Homily – 19th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends,  this Sunday, as most Sundays, calls us to be our best–as followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we really have no other choice! But he is a friend who knows by his own human life, that this is sometimes, hard to be our best.  Let us take heart though, in the knowledge that we are never alone–he is our constant friend and companion for the journey.  

May this time find you at peace–my love to each of you–please stay well and safe.  If I can be of any help to you or yours or you would just like to chat, in between my calls, please be in contact.  aaorcc2008@gmail.com or 507-429-3616. –Pastor Kathy


Entrance Antiphon

Loving God, our souls are waiting—you are our help and our shield. May your love always be upon us and with us as we place all our hope in you.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Good and gracious God, we come, reborn in the Spirit, to celebrate as part of your loving family with Jesus, our brother. Touch our hearts, help them grow toward the life you have promised. Touch our lives—make them signs of your love for all people. We ask this of you, through Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.


Readings: 

  • 1 Kings 19: 9, 11-13
  • Romans 9: 1-5
  • Matthew 14: 22-33

Homily

My friends, during this [Extra] Ordinary Time in our Church; we are living out extraordinary events in our country and world, which can leave us feeling a bit hopeless at times. A pandemic rages in our country and world that we can’t seem, “to get our hands around,” so to speak, especially here in our own United States of America.  It is clear now after nearly 6 months, that lack of consistent leadership in our country has made this so.

Along with this, our country has been called, upfront and personal, to address the cultural sin of racism, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers and police officers around the country have been called to task concerning their unjust, aggressive and often deadly actions toward our black citizens, to the point of the Minneapolis City Council calling for the termination of the police force as it now stands. BLACK LIVES MATTER has become the cry of protesters, black and white, who seemingly won’t be silenced this time around, as they demand change, as they demand justice.  This cultural sin has festered for over 400 years and its resolution has been championed over these years by many—Martin Luther King, Jr. and most recently, in our time, by John Lewis who left the work now to others as he succumbed to cancer.

The last four years in this country, through the consistent lack of leadership in the executive branch to address the needs of all the people in this country, coupled by a mean-spirited sense of governing by this president, caring for himself and his rich supporters to the detriment of the poor and abused in this country,

the destruction of the environment through ignorant policies, based on greed, and further enabled by the Senate that will not challenge their president to be better, to do better, has left many in our nation feeling demoralized and helpless in the face of actions that seem the least common denominator on the scale of good versus evil.

And yet, our brother Jesus tells his apostles—his followers, including us, to, “not be afraid!”  He questions our faith, through Peter, saying that we, basically, “have little” of it!  Additionally, he tells us to not lose faith because there is so much strength there!  The ability—if we truly believed, “to walk on water!”

Of course, as with all of Jesus’ sayings; we are called to see beyond the literal meaning.  To be our best selves in our present world that can do with no less, will call us to indeed, walk on water!  And if that seems daunting; Jesus’ comforting words, to “be not afraid,” should give us great strength to do what we must do.

Unfortunately, many Catholics from the hierarchy on down have placed their slim agenda—they call it, “pro-life,” but in reality only support one aspect of it— life in the womb and ignore the blatant abuses against every other issue along the life continuum, in a man who says he will support that one item on their slim agenda.

I have always encouraged here that each of us takes the privilege we have in this country, especially if we are white, to vote for people who most clearly support and work for the good of all without telling you to support a particular candidate. I say, “especially if you are white,” because history, and especially during the last 4 years has made it increasingly harder for black people to vote through gerrymandering, lack of convenient poll sights, the push for personal I.D. etc.)

I still believe that is an important stance as your spiritual leader to take, but I did want to include this week the criticism of our president by Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky as recorded in the National Catholic Reporter this past week, because we so seldom see them speaking out on any life issues other than abortion. I see his statement as important as we all consider to whom we give the awesome power to lead our country in the future.

Bishop Stowe stated, “For this president to call himself, pro-life, and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life is almost willful ignorance.  He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that [!]”

That having been said, perhaps the words of Elijah in today’s first reading are instructive in our search for God in our world as Elijah searched for that same God in his.  People in Elijah’s time, before Jesus, thought that God was to be found in majestic places and what is more majestic than a mountain? Elijah and people in his time and place thought that God would be found in power and strength.  Thus, Elijah searched for God in the wind, in an earthquake, and in fire—but to no avail.  He did, though, find God, “in a whisper.” This is affirmed too, in Jesus’ life when he often, as in today’s gospel, goes off alone, to a deserted place, to find the voice and experience of God in quiet.

So, what should this tell us?  Well, first off, we will need to slow down a bit to hear and realize that God is not just in one place—a small, little God in a small, little box as is so often depicted for us in past religious training.  Secondly,  we will have to come to see that God, in fact, is everywhere, and interestingly enough, not in the realm of power and strength—hierarchical stations—cathedrals, but in the everyday.

