Salvation and justice are one says Rev. Bingle, Roman Catholic Woman Priest from Toledo Ohio.
Peace is what needs to be resurrected and we need to live justice for all. I am happy to present this homily here along with the one I have just published on a similar theme to spread the word. All honor and glory to our loving and living God who gives us life forever.
This weekend’s readings point to resurrection. The scholars of the
Jesus Seminar see this passage from Luke’s Gospel as written in the
style of rabbis of a later time, though they conclude that Jesus might
have engaged in an exchange of this type. In it Jesus affirms and
strengthens what was just beginning to be accepted truth at the time
of the Maccabees family: that there is salvation, that resurrection
happens, that God is inviting us into the fullness of life. Jesus
tells the Sadduccees, “Look! Heaven is different, it’s radically
different. It’s a totally new life, living within the fullness of
God’s life. It’s here and now and for ever.”
Further on in our tradition, Pope Paul VI, in Evangelii Nuntiandi,
also described salvation as existential, now and forever. He said it
involves justice—action toward the reform of oppressive forces and
structures in society. So, to experience Jesus’ resurrection—to be
“saved”—means that the poor are lifted out of poverty, the lonely are
lifted into community, the sick are lifted to health. Resurrection
means that we raise our voices and vote our consciences until all are
lifted into justice. Resurrection means feeding the hungry, housing
the homeless, and visiting the imprisoned.
We’re closing in on the end of our liturgical year, heading for winter
in our Ohio world. We can’t help but think about endings and deaths,
salvation and resurrection. As we ponder, we are increasingly aware
of the significant shift in our understanding of the cosmos and how
that affects our understanding of God. There’s a startling newness to
it, still evolving. We could look at Teilhard, Ilia Delio, John
Haught, Kathleen Duffy and theologize about resurrection for a long
Then we have the first reading from Maccabees, where confidence in
resurrection underlines the courage of the family facing torture and
death. But the story haunts us; it’s troubling.
We remember World War II and the holocaust. As the Franciscan Action
Network observes, “The evil perpetrated at Auschwitz occurred not only
because of a few very immoral and aberrant people but also because of
the many ordinary human beings who failed to question what they were
witnessing, and what they were doing, to other ordinary human beings.”
Millions died… but we were youngsters when that happened, or not even
born yet. We’re past that, we think. We’re civilized now, we think.
Are we? Our drones explode in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, killing,
maiming, and traumatizing. Refugees crowd into camps around the
world—a quarter of a million Darfur refugees and 50,000 Central
African Republic refugees in Chad; 144,000 Syurians in Jordan; 12,000
Liberians in Ghana; 400,000 Somalians in Kenya. Then there are 2
million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, a million in the Gaza Strip, a
half million in Lebanaon and another half million in Syria, 200,000 on
the West Bank. Still others seek refuge from war and oppression in
Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, India, Iran, Lampedusa in Italy,
Lybia, Tunisia, Turkey, Malawi, and Malta. In Toledo over eleven
hundred people are homeless.
Thousands are being massacred and tortured in Mexico, Honduras and
Colombia in our “War on Drugs.” The “Western Hemisphere Institute for
Security Cooperation” is the new name given to the infamous U.S. Army
School of the Americas—the SOA. SOA graduates brutalize and terrorize
and murder in Honduras and Colombia. Our government taught them the
Then there are the injustices that come from our immigration policies.
Over 2,500 people have died trying to cross the Arizona desert.
Private prisons, border fences, and electronic surveillance have
blurred the reality of our militarized foreign policy being the root
cause of people leaving their homes.
And there’s the violence of executions. We’re one of the few countries
in the world that still has a death penalty—brutal, inhuman,
The toll of our inhumanity goes on and on. We are responsible for the
death and maiming of war, uprooting peoples, torturing. Everything
that Jesus speaks to us rejects oppression and war. The way of
violence and oppression is not his way. He wants abundant life for us,
abundant joy. And it’s clear that he means that
salvation—resurrection from our old lives—is to be here and now.
