Archive | October 2013

Justice Oriented Roman Catholic Woman Priest from Toledo Speaks: Bev Bingle’s Homily 28th Sun. Ordinary Time

Naaman is healed in Israel
and so concludes that God is in Israel.
So he asks to take muleloads of dirt with him back to Syria
to make it holy ground.
The tenth leper is made clean
and so heads off to find a priest
but doesn’t know whether to go to the temple in Jerusalem
or the temple in Gerazim in Samaria.
So he goes back to thank Jesus.
__________________________________
These foreigners have it right.
They experience healing.
They know that it transcends—goes above and beyond—
anything they have ever thought or experienced before.
It’s a faith experience.
So they think about it.
They examine the facts.
They look at the reality around them.
And they place their faith in their own experience,
and act on it.
__________________________________
That’s pure theology:
First, an experience.
Then, believing that the experience is real.
Thinking about it and trying to understand what it means.
__________________________________
These readings today reverberate in our own lives.
Each of us has been, at some time—maybe even yet and still—
in some way one of the outsiders, one of the foreigners,
one of those in need of healing.
Syrians and Samaritans and Paul in chains—they’re outsiders.
Sunni and Shiite, Israeli and Palestinian—outsiders.
Gays and straights, the clean and the addicted,
blacks and reds and yellows and browns and whites.
They are “other,” and we don’t trust them.
They’re homeless.
They have B.O., filthy clothes, scraggly beards.
They look desperate,
like they’re ready to pounce and rob you.
No matter that they don’t have an address
so they can’t get mail or apply for a job
or wash their clothes or take a shower.
They might even be HIV-positive,
so you don’t even want to shake hands with them
or touch a doorknob after they do. .
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But the scriptures teach us what to do with outsiders.
Elisha, the prophet of God, reached out to Naaman
and sent him to wash in the healing waters of the Jordan.
Jesus reached out to the lepers
and sent them to the priests to be certified clean.
Elisha and Jesus did not hesitate to reach out,
to act in compassion and kindness.
There wasn’t a whisper of judgment in their treatment,
only kindness and caring and concern.
________________________________________
And these foreigners, these outsiders, are changed forever.
They have experienced God,
and not just as a healer.
They have experienced God
in the one who embraces the outsider.
They have experienced God
as one who goes beyond all the limits
of nation and culture and religion.
The experience catapults them into faith.
They believe in the God who has touched them.
________________________________________
And so they respond.
Naaman wants to give a gift, but Elisha won’t take it.
So he asks for enough dirt to take along
so that he can have holy ground to pray on,
enough so he can stay in touch
with the God who has made him whole.
The cured leper returns to Jesus to give thanks,
and Jesus tells him it’s faith that has saved him.
Even though a Samaritan,
the leper had believed the word of a Jew
that he was healed.
The leper realizes that God is not in the temple,
neither in Gerazim in Samaria nor in Jerusalem in Israel.
God is in the loving acceptance of another human being.
________________________________________
The first Christians were not sure
about how far to take this inclusive love
that they had seen in Jesus.
Jesus was a Jew.
They were Jews.
What would an outsider have to do to follow Jesus?
Would the outsider have to become Jewish?
Be circumcised?
Follow the dietary restrictions?
The early Christian community struggled with those questions
and eventually opened their hearts to the outsiders
in the way Jesus had shown them.
________________________________________
Every once in a while I hear someone talk
about the deserving poor… and the undeserving poor.
I’ll give someone a dollar for the bus,
and someone will see it
and tell me not to give that person anything
because he already gets $350 a month disability check.
Or because she spent 18 months in Stryker for prostitution.
Or because he’s a transvestite.
Or a Muslim.
Or whatever, just different.
One of those people.
Not us.
________________________________________
But they are us.
We are all different,
all on the margins at one time or another,
for one reason or another.
So we all have a responsibility
to end the marginalization of people
who are out there right now.
________________________________________
This year,
50 years after Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech,
racism still exists in America.
A coalition of Toledoans,
with funding from the Toledo Blade and the Anderson family,
is working to change minds about people who are “other.”
One of the projects they have put together
is called “Be Kind to a Different Race Month.”
There are details about it in today’s bulletin.
Anyone who volunteers is asked
to take on a project or do an act of kindness
for someone of a different race, 10 times in October.
They give the person a “Combating Racism” card
explaining the effort.
Some of the suggested random kindnesses are
paying for someone’s groceries, raking leaves, mowing a lawn,
handing a person a gift card,
putting change in a parking meter, walking a dog,
visiting someone in the hospital,
hauling in someone’s garbage cans,
I signed up.
As a white person, I’m part of the privileged majority here.
I’m going to keep my eyes open
for people of color who are living on the margins,
and I’m going to go out of my way to be kind.
Some people won’t want my help and will walk away.
Some may even get angry at me, or try to take advantage of me.
No doubt I’ll end up helping someone who didn’t need it.
And that’s all okay.
The person I’m really working on
is me.
I hope to be a better person by the time November rolls around.
More aware of discrimination.
More caring, more compassionate.
More sensitive to people who are different from me.
More like Jesus.

