Rev. Bev Bingle and Rev. Judy Lee, Women Priests, Reflect on The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 1/26/14
Jesus says….. Follow Me and we will build the Beloved Community together…. Matthew 4:19 (Paraphrased)
Once again I am happy to present Rev. Bev’s Homily Reflections and share some of my own in a dialogue of sorts. Indeed Rev Bev is right on in saying that Jesus is asking us to change our ways of thinking and acting and thereby transform the darkness of this world with the light of love and justice.
See The Light-Change Your Hearts- Follow Me
In the readings for this week the writer of Matthew (in Matthew 4:12-23) is presenting Jesus as the light in darkness, the prophet of inclusion and justice, the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy who draws disciples to him from the poor and the outcast,from the backwater Gentile town, and teaches them how to reach others with the light. In Jesus’ language, Aramaic, NOOHRA means light, understanding, enlightenment, and true teaching. Ancient writers saw light as the source of all life. In the Gospel of John Jesus will refer to himself as the light of the world even as the writer of Mathew presents him as the light-the one with the true teachings that will dispel the darkness of ignorance, prejudice and hatred. Jesus also asks us to follow his teachings and BE the light of the world in John(8:12). Aramaic scholar Rocco Errico ( Let There Be Light, Noohra Foundation, 1994:184) says that to be disciples of Jesus it is our job to let love, justice, compassion and goodness shine in our everyday world to change it.
Jesus, upon hearing of John’s imprisonment, courageously moves from Nazareth to Capernaum a lakeside town under Roman control in “the Galilee of the Gentiles”, a much maligned backwater town despised by the religious and political establishments. The prophetic oracle of Isaiah (CH 8:23-9:3) says that “in the end” our God has glorified the district of the Gentiles because “anguish has taken wing,dispelled its darkness” by the shining of the light that turned gloom into great rejoicing and the yoke of oppression is smashed. The 27th Psalm’s beautiful response is “O God, You are my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear”. And the Epistle (ICor 1:10-13) tells us that God has chosen “those whom the world considers foolish to shame the wise, and singled out the weak of the world to shame the strong”. Indeed the disciples Jesus called were not the scholarly and the religious leaders but the fishermen, two of whom were apparently too poor to have a boat as they fished with only a net and a despised tax collector and of course a woman healed of seven( or infinite) illnesses, Mary of Magdala,among others. How is it that the broken and the simple folk were drawn to Jesus and his teachings? Or, indeed, how is it that this is whom Jesus chose to spread the good news of God’s love for all and justice for the oppressed? The individuals that Jesus called by the sea shore came immediately. They were ready for the light, for his light,his teachings and for him. They were ready for his healing touch, for his love and for his liberation. As Rev. Beverly Bingle said they were the underdogs and Jesus saw them as winners. They were ready for the glow of the home light shining steadily in Jesus’ heart.
I think of my communities-both the one I was raised in in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy and the one I serve now in central Fort Myers. Indeed I serve the latter because of the influence of the first. Both are characterized by caring plain folks that respond to the Gospel and to one another with love. They don’t overthink it- their theology is simple- God IS,and God is LOVE so love God, love Jesus, love one another,share what one has, and do this is without conditions. Both communities had a good measure of poverty balanced in a way by a good measure of communal caring. Both dealt with discrimination, prejudice, yes, oppression, violence,illness, and hard times. Yet the caring of the neighbors and friends,of the church, made all the difference.When a sense of community is missing there is profound darkness to dispel. Today we know that the homeless do not suffer from a lack of affiliation, but only a lack of income. For some this is complicated by addictions and mental and physical illness. But with an income and housing homeless can be banished. How we, the people of God, continue to tolerate it in our midst is still a mystery to me. Economic inequality is a great sin and yet we tolerate a minimum wage so low and a welfare system so bankrupt that individuals and families pray not to get ill and need four jobs to just survive. And among the poor as among the well to do there is sometimes the pain of human isolation.There are many sectors of society where there are those who are alone and isolated and cast out. Jesus reached out to them and drew them into the beloved community. We have just celebrated the civil rights and human rights prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. May we join him following Jesus and building the beloved community. He too identified with the poor and outcast and that was the last straw for his detractors. May we join Jesus at the seashore in backwater Galilee and follow him in his work of love and justice. May we learn to draw all who need love and justice into Love.
Rev. Beverly Bingle Reflects:
There is a light shining, a promise, coming out of Zebulun and
Naphtali, the north part of Galilee, the land dominated and destroyed
by the Assyrian army. It’s Jesus of Nazareth, rising up out of the
peasant population of that God-forsaken land, come to announce the
reign of God n the midst of a land oppressed by the Romans. Follow
me, he invites, Change your life! Adopt a new way of thinking, a new
way of acting. Make this world a place of justice and peace.
Transform it. By your love you can bring about fullness of life for
Super Bowl XLVIII is coming up, and the media is hyping the
vacillation of underdog status between the Broncos and the Seahawks.
Who expects underdogs to win? Jesus! He picked Galilean peasants.
He picked tax collectors. Samaritans! He also picked lawyers.
Centurions. Pharisees. Foreigners. And, goodness gracious, women!
And this Jesus of Nazareth is not calling only the best and the
brightest. He’s calling fishermen, farmers, parents, tax collectors,
Jeep workers, students, the unemployed, amputees, the poor,
politicians, the marginalized. He’s calling the bail bondsman, the
typist, the gay and lesbian, the divorced, the bereaved, the lost, the
forsaken, the waitress at the greasy spoon, the incarcerated. He’s
calling doctors, lawyers, CEOs. Everyone. Jesus had the wisdom and
heart to see the Divine Presence in everyone—the poor and the wealthy,
the educated and the illiterate.
We are called to follow Jesus—to fish for people—and today’s readings
give us guidelines for how to do that. In the first reading, Isaiah
tells us that God has smashed the yoke, the pole, the rod of our
taskmaster: we are free! We once walked in darkness, but the light
has come. Nothing can hold us back. Our second reading tells us that
we must be united, each of us holding the same mind and purpose. No
divisions among us. Each of us must focus on the message; each of us
must acknowledge the Divine Presence among us and in us and in each
other. In the gospel we hear Jesus preaching the good news: it’s
time to change, time to follow the Way, time to fish for people
instead of casting our nets in the waters of the world.
It’s pretty easy these days to get distracted by the flotsam and
jetsam of the world, all those trinkets and gewgaws held up for us by
TV commercials, the internet, our friends and co-workers, and even our
family members. We hear messages telling us to buy beer for a Super
Bowl party or a new car before the interest rates go up. We hear that
we will be worthless unless we wear a certain brand or eat at a
certain restaurant or buy the latest smartphone. We hear that we need
to get away from it all, that we deserve a break today, that we are
nobody unless we are spending money. When, bombarded with those
messages, we ask, “Who am I?” the answer is, loud and clear, “I am a
loser, a nobody unless I buy the right stuff.” If we are to be
fishers of people, we must speak Jesus’ message, just as loudly and
just as clearly as the commercial giants are doing.
We are doing that with our actions. With our prayer. With how we
treat people. With how we use our resources—our time and effort and
talent and money.
We are free, free to take action. Nothing can hold us back. We are
called to cast our nets by what we do and who we are. Called to
change minds and hearts: the kin-dom of God is at hand!
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
A-men, A-men, A-men,A-men, A-men sing it over, A-men, A-men-A-me A-men, Amen!
Blessings and Light,
Rev. Judy Lee, Pastor