Homily – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, once again, we continue this week to ponder Jesus, our brother, as the “bread of life.”  He tells us in John’s gospel that if we eat of this “bread” that he gives; we shall never die.  Now of course; we know that he isn’t speaking about our physical deaths, but our spiritual deaths, a death none of us, as his followers wants to experience.

In one of Jesus’ other sayings, he went on to expound, “I want you to have life and life in abundance!” Jesus, as we know, was always about “turning things on their heads,” so to speak, asking us to be counter culture, especially when, “following the crowd,” was demonstrative of fear, selfishness and safety, as opposed to openness, mercy, risk-taking for the good of all—simply put, the law to love.   And in this law to love, our own life is lived to the fullest.

The adjoining readings for this 19th Sunday are instructive as well in how we should attempt to live out, the law to love.  We get a sense of the “bread of life” in each one and as last week, see that the “bread” we are called to give, can be physical, spiritual or emotional.

Elijah the prophet, in the first reading from Kings; we find in somewhat of a depressed state—he has been ministering for his God and is tired—bone-tired and wondering whether physical death might be a better option than what his life is at present.  We see his God responding as God always responds; with care and with love—one just has to have eyes to see! Elijah, through an angel is given food and water and rest, not only once, but twice and it is our God’s constant care that allows Elijah to continue his ministry.

Looking toward ourselves; we might say the same is true.  Our care for others must always include ourselves.  I practiced my advice this week by taking a day and a half at Assisi Heights for a mini retreat.  It was very good just to “hole up” as it were, have quiet time for reading and reflecting and I came away with gratitude for all the gifts of my life, as well as being renewed to continue all that God has in store.

Paul, in the second reading to the Ephesians simply tells us to spend no time on the negative emotions:  bitterness, rage, anger, or the negative actions of harsh, slanderous words and all other kinds of malice. We are instead instructed to be kind, compassionate and forgiving.  Simple to write down, yes, not always simple to do!

I read an interesting article this past week in the National Catholic Reporter in the Young Voices section.  The article was commenting on a new book, entitled, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown wherein she argues that we should follow Jesus’ lead and become vulnerable.  She makes the point of saying that “being vulnerable” is not being weak as some might think.  Being vulnerable is being willing to say that you don’t have all the answers and being equally willing to listen to another’s thought or opinion to get closer to the truth for all of us.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians seems to be saying that we have to trust more that laying our hearts open as Jesus did will bring about the hoped for result quicker and more amiably than the alternative choice. In other words; we have to “walk in love” as did Jesus.

And for those who aren’t risk-takers, “question-askers,” or are satisfied to make-no-waves; the temptation to criticize those who do take risks, ask questions and make waves will always seem a viable choice.  It was so for Jesus as we saw in the gospel today, and it will be so for us too—“we know your mother and father,”—how dare you claim to be more than you are?

Most of you are aware that the Rochester Franciscan Sisters elected new leadership recently.  At their installation ceremony on July 1 each of the new community ministers reflected on one particular word from their chosen theme for their time in leadership, “Living from our common heart.”  For my purposes today; I will comment on just two of the reflections.

First, Sr. Jennifer Corbett reflected on the word, “from” in her comments.  She spoke of coming “from” South Bend, Indiana, that her father was “from” American Irish descent and that her mother came “from” France.  Additionally, she mentioned that she has an older sister, Mary, and a brother, Phil.  She stated that this is “her tribe,” so to speak, and that with these pieces of information; we might come to some conclusions about her, right or wrong, just as the people in Jesus’ time did about him.  She goes on to say that just as he couldn’t be confined by his humble beginnings, we too can’t fail to do what God may be calling us to because we, “don’t have the voice, the strength, the position”—whatever we may come up with as excuses for not doing our part!

The second reflection comes from Sr. Mary Eliot and her comments revolve around the word, “our” as in “Living from our common heart.”  She uses the word, “our” as a jumping-off place to speak about our (Sisters and Cojourners) origins, giftedness and our future together as Franciscans, followers of Francis and Clare of Assisi and states in no uncertain terms that in order for us to do our best, what God is calling us each to, our “interconnectedness” is going to be most important.  She describes most beautifully what she means by referencing the story of The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams.

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

The rabbit wants to know, “does it hurt?” The skin horse answers, “Sometimes, [but] when you are real, you don’t mind being hurt.”