Jesus demonstrated this idea so well through the years of his public life.  He basically told us, if you can’t see God in your sisters and brothers—in the poor, the downtrodden, the forgotten, you won’t ever recognize God anywhere else!—that is, God as God truly is!  Scripture scholar, Diane Bergant has said of today’s gospel— people in Jesus’ time went to the mountains to find God—“Life today is a mountain experience of God.” I would add once again, Jesus taught us, by his life, the truth of Bergant’s words—all of life is an experience of God of we have “eyes to see and ears to hear.”

Let us pray friends for the strength and wisdom to move into our world, confident more often than not, that those we meet are a reflection of our loving God, or at least have that potential and demand the best they have to give, especially if they want to “lead our country!”  Let us pray too for the faith, coupled with strength to more often than not, “get out of our boats” of comfort, doing what must be done, saying what must be said for the good of all! Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful– Response:   “Jesus, be with us.”

  1. For our community, All Are One, continue to send your Spirit upon us to enable us to be an inclusive community, open and welcoming to all, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”
  1. For each of us here and for our entire Church, help us to respond with love and care to each and every person we meet, each and every day, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”

3. For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body, mind           or  spirit, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”

  1. For our brothers and sisters in our country who are suffering from the manifestations of nature—especially in California, from the fires and from hurricanes and tornadoes in the east—be with each one and give them your deep and abiding peace to know that somehow, all will be well, we pray—Response:  “Jesus, be with us.”

5For our world and its people, that we might begin to study earnestly the ways of                  peace and then do whatever is necessary to turn our backs on the ways of war                    and conflict, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”

6.  For each of us today—we ask for the grace to model Jesus in our lives, by                              extending loving mercy, kindness, goodness, and justice to all that we meet each                  and every day, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”

  1.  Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, from Covid 19, and all other afflictions—give them your peace, be with those our friends and relatives who are newly bereaved to find their way through their grief, we pray—           Response:  “Jesus, be with us.”

8.  Jesus, give us great faith to be able to get out of our boats of comfort and live lives               reflective of you, we pray—Response: “Jesus, be with us.”

***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, then response

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

Let Us Pray–Good and Gracious God, you have called us to be people of faith, hope and trust. In Jesus, you have modeled a lifestyle of justice for all your people—give us the wisdom to see the bigger picture of life that always must ask the question—is this of God?—is God praised by my particular action—today. Help us to be people who show your love, mercy, gentleness and compassion for our world. All this we ask in Jesus’ wonderful name, with you our Creator and in the guidance of the Spirit, one God who lives with us and loves us forever and ever—Amen.


Let Us Pray—again, we remember that our brother Jesus is always with us and in these times when we can’t be together to receive the physical bread and wine—his body and blood, let us find him in new and wonderful ways.


Prayer after Communion

Jesus, may your presence , within us , keep us faithful to the work of love in your world—we ask this of you who loves each of us, forever and ever, Amen.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homily – 18th Sunday in [Extra Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends–this week we are gifted with a fine homily by Pastor Dick Dahl–thank you Dick! We continue in this time of pandemic, unable to be together, physically, but as always, remain together in our hearts and in our prayers for each other. We are still basking “in the glow” of our Zoom liturgy last Sunday and look forward to our next such gathering on Sunday, August 30, 2020! If you weren’t able to be with us last week, we hope you will consider joining us in August.  I am hoping that this finds all of you well–do stay safe!  Peace and love, Pastor Kathy

P.S. If I can be of help or you would just like to chat during this time of pandemic, do call–507-429-3616 or email me, aaorcc2008@gmail.com.


Entrance Antiphon

Loving God, come to my help—quickly give me assistance.  You are the one who helps me and sets me free:  Do not be long in coming.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Creator God, gifts without measure flow from your goodness to bring us your peace. Our life is your gift.  Guide our life’s journey, for only your love makes us whole.  Keep us strong in your love. We ask this of you, with the Spirit and in Jesus’ wonderful name, one God, living and loving us forever and ever. Amen


Readings:

  • Isaiah 55: 1-3
  • Romans 8:35, 37-39
  • Matthew 14: 13-21

Homily–from Dick Dahl

The Church gives us some very uplifting readings today, something we need at this time, one might say that we hunger and thirst for. The first is from the last part of the book of Isaiah and was likely written during or even after the Israelites were in exile in Babylon (modern day Iraq). Instead of warnings, the person writing this in the spirit of Isaiah gives promises and encouragement. “All you who are thirsty, come to the water. Only listen to me, says the Lord, and you will be satisfied. Why spend your money for what is an illusion, what is not bread, for things that do not satisfy. Pay attention and come to me that you may have life.”

Last Sunday we celebrated the life of our sister in Christ Mary from Magdala. Having been cured by Jesus from a severe possession that would likely be seen today as some form of mental illness rather than demons, Mary served him with love and courage, even to the frightening foot of the cross where in the midst of his tormentors she offered him all she could, her presence.

