Why The Only Future Worth Living Includes Everyone: Pope Francis

A “Revolution of Tenderness” and solidarity with all-two of the hopes of Pope Francis shared here. This is a transcript of a video of Pope Francis giving a most inspiring interview on the future and inclusion and solidarity.
From TED.Com Ideas Worth Spreading

Jesus the Good Shepherd

Jesus the Good Shepherd

[His Holiness Pope Francis Filmed in Vatican City First shown at TED2017]
0:15
Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there. Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference. I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a “you.” “The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because life flows through our relations with others. Quite a few years of life have strengthened my conviction that each and everyone’s existence is deeply tied to that of others: life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
1:27
As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who face terrible hardships in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts, and to those, many of them young, who cannot find a job, I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?” I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like many other Italians, left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left with nothing. I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people. And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”
2:35
First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent “I,” separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone. We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and we need to restore our connections to a healthy state. Even the harsh judgment I hold in my heart against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never cured, the offense that was never forgiven, the rancor that is only going to hurt me, are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs to be extinguished before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.
3:38
Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve. While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they are not invincible. They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the outside world. Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between the whole and each single component. Even science – and you know it better than I do – points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element connects and interacts with everything else.
4:27
And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion. How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us. How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries. Only by educating people to a true solidarity will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food and goods but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems which, without even realizing it, are now putting products at their core, instead of people.
6:08
Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary. Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed or controlled. It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone. Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?
6:50
In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity. And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative, concrete and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often used to appease our conscience, are not enough. Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.
7:52
There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other. I am sure you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?” – he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and abandoned along a dirt road. Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very influential people of the time, walked past him without stopping to help. After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by. Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he weren’t even there. Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled him to act in a very concrete manner. He poured oil and wine on the wounds of the helpless man, brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him to be assisted.
9:26
The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity. People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around money, and things, instead of people. And often there is this habit, by people who call themselves “respectable,” of not taking care of the others, thus leaving behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations, on the side of the road. Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care of the other, even out of their own pockets. Mother Teresa actually said: “One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”
10:26
We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we do that with all the evil we breathe every day? Thank God, no system can nullify our desire to open up to the good, to compassion and to our capacity to react against evil, all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you might tell me, “Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan, nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.” On the contrary: we are precious, each and every one of us. Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God. Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the other way around.
11:27
To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope. Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy humanity is facing. Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, does not simply get by in the present, but is able to see a tomorrow. Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow, that brings flavor to all aspects of life. And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds on hope is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you. And then there will be another “you,” and another “you,” and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when we have an “us?” No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there begins a revolution.
13:16
The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution: the revolution of tenderness. And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands. Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other, our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid of the future. To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and polluted earth. Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other, to take care of those in need.
14:13
Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need the other. A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze, their voice, their tenderness. I like when I hear parents talk to their babies, adapting to the little child, sharing the same level of communication. This is tenderness: being on the same level as the other. God himself descended into Jesus to be on our level. This is the same path the Good Samaritan took. This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire human existence practicing the real, concrete language of love.
15:23
Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility. Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly. If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other. There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.” You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness. Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
16:52
The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you” and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please, think of me as well with tenderness, so that I can fulfill the task I have been given for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us. Thank you.

Reflections on the Sunday of Divine Mercy: the Second Sunday of Easter

This second Sunday of Easter is also called the Sunday of Divine Mercy. The words come from the Psalm of the day: “I thank you YHWH for your goodness, your love is
everlasting.”(TIB) It is the word “love” here that is also translated most often as “mercy”- it is from the Hebrew word Chesed or Hesed. Chesed ,in Hebrew,refers to “all acts of loving kindness extended to others” this can range from “monetary gifts to those in need to clothing the naked,visiting the sick,comforting mourners and burying the dead, hosting guests, and showing emotional support to those in the most difficult life situations” and is mandatory, that is commanded by God in the Torah. Based on Deuteronomy 13:5 in the Hebrew Scriptures we are to ” walk after the presence of God”. And we do this by aspiring to mirror God’s attitudes and acts in our own lives. Rabbi Hama Bar Hanina , a Talmudic sage concluded: “As God is
good to all and God’s mercy is upon all God’s creation, we are to follow God’s example”.(Levine, 1987).