If we are not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem. And
that brings us to the second reading and its prayer that our own
lives, our daily activities, be an unstoppable force for goodness.
Many of you know Kathleen and Paul. They are again heading south to
Arizona for the winter—but not as snowbirds. As volunteers with No
More Deaths, they’re heading for the border, where they’ll drop food
and water in caches to save the lives of desperate people. You know
Laurie of St. Rose Parish’s Migrant Ministry, who worships with us and
carries our contributions of rice and beans and oil and clothing to
the local migrant camps in the summer. You know Carol, who stands
vigil in prayer with the Ohioans to Stop Executions at the corner of
Adams and Erie whenever the State of Ohio murders another person in
our name. And most of you know Tom, who heads up our Holy Spirit
Community’s Social Concerns Ministry. Sunday noons will find Tom on a
street corner somewhere with the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition. This
weekend they’re at the corner of Collingwood and Delaware, drawing
attention to our use of drones. Then there are the many folks—far too
many of you to name right now—who lift people out of poverty when you
volunteer and donate to places like Claver House, Helping hands of St.
Louis, and Padua Center. Many of you have a connection with Corpus
Christ University Parish and will gather for the prayer service there
November 21 to bless and send a delegation from Toledo to the School
of the Americas Watch at Fort Benning, Georgia. Our Holy Spirit
Catholic Community voted to contribute some of your generous donations
to a fund to help sponsor college students who want to join this
year’s SOA Watch. And we all pray, and that changes us so we can
change the world.
We are part of the solution. May we continue to find our salvation
in our daily lives.
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.
Rev. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Celebrating Resurrection Faith in the Good Shepherd Community
The smiling woman in the middle is Linda Maybin. She has shared her story of turning her life around. “I thank my children and family,including my church family for showering the love on me that helped me turn my life around”.
It is love that helps us rise again.
The readings for this Sunday lead us into the heart of our faith and to the secret places of our hearts where hopes and doubts and love are stored. They are about death, and life, and rising again. They are about both consolation and hope and they are about living our faith-walking the walk no matter what the challenges are.
2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 records the horrific deaths of seven passionate and courageous brothers and their mother who were willing to die rather than break their covenant with God through the Law. The book of Second Maccabees, written about 110 BC, is a series of facts and at times commentaries and legends that emphasize the hopes and sufferings of persecuted believers under the reign of the Syrians. Jews tried hard to hold on to the Law as their lifeline while enduring the onslaught of demands for acculturation to pagan beliefs. The brothers are firm in the hope of resurrection and eternal life.
The resurrection is mentioned in the Bible for the first time here. (It is also mentioned in Daniel and the Wisdom books). Unlike Greek thinking that places the spiritual above the material and physical, the Jews did not separate the concepts of body and soul. Last Sunday’s reading from the book of Wisdom (11:22-26) tells us that all that God made God loved and lived in and kept alive. God lives in us body and soul, hence the belief in afterlife, eternal life, and bodily resurrection. Not all Jews believed in the resurrection. In Jesus’ time, the Pharisees did and the Sadducees did not.
As our Gospel for this Sunday (Luke 20:27-38) shows Jesus firmly held, and then fulfilled, the belief in resurrection. The Sadducees tried to trap Jesus by giving him a riddle that to them meant resurrection is ridiculous-about the plight of a woman who married seven brothers according to the Law-who would be her husband in heaven? Jesus deftly showed them that heaven is not a replay of life on earth but a new play-one where there is no need for marrying as life is eternal. Both men and women are the children of God and the children of the resurrection and have eternal life. He emphasizes that even according to Moses, God is the God of the living, “All are alive to God” (verse 38).
The letter of Paul to the Thessalonians is written to encourage and console this new and persecuted church made up of some Jews and many Gentiles. He urges them to live the Gospel and work to spread the good news and not sit around brooding about the end of time and hoping for the return of Christ. He assures them that God is faithful and will strengthen them.