— 
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Mass at 2086 Brookdale (Interfaith Chapel):
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Mass at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor

Chava Redonnet, Roman Catholic Woman Priest in Rochester, New York Reflects on Ministry

Readers who are interested in peace and justice work will enjoy the Reflections of Chava Redonnet, RCWP, Priest of St. Romero Community in Rochester, New York. Chava serves the migrant worker community there with compassion and models the equality of the renewed priesthood of all believers. Thank you for sharing ,Chava, we look forward to other reflections and Bulletins from you and Rachel Morlock. 

 

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, October 6, 2013
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Friends,

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a young man named Geoffrey Alan Boyce, who is a graduate student doing research about immigration policing on the northern border. He asked if he could talk with me about St Romero’s. I’m always happy to tell the stories of our little church, so of course I said yes.

He listened very patiently to my stories, then asked a question I wasn’t expecting: “What sustains you in your work? How do you keep going?” It’s a really good question, and actually a very important one for any of us who are in this work of doing the kindom of God down on the ground, whether as Catholic Workers, or in Migrant ministry, prison ministry, nursing homes and hospital work, teaching – all the myriad ways we find to be the hands and feet of God in the world, bringing that love day after day. It can get exhausting, especially when there is a lot of negative energy around, and when we are confronted by injustice day after day and, well – just reading the newspaper!  So the question of how one does this for the long haul is crucial.

When I was ordained a number of people gave me the same piece of advice: Have a daily prayer time. I’ve never been very good at meditation, and my prayer time is simple: journaling, drawing, reading, and sitting in silence. Sometimes I lean heavily on poetry in my reading: Hafiz and Mary Oliver being my favorites. But recently I picked up Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, “An Altar in the World,” which is so nourishing it’s like going on retreat.

Having people to talk to is important, and nourishing close relationships. For me that means not only my significant other, Santiago, but other friends, as well. I am blessed with friendships that go back thirty years and more, a great gift in my life.

Something else that is sustaining is the joy I find in my ministry. Last night we had a Mass – getting down to the last few Migrant Masses of the season – and I noticed how free people feel to put in their two cents’ worth during the homily, to ask questions, to have a homily that is part conversation. I revel in times like last week when we had two babies, three grandparents, lots of friends and two dogs at Mass. Or last night when I accidentally smashed all the cookies while leaving the house, and everyone gamely ate the little broken pieces, drinking the hot chocolate that one young couple brought, while sitting and talking after Mass. Those things make my heart very, very glad. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

And finally, people like Geoffrey are sustaining in this ministry, as well as Librada, Lory, Peter, the BEOC folks in Brockport, so many others who are serving the same folks, asking the same questions, patiently or impatiently chipping away at the injustice that keeps our friends imprisoned in fear and overwork. And you folks, too, reading this – your support, your caring, your messages, just knowing that you are reading the bulletin – that, too, keeps me going.

Then there is the basic self care of exercise, healthy eating, and rest.…so this is a good moment to tell you that I’m taking a week off, and there will be no bulletin next week. There will, however, be Mass on Sunday at 11, and the Migrant Mass on Thursday at 8. With so few left I didn’t want to cancel it.

Two more things: first, I want to extend thanks to those people who have been helping with the Buffalo driving. Charley Bowman and Bill Plews have been helping, and there are several more people who are willing to help when they are needed. Thank you so much. Hopefully you are having fun doing it!

This weekend, Oct 5, there will be marches and things for immigration reform, most notably in New York City. We do not have an event planned in Rochester, but I’d like to ask you to consider fasting in some way on that day, for our brothers and sisters who so badly need to be set free.

Hope you are able to get out and look at the beautiful fall leaves! Give thanks to God for this incredibly beautiful world. Stand still, like Mary Oliver says, and learn to be astonished.

Blessings and love to all,
Chava

Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620

Feed the Hungry…What Bible Are They Using?