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

Mary Eliot concluded her reflection saying that for her, “to be real is to love another into being.”  My friends, each of us is called like Elijah, like Jesus, like Paul, to be real, to love each other into being through our willingness to be trusting and understanding of others, even when we disagree. We may lose “our fur” like the skin horse, become tired like Elijah, misunderstood like Jesus, but in all of this; we will have the peace of knowing that like those who came before us, we have been faithful followers of our God, of our brother Jesus.  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

 My friends, today as last Sunday; we continue contemplating the “bread of life” whom we know to be our brother, Jesus.  We get this truth from both the Old or First Testament of the Bible in the book of Exodus and in the New Testament, in Jesus’ words—Jesus of course brings the message to completion.

Exodus tells us, “This is the bread our God has given you to eat.” In John’s gospel we hear, “You shall not be working for perishable food, but for life-giving food that lasts for all eternity.”  John continues, “Jesus is the bread that Abba God gives,” in which, “we will not be hungry or thirsty.”

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians carves out for us, Jesus’ followers, just what following him will mean, “You must stop living the kind of life the world lives,” or in other words, our life in Jesus calls us to more! It seems to be about living, “in the justice and holiness of the truth.”

The readings for this Sunday call each of us to consider how Jesus was “bread” for his world and of how we are called to the same.  Sometimes the “bread” we are called to give is of a purely physical nature—people are physically hungry and must in justice, be fed. For us who are blessed with having enough and to spare of physical bread, the solution might appear simple—share what we have and many of us do.  The initiatives through this parish help us to do that; contributing to The Winona Volunteer Services Food Shelf, our monthly meals to Bethany Catholic Worker House and our parish’s yearly commitment of time delivering Home Meals during the month of February.

In Jesus’ life, he started at this level as well to meet people’s basic needs, but it was always about bringing them to the next level—feeding people’s minds, hearts and spirits. People—humans, our sisters and brothers need more than food for their bodies—they need the “bread” of compassion, understanding, justice in their lives—this is the “more” that was at the heart of Jesus’ message.  We can’t just stop with feeding people’s physical bodies, important as that is; but we must strive to understand why people are physically hungry, why some have more than enough and to spare and others are left wanting.

In all the times when Jesus fed physically hungry people; he gave in abundance and this was to signify the over-the-top love of his Abba God for all of creation.  God’s generosity and faithfulness through Jesus to creation was always meant to show us the way—the goods of this earth are meant for all to enjoy and whatever it is in this world that causes some of us to live well while others suffer must most assuredly be addressed by Jesus’ followers if the full kin-dom is ever to be realized.

Obviously, our world’s people are not, as Paul suggests, living as we should or we would not have people physically starving to death; we would not have countries warring with each other; we would not have half the world’s population still living under the tyranny of patriarchy both in church and state; there would be the justice that allows individuals to live fully and freely the lives that God created and called them to live.  Gender, life-style choices, religious beliefs that call individuals to different, yet unique expressions of themselves and their God would not be impediments to hold them down, but gifts to be celebrated from the God of us all—from whom we are all, “so wonderfully made.

Now this is a bit of a depressing picture that I paint, but I see great hope in our world as people are stepping up and forward to do that which is theirs to do—all those who are ministering on our southern border to say that our country stands for more than greed and arrogance, fear and selfishness—that understands people running from war and unspeakable conditions, in their own countries, risking their lives and their children’s lives to come to a land that in the past has always stood for the rights of individuals to know peace, freedom and justice in their lives.

On a local level, several interfaith communities, including our own, have said “yes” to being a part of the Sanctuary Movement here, in the pursuit of a higher law.  Every time we reach out friends, moving with our hearts rather than our heads, attempting to do what may not be safe, but what is good and right and just; we are being faithful to our brother, Jesus’ call, as his followers.

You are aware that the 15th season of the Great River Shakespeare festival in Winona finishes today.  We had the good fortune on Tuesday night to partake in the yearly production of Callithump as part of the festival.  Webster’s defines the word “callithump” as a noisy, boisterous band or parade.  The production of Callithump always comes near the end of the season of plays in order that those who have seen the separate plays will better understand the subtle jokes and spoofs presented within it.