We need to know that when times are hard for whatever reasons, God does strengthen us. When times are hard there is also a hope that someday things will be better-someday and somewhere. And yet in our hearts we long for it to be better now and not “pie in the sky bye and bye”. The hopes I hear are: someday there will be peace on earth and peace right here so drive by shootings and crazy folks with big guns stop all this killing; someday I will get a good job; someday I will be poor no more; someday I will have my own home; someday I can pay my bills; someday I can afford health care for myself and my children and someday my children will have all the opportunities that I didn’t have, and especially now- “please God, don’t let them cut food stamps”. The someday needs to be now and our work is to make this happen. The life God promises needs to start now-for ALL of God’s children.
For others, the torture faced is not because of religious persecution though that clearly exists in our global village, the torture is enduring an addiction or a horrific illness ourselves or with those we love dearly. We pray that this will end someday. And we pray that someday is now-that the cure is found, that the treatment helps, that the suffering will stop. Sometimes we pray for death to bring life and sometimes we pray for life to be restored and death conquered. And when death separates us from our loved ones we need desperately to know that they are still alive to God and that, still living, they are with us too. Jesus reassures us of this-“God is the God of the living…all are alive to God”. In dying we join our loving God in the Eternal Now.
Yet there are so many ways that we can be dead even as our bodies are technically alive. We can live in depression so deep that we might as well be dead. We can live in so much fear-of the outside world, of other people, of danger and harm and even of our own potential that we stay fixed and do not move one inch. We can give up and not try to climb up a higher rung on the ladder when we’ve gotten messages that we belong on the bottom. We need to rise. I think of the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. (Excerpted here.
” You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies.
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust,
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Our rising now is as important as rising “someday”. What is holding us back? We can become so self- absorbed that the Other barely exists or exists for our own ends. We can live in sensory deprivation cut off from the natural world and held captive by the machines and games that seem like life to us but are a complete artificial world. We can make our worlds so small that people who are not like us in looks or beliefs are exiled. We can live only for ourselves while our neighbors are in need of our love and assistance. We can think we are alive and living the Gospel when we are only pleasing ourselves. We can open or close the door on love. We can be so lonely that we build a wall that keeps people out and loneliness, which is at least familiar, in. We can talk the talk and not know how to walk the walk. We can know how perfectly well, but not exert the energy to really walk it. There are many ways to be alive and many ways to be dead. This applies to nations and cultures and churches and faith communities as well as to individuals. We need to pinch ourselves and if we have died we need to rise again.
When I faced major surgery for a rare slow growing stomach cancer last February, I stared death in the face. I was frightened. I could not control my trembling. Lying down on the operating table, I said to God, I am in Your arms. And I rested because I was. I was so thankful to rise up off that sick bed and to live again. I was overwhelmed by the love of those all around me and knew deeply the love of God. Some things are the “new normal” for me, but I welcome life with a new zest and a new purpose to share the good news. And this is that news:the love of God in Christ lifts us up; the love of God is forever. God loves us like we’ve never been loved before, and that is for always. We are alive to God now and forever. Our deceased loved ones are alive with God in the eternal Now. When we die, we will live again, we will rise again. Jesus the Christ showed us how to love and how to live, how to die and how to rise. Let us shake off death and rise again-NOW!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,ARCWP Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community FM,FL
It is said that you can’t go home again. That is true for me in literal terms. If you read my book The House on Sunny Street: a Tale of Two Brooklyns (PublishAmerica.com;Amazon.com; Band N.com)- about my childhood home, you will learn that 1185 St. Mark’s Avenue in Brooklyn ,New York is now the parking lot for the 77th Police Precinct. But you will also appreciate the history of a special house,neighborhood, and family. Maybe you will laugh and cry with me and my family and friends as we come of age in Brooklyn. But you will not be able to see the house beyond what exists in pictures or on the cover of the book, a painting by my mother, Anne Marie Beach. If home were only that beloved house and place and the people who lived in the house, I would not be able to go home again. It is not there and they are not there. But home is more than that. Anchored in a place, for me Brooklyn, and New York City, Long Island and Upstate New York it is also anchored in the heart and soul and spirit. It is alive there and with such life you can always go home again,and those you love so deeply are waiting there. And I do go home whenever I can. And always I am refreshed and renewed by touching Brooklyn soil and visiting friends, family and places that shaped my life and call to serve God’s people.