So within both Judaism and Christianity(and in the Muslim faith as well) we are to not only feel or say but show loving kindness to all, especially to those who need it most. That is what Jesus did, and that is what we are to do. In that same Psalm is the quote: “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone”. For Christians, Jesus who lived the essence of the Torah (the Law) with chesed (loving kindness) and tzedekah (“righteousness, justice and charitable aid on behalf of the poor”), who showed us how to do it in his living and his dying and his rising again,is the cornerstone of our faith and the model of life to follow in keeping God’s “law of love”.

In the reading from ACTS 2:42-47 we see the early Christian community living God’s law of love by sharing all things in common until no one was needy. How can we do our best at that today? In what social and economic policies and what personal and other actions can this happen?

In the complex Gospel of the day,(John 20:19-31) Jesus appears to the disciples in several ways after his death and resurrection. Moving beyond all barriers he offers “peace” first to those scared and hiding followers who thought all was lost. Then, he fills them with God’s Holy Spirit and sends them into the world to live God’s loving kindness and mercy and justice. “So I send you….” He contends with the honest and understandable doubts of Thomas and blesses all who have not seen him as Thomas did, but yet believe and follow his example. Here we remember that “Believe in me” in translation from the Aramaic means more like “love me so much that you do what I do,you follow me in your own actions”. And so we are sent, poor and weak though we often are, to rely on the power of God to do God’s work in this world. We count on God’s mercy/loving kindness to forgive our personal sins and faults but much more, to help us to remedy the sins of the world-the sins of genocide of various sorts, war, killing, allowing hunger, thirst, homelessness, treating others as if they have no dignity or worth, demeaning and creating strangers and outcasts, often the very ones Jesus came to love.

Below,is a reflection from the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good on some places in our world where loving kindness and justice are needed from all who believe in mercy/loving kindness/justice right now:

From Catholic Alliance for the Common Good: Christopher Hale
“Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, the great culmination of the Easter Octave, where Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from dead. God’s redemption through Jesus Christ isn’t for one person and for one time, but for the entire human race—past, present, and future.

Pope Francis sums it up well in his tweet today: “God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires.”

That’s why we need to step up as the People of God and stop Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson from his execution spree. Governor Hutchinson is attempting to execute eight persons in eleven days. Despite legal challenges, he’s already overseen the execution of one man on Thursday night.

For his last meal, Ledell Lee declined to eat but instead chose to consume the Eucharist. I’m reminded of the words of Jesus on the cross to the Good Thief: “I promise you that you will be with me in paradise.”

Fellow Christians, let’s stop this. Call Governor Hutchinson today at (501) 682-2345 and ask him to end the executions.

Governor Hutchinson talks about the Bible often. You can’t hold the Bible in one hand and violate its teachings on the other hand. A simple question for the Governor: how many people would Jesus execute?

Please call today, and let us know how it goes.

As you know, during the next few weeks, CACG is going to take targeted actions to counter President Trump’s immoral agenda on four crucial issues:

*Just treatment of immigration and refugees, particularly from Muslim-majority countries.
*Protecting and improving American’s health care coverage gained under Obamacare.
*Stopping proposed cuts to poverty and hunger programs
*Ensuring the United States’s continued participation in the Paris Agreement and care for God’s creation.

We don’t currently have the resources to do everything we know that we are called by God to do so. We need to have more public Masses at the White House, more prayer vigils across the country, more congressional call to actions, and more educational resources for people of faith from coast to coast. But we don’t have the money we need right now to do this.

Every dollar we receive before midnight be matched by a group of generous donors. We’re nearly halfway towards our $15,000 goal.

Will you support our work today? What we do is impossible without you.

Thanks for your continued support of our work, and let us know if you have any questions!”

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good · 641 S Street NW, #300, Washington, DC 20001, United States

Note: The translations of Chesed and tzedakah used are from :Eric Levine, The Ethical-Ritual in Judaism: A Review of Sources on Torah Study and Social Action” in The Jewish Social Work Forum, Yeshiva University, Vol 26, Spring 1990,pp. 41-50.