This past Thursday, another faithful follower of Jesus was buried, John Lewis. Instead of suffering from possession by demons or mental illness, John Lewis was born the grandson of slaves and the child of poor sharecroppers in Alabama. What he lacked in material wealth or social status, God more than made up for in the faith and love that deeply took root in his heart, so that he endured, even when again and again he faced brutal beatings from people who viciously hated him, a black man,  for seeking justice, equal rights under the law. What amazes me even more than his courage, is that he endured these humiliations and pain without hating his attackers. Somehow his continuing faith in Jesus gave him this unfailing strength of love. What a gift to us John Lewis has been! He was not a plaster saint. He was one of us, a man who loved to laugh and dance, and simultaneously was an unflagging witness for justice and for love.

Life wasn’t easy for John and he did not expect it to be for anybody else. But he said, “When you see any form of injustice, say something, do something.” “If you love the Beloved Community, move your feet.” If necessary, “make good trouble.” In 1963 he proclaimed, “We cannot stop and we will not be patient.” He was a realist but always optimistic and emphasized, “Do not get lost in a sea of despair; never, ever give up.” The same day John was buried, NASA launched a lander to Mars named “Perseverance.” How fitting.

John was imbued with the same Spirit that moved St. Paul who also experienced beatings, betrayal and imprisonments. Paul gave us the powerful message in the second reading today in his letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us? What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or peril, or the sword? I am convinced that neither; death, nor life, not present things, nor future things, nor any creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The source of such strength is not from us.  It is what Isaiah promised, what kept Saint Paul and John Lewis going.  John wrote, “In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way 0f peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.” This love is offered to us as well. What then can separate us from the love of Christ?

As I said at the beginning we have been given uplifting readings today, so let’s now turn to the Gospel reading from Matthew. It is helpful to first read the eight verses that precede this reading. They describe John the Baptist being arrested, bound and put in prison. John had courageously criticized and condemned the abuses of power in society, spoken truth to power, including to Herod. Like the Isis terrorists in recent years, Herod not only had John killed, but decapitated. When news of this came to Jesus and likely to John’s many followers as well, Jesus went away to this remote and desolate area referred to in the Gospel as a desert, but the crowds followed him, in his and likely their shared grief.

I’m not accustomed to thinking of today’s gospel reading in this context, but what do people feel a need to do when a loved one has died? They come together, and they do so over food, to find healing and support from each other to go on. The Gospel reading describes a enormous mass of people coming to Jesus. To emphasize the size of the crowd, it is described as 5,000 men and perhaps an equal or even greater number of women and children. We don’t know how what is described happened, but let’s take from the account what we can.

His disciples realized it was getting late, they had relatively no food for a crowd of this enormous size, but there was time for people to disperse to neighboring villages. Jesus, however, asked them what they had and then said, “There is no need for them to go away, feed them yourselves.”

On its face this makes no sense. That is, if we focus only on what they had. The disciples could not satisfy the crowds’ hunger until they gave Jesus all they had—a meager five loaves and two fish. It is not the meager resources we have that count, but what Jesus can do with these resources when we give all we have to him.

This reminds me again of John Lewis. What did he have? A Harvard education? No. Wealth? No. Political power? No. He had what God gave him, an abiding love for others that was not some sentimental and weak response. John demonstrated the power of love that Paul told the early Christians in Rome that God gives each of us. And with that gift, the unexpected can and does happen. The sharecroppers’ son became a national hero, a living example of courage and love for friends and foes alike. In a similar way, Jesus’ disciples could not feed the crowds with what they had, yet he told them ‘Feed them yourselves” and somehow they did. The impossible becomes possible when one lets Christ fill his and her heart and guide her and his actions.

Jesus is turning to each of us, as it were, saying, Do what needs to be done, even if it seems impossible, even when it is beyond your comfort zone and your ability. If you trust the Spirit, take one step and then another, and then another. John Lewis quoted Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said, “We are all complicit when we tolerate injustice.”  He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.”  John Lewis tells us, “Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time. People on every continent have stood in your shoes, through decades and centuries before you. The truth does not change, and that is why the answers worked out long ago can help you find solutions to the challenges of our time. Continue to build union between movements stretching across the globe because we must put away our willingness to profit from the exploitation of others.”

John never believed that what he had done was more than what any ordinary citizen can do if we are willing to persevere. Jesus is calling us and enabling us to do what needs to be done. This is not likely to surrender our bodies to beatings and snarling police dogs, but it is to move our feet, to do what is within our power to do. It is to support candidates for office who advocate for policies of justice—affordable healthcare for all that is not dependent on the amount of money in a person’s bank account. Safety for people seeking asylum from terror, respect for the environment, adequate funding for education, reform of the judicial system that must protect and serve all citizens, not terrorize them. The list goes on, but it involves studying the issues and the candidates, and above all voting. Jesus told his disciples to do what seemed impossible, beyond their resources. But it was accomplished. Jesus is calling us to act at this time, calling us to trust that we are not alone when we take the next steps that the Spirit empowers us to take in the pursuit of justice, justice for all.