I have always experienced this event in the past as a very fun night of the actors letting their hair down, so to speak, after all the fine work of the season and just enjoying each other as they continue to entertain their audience in a less-scripted way.

This year, there was that, but I noticed a concerted effort to uplift the women in the company expressing all their wonderful differences as individuals and most poignantly, in a final tribute to the cause of women expressed this past year in the #MeToo movement. Great River Shakespeare women flanked by all their male counterparts proclaimed their independence, their rightness to be, that, “enough was enough,” and that no matter what anyone had said or done, they were and are, terrific!

My friends, whenever any one of us is not respected, is put down for who and what they were created to be; we are all put down because we fail to be who God created us to be, who Jesus gave his life to protect, the very image of the divine.  We are all called not just to see that people receive the physical bread that they need, but the emotional and spiritual bread as well.  Amen? Amen!

Homily – 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

My friends, you may noticed over the Sundays, over the years, that I talk a good deal about the “bread of life” and more so about how we are to be “bread” for our world.  For the next 5 Sundays, the Scriptures will speak to us about the “bread of life”—this, in the face of a world, where millions go to bed hungry every night.  Men, women and children suffer from malnutrition—wars are fought over the right to eat—the need to eat.  There are those who question whether the earth can feed its people, yet in this country, farmers are paid to keep fields out of production.  Still, we hear stories about the bread of life and that we are somehow supposed to feed the hungry. This country is called the bread basket of the world.  How do we reconcile that with starvation around the globe and more importantly, in our own country, our own city—people not having enough food to live well?

As I prepared for this Sunday’s homily; I was recovering from having a tooth extracted in the previous week—I didn’t expect the recovery time to take so long.  As a result, this homily is one that I did six years ago originally and being that its message was still a good one; I decided to use it again with a few adjustments.

In our first reading from Second Kings and in our Gospel reading from John we see  situations that sound similar to each other.  There apparently is not enough food to go around. Then miraculously—something happens and there is not only enough food, but food to spare.  It seems that the miracle in both cases comes about through the hands of mere mortals—in their willingness to be instruments for the divine—in their ability to believe in something bigger than they could see or imagine.

In both cases, someone steps forward with some loaves—some fish—not enough but a start.  I believe it is significant that the prophet, Elisha and the prophet, Jesus don’t just miraculously bring food out of nothing but that in each case, bring food from the gifts of the people present.  A small gift given in faith, with love, has the power to grow and be not only enough, but be a gift beyond the immediate need.  There is always the chance, when we love unselfishly, for great things to happen.  We should not underestimate that power.

There is a story told that illustrates very well an example of someone going out of their way, doing an extraordinary kindness, that in the whole scope of the world doesn’t change much perhaps, but for one little girl and her family, made a great difference and truly showed them the face of their loving God.  It seems that a 14 year-old dog by the name of Abby, belonging to Meredith, died. Four year old Meredith was crying the next day as she grieved for the family pet. She asked her Mom if they could write a letter to God so that when Abby got to heaven, God would know who she was. Of course Mom said, “Yes” and Meredith dictated some thoughts for her Mom to write down.

Basically, she thanked God for giving her Abby in the first place and asked if God would watch over her dog for her now that she had died. In order for God to know Abby when she arrived, Meredith sent a picture. She postmarked it to “God/Heaven” and put on her return address so that God could find her should God want to write back. She put ample postage on because she thought it was probably a long way to heaven.

A few days later there was a package wrapped in gold paper on their front porch and it was addressed “to Meredith” in an unfamiliar hand. Meredith opened it and inside she found a book by Mr. Rogers entitled, When A Pet Dies.  Taped to the front cover was the letter they had written in its opened envelope.

God sent a return letter telling Meredith that Abby had arrived safely—God knew her from the picture that she sent. God went on to say that Abby’s spirit is in heaven just like it stays in her heart—the book was for her to remember Abby by, and finally God said, “By the way, I’m easy to find, I am wherever there is love.”

At present, I am visiting a woman going through chemotherapy treatments for cancer in the later stages.  I was brought in to visit this woman in a local nursing home by a friend who remembered me ministering to one of her family members.  The woman undergoing treatment needed someone to help her process what was happening to her and to help make sense of it in a spiritual context.

We have been meeting weekly now for several weeks and what has come to this woman through our time together is that she has become more open to others and their suffering due to what she is going through.  She told me this past week that at the nursing home, she hears about many people who are going through some illness or other difficulty and she prays for them.  I affirmed this for her.