Be blessed on this Sunday of Divine Loving Kindness as you receive God’s love into your own life everywhere you need it, and extend it out to all you know, especially those most in need of it.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida
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Rev. Maria Elena Sierra Sanchez, RCWP Reflects on First Her Holy Week as a Woman RC Priest in Colombia

Here we have the thankful remembrance of Rvda. Maria Elena from Cali, Colombia as she looks back on her first Holy Week as a Roman Catholic Woman Priest. She is grateful to serve humbly and simply with the poor and indigenous of her community. In this she joins the Guadalupanas, an Apostolic Catholic group and other Catholic Priests. She was ordained a Priest in the Roman Catholic tradition in Fort Myers, Florida in February 2017.(That story is also in the blog archives for February). We are so thankful for her and for her compassionate ministries in Cali and surrounding areas. Thanks be to God! (Below after each of her paragraphs I both quote and paraphrase her words in English.) Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

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maria elena holy week

Living My First Holy Week As Roman Catholic Woman Priest
Viviendo mi primera Semana Santa como RCWP

En primer lugar quiero dar gracias a Dios por la vida y la vocación que me ha dado, así como por la oportunidad de compartir esta Semana Santa, en medio de la gente humilde y sencilla.
Doy gracias a la RCWP, por abrirme las puertas y por darme la oportunidad de ser “Sacerdote” para y en medio de una comunidad.
<strong>I thank God for my vocation and my ordination to the Priesthood through Roman Catholic Women Priests. I share this week’s journey in hunmility and simplicity.
Agradezco a los Sacerdotes Guadalupanos por permitirme vivir a su lado esta experiencia.
I am grateful also to the Guadalupano priests who invited me to share the experience of Holy Week at their sides.

La semana anterior a la Semana Santa, tuve la oportunidad de vivir un encuentro maravilloso con los niños, niñas y compañeros de la escuela donde laboro.
Organicé con ayuda de algunas compañeras una cena simbólica, donde el pan, las uvas y la luz les hablaban a los niños y maestros de fraternidad, alegría, entrega y de ser Luz para el mundo, concretamente en sus familias. Cantamos, juntos hicimos la bendición y compartimos.

In the week before Holy Week I taught the children and Staff and other companions in the school where I am Principal about Holy Week and we organized a Last Supper symbolically sharing the bread and wine and companionship. We charged the students to be light for the world.

El domingo de Ramos, muy temprano y en medio de una lluvia fuerte, me dirigí en compañía del Sacerdote Guadalupano Hugo Vásquez al resguardo indígena de Toez. Mis expectativas eran muchas y mis temores demasiados, no solo por las condiciones de la carretera y los riesgos que corría pues el departamento del Cauca, es una zona donde guerrillas, paramilitarismo, narcotráfico y delincuencia común hacen de las suyas y Toez, queda en una de las regiones más golpeadas por estos grupos. También mi cabeza se llenaba de preguntas, podrán aceptarme como Sacerdote? Podré usar mis ornamentos? …en fin mientras conducía en mi cabeza miles de cosas surgían.
Después de 2 horas de recorrido llegamos. La gente muy amable, nos sirvieron un desayuno muy generoso y mientras comíamos comenzamos a cuadrar algunos detalles de la procesión. Yo seguía en silencio guardando mis temores.
A las 9:30 nos dirigimos a las afueras del pueblo para iniciar la procesión, tímidamente saque mis ornamentos y ante la mirada de admiración y el silencio me reviste sin decir nada. Hicimos el recorrido de la procesión.

Very early in the morning of Palm Sunday in the pouring rain Father Hugo Vasquez, Guadalupana, and I traveled to visit the indigenous people of Toez. The roads to the interior were horrific and the fear of violence from para military groups and others as well as worrying whether the people would accept me as a woman priest made me a little anxious. However when we arrived my fears were set to rest. We were treated to a big breakfast and as I timidly vested,I was warmly received as a priest.