MSNBC- Food Aid in jeopardy as shutdown drags on

Adam Serwer  @adamserwer

Federal food aid for low-income Americans could dwindle if the government shutdown drags into the next month–leaving the states in charge of deciding to cut off benefits altogether or to dig into local coffers to feed the needy.

The USDA has said it will fund the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)–which helps feed about 45 million Americans a year, most of whom are children or elderly–through the end of October.

“This is the means by one in seven people in this country put food on the table,” said Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The USDA’s shutdown plan says it has about $2 billion in “contingency funding” that could be used to help states, but based on numbers from the Congressional Budget office, the SNAP program costs about $6.1 billion a month.

The program was already set to face substantial cuts in November as increased funding from the 2009 stimulus bill ran out. But that cut wasn’t nearly deep enough for House Republicans, who voted to cut $39 billion from the program in September, while still maintaining lavish farm subsidies.

State cuts could go even deeper.

If the shutdown lasts into November, Americans reliant on SNAP could find themselves without aid, depending on the fiscal health of the state or the priorities of state leadership. A spokesperson for the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration told MSNBC that “If the shutdown continues beyond October, the State of Indiana will assess its resources and consider its options for continuing to provide SNAP benefits.” Similarly, a spokesperson for Mississippi’s Department of Human Services said they would look to the USDA for guidance.

Some states are already cutting back on assistance for the poor. Arizona has stopped paying Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits entirely for the duration of the shutdown. Children are being turned away from Head Start programs closed because of the shutdown. The USDA has said it can fund the Women, Infants and Children food aid program through October, but as with SNAP states could be on their own if the shutdown drags into November.

Dean says that USDA hasn’t yet issued guidance for what would happen in November, but that she believes the USDA has authority to keep paying these benefits regardless of whether the government is shut down, much as it does with Social Security and Medicaid.

A Mississippi spokesperson forwarded a statement from the USDA suggesting it the federal agency had not yet decided: “We understand that states may be concerned about future operations and whether November benefits will be paid. If we were to face that situation, the USDA would evaluate available options, seek legal determinations, and make a final decision about a course of action closer to that time.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to clarify that Dean believes USDA can continue to pay benefits in November and it has simply not issued guidance to that effect. 

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AMEN! James Carroll-Women are Key to Pope’s Reform Boston Globe

Women are key to pope’s reforms

By James Carroll |  Globe Columnist     September 30, 2013

REUTERS/file

Roman Catholics celebrated the election of the new pope in Buenos Aires in March.

The positive reception to Pope Francis from all quarters is itself almost as astounding as the man himself. A kind of global sigh of relief has greeted his humane and kindly manner, a signal that the human family, even in a secular age, longs for a rescue of transcendent value. The Catholic Church, for all of its problems, and if only because of its history as a pillar of Western culture, remains a universal object of fascination. When James Joyce described Catholicism as “here comes everybody,” he forecast the way everybody seems relieved to have such a man at the pinnacle of religious influence.

The most recent surge of interest was sparked by the extensive interview Francis gave to international Jesuit publications. Headlines in the broader press emphasized his turning away from culture war issues like gay marriage, contraception, and abortion. He said that not all moral teachings are equivalent, and called for “a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards.” The world, too, has a stake in avoiding that collapse.

Yet some say the new pope represents only an adjustment in style. For all of his availability, and refusal to reiterate the old Catholic condemnations, he is still a man of the tradition. Conservatives insist that he has not altered any doctrine. Liberals regret that he seems content to let stand the Catholic limits on the role of women. He has yet to advance the accountability of bishops in the priest sex abuse crisis, including in his own Argentina, where the scandal festers. This week he is convening a select committee of eight cardinals to begin discussions of reform, but will their focus be more on the Vatican’s considerable management problems than on the crying need for deeper change throughout the church?

Actually, Pope Francis gave several signals in his interview that such profound currents of moral transformation have already been unleashed. He spoke of laying “the foundations for real, effective change,” but said that “the first reform must be the attitude.” And Catholic attitude is what this pope has so quickly and so unexpectedly remade. Affirmation, not judgment; humility, not pomposity; openness, not an obsession with boundaries. Against the so-called “Benedict option,” a vision of the church as a shrunken remnant of the doctrinally pure, Francis spoke of “a home for all, not a small chapel that can hold only a small group of selected people.”

Falling back on what might be called Jesuitical abstractions, the pope defined a first principle of the reform he wants. “Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. We must not focus on occupying spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run, historical processes.” The dynamism of this vision, opposed to the static old assumption that real change is impossible, is itself the change. The pope’s open attitude is generating an open process, which is trustworthy because it is God’s.

The church of justice for the poor must be the church of equality for women — inside the church as well as out.

The largest single example of this comes from Francis’ insistence on the centrality of global poverty as the overriding moral issue of our age. The pope aims to start “a long-run, historical process” on behalf of the poor. No one denies his seriousness on this issue — from the choice of his name, to the place where he lives, to his witness in Brazil. But the pope knows as well as anyone that the single most powerful engine drawing people out of poverty is improvement in the economic status of women, which can only occur within a larger cultural transformation. Education. Participation. Power. Reproductive freedom. Yes, women’s liberation. There can be no other strategy for ending poverty.

Such a recognition has obvious implications for the organization, discipline, and doctrine of the Catholic Church. “It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church,” the pope told his interviewer. “We have to work harder to develop a profound theology of the woman.” The church of justice for the poor must be the church of equality for women — inside the church as well as out. There is no other way. Thus, it matters less whether Pope Francis at present favors the ordination of women than that he has already launched a historical process that makes it all but certain. Other reforms will follow. Style influences substance, and attitude influences everything.

James Carroll writes regularly for the Globe.

Keep the Faith: Fan it into Flame-Homily 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time 10/6/13

Image

{ This is  Rev. Melvin G. Williams and his wife Deaconess Virginia Maniti Williams with a Bethany Methodist Church Youth Group Member in 1957. They are my spiritual parents in the faith who,along with my grandmother Ella  and mother Anne,  encouraged me to fan my faith and gifts into flame. The picture is from a book of poetry I wrote entitled The Flame Keeper and Other Poems (PublishAmerica.com, 2007.}

This is Keep the Faith Sunday. The readings are rich and meaningful to those who experience disillusion, need, injustice and pain and to those who stand in solidarity with them. In the world I came of age in and in the church I now pastor people understand when I say “keep the faith” when parting.  Poor folks and people of color know that keeping the faith has more to do with the way life is lived, and living for justice than mouthing words of belief, though they do that as well.

In the first reading from the book of Habakkuk we see the unusual prophet, one who not only decried oppression and exploitation of the poor and of God’s people, but one who told God exactly what he thought about God for “ making or letting this happen” (his viewpoint). Habakkuk lived during the beginning of the Seventh Century (BCE) when the treacherous King Nebuchadnezzar ruled and the terrorizing Babylonian (Chaldean) oppression of the Hebrew people was just beginning.  Habakkuk could not believe what was happening.

According to Eugene Peterson (The Message) Habakkuk spoke God’s word to us AND our word to God. Now this is a prophet I can understand. I can understand complaining to God and trying to talk with God about how bad things are and how they “shouldn’t be that way”, especially for God’s people. My heart breaks for the 800,000 Government workers who are furloughed in this immoral Government Shutdown forced by a minority of Tea Party Representatives in the House who cannot accept the law of the land regarding health care, disparagingly called Obamacare by them.  What kind of a world is this when the tail is wagging the dog? Many of those furloughed people will not be able to pay their bills and feed their families. Yet those Representatives still get paid. And when churches are bombed in Syria and Egypt killing those worshiping because they are Christian, I hurt. When U.S. Drones attempting to “take out” enemies also kill children and families even as Dictators who use nerve gas wipe out whole innocent communities, I want to say “God, when will this stop? When people go berserk and assassinate people in movie theaters, workplaces and public spaces because the mental health system is so bad that most fall through the gaping cracks in it, I want to scream.

I understand Habakkuk who said to God: “”So why don’t you do something about this? Why are you silent now….You stand around and watch! “(Hab 1:13 MSG). And, “God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? …Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day: Anarchy and violence break out…Law and order fall to pieces.  Justice is a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung and stand justice on its head”. (1:1-4 MSG).

Now, my guess is that you understand Habakkuk too.  And you understand the prophet’s meanings not only on the wider scene, but in your own lives. “How can that saint suffer so? How can this young father of two have incurable cancer?” “How come I struggle with such pain in my back or head or how can I deal with the insecurities of cancer or heart trouble?” “Why did I lose my job when I have mouths to feed and rent to pay?” “Why don’t I have somewhere to live?” “Do something, God.” We long to have Divine intervention to make things right and we don’t want “pie in the sky bye and bye”. We don’t want to wait for heaven for it to be right. Well, neither does God. And that is why God asks for us to be steadfast in practicing, in exercising, our faith.  “Faith is the assurance concerning things that we hope for (expect), as it was the substance of things now in existence.  And it is the appearance (revelation) of things not seen”. (Heb. 11:1 P’Shitta Text- Aramaic text.) Faith IS the substance we can hold on to, especially in troubled times.   The Aramaic word for faith is haymanootha.   Its meanings include confidence, firmness, faithfulness and being trustworthy.  The Semitic root of that word is amen which means “to make firm” “true” “lasting” and “enduring”.  According to Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico in And There Was Light (1998:230) “it is a quality or attitude of perseverance”.  We are to persevere in practicing and living our faith. We are to be trustworthy and faithful in our covenant with God.  We are the answer to prayers for justice and peace and we are the answers to someone else’s prayer. God is not silent unless our mouths are silent. And, maybe it is we who are standing around and watching.

In the beginning of the second chapter of Habakkuk, God, who is in dialogue with the prophet, says that the time will come when “those who steadfastly uphold justice will live” (Hab 2: 4(b) TIB (The Inclusive Bible).  The Message says (same verse) “The person in right standing before God…is fully alive, really alive”. God is telling Habakkuk –keep the faith-keep doing what God wants you to do, enact justice, preach justice, live justice-live the faith, keep our covenant (to love God and love your neighbors as yourself) and you and the people will live, even in the midst of ALL that is wrong.  By the end of Habakkuk’s vision his song, his tune, changes. And it changes because he is in dialogue with God and he is listening. God did not chastise Habakkuk for taking God on, God entered into dialogue with Habakkuk.  If we are speaking with God, God is speaking to us as well. By the end of his song the prophet says,(paraphrased) we are still living in devastation, we are still in big trouble, and I wait for disaster on our attackers but I believe that it is going to be okay as God saved Israel in Moses time, God will do it again.  “I’m singing joyful praise to God…counting on God’s rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength…” (Hab 3:18-19a MSG).  Habakkuk kept the faith and gave the people hope.  Let us take heart and gain strength in the midst of our troubles.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, after remembering Timothy’s sincere faith which was passed on to him from his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice (1: 5),  Paul, Timothy’s spiritual parent, encourages Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (1:6). He does not want Timothy to be shy with God’s gifts in leading his community of faith but bold (powerful) loving and self- disciplined.  It is because of Timothy’s strong faith that Paul can encourage his gifts. Indeed that faith can be Timothy’s best gift.  It is interesting to note that Paul begins his encouragement of Timothy’s gifts by reminding him of the faith of his grandmother and mother and saying “that is why I want to remind you to fan into flame the gift of God…” Yet, whoever chooses the Sunday readings in the Roman Missal chose to leave out the reference to Timothy’s mothers in faith. The reading omits verse 5 and begins with verse 6 even though the phrase “that is why…” has no referent.  It is critically important for us to remember our mothers and fathers in faith and to build on and pass on that legacy.  To keep the faith Paul is saying that Timothy needs to pass it on-boldly. I remember well the faith of my grandmother Ella and my mother Anne. I would not be writing this now if they had not passed that faith on to me. And they did it in the midst of much trouble and turmoil. We were poor economically and my mother was our sole wage earner though she was sometimes too ill to work. We knew hard times and yet I learned to live by faith. That faith was reinforced by my strong faith community and its Pastors.  We were rich in faith and the flame was lighted within my heart and nothing could extinguish it. Fan the flame of faith and God’s gifts to you into a blaze!  Turn the fading embers into a flame of passion for God and God’s work for you.

In the Gospel, (Luke 17:5-10) the apostles, upon hearing Jesus tell them to forgive those who sin against you endlessly with endless forgiveness, plea “increase our faith!” They thought that MORE was better.  Jesus told them: “There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake’ and it would do it” (17:6 MSG).  Jesus is saying if you have faith you have power-all kinds of power-use it.  For Jesus, faith is also a relational concept. When people expressed faith in him they were healed, made whole, transformed. He was often moved by the plight of the other person who had faith in him. Having faith is a two way street. As the Aramaic definition tells us, it involves trust and trustworthiness, confidence in one another, and perseverance. Let us be the trustworthy, steadfast followers that Christ can have confidence in even as we have confidence in the love of Christ for us and for all. Let us fan the often dying embers of our faith that is both weakened and strengthened by troubles and doubt, into a flame, a blaze that burns bright, clears the underbrush and makes the way for new life.

Amen.

Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, ARCWP

Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community