of Jesus; who often reminded us that, “he was the light of the world” and that we must be too! We are being called—here and now, my friends—every day of our lives! Amen? Amen!

Bulletin – Palm Sunday

Dear Friends,

NO MASS ONCE AGAIN THIS SUNDAY!!!–additionally, there will be no masses until further notice due to the corona virus and the need to “shelter-in-place.” 


For your information–our board has agreed to send $300 to the Advocacy Center (formerly the Women’s Resource Center of Winona) because they had to cancel their Spring Gala Event due to the corona virus.  This event is a huge fund-raiser for them each year.  It has been documented that domestic violence has gone up during this time of “sheltering-in-place,” thus the need to support their efforts.


We have come to Holy Week in this “new normal” of being “church” during this time of pandemic due to the corona virus.  Each day’s news brings unbelievable almost, numbers of sick people and likewise, deaths from this silent enemy.  Except for maybe since, World War II, our nation has not been so galvanized to fight an enemy and trying to remain sane and human as we do it.

Holy Week and its message of life, death and resurrection seem a fitting meditation for our present time.  Let us bring all our worries, our faltering faith and strength to our brother Jesus in the mystery of the cross.  Let us not lose sight though of the Resurrection–let each of us do our part as we, “shelter-in-place” for the good of us all.

Peace and much love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S.  I will send out sets of readings for each of the days of the Triduum–Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and of course, Easter Sunday–watch for those too!


Readings:  

Procession with the palms:  Matthew 21: 1-11

Readings for Mass:  

  • Isaiah 50: 4-7 Psalm Response:  “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” Psalm 22: 8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
  • Philippians 2: 5-11
  • Passion from Matthew 26: 14–27: 66