Finally after a year and four months and some tough health issues I was able to make my pilgrimage to Brooklyn and New York on October 31st, 2013. I could only stay four days and I could not go everywhere important to me or see everyone, but I traveled a lifetime in those days.
We met our close friends Danielle and Laura and went to Nathan’s in Coney Island first. As a child Coney was my favorite place to visit with my Mom and she also lived there in Senior housing facing the ocean “with a million dollar view” in the last decades of her life. My cousin Jackie grew up there. There are so many special memories there. Nathan’s was damaged when Super Storm Sandy hit New York last year. One now orders inside and eats outside. It was a chilly Halloween day and the hot chowder was a welcome lunch. We were surrounded by some homeless men and treated them to chowder and Nathan’s famous hot dogs. Laura said “how they find you, I don’t know-but they know!” Laura has been my friend since 1982 when I met her at a NYC Shelter for homeless women. Living still in a residential facility she moved to in 1982, she now helps countless other homeless people. She is a faithful Jew and she explained to me that she has been praying for my health daily and with that she does a mitzvot each day so God will hear her prayers for me. I told her that she was righteous and just and a servant of our God always. Still, she said, she would do an extra mitzvot (bring someone else a blessing) for me every day. I gave her a very big hug. Laura and I are blessed with friendship.
The Amusement Park was quiet and yet I could hear the happy sounds of years past. When we visited the Board walk near West 36th Street where Mother lived, the new cement “boardwalk” was undamaged but her favorite cabanas at Seagate and some of the rocky structures dividing Seagate from Coney were now under the sea and sand. Mom would not be happy about that and I still miss the real boardwalk that splintered my feet. The sea was uneasy on this chilly day but I closed my eyes and remembered how good it felt to be in it, and to be enjoying a sunny day there with my Mom. I could see her in her chair with the little beach umbrella on it. And I could see her opening her eleventh floor window and letting the good sea breeze in. She was there. We were there together again. But the chill nipped and we decided to go to the Brooklyn Museum for the rest of the day.
This is Judy B. and my dear friends Danielle and Laura in front of the new Brooklyn Museum. This building is a strange mixture of old and new that somehow works. I went to Prospect Heights High School just a few blocks from the Museum and it was part of my campus as were The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, Prospect Park and the Grand Army Plaza Library. What a campus! How my friends and I loved exploring the Museum. I prefer the original building, but the additional space caused by the renovation draws one in. The floor devoted to Feminist Art was a wonderful addition. We were amazed to have Judy Chicago’s whole exhibit of the Dinner Party to ourselves. When it was there years ago, I could not even get in!
Plate and place at the Table. Sophia’s plate and place at the Table. Sophia is Wisdom, the Feminine image of God.
How special it was to be at the Dinner Party.
The next day Judy and I went to Grand Central Station and caught the Metroline train to Beacon,New York. There we visited with Ellie Ver Nooy. Ellie is a dear friend and the widow of Pastor Dave Ver Nooy my spiritual guide mentor and friend since childhood. Pastor Ver Nooy went home to God last December. His love and guidance remained although he could no longer speak it as the Parkinson’s took its toll. Ellie gave me his well worn Book of Worship and I was so grateful to receive it. He was there on the deck facing the river where we always sat, and right next to Ellie and his beloved dog as he always was. He was there.
In the picture on the right,Ellie is on the right and Judy B. and Dancer are sitting in David’s chair.