We began today talking about the need to share bread with the hungry—an ever present need when the known fact is that so many go to bed hungry every night—so many die every day for lack of food.  We are like the apostles—incredulous before the sheer scope of the situation—“what good is my little gift—my small offering against so many?”  But we must not forget the stories of Scripture today—God can and does perform miracles despite our lack of religious imagination.  We simply have to show up and do our part.

Sometimes we don’t know what to do to help, but we can always pray and we shouldn’t underestimate that power to make a difference, any small gift that we can give—just as Meredith was no doubt lifted up by the “angel” in the dead letter department of the post office who ministered to her, or my new friend sending her positive vibes out to others through her prayers.

These simple stories are cases in point for the fact that people don’t only need bread for their physical bodies, but for their spirits—the food of heart and soul. Again, we may think that we are not able to do much in any given situation, but don’t underestimate the power—the miracle that can happen through each of us if we are willing to show up and be instruments on this earth for our loving God. Each time we gather for Eucharist and we take the bread and wine into our bodies—it becomes Jesus’ body and blood for the world through our faith and the actions of our lives.  This is a wonderful power that Jesus gives us!

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians basically says that, as children of the one God who is over all and works through all; we will be agents of God’s good will.  And do we have a choice about whether to do these good works?  No, we really don’t—if we say we are Christian and follow the prophet from Nazareth; we can only respond to the love given by giving back.  We are all, each of us, diminished when anyone goes hungry in any way—be it in body, mind or spirit.

At present, the struggle at our southern border still goes on as the attempt to unite parents to children, children to parents goes on.  We know people are suffering; for some the damage may be permanent and none of us can rest until we demand that justice is done for these people.  Our faith demands it—the memory of our brother Jesus demands it!

Whenever anyone in our city, our country, our world, suffers, we all suffer—because everyone is part of the body of the People of God. Sometimes, we are the one to suffer, sometimes it is others—but we suffer together if we have eyes and ears and hearts open.

Let us pray today then friends, that each day we would have the strength to show up and do our part, realizing that we each have great power to make a difference in the lives of others, in our world, by bringing the “bread” that is ours to share. Amen? Amen!

 

Homily – Celebration of Mary of Magdala and all Women

Dear Friends,

Thirty-six of us gathered on the Margaret and Gerold Redig Family Farm yesterday for a mass to celebrate Mary of Magdala, woman prophet and priest and all of us women and men, but especially women and to call on our Church to act as our brother Jesus did,  uplifting the God-given gifts of women and finally, finally, ordain them!  

Our mass was followed by a sumptuous pot-luck supper. We had a beautiful afternoon and evening. We missed all of us who couldn’t be with us! Following is the homily–have a great week all–Pastor Kathy


The last few Sundays the Scriptures have challenged us around the call to prophecy—the call that is ours as baptized followers of our brother, Jesus.  Those of you who are regular readers of my homilies know that I am an admirer of Benedictine sister, Joan Chittister as I feel she has taken up the challenge to be that prophet that Jesus asks us all to be.

And again, let’s review the definition of a prophet.  It is basically one who speaks the truth given by the Spirit for the People of God.  It won’t necessarily always be an easy thing to do; we may not want to do it—put ourselves out there on the line, but just the same; we are called to the task, even if we have to stand alone.

Today we celebrate the feast day of Mary of Magdala (actual feast is tomorrow).  We can be grateful to Pope Francis for raising her traditional day of remembrance, July 22nd to a “feast,” so in effect, making it equivalent to the feast days of the other apostles.  It is significant to remember that the Eastern church has always throughout its history, along with Thomas Aquinas referred to her as the Apostle to the Apostles and the Western church only recently has given her this title, because of her prophetic proclamation to these same apostles, hiding in the Upper Room, that Jesus had indeed risen!

Given that her day of remembrance has now been raised to a feast day equivalent to the other apostles, I found it strange and equally significant that her feast day doesn’t supersede the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time as it would if it were for one of the male apostles such as John or Peter.  But, at least here; we have remedied the situation giving Mary her due.

Sr. Joan Chittister recognizes the importance of remembering this woman from the fishing town of Magdala by dedicating the entire month of July in her publication, The Monastic Way to Mary.  She names her as “insightful, effective, direct and committed.”  And she goes further, suggesting that all women should act more like her.