John Lewis ended his last message to us: “So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”


Prayers of the Faithful

Response: Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving God, guide our lives, help us to see the folly in chasing after things—help us to live balanced lives, we pray—Response: “Jesus our brother, hear our prayer”
  1. Loving God, be with all your people around our beautiful world—assist all of us to turn from war and conflict and embrace peace, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving God, give each of us health of body, mind and spirit–especially those struggling with life—threatening illnesses—give each one your strength and wonderful gift of peace, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. O God, help us to be true followers of Jesus, the Christ, who modeled for us so well, working for justice for all, guided by love for self and others, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. For our community, All Are One, give us welcoming hearts to be open to all who come to us, and inspire us in new ways to reach out  to those most in need of our ministry, after the model of Jesus and John Lewis, we pray—

Response: “Jesus our Brother, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, the family of John Lewis and all those who have lost due to Covid 19—give them your peace, that they may find their way through their grief, we pray—

Response:  “Jesus, our brother, hear our prayer.”

***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud—then response

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

Let Us Pray

Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom.  We ask that you would give us peace—filled and loving hearts—the energy to always seek after peace through the gifts of lovingkindness, and justice, founded on mercy.  Help us to remember that our real task in this world as followers of Jesus, our brother, is to love your people and this world.  We especially ask for the strength and courage to, “speak up” when we see injustice in our midst, modeling the exemplary life of our brother, John Lewis. We ask that we might have the perseverance as he did for this great task.   All this we ask of you, Jesus, our Brother and Friend, and with the Spirit, all, one God, living and loving us, forever and ever—AMEN.


Let Us Pray—Again, we are called to “image” Jesus with us at all times and to share that image, which is love with all we encounter.

Prayer after Communion

Jesus our brother, you give us the strength of new life by the knowledge that you are always with us.  Protect us with your love and help us to always follow in your footsteps.  We ask this in your wonderful name, Amen.


 

Homily – Mary of Magdala – First Zoom Mass!

Dear Friends, about 30 people participated in our first ever Zoom liturgy yesterday–it was so great to see each other again through a bit of technology.  My great thanks to all our technicians, readers, musicians and our wonderful community for making this joy-filled opportunity available to those who were able to join.  Hopefully, by our next Zoom Mass scheduled for August 30, 2020; we can get some problems worked out for some who couldn’t get on for one reason or another. I have sent the mass script from yesterday already and now today, the homily is included. I do have a taped copy of the mass from yesterday that I can send on line–if you would like to view it–please request that and I will send it out.  For now then, hoping this finds you staying well and peace-filled–love to all of you, Pastor Kathy


Homily

My friends, if my view of history is correct, this is our 10th Mary of Magdala celebration—since we began in 2010 with this annual celebration of Mary and all women, missing only the year that Robert and I journeyed to Alaska after my retirement.

Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for women and for men—I add the men for it seems that if the hierarchy within our Church and its priests could be more like her and by extension—all men—our Church would truly flourish.

What do I mean by that? Mary of Magdala knew her heart and because of knowing her heart, which in the end, is all about love; she found her voice to share the Good News of her brother in faith, and her friend, Jesus.

Those who are apt to bypass the condemnation of Mary in the first centuries of the Church, as a prostitute and look deeper, have discovered that she probably suffered from a mental illness and in the past, this was called, “being possessed by devils,” of which Jesus freed her.  Only those among us who have in fact suffered a mental illness, or depression that is debilitating, or still do, can truly understand the gratitude she would have felt in being finally freed of such a torment.

And we cannot truly remember Mary of Magdala without also remembering the attempt by past Church fathers to lump all the Marys in Scripture into a composite with the stand-out characteristic being, that she was a prostitute.  In this way, she would not be remembered until very recent times for who she truly was; prophet, priest and apostle to the apostles.

Mary of Magdala is someone who calls each of us as Jesus’ followers to our best selves—to knowing our hearts, which means we will always present to our world and its people the face of love, instead of our heads and the rule of law.  As we have always said in this community; we need laws to guide our path, but not at the expense of love.  If love fails to be served in any situation of law, then there is something wrong with the law.

A current example of this is my invitation to you, today, if you wish, and I underscore that, if you wish, to have bread and wine with you for our Mass, through the Zoom technology and as we pray the words together at the Consecration, as we always do when we can physically be together, from our “collective altars,” Jesus will be present in a tangible way from my altar to yours through our collective eyes of faith.

This will be “different” yes, than when we are together—but in these extraordinary times that show no let-up any time in the future, it came to me, through my thought and prayer, that this was the most loving thing to do, albeit against  the laws that say it can’t be done. If we on this side of the screen were to receive the physical body and blood of Christ in the form of bread and wine, I wanted you to have that opportunity as well.  And please know that if you choose not to accept this invitation for whatever reason; that is perfectly OK.

A final word on this invitation is to reiterate that this is for a special time while we can’t be together, or in other words, the Zoom Masses and this invitation are only for this extraordinary time.