And finally, for the last two days of the pilgrimage home,
we went out to Long Island and visited with my family. We had a cousins reunion of three branches of the Shotwell family clan and had four generations of cousins together. We are the elders now but silently our beloved elders were standing right there with us. We met at Cousin Dorothy Shotwell Stewart’s house and went to a nearby waterfront restaurant for a seafood feast and wonderful reunion. Dorothy is now in her 92nd year. Bobby Robinson is now 78 and his lovely wife Barbara just had a birthday so we celebrated birthdays too. The younger members present are Lori (Robinson) Whitlatch Post and Kenneth Robinson. Patricia Sullivan King graciously and lovingly shepherded us for two days. Patty and her daughter- in- law Beth King who located us through her genealogy work had a wonderful brunch with us before our departure on Sunday.
We are connected by love and I am renewed.
Thanks be to God.
Chava Redonnet is a priest of the poor and the migrant workers in Rochester, New York. . Here are her reflections on what it means to be church in a community of equals and some of the history/herstory of her church, St. Romero’s. When their 501c3 application is approved donations to this ministry will be tax deductible so we wish them well in this.
Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, November 10, 2013
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
We had a milestone moment at St Romero’s this week: Librada Paz, Lynne Hamilton, Marianne Timmons, attorney Mike Tobin and I gathered in my kitchen to sign the papers for our 501 (c )3 application.
Our little church began on September 19, 2010 with Mass in the dining room at St Joe’s. Three years later, we continue to celebrate Mass each Sunday at 11 am at St Joe’s. We also continue to be a little church! But whenever I ask God for a sign as to whether or not to keep going, a sign comes. Most recently that was Oct 27, when Wally Ruehle and Tim Sigrist turned up to help give thanks that Santiago and I are alive and reasonably well following our accident. It was such a lovely moment, the table surrounded by old friends, other St Joe’s community members and a man named James, who wanted to sing “Amazing Grace” for our final hymn, so we did.
The question I carried with me through seven years of seminary was, “What is the role of a priest in a community of equals?” It was such joy when in the fall of 2007 I encountered the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, and met an entire organization of woman asking the same question! If women become priests and simply enter the hierarchy as it now exists, we will become part of the problem. The church needs to be different than it has been, to be a place where people are empowered and encouraged to realize that they are the church, where the gifts of each person are given a chance to bloom, and the message is, You beautiful child of God, you are worthy, you are whole, you are loved, you are needed.
So how is one a leader in such a church? What does it mean to be a priest in a community of equals?
When we first began celebrating the Migrant Mass in June of 2011, it was a collaborative effort. Librada and I drove around, asking people if they would be interested in a weekly Mass, until finally we found people who not only said yes, but invited us to use their space. We negotiated the date and time until we found something that worked for all of us.
One of the gifts to me in the past three summers has been learning some new answers to that question. The question of how to lead a community of equals is not the sort of question with one right answer. It’s the sort you hold , carry with you, and answer in a myriad of ways. My Spanish has been an equalizer from the start, and continues to be.Today in the nursing home as I read from a Psalm in Spanish, half a dozen voices spoke up, correcting my pronunciation of “refugio.” They patiently repeated it until I got it right. (I’m told that in the migrant community, people sometimes sit around the dinner table asking each other, “What do YOU think she meant?”!)
At the last Migrant Mass of the season, we blessed the cars of those going to Florida. Because it was raining, we stood on the porch and held our hands out towards the row of cars parked in front of the house. “Which are the cars going to Florida?” I asked. “It doesn’t matter,” someone said. “We will bless them all.”
And so, my car was blessed along with the others. All of us blessed all of the cars, and three days later when the front end of my car was demolished by a drunk driver, Santiago and I made it through with bruising and minor cuts, but probably no lasting damage. I am in awe. In a community of equals, all bless, and all are blessed. That’s a wonderful thing.
When our little church began three years ago, it was not possible to know what the future would hold. One simply listens for the call and says yes, hanging on to God’s hand and putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, walking with God in trust and love. We will continue to do that at St Romero’s. May we listen, trust, and say yes, and see where God takes us. May this little church be a blessing!