Al llegar a la capilla uno de los Sacerdotes me dio el micrófono y me pidió que me presentara, dije mi nombre, y luego sin saber ni como comencé a hablar de la RCWP, y del sacerdocio de la mujer. Les dije que allí estaba con ellos en representación de una gran familia (RCWP), que compartía el mensaje de Jesús con los humildes y sencillos, que les agradecía por recibirme y les pedí que oraran mucho por la familia espiritual que Dios me había dado, que no se extrañaran que en la Eucaristía siempre diría el nombre de mi Obispo (Andrea) que era también una mujer… se escuchó un emotivo aplauso, e inició la Eucaristía.

Before the EucharistI was asked to speak and tell them about RCWP and women in the Roman Catholic Priesthood. I told them that I experienced RCWP as a big accepting family that ordained women in the priesthood (although the traditional RC church is not yet doing this) and that priests of RCWP shared the message of Jesus in many lands with humility and simplicity. When I told them that my Bishop Andrea was also a woman there was an emotional outbreak of applause. I thanked them for welcoming me to share the Eucharist with them. And I began the opening presiding with the Eucharistic prayer.

Después de la Eucaristía la gente comenzó a llamarme Madre y mis miedos se fueron disipando, me llevaron a un sencillo cuarto donde me hospedaría y se organizaron para ofrecernos alimentación.
Hicimos visitas domiciliarias, compartimos con la gente y organizamos junto a la comunidad la capilla para cada celebración. El miércoles nos dirigimos a una vereda para celebrar, al terminar la Misa, el Padre que me acompañaba dijo a los asistentes que estaba dispuesto para confesar, yo me quite los ornamentos y comencé a recoger y guardar las cosas, pero una mujer tímidamente se me acerco y me dijo: “yo me confieso pero con usted, quiero hablar cosas que solo una mujer entiende”, sentí la grandeza de mi Sacerdocio y la gran responsabilidad que tenía. Fue algo maravilloso.

After the Eucharist the people began to call me Madre, Mother, and my fears were further dispelled. They gave me a small simple room and offered us a meal. Fr. Hugo and I visited the homes of the people and got their input into the celebrations ahead. They planned and organized with us. People wanted to have confession and Father Hugo began to prepare for this but one woman timidly said to me: “I want to confess with you , I want to speak of things a woman would understand.” I felt the magnitude of my priesthood and the great responsibility of it. It was something wonderful and humbling to experience.

En la tarde regresamos a Toez y en la noche celebramos una Eucaristía de sanación, cuando se pidió hacer filas para imponer las manos yo me quedé en el altar pero una mujer se me acercó y me dijo: “las mujeres queremos que Usted nos imponga las manos”. Nuevamente Dios me hacía sentir que a través de mí, de mi condición de mujer se hacía presente para unas mujeres tradicionalmente marginadas, excluidas y maltratadas (La cultura Nasa es muy machista)

That night we had a Healing Mass and the imposition of hands but I was about to leave that to Father Hugo when a woman approached me: She said “the women want you to impose hands on us.” It was a new feeling for me that God was using me as a woman to be present to women who were traditionally excluded, marginalized and abused for the Nasa culture is heavily machista-the power is in the man only.

La noche de la Vigilia Pascual, fue algo maravilloso. No solo llevé el Cirio Pascual, símbolo de Jesús Resucitado sino que se me pidió hacer la homilía. La figura de María Magdalena como primer testigo de la resurrección y portadora del mensaje del Resucitado fueron suficientes para llevar el mensaje.

On Holy Saturday,I carried the large Paschal candle and also was asked to give the homily at the Easter Vigil. I spoke about Mary Magdalene as the first witness to the Resurrection and the first apostle who carried the message of Jesus’resurrection. This experience too was simply wonderful.


El domingo celebré la Eucaristía de Pascua y los demás sacerdotes concelebraron. Fue un cierre con broche de oro. Después de la Misa, la gente llegó con bolsas del fruto de la tierra, naranjas, aguacates, etc como muestra de cariño, me llamaron Hermana y me pidieron no olvidarme de ellos, prometieron no olvidarme y que seguirían orando por mi familia espiritual, (la RCWP) Espero poder concretar la solicitud que me hicieron de acompañar pastoralmente una vereda.
Comparto algunas otras fotos como la imagen de la Virgen de Guadalupe, organizada con los atuendos Nasa para la procesión de la Soledad y algunos momentos de la celebración del Jueves Santo.