Now back to Mary of Magdala…In Jesus’ time, women were expected to keep silence and their opinions were generally not thought much of in public.  When Mary reported to the male apostles that, “She had seen the Lord!—had seen the Teacher,” their response was pathetic—they didn’t believe her and had to go and see for themselves!  And today, like this ages’ old response in Jesus’ time, the hierarchical response of men in positions of power in our beloved Church is to, not believe as well—not believe that the God they purport to follow could actually call a woman to be a priest or to lead in any significant way!

So my friends; we meet today to remember a valiant woman—one who led with her heart—with courage and truth, always keeping the path clear that followed in her friend, mentor and savior’s footsteps. That is all, really, that any of us need do in our world of 2020 to be able to say with conviction that we follow Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Christ—lead with our heart.

In conclusion, as we have already shared Sister Joan Chittister’s Litany of Women for the Church—who by the way, is a prophet in her own right—I wanted to include in my ending, her assessment of who Mary of Magdala is for our Church:

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.”  When we reflect on these words, I think you can see why Mary of Magdala is a wonderful model for all, men as well as women.

Finally then my friends, you, as I, have probably reflected on some of the public broadcasting material remembering this year as the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote.  Some younger women today, who don’t know the story of how our great “grandmothers” in history fought, to get the vote, show that they don’t fully appreciate the gift these valiant women gave to us, when they don’t exercise this wonderful right and vote.

In one of the PBS presentations that I watched, a statement is made, “Women were given the vote!” to which a woman responds, “We were given nothing; we took it!”  This truth, spoken out loud, like Mary of Magdala’s truth, spoken out loud, “I have seen the Lord, I have seen the Teacher,” whether that truth is accepted or not, does not diminish the importance of it being said.

Change that makes us all more equal, free, heard and appreciated is worth pursuing, like our country’s struggle now to address systemic racism.  We all have a part to play in these great causes; for women, for all those used and  abused in any way and Mary of Magdala is a great model to follow—for us, like her, “We have seen the Lord” and must respond! Amen? Amen!


 

Homily – 16th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends, 

Here we are in another week on our journey with our brother Jesus in July of 2020 in a time of pandemic.  Each of us is, as always–called to be our best.  This is a time  when strong leadership in Church and government would be a comfort, but unfortunately, we have come to see, that for the most part, we have to look within ourselves for answers as we seem to be short on leadership from the aforementioned places. Our loving God though, the Scriptures tell us this week, is always with us–we have no need to fear as our good God is our hope and we are each other’s hope too.  Please reach out to me if I can be of help in any way: 507-429-3616 or aaorcc2008@gmail.com.  Peace and love,  Pastor Kathy


Entrance Antiphon

 God, you are our help, upholding our lives.  We offer you a willing gift of ourselves—we praise your name God for your goodness towards us—always!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

 Loving God, be merciful to us.  Fill us with your gifts and make us always eager to serve you in faith, hope and love. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name who lives and loves us, with you, in the Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.


Readings:

  • Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19
  • Romans 8: 26-27
  • Matthew 13: 24-43

Homily

My friends, the Wisdom literature for this Sunday tells us, and I paraphrase, a truly powerful God can risk being lenient to attain the justice that is wanted (needed) by all.  To me, this idea speaks to the whole issue of law versus love.  This is the theme of the Wisdom writers throughout the First Testament of the Bible, known to most of us as the “Old Testament.”  It would behoove us to keep our eyes on these writers more, including the prophets, and not as much on those who depict our God as mean and unfeeling.  The books of Wisdom and that of the Prophets challenge us to be people of justice and of love as the God of us all had challenged them to be.  The God of the prophets was the God that our brother Jesus called—“Abba,” Loving Parent.

Contemplating on the God of Wisdom literature being lenient in judgment, strong, caring, powerful and kind reminds me of the much loved musical, Fiddler on the Roof that we had occasion to watch this past week. This story, as you may know is that of Tevye, the Jewish “papa,” his wife, Golda and their five daughters whom they try to raise in the traditions of their Jewish faith.  Their God seems somewhat remote and they are constantly trying to understand this God, especially Tevye.

Their faith, in its tradition, holds that a “match-maker in their town will choose husbands for their daughters when the time comes for them to marry.  The whole story is fraught with the notion that, “times are changing,” which means that Tevye’s sense of tradition, “what is right” will be challenged by his daughters wanting to marry men that they love, not men whom their papa and mama choose for them.

As the story unfolds, we see that the final decision will come from “the papa,” who, as in all Jewish families, is head of the household. We see though, that he can be resigned to his daughters marrying men that they choose, as long as they marry within the faith.  Chava, the youngest of the three to marry in the story, chooses a man outside the faith and to papa; it is seen as if she has died. This reflects a God who is not “lenient” as described in Wisdom today, and even one who is “mean and unfeeling.”

For those of you who know the story, as the townspeople of Anatevka are forced to move on the brink of the Russian revolution of 1905, Tevye, in the end, can find it in his heart to show love and not just “the law” to his daughter who married outside of the faith.

So, my friends, what does this story have to say about our Scriptures today?  It seems, when all is said and done, the entirety of words of both testaments of our Holy Book speak to the struggle of law versus love—it was always so and always will be.  We need the law to guide our path but never at the expense of love. This was certainly the message of our brother, Jesus.  We need to remember the words from the Wisdom writer’s 1st reading today—a truly powerful God can risk being lenient to attain justice.

One cannot read this Sunday’s readings and come away with any other notion than that, “God definitely has our backs.”  Paul, in his letter to the Romans carries on the thought of the Wisdom writer of a God who is kind, caring, strong and filled with justice by saying, “The Spirit comes to help us in our weakness, with groanings too deep for words.”  I would say, God truly knows our hearts and stands with us, not only in our pain, but in our joy too.

The psalmist continues—“You are good and forgiving.”  In Matthew’s gospel today we read of three parables told by our brother Jesus—of weeds and wheat, of the mustard seed growing into the largest of shrubs, even though it started as the smallest seed, and yeast put into a measure of flour—all with the same message—we are loved and God will give us every chance to grow and become all that we were meant to be.  And as his followers; we are challenged as the prophets of old, to share that goodness with others.

As always, my friends; the Scriptures call us back into our lives, our world in July of 2020 where we must ask, “What do I make of these words on the page of so long ago?”  Are they living words that are reflected in my life or are they dead upon the page?

And my friends, I can honestly admit to you, that I struggle in my life as you do in yours to let these words of justice, caring, goodness—basically, love be reflected in my life—in July of 2020.  A sampling from my life may be of help:

  • I struggle to make sense of people in religion with power over others using and abusing them—completely ruining the lives of those they have abused. The most current example is musician-songwriter, David Haas.
  • I struggle with his apology to the Catholic community, which on the surface seems, heartfelt, but knowing the cunning of such people, “to groom” their vulnerable victims—can I truly trust his apparent sincerity?
  • I struggle with those in public office whose bottom line seems to be, themselves, not the people they purport to serve—what literally do I do with my anger, my disgust?
  • I struggle with those one-issue voters who use their precious right to vote to elect individuals who promise to save life in the womb, but deny it to those same lives once here. By electing people who promise life at one point on the continuum but deny it through a livable wage, adequate housing, food and education makes absolutely no sense and it makes me livid. This is the kind of thing that caused Jesus to incite a riot in the temple on the last week of his life. Life is life all along the continuum! I could go on, but I think you get the point.

July in 2020 lays out a plenitude on the land—to be harvested and to be enjoyed—fruits and vegetables—flowers of all colors and sizes to behold!  As we consider the harvest which Jesus is speaking of in the parable of weeds and wheat growing up together in today’s gospel; we see the plenitude of our God.  The “weeds and the wheat” are us, of course, as we make our way through life, choosing at one time, good, and at other times, the not so good. Our God realizes that we are capable of both and gives us every chance to grow, as is depicted in letting the weeds grow along with the wheat, so that we, all, might become, if we choose, our best selves.

There is a poignant scene in, Fiddler on the Roof when the townspeople are told that they have to leave Anatevka.  Tevye’s son-in-law, Motel (pronounced with a long “O”) says to the rabbi, “We have waited all our lives for the Messiah—wouldn’t this be a good time for him to come?”  The rabbi, who is depicted as rather non-plussed by everything in life says, “Well, we will just have to wait for him someplace else.”

Overall, the people of Anatevka are depicted as a long-suffering group, but one too of fortitude—courage in pain and suffering.  One of the themes in this movie, as I indicated earlier, is that, “the times are changing.”

Maybe we all need to consider, in the face of pain and suffering that our call may be to name the pain suffered as the Jewish people were beginning to do as evidenced by the three marriageable daughters in the Fiddler.  As Jesus’ followers we too need to name the pain in our world and ask what part we play in that pain. We must then  do our part to make the necessary changes that would allow everyone—every race—every gender and its variations, to have justice.  That is what, “Black Lives Matter” is really all about, hearing the cries of all in our world who are imploring us to hear their cries that, “they cannot breathe.”

The time when we can be shocked one day by a crime at the hands of the State, the police, the Church—whomever it may be and let it slip past us if we aren’t directly affected, is over. Period.

We all have been given the perfect opportunity in this July of 2020, in a time of pandemic—felt to a greater degree by those living in poverty, a time that has called our nation’s attention to its racist heart, and to the lack of concern and true moral leadership at the highest levels of our government, to be the “messiahs” that we all hope for—basically to do our parts in the ways that we can to make meaningful change.

We may feel like that smallest of seeds in today’s gospel—the mustard seed and that our paltry efforts can make no difference—but they can!