Thank you for reading this bulletin. You, too, are a part of the life of this community. May all of us grow in ways we’ve never dreamed!
An update or two:
I have heard from our friends who were deported to Mexico in August. They are “mas o menos” which in English we would probably say, “okay.”
The friends who went to Florida for the winter arrived safely, and visited family on the way.
Santiago and I continue to heal. He is still in a lot of pain so his doctor told him to take five days off from work. I am happy to tell you that the farmer said, “Tell him to take the time he needs,” when I called. It means no pay, and forced inactivity which he does not like, but hopefully it will make the difference and he will feel better before long. I have good days and bad days, but on the whole am recovering. Driving is hard but I’m “back in the saddle” except for some long or complicated driving. One day at a time.
Congratulations to Patti La Rosa and Judy Pfoltzer who will be married in Ithaca on Saturday. Much joy to you both, Patti and Judy!
Life is good, God is good, and there is so much to be grateful for. Get out and enjoy those gorgeous leaves!
Blessings and love to all,
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
Today, 11/5/13, twenty of our people gathered to worship, discuss the Scriptures and issues in living, share a meal, shop in our free store,talk with the Pastors and enjoy an afternoon of fellowship. Ellen and Jack McNally brought and served second helpings of a delicious lasagna dinner. Dwayne prayed to bless the meal and also blessed them. They received loud and hearty applause.
Many of our Tuesday church members and the McNallys and another guest today, Evelyn Efaw, have been with us since we had Good Shepherd Church in the Park- serving a hot meal and sharing worship in nearby Lion’s Park on a Friday night from 2007-2009, ( Come By Here: Making Church with the Poor is the book I wrote in 2010 to share that wonderfully blessed mutual ministry-PublishAmerica.com;Amazon.com;BandN.com,) In 2009 we began Good Shepherd church in the house, a home we bought to function as a church and a transitional residence for people making the transition from homelessness. Twenty-four people lived at our Joshua House and while we had to expand our church space and no longer have this residence, all except two of those present with us today now enjoy their own homes. The community of love and faith has existed over time and distances. It is with great joy that this group gathers on Tuesday.
The worship and discussion time is lively as we have a room full of preachers and teachers who have lived through major troubles and are experts in helping each other. The reading from the book of Wisdom assured us that God loves all that God has made. “God don’t make junk” Nathaniel said. “And God loves us no matter what we are or have become. God looks at our hearts and at what we can and will become” said Lauretta. She also pointed out that Wisdom was written before Jesus was born and God’s love is as old as time itself. As we sang “This is Holy Ground” before the Gospel reading, they touched their own hearts and their neighbor’s shoulder to affirm that “we” are holy ground.
The reading from Luke 19 on Zacchaeus the short tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus brought forth laughter about Zacchaeus climbing that tree and understanding of prejudice and difference and preconceptions of people that are painful and harmful. Many had experienced such prejudice and discrimination based on outward characteristics. Phyllis said “but God looks on the heart-it didn’t matter to Jesus that Zacchaeus was so short or even if he was a cheating tax collector.” “The point is he met Jesus and he changed his ways” Mary said. “Meeting Jesus changes us if we need changing” Tim said. The reflections on feeling lost were equally sharp and poignant. Gary concluded “it is so good to be found by God-and to know you really can’t get lost.” Evelyn, our volunteer who had been through a life threatening car accident shared her story and reflected how good it was to return to this loving and welcoming group. She too was warmly welcomed and applauded. Roger and Lauretta brought special donations and were also applauded. Octavia, Mary and Nelson and Darnell and David were welcomed back after an absence. Everyone was excited to be together again. The contagious joy of this congregation is how church can and should be. It is a healing balm.
Serving one another-The Mc Nallys, Nelson, Robert and Evelyn
The issues today included unemployment, disability and ability, new housing for some and homelessness and hope for others. Reconciliation with family and part time jobs for others brought a sense of accomplishment and encouragement. One woman asked me to talk and pray with her. She recently went through a traumatic event and was feeling vulnerable and frightened. Near to a breaking point she asked Pastor Judy B and I to take her to the Emergency Psychiatric Unit at the end of the day and after my negotiation with the admitting Psychiatrist she was able to be admitted. She was so thankful and relieved to feel safe and to be where she could get help. She said that she felt safe again as soon as she got to the church and knew the answer to her troubles would be with us. She was no longer lost but found by the Jesus who seeks the lost and hangs out with the sinners and outcast. Together we all belong. Together we are church.
Rev. Dr. Judith A. B.Lee
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community -Fort Myers, Florida
NOTE By Pastor Judy Lee: I like this poem by John Chuchman who is a great supporter of women priests and inclusion. His website is noted after the poem.
Being A Follower of Jesus
by John Chuchman
First, for me, being a follower of Jesus means being Radical.
It’s not for people who want to immerse themselves in selfish ambition
and only break from that consensus at the margins.
It is not for those comfortable with the status quo.
It demands more of me.
It demands an extraordinary commitment to Love:
not the fleeting emotion,
but the force that transforms lives
in both simple acts and by recreating the world in which I live.
It shapes everything from the way I interact with a waitress
to how I view church politics and injustice.
It leads me to find debilitating discrimination by church hierarchy
more offensive than missing Mass on Sunday.
It inspires me to be daring and swim against the tide.
There is always resistance.
A concern for everyone, including the weak and vulnerable,
always leads to the experience of pain and suffering.
Second, I find Jesus’ way and Joy deeply connected.
Being a follower of Jesus does not mean being dour or aloof.
The way of Christ brings meaning;
it incites Passion;
it generates Joy.
A life spent trying to run away from boredom is inevitably a life of drudgery.
I find true joy, not in material things,
but in my encounter and relations with others,
in relationships rooted in Inclusiveness, Understanding and Love.
When I experience loss, conflict or failure,
I don’t entirely escape sadness,
but faith opens the possibility of Restoration, Communion, and Transformation.
In a culture where people seem obsessed with happiness
yet are constantly lured away from that destination by false paths,
the true path to joy can only be found in Love.
Third, following Jesus is 24/7 year-round.
My commitment to Jesus should permeate all my actions.
It should define who I am.
It is not an activity to be fulfilled for an hour each Sunday.
I can’t be a part-time Christian.
Most see going to Mass each Sunday
as the pre-eminent responsibility of a Catholic.
It is important to let them know that this is simply not enough.
This is not the standard for being a follower of Jesus.
Going to church no more makes me a Christian
than standing in my garage makes me a car.
So many people have already turned away from organized religion
because of the obnoxious hypocrisy they have witnessed
by the hierarchy and
from those who spend every Sunday in the pews,
spending the rest of the week acting unethically,
seemingly without any compunction.
Following Christ means embracing Joy.
It means the radical embrace of countercultural values.
It places demands on my entire existence.
Religiosity and spirituality are fused together
and inseparable when pursued authentically.
This message is critical
because people do not need to be split
between those who are “spiritual but not religious”
and those who are “religious but not spiritual.”
Finally, I strive to keep it real.
It’s about setting aside the illusory and superficial.
The message is simple,
I am my authentic self.
I am an entirely unique person with immeasurable worth and value,
not some cardboard cutout.
My real identity is shaped by my character and core,
my authentic personality,
not all the superficial things that distract me
and take us away from who I am meant to be.
My life is not shaped by the expectations and judgments of others,
but my commitment to the values I rightly hold dear.
My relationships are as authentic as I am.
Our culture despises dependency and idolizes autonomy.
The cult of individualism
makes authentic relationships difficult to achieve and sustain.
Yet these relationships allow me to experience real joy and love,
a priceless treasure that many carelessly discard or ignore.
They make me vulnerable and exposed
because they reveal my core being.
But only in this state can I connect
in the most fundamental and intimate way.
Movin’ On http://www.sacredtorch.com/?page_id=727