Now of course, the Church hierarchy wouldn’t be in favor of this because unfortunately, it chooses to see its women as docile servants whose words should merely parrot the men who are in charge of what we believe. If this were not so, women would hold significant places within our Church alongside the men, sharing the gifts of the Spirit given so richly to them as well as to the men.

We only have to look at the evidence in Scripture that shows that Jesus truly considered women very important to his ministry that was all about “turning things on their heads”—calling for a new way, a way that included everyone, especially women who were his financiers, supporters and faithful followers.  And this inclusion did not stop at the table of worship, but was carried over into everyday life unlike the place that women held in Jesus’ day.  Jesus was about raising up the goodness of all, calling each one by name—recognizing their goodness as individuals, and especially of women, not because they were someone’s mother, wife or sister, but for their own personal characteristics.

Mary of Magdala was one of these whom Jesus realized was most important to his ministry because, as Joan Chittister says, “She recognized, as the men did not, that Jesus was a very different kind of person. Someone with something important to say— someone whose message was different, life-changing, was imperative—[crucial, that is] and was greater than anything heard before within the confines of Galilee, Palestine, even of Rome.”

The chosen readings for today raise up the importance given to women in Jesus’ ministry and throughout his earthly life.   Paul carries on his tradition of recognizing women’s talents to lead house churches and to be of spiritual and material support. If Jesus didn’t believe women capable, trustworthy, competent, he never would have sent our sister from Magdala with the awesome news of the Resurrection to the brothers in the Upper Room.

If Mary of Magdala was unskilled as a minister; she wouldn’t be mentioned in Scripture 14 times, which Joan Chittister says, “Is pretty big press for a woman from Palestine 2000 years ago!”  In the male apostles’ heart of hearts, Joan seems to be saying; they too knew of her importance to Jesus’ ministry, whether they would ever give her credit or not, for she got his message long before they did.  Sr. Joan continues, and once she got that message, [which can be summed up in love, love for all,] she was steadfast in remaining by his side all the way to the cross.

So, my friends, today is not a day to say who are better ministers, followers, women, or men, but to raise up the goodness of all and to encourage the voices of especially, women in Church and society, judging the rightness of the ministry, the work of women by the fruits displayed.  Joan Chittister has said it before and I agree, it is time, it is time, for our brothers in the hierarchy of the Catholic church to remember and to truly hear the message of Jesus given so long ago, but ever fresh today, that the call to serve was never about gaining power over others, but about service, about love, and any thinking, compassionate, loving person, regardless of gender can do that!

Jesus demonstrated that in his own blessed life on this earth and wanted us to do the same.  And the reason for doing this was not just to make our places and times of prayer more inclusive, but our homes and towns and cities and countries—our world, more inclusive.  What we do in our houses of prayer will most assuredly spill over into our daily lives—if women are disregarded anywhere because of the way they happened to have been born; they will be disregarded everywhere! It’s as simple as that!

That is why we celebrate the feast day of Mary of Magdala each year friends and why it is more important than the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We must say, in no uncertain terms that she was significant to his ministry as are all women, as are all men and it is time that our Church recognizes this as well and ordains women to the priesthood.

In the beginning I shared that Sr. Joan encourages all women to be more like Mary of Magdala and I would agree.  We can be silent no longer—we need to do this for our grandmothers, our mothers, and our sisters, who perhaps never knew their true voices or were able to be completely who God made them to be.  And for myself, I would say that all the men need to become more like Jesus and speak and act out the truth they know about the women in their lives so that their daughters can live in a Church and a world that truly looks first at who and what they are capable of, not their gender and proceed to discount them or at least try to tell them what they can aspire to.  The time is now for all of us friends—the time is now! Amen? Amen!

Homily – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Friends, 

I was away this Sunday and Pastor Dick Dahl stood in for me–he has given us a wonderful homily!  Thank you Dick! –Pastor Kathy


I want to speak with you about three interrelated issues. The first relates is what Pastor Kathy said last week. She spoke of our needing to have hope, but the reason for that hope is, in her words, “so that we can do what God is calling us to in our lives as Christians.”