Our efforts, each one, will make the greatest of “trees.”  This is what Jesus, our brother did in his time—this is what we must do in our time, now, in July of 2020!  Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

 Response: “Be with us Loving God”

  1. Jesus, give us strength to be the good seed, the yeast for your people that we might all grow to be what you intend for us, we pray—Response: “Be with us Loving God”

 2.  O God, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of peace—help us to understand that making peace is always better, albeit harder, than making war, we pray—Response:  “Be with us Loving God”

 3.  Jesus, you ask us to be people of faith, and trust—we believe, but help our times of unbelief, we pray —Response: “Be with us Loving God”

  1. Jesus, in your loving Spirit let us as members of this community, All Are One, always find room at our table for all your people, help us all to be together again soon, we pray—Response:  “Be with us Loving God”

 5.  Loving Creator, Savior, Spirit—give us your patience, your strength, your love for our world, be with our country that it can find its way back to “goodness” for all, we pray—Response: “Be with us Loving God”

 6.  Loving Jesus, give each of us, what we most need today, to be prophets for the kindom, we pray—Response: “Be with us Loving God”

  1. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, due to COVID 19, and all other causes—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  “Be with us, Loving God.”

   ***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

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

Let Us Pray

Gentle God, you who loves us beyond all imagining—be close to us each and every day, shadow us under your wings and be the strength that we need to live as you did, conscious of being inclusive of all, loving others when it is easy and when it is not so easy. Be with our community, All Are One, in special ways during this time of physical separation.  Give us your deep and abiding peace that we would not worry, but trust and believe that you will always be with us. All of this we ask of you who are God, living and loving us forever and ever—Amen!


Let Us Pray—Jesus is with us my friends—always, if we want him to be—this time without the physical Eucharist reminds us of this fact—let us remember often that Jesus is with us.

Prayer after Communion

Loving Jesus—thank you for the gift of yourself with us, always—let it help us to always share your love and peace with all we meet. We ask this in your wonderful name—Amen.


 

 

 

 

 

Homily – 15th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time in a Pandemic

Dear Friends, 

Again, my thanks to Pastor Dick Dahl for standing in for me last weekend supplying us with a fine homily–my gratitude, Dick! 

Another week and we still find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be lessening…but we have renewed hope in each other that as we do our own part, change and good, can happen! We certainly can look forward to being able to celebrate via ZOOM in two weeks time! 

In the meantime may we all stay safe and remember that we are each, loved by our God–peace and my love to each of you, Pastor Kathy


Entrance Antiphon

You are good and forgiving, merciful and loving, slow to anger, always kind and merciful O God.  We will praise your name forever.

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Good and Gracious God, you are ever a part of our lives, helping us to grow and produce fruit for your kindom.  Help us to trust and believe in you always, to know that your Spirit will always be near us, showing us the way. We ask this in Jesus’ name, our brother and friend, who is God with you and the Spirit, forever and ever, AMEN.


Readings: 

  • Isaiah 55: 10-11
  • Romans 8: 18-23
  • Matthew 13: 1=23

Homily

My friends, this Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time brings us once again into the middle of so much controversy in our country.  Increasing numbers of infections from COVID 19 are spreading across our 50 states with no apparent end in sight.  Individual states have realized that they can’t look to the federal government that from the top is in denial and can see the growing crisis only in terms of how it affects his re-election with total enablement from those in Congress who have the power to make meaningful change.

Each day the unrest among our black sisters and brothers continues in our states and neighborhoods—an unrest that will seemingly not die out until meaningful change in equality for all in this country happens.

The distress verbally expressed by George Floyd more than a month ago in the words, “I can’t breathe,” as he died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer; has become the accumulated cry of 400 years in the hearts and minds of dark-skinned people in this country.  Floyd’s blatant death was the last straw in the hearts and minds of black people and thankfully, many supportive white people as well.  This, my friends, is not something that will go away until justice is achieved.

A black author, Ibram X. Kendi and a white author, Robin DiAngelo have challenged us—the American people, with two new books that lay out the times that we collectively face.  Kendi’s book, How to be Anti-Racist and DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, both let us know that racism is in our culture, so deep that most of us are unaware that certain ways that white people act and speak are “racist” even when they might attest to the fact, that they are not, “racist.”

I have not yet read these books, but I plan to as the over-riding principle I am hearing from commentary from the authors and others is that those of us who live under, “white privilege” must come to truly listen to our black brothers and sisters, must come to understand the fear that comes with each day of their lives in a country that as DiAngelo says, is “fragile” due to its culture that uplifts, “whiteness.” She goes on to say that this “fragility” gives us an “inability to withstand the challenges,” becoming defensive rather than facing this social sin and trying to conquer it, making the changes that are needed, now.  And Kendi reminds us that learning, “how to be anti-racist” is not something we do, once and for all, but is on-going and we must do it again and again until equality is achieved.

And my dear friends—the times in which we live have, with each passing day, lifted up the truth of the inequality between the races—truths that have been present for a long time—namely, that too many go to bed hungry every night, too many don’t have adequate shelter and too many are lacking the necessities of a decent life, while at the same time, too much of the good of this world goes to too few at the top and an ever increasing middle class is struggling as well.

As I said, much of the disparity in how people live has been going on for a while, but with a pandemic that has demonstrated that the poor and people of color are hardest hit due to the conditions that our racist culture has allowed for too long, along with an administration in Washington short on compassion and an ability to lead; all of this disparity is now, finally, coming into the bright light of day and we all who claim to be Christian or any follower of any other belief system are being called to finally “see” and do something to make the necessary and needed changes.

As Christians; we look to our Scriptures for answers to live by.  The prophet Isaiah, on this 15th Sunday in [Extra] Ordinary Time has this to say and I paraphrase; just as rain and snow water the earth and make it, “fertile and fruitful,” so does the word of God planted in the hearts of the people.

Paul, in his letter to the Romans, talks about what we produce in the world from the heart of God as, “revelation” and that we, along with the, “entire creation has been groaning in one great act of giving birth.”

I do not think that the movement, at present, within our country could be expressed better, than to say, “We are groaning in one great act of giving birth,” in the attempt to set us all truly free! I personally have never, in my lifetime, witnessed a coming together of people, black and white, in the midst of so much suffering, as we are seeing at present and it gives me hope.  And as much as our country could really use the strength and comfort of those in charge, and here I speak of those at the helm, both in State (federal level) and Church hierarchy—we are increasingly seeing that this leadership will have to come from us, as individuals and groups, as it is clearly absent in the afore-mentioned entities.

Our brother Jesus heralds the words in today’s gospel, “If you have ears to hear, then—listen!”  As you know, today’s gospel speaks of the “sower and the seed” and of how the seed, “the Word of God.” This seed comes to each of us and we, plant it, guard and tend it, or, we leave it untended—ignored. As a result, it cannot grow within, enabling us to change our world.

We, my friends, are all “good ground,” as it were—let us pray that the “good seed” of God’s word falls deep within us, that we tend to it, setting roots that will grow strong, that we each might be that “revelation” to the world that Paul speaks of today.  We must say a resounding, “no,” to the racism that spawns poverty, segregation, low standards in education, housing and all the other necessities of a decent life.  Let us as a nation become a “revelation” that opens our borders to those oppressed around our world who are merely seeking a better life for their families.  Let us be a revelation that all people, regardless of color, culture, class, life-style, gender were created equally by our God and deserve the respect accorded as a result of that truth.  Let us as a nation become a revelation to the world—of generosity, goodness, honesty, mercy and love for those (all) that our God has first loved.

The authors that I mentioned in the beginning of this homily speak to the fact that all this needed change in our country puts us in some “uncomfortable” places as we try to address the racism that is a direct result of “white privilege.”  Ibram Kendi says that we must sit in the “uncomfortableness” for a while, realizing that people of color “live there” every day of their lives.

As with all the challenges of Ordinary Time, our hope is in our brother Jesus, my friends, as he will give us the strength and fortitude to sit in the “uncomfortableness” until we find a way to a better life for all.  Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

Response:  “Be with us, O God.”

  1. For our community, All Are One, be with us and send your Spirit that we might be always open to anyone coming our way–enable us to welcome all, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”

 2. For each of us here, for our entire Church, help us to respond with love and care to each and every person we meet, help us to grow more spiritually awake every day to the needs of our wider world and help in all ways that we can, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”

  1. For all who are suffering here today or in our wider community, be it in body,       mind or spirit, be our strength and help, we pray—Response:  “Be with us, O God.”

 4. For our brothers and sisters in our country and around the world who continue to suffer from the ravages of nature—give them your peace and strength, and help all of us to see the connections between how we care for this planet and the weather we must endure if we don’t, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”

 5. For our world and its people, teach us the ways of peace, help us at every turn to reject the ways of war, we pray—Response: “Be with us, O God.”

 6. Jesus open our eyes, ears and hearts to be people of justice who daily care about the poor and downtrodden, and all those who suffer for want of daily necessities, we pray—Response:  “Be with us, O God.”

7. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week—from COVID 19, from racism, from mental illness—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response:  “Be with us, O God.”

    ***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

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

Let Us Pray

    Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom.  We ask that you would give us ears that hear, eyes that see and hearts that truly love and care for your world and its creatures. Teach us to realize that we must be the change that we yearn for, that we must be anti-racist in our racist culture as one measure.  Bless all our attempts at goodness and encourage us when we fail—giving us the strength to try again. All this we ask of you, Jesus, in union with the Creator and Spirit, one God who lives and loves us forever and ever—AMEN.


Let Us Pray—Again, we remember that our brother Jesus walks with us always—lives within us and others.  In the absence of the physical bread, let us remember that we do have Jesus within us and are challenged to share him with all others in our life.

Prayer after Communion

Dear Jesus, we have been fed by your Word and we await the time when we can again of the bread and wine— your body and blood with us.  Help us to go forth today renewed to carry your message of love to all that we meet. We ask this of you who lives and loves us forever and ever, AMEN.