Now is the Time: Homilies of Two RC Women Priests for Sunday 1/25/15
The homilies we present for the Third Sunday in Ordinary time continue the theme of the call to deliver God’s message including Jesus calling disciples and the sense of urgency with which he did this. Rev. Beverly Bingle, RC woman priest in Toledo Ohio and I, serving in Fort Myers, Florida share the word that time is running out. Not necessarily for the imminent return of Christ, for Christ is here with us, but time is running out to share and do the work of the Gospel. The Scriptures of the day are: Jonah 3: 1-5,10; Psalm 25:4-5.6-9; I Corinthians 7:29-31 and Mark 1:14-20.
With Jonah, the reluctant prophet, we see that people will turn their lives around toward God and good when we do our jobs of reaching out to them. The whole book of Jonah is only four brief chapters long. We tend to remember it for the fish story that was imported from local legend to make the point about God’s endless love and forgiveness. When we read the four chapters we see that Jonah actually wanted God to punish the Assyrians in the large city of Ninevah. He did not want to be God’s instrument in warning them or setting them free from evil. He was miserable when the Ninevites repented and turned toward God and were spared. The wideness of God’s compassion and love are the theme and our tendency to run from reaching out to difficult people who are different from ourselves. God is merciful and generous. God spares Jonah and he spares the Assyrians who do repent and turn their lives around. Jonah is a begrudgingly successful prophet even though his first instinct was to run from the hard work of outreach and witness. At the end of Chapter four(4:11) we have the most beautiful verse about God’s concern for the “thousands of people who do not know their right hand from their left” and also the many animals that would perish should the city be destroyed. God is concerned for all of creation. Rev. Bev shows how our lack of stewardship for our planet and all of creation kills millions of people each year-and makes the point that our planet will not last forever given our levels of greedy use and consumption. There are so many ways in which people “do not know their right hand from their left” but do know ways to hurt themselves and other people and animals by acts of commission and omission. Yet, people can and do respond to preaching, teaching and sharing the good news of God’s love for each one of us and for all of creation.
Pastor JudyB encourages Robert
The Responsorial Psalm 25 also assures that God does instruct us so we don’t have to wonder which is the right and left hand, and the Psalmist therefore asks “Make me know Your ways, O God”. Indeed we are called to share the Way, God’s ways, with everyone. the Epistle emphasizes that we should live as though time is short “…the world as we know it is passing away”. The early Christians and especially the apostle Paul thought that Christ’s return and the coming of the new world for believers was imminent. While there has not been a cataclysmic event, living as though time is short is a good message because it certainly is. The life of our earth, our world and all of its resources, is short if we continue to exploit and abuse our natural resources. And for each one of us mortality comes sooner than we know. My own health issues, a rare stomach cancer successfully removed and resultant serious ongoing stresses on my body has increased my sense of mortality awareness and human frailty. I can now live as if time is short. But that is not within awareness for many people.
The old story goes that some great deceivers got together to debate what was the best way to destroy Christianity. One said,”Let’s tell all Christians that there is no heaven. Take away their reward and their mission will collapse. ” The second said “tell them there is no hell. Take away fear of punishment and their mission will collapse”. The third said “there’s a better way. Tell them there’s no hurry and the whole Christian enterprise will collapse.” Religious writer Wanda Conway, in Living with Christ, 2009 points out that Jesus’ public ministry begins with a sense of urgency. In all Gospel accounts including today’s Mark 1:14-20, when Jesus says “Follow Me”, otherwise gainfully employed folks drop everything and follow him. They catch the sense of urgency and respond accordingly. Conway also says “In today’s hectic world, our resolve to respond to the gospel is diverted. We find good excuses for delay; we miss opportunities for forgiving, healing and comforting, for providing for those in need. Life rushes around us( and the opportunities are…)perhaps lost forever”. She concludes “Like Jesus and those first followers, we must seize the day now and respond to the call, lest the whole Christian enterprise collapse because there is no hurry”.
There are many people in our parish who ask “what can I do to serve?” It is not only heartening but entirely necessary for the work of the kin-dom (kingdom) right here and right now. In our church we are up to our necks in serving people with multiple needs. For those who are hungry we get people who volunteer to cook and serve our weekly meals and also donate clothing and household goods. For those who are troubled, we have those who will reach out and encourage and mentor, but no where near enough. We have embattled and broken families and communities to mend. We have a lawyer with us who does her own form of prison ministry that includes making sure justice is served for our people. But she is only one person. For those who have no homes we use our donations to make homes possible both to access and to maintain. We also have our share of the housebound and lonely. Recently when our seasonal members from Minnesota asked what they could do, we were happy to begin a list of our “sick and shut-in” for them to visit. With so much need we have been neglecting this group and are happy to have sisters to reach out to them. Our children and teens are a priority. We could certainly use more teachers and mentors to work with us on Sundays and in private tutoring and guidance. We also need people to attend various community meetings so our church has a voice and impact in important community decisions. The work is endless and the laborers few. In your own communities or churches, ask what you can do. There will be an answer. And the reign of God will be built. Time is short, do it now. This is the “YES” to “Follow Me”. AMEN.
with gratitude and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic community, Fort Myers, Florida
And now Rev. Beverly Bingle’s Homily:
The people of Ninevah were told
that their enormously large city would be destroyed,
so they changed their ways,
and it saved them.
Time was running out for the people of Corinth;
the world in its present form was passing away.
The only thing to do was to act
as if they didn’t own anything.
When Jesus told people to repent and believe the good news,
they made the radical choice to turn away
from family and job and livelihood, boats and nets.
They changed everything about the way they had been living.
Here at Holy Spirit we have decided,
each of us individually and all of us as a community,
to follow the Way of Jesus.
So we hear today’s readings as followers of that Way:
like Jonah and the Ninevites,
we Toledoans know that our city in trouble—
we humans have done great evil
to the land and the water and the air
to the point that our city will be destroyed
if we do not change our ways.
Like the Corinthians we hear that the world as we know it
is passing away, and the time is running out.
We know we must begin to act as if we own nothing.
Like the first disciples
we hear the call to make radical choices—
to abandon everything—job and family and stuff—
to follow the Way.
Like our forebears in faith,
we hear the call to address
the greatest moral issue of our time—
care of God’s creation.
We understand that we must mitigate climate change
or our world will be destroyed.
Some people ignore this “Jonah call” of our time.
If they heard that 5 million people
had been killed by drones, or ISIS, or plane crashes,
they would rush to take action.
The truth is that three years ago
a report commissioned by 20 governments
calculated that five million people are dying each year
from air pollution, hunger, and disease
as a result of climate change and carbon-intensive economies.
As global average temperatures rise
because of greenhouse gas emissions,
the effects on our planet—such as melting ice caps,
extreme weather, drought, and rising sea levels—
will threaten more and more people.
The death toll will go up if we don’t change the way we live.
Fifteen years from now, in 2030, the total deaths
will amount to more than 100 million people
if we fail to tackle climate change right now.
I was probably in grade school
when I