So the first issue is do you have a sense of “being called”? It is common to think of a vocation, that is, being called to a way of life, when a person is young, a teenager or in their 20s. Do you think that a vocation, a calling, only happens when one is young? Or does the Spirit speak to us, call us, at different times in our life, in the differing circumstances in which we find ourselves—such as right now? It’s not necessarily something we want or choose. It is a calling of the Spirit that we become aware of, recognize, accept and respond to.

This week’s first reading describes a man named  Amos who lived in the 700s before Christ. Amos kept insisting he wasn’t called to be a prophet. He said he was just a man who cared for livestock and orchards. Nevertheless Yahweh called him to prophesy in the northern Kingdom of Israel. That was where the poorer classes of peasants suffered greatly under the unjust treatment of the ruling and elite classes who lived lives of leisure and luxury.

Amos responded to this dangerous and unpleasant calling—to speak truth to power. Five times Amos repeated Yahweh’s warning to the King. He so infuriated the authorities as he repeatedly pointed out how they would be punished for abusing the poor and helpless, that the priest at the holy site of Bethel, where Amos preached, kicked him out. Those in power never listened. The Assyrians came, conquered the land and scattered the people in exile.

The first theme: are we being called as Amos was, or does that seem preposterous?

The second theme today also stems from something Pastor Kathy said last week, namely, “In our present time,” she said, “I believe it is true to say that many of us feel disillusioned over where our country seems headed and ill-equipped to do what is needed to make the changes that will fix this dilemma.” Are we, perhaps like Amos, feeling powerless to bring about the changes that seem necessary?

Let’s reflect on what it means to feel or be powerless. Father Richard Rohr writes, “Christianity is a bit embarrassed by the powerless one, Jesus. We’ve made his obvious defeat into a glorious victory. Let’s face it, we feel more comfortable with power than with powerlessness and poverty. Who wants to be like Jesus on the cross? It just doesn’t look like … a way that’s going to make any difference in the world. We worship this naked, homeless, bleeding loser, crucified outside the walls of Jerusalem, but we want to be winners . . ..”

Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “God chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” In another letter to them he described how he came to accept, “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”

Now we have come to today’s third theme—politics. Separation of church and state is important to safeguard freedom of religion and ensure that governments are not dominated by a single religion’s interests. But Father Rohr insists that does not mean people of faith should not participate in politics. How, he asks,  can one read the Bible and stay out of politics? Again and again (approximately 2,000 times!) Scripture calls for justice for the poor. The Gospel is rather “socialist” in its emphasis on sharing resources and caring for those in need.

Father Rohr strong states that there is no such thing as being non-political. Everything we say or do either affirms or critiques the status quo. To say nothing is to say something — in other words that the status quo—even if it is massively unjust and deceitful—is apparently okay. The silence of many Christians is used to legitimize the United States’ obsession with weapons, its war against the poor, Israel’s clear abuse of Palestine, politicians who are “pro-life” on the issue of abortion but almost nothing else, the de facto slavery of mass incarceration, and on and on. As humans we can’t help but be political whether we recognize it or not—so let’s learn how to participate in the public forum as God’s image and likeness!

Like it or not, politics (civic engagement) is one of our primary means of addressing poverty and other justice issues. Our knowledge of the power wielded by big money can accelerate our retreat from politics, discouraging us from being the participants that democracy demands and reducing us to mere spectators of a political game being played exclusively by “them.”

Bill Moyers has said, “The antidote, the only antidote, to the power of organized money in Washington is the power of organized people.” We must bring as much passion to our cause as do those who call for building walls. But our job is to tear down walls and build bridges. We have the capacity to grow beyond ego and nationalism into a new identity, one that holds space for everyone to belong and be loved.”

However, this doesn’t mean partisan politics.  To be a faith leader is to connect the inner and outer worlds. In the United States’ not-so-distant-past, Christians were at the forefront of political and justice movements to abolish slavery, support women’s suffrage, protect civil rights.

Jesus and other great spiritual teachers emphasize that we must first seek transformation by the Spirit of love to use the gift of critical thinking without immersing ourselves in negativity and arrogance. We must learn to collaborate in a non-partisan way. We must avoid idolizing anything that preserves our own privilege and status quo, while neglecting to ask, “What effect is this having on others?”

The Apostles in today’s Gospel were called to put into action the powers and authority Jesus had given them. We are called to do the same.