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On Easter Sunday I concelebrated with Fr. Hugo and the other priests. This was a golden finish to the most wonderful Holy Week. Afterward the people arrived with bags of fruits and vegetables, oranges, avocados etc. all a beautiful demonstration of their deep caring. They asked me not to forget them and said they would keep praying for my spiritual family RCWP. I hope to be able to respond to their inquiry about ‘pastoring’ them on their path. I will share other photos including their Virgin of Guadalupe.

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Me perdonan si me he alargado mucho pero siento que debo compartir con Ustedes esto que para mí es una bendición. A Judy L, Judy B y Marina Teresa no tengo palabras para agradecerles su paciencia durante el proceso de discernimiento, solo mi oración y que están bien metidas en mi corazón.
A mi Obispo Andrea y toda la familia RCWP, muchas bendiciones… Dios me llamó pero ustedes me mostraron el camino, lo recorrieron conmigo y me abrieron las puertas y siguen en la distancia pero en la cercanía de la oración y de los mensajes acompañándome. Hoy me siento cansada físicamente pero mi alma y mi corazón están llenos de alegría pues solo fui la “sierva que hizo lo que tenía que hacer”.
Bendiciones para toda la familia espiritual que Dios me ha dado.
Con inmenso amor y gratitud

Forgive me for being lengthy but this was such a blessing for me that I wanted to share it! To JudyL and Judy B and Marina Teresa I don’t have words to express thanks for their patience during my time of discernment and for their prayers well settled in my heart. And to my Bishop Andrea Johnson and all the family of RCWP many blessings. God called me, but they showed me the way and are walking with me and opened doors, they are near in prayerand their words accompany me.Today I am resting for my heart and soul are full with joy and blessings. I think here she is quoting the early Priest Ludmila Javarova: I only knew I had to serve”. Blessings for all the spiritual family that God has given me, with immense love and thanksgiving,

Rvda.María Elena S

Jesus is Risen: He is Risen Indeed!

Easter is the most glorious and joyful celebration of the church year and the bond that unites Christians throughout the world. In many churches today people greet each other saying “He is risen” and the response is “He is risen, indeed!” Yesterday in the CVS Pharmacy a cashier and I were talking and on parting he said: “He is risen” and I responded in kind. We shared a great joy although we did not know each other. “But how?”, one of my former Sunday School teens asked? Before I answered the class debated as to whether it was a spiritual resurrection, a vision or dream of those who saw him, or did he raise up from the grave in his actual physical body? And was that the same or different than his natural body? After listening to them I answered: “He is risen in every way-He is alive and with us now and because He lives, we live now and forever”. While that may not satisfy those who seek “foolproof” scientific understanding of everything, it satisfied them and it satisfies me.

There is a song we used to sing in the Black Catholic church at St. Michael Parish in Hartford, Connecticut (written by Gloria and William Gaither with a version by Wanda Jackson): “Because He lives/ I can face tomorrow; because He lives/ all fears are gone…How sweet to hold a newborn baby/ but greater still the calm assurance/ this child can face uncertain days/ because He lives.” The hymn spoke to me then in the late 1980’s and I can still see our wonderful people’s priest Fr. Al Jaenicke singing along with the beautiful Choir, and it speaks to me even more today. Perhaps for me and for the world it is a fearful and uncertain time. But, dearest brother’s and sisters: because he lives we can face tomorrow! More, we can stand for justice and peace and the love of Christ with all we have to make a difference in this world.

Pope Francis said in Urbi et Orbi (City and World) today: “The Good Shepherd is risen from the dead and he will shepherd his people throughout the world…” He named all of the contemporary sufferings from war and terrorism to famine in parts of Africa and slave trafficking and the plight of refugees, the ravages of illness and poverty and more-“The Shepherd lives to care for us and guide us. Jesus, the Good Shepherd Lives” and still cares for the flock and all in need of his compassion. Amen!

Alleluia, He is risen! Aleluya,Resucito! (Alleluia, I rise!) as Rvda. Marina Teresa said to me this morning. And I replied, me too! Amen!

Last night at the Easter Vigil when we stood in darkness until the Paschal(Easter) Candle was lit from the fire and each of our candles were lit from its flame we remembered the tombs we have locked ourselves in or have been locked in. When the light came the tombs were empty of darkness and we had risen alive with Jesus Christ. Similarly for those gathered at Easter Sunrise/Son Rise Services this morning the sun finally pierced the darkness and we felt and saw the magnificent life all around us and within us. Today, Easter Sunday we worship bathed in light and surrounded by sweet smelling lilies and joyful people: Jesus is Risen-He is risen, indeed!
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At Easter the church also receives those who have prepared and want to follow Christ and are reborn to “Live Jesus” as the Salesians say. They are baptized and also receive Confirmation and Holy Communion-they are welcomed into the Body of Christ. They receive the light of faith. The water of Baptism symbolizes dying with Christ and being raised with Christ-here we share again some of those joyous moments with our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers:

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Thanks be to God for new life in the Living Christ!

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We ARE AN EASTER PEOPLE-EASTER BLESSINGS TO YOU ALL!

What’s ‘good’ about Good Friday?

It does not seem that Jesus’life on earth should end with the violence and horror of Good Friday, with betrayal and denial and pain and extreme suffering in the midst of crazy politics, religious and secular, and at the hands of evil folks. Jesus was the ultimate good- loving, inclusive, and full of surprises and courage and wisdom. He took on the religious of his day as well as the powerful and he sided with the powerless and outcast, showing us what we ought to be and to do for justice and peace and for our fellow human beings. How and why on earth could such a God-Man come to such an end.? Well, we know the story doesn’t end with the horrific death but with resurrection. But to go through Good Friday to get there seems outrageous and awful for those he loved and those who loved him. Feel his pain. See his mother and Mary of Magdala lingering at the cross and at the grave. Feel the grief. Feel the fear of the disciples, some hiding in the crowd. How could it have been that way? And yet why not? We too feel pain and suffering, fear and tragic loss and, yes, grief. This is the lot of the human race and Jesus became a full fledged member to show us the way to live as God wants us to live, and to ultimately save us from ourselves. And yet also feel the victory of the Cross. He completed his Mission, he stayed with it until the horrific end and he did what he came to do. The words from the Cross” Eli, Eli lama sabachtani” have been translated as “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Indeed we can identify with that feeling of desolation. But Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico says that the translation is more: “Oh Sustainer, oh Sustainer, I have finished it”. It is a victory cry. Feel that too, feel it deeply. Live it so at the end that comes for all of us you can claim it-“I have done what You called me to do”. Jesus also taught us that when we stand up to the powers that be for justice and right, we can be killed. To wit, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Msgr. Oscar Romero, Jean Donovan, Maura Clark and a host of others. And in their wake the world changes,the sins of hatred are replaced by the seeds of love, but oh the loss and tragedy. The tragedy and the victory of a life cut short but lived according to God’s wishes- oh that we too will live for love and justice and peace, until the end.

All of us live Good Fridays in our lives. We experience violence and loss, hope dying and people dying and suffering, people who enter our lives for a short while and leave us missing them forever. Some communities and individuals live with fear and terror and horror daily. Some live in war zones ranging from the Middle East to the streets of inner city Chicago or New York, Boston or Fort Myers. Mothers of slain children have united here in Fort Myers to find a way for peace in the land of gang wars and community fear and compliance. They know what Mary knew. And there are those who live with the violence of diseases like cancer and a host of others. We, Pastor Judy Beaumont and I, are now are living with the scepter of cancer as Pastor Judy B. fights the possibility of AML with various treatments and offers up her suffering as Christ did. We see many others living with this struggle as we attend Cancer Centers in Fort Myers, Tampa (Moffitt) and Sarasota. We somehow know one another and we know the struggle. Some still are strong and some are weak. All are facing a similar enemy. And sometimes it is almost a friend as it opens other doors to loving and being and serving. This is a Good Friday experience. I asked her today how we get to Easter Sunday from Good Friday? She said that they were inseparably connected. And they are for all of us, who experience suffering and pain and uncertainty and life and resurrection together. It was from the debilitating results of my rare stomach cancer(now four years ago) that a young man grew his life. I could not take care of my aviary and some other chores and I asked a young man whose mother attended our church to help me. A good looking youth in his early twenties, his young life had been led mostly in his room as a host of life events added up to that isolation and misery for him. I had reached out to him before but would have never thought of asking him to help with the chores if I had not been knocked down pretty low. And clearly it was a God-thing for he had the courage to say ‘yes’. In coming to help me with the chores four times a week we got to form a mutual understanding and bond and to talk. Over the four years his life has turned around- he lives! Out of near death, his and mine, came life. Good Friday and Easter, connected. Pastor Judy is right and we learned much from our congregation of those who had experienced the violence of racism and classism and homelessness , the streets, addictions, mental illness, physical illnesses, multi layers of injustice and poverty and difference and being on the outside. They knew Good Friday well, and they know resurrection well. Through this same Christ and the hands and hearts of those who love Him, they are now housed, redeemed by God and whole. They still suffer with much but they know well that Good Friday often precedes and sometimes coexists with resurrection. And so we live! Because He lives we live, now and forever. Death is not to be feared,we will live on with our loving God, but life here and now is precious and we hold on and keep on loving and serving until it is time to lay the battle and the precious joy of life down. We live!

Below is a picture from our last Good Friday as a congregation, before we entered our semi-retirement as priests due to dealing with illness. This Holy Week we miss our church and our roles as priests terribly, but we still enact our calling in our lives.This very day we spoke with the young man who was our Christ in the picture below about his struggles with serious health issues and living on his own for the first time- a time of joy and also great difficulty. He asked my prayers and also got my best effort at pastoral counseling. He too lives after near death four years ago-he lives and is learning to embrace life!
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This(above) is Quayschaun and some of the Good Friday faithful ready to walk through the streets of Fort Myers enacting the Stations of the Cross. On our cross are the petitions of the community. The names of loved ones filled the petitions with special prayers for those still living outside and those who died of violence in our community like 5 year old Andrew Faust and our own Mr. Harry Gary’s nephews. (Below Mr. Gary and Pastor Judy Lee).
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The Catholic Alliance For Common Good also has a beautiful meditation for this day-this is a letter I received:
What is ‘good ‘ about Good Friday?

“In an increasingly diverse Christian community, there is much ambivalence toward Good Friday. Many argue correctly that Easter—not Good Friday—is the centerpiece of the Christian story.​ ​

Augustine puts it best: “We are Easter people, and ‘alleluia’ is our song!”

Clearly what happened on that hill outside Jerusalem was nothing short of horrible. Jesus, falsely accused of heresy, was put to death in the most brutal of ways: crucifixion, the greatest tool of Caesar’s state-sponsored terrorism.

But the reality of Good Friday isn’t limited to the historical event in first-century Palestine. The cross has cosmic implications for people of all generations.

In Jesus, God comes down into the fullness of human dysfunction: its bigotry, terrorism, disloyalty, brokenness and sin. In Jesus Christ, God wears the body of anyone who is lost and broken.

As I argue in my TIME essay, this is what’s so good about this day: God is willing to get caught in the chaos of our world, to take on our brokenness and to transform it. By loving us through the life and death of Jesus, God reimagined the world and the possibilities for it.

Have us a blessed Good Friday. Let us keep each other in prayer during these sacred days.” Christopher Hale CACG

Amen-and now to experience the grave with the hope of resurrection still in our hearts.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

“I have given you a model to follow” Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday the Roman Catholic Church and many others have a two part celebration: first there is the washing of feet, then the celebration of Holy Communion after which the blessed bread is placed in repose until Easter. The Gospel is John 13:1-15 and it is where Jesus washes the feet of the disciples and says he is giving them, and us, a model of serving one another. (John 13: 15) For all who participate it is a most wonderful spiritual and communal experience and a time of deep reflection on one’s own life and on the Christ who gave us this model, not only then but throughout his ministry and who gave us his very self.
We may meditate on the following pictures and homily by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP who discusses yet another meaning of Jesus’washing the disciple’s feet.

From Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta

In each of our lives Jesus comes as the Bread of Life–to be eaten, to be consumed by us. This is how He loves us.

Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the Bread of our life, our hearts by loving, and our hands by serving.

In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is Love and when we love we are like God.

–Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, “Jesus Christ: He Wants to Love With Our Hearts and Serve With Our Hands,” 1997.

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Below: Rev. Roy Bourgeois and Rev. Janice Sevre-Dusynska ARCWP and Rev. Jane Via,RCWP wash the feet of those attending a rally for the ordination of women priests last Holy Thursday in Washington, DC.
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Above Rev. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia blessing the bread for the Eucharist

Dando la Eucaristía a los niños de Colegio Educativo Navarro
Below Rev. Marina Teresa, RCWP serving Holy Communion to a young boy

Rev. Beverly Bingle’s Homily

Lent is over, and the Triduum begins.
Over the next three days,
you and I will give witness to Jesus’ commitment
to live in love and truth,
faithful to God’s will,
even at the cost of his life.
The commitment transforms him,
as it transforms us
when we ground ourselves
in God’s unconditional love
and Jesus’ prophetic example.
_________________________________
Tonight we begin the Triduum
by following Jesus’ example
with a ritual washing of each other’s hands.
Jesus’ simple action, as told in John’s gospel,
lends itself to several interpretations.
It’s very often interpreted
as signifying that Jesus will suffer a humiliating death
on behalf of all humanity.
A related interpretation
reads the washing of dirty, smelly feet
as the act of a slave,
showing Jesus’ humble nature.
Another interpretation
looks at the meaning of Jesus’ actions
in their cultural context.
In biblical times
people looked at hands and feet
as a zone of the human body
that symbolized human activity.
To wash the feet or hands
was to wash away
all the offensive deeds done by those hands and feet,
so the washing was equal to forgiveness.
When Jesus tells his disciples to repeat his action for each other,
he is not telling them to go around washing everybody’s feet
but to forgive each other as he forgives them.
_________________________________
Another significant message in this Holy Thursday gospel
comes from the meal
that Jesus has called his disciples to share.
In the Middle East
unrelated people rarely, if ever, eat together,
but people saw Jesus regularly eating with others—
people who were not his relatives,
people who opposed him,
people who were strangers and aliens in the land.
Sharing a meal with someone who was not a blood relative
transformed that person into a family member,
one who became connected like family,
one committed to the giving of oneself
for the others at the table.
_________________________________
So we gather here in this holy space.
Some of us are relatives—
spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters.
As a group, though,
we are just like those first followers of Jesus—
not relatives in the usual sense of the word
but children of the one God
invited by our brother Jesus
to forgive one another
by washing each other’s hands,
welcomed into the family
through our sharing of the meal.
_________________________________
Forgiven and fed,
we will go forth
ready to practice God’s love
in our world
for our time.
Amen!


Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Thursday, April 13, 5:30 p.m. Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Easter Mass of the Resurrection, Saturday, April 15, 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
(Washington Church)

http://www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006

A BLESSED HOLY THURSDAY TO YOU ALL!

Another Chance Before Changes in Availability: “The House on Sunny Street:My Two Brooklyns with an Epilogue of Blessings” By Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP

If you are curious about the making of a woman Roman Catholic Priest and a Pastor to the poor and homeless, or if you have an historical interest in Brooklyn, New York here is another chance at getting Pastor Judy’s autobiographical historical novel:
The House on Sunny Street by Rev. Dr. Judy Lee-Check it out! There may be some changes in availability soon as publisher changes so get it now.

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I am excited to share this autobiographical and historical novel with you. You can go to AmericaStarBooks.com/bookstore or to Amazon.com to get it. It is available in paper and electronic forms. If you have ever wondered what makes people tick, what adds up to a human life, and what contributes to the life of a woman priest this book may have some answers for you. If you like books about Brooklyn, New York, or inner city life anywhere this is your book. If you know the power of groups and the power of faith, this book is for you. If you like stories about real people who overcame some serious odds and kept on keeping on you will not be disappointed. If you like to read about complex lives written so all can “get it” and laugh, cry, and cheer with the protagonists this is for you. If you want to know a neighborhood where people of all races and classes interact in positive and life giving ways take a look. If you believe in inclusion, justice and love you will enjoy this read!

I hope you will check it out! If you do, please feel free to share your comments here. I welcome your responses.

Keep on believin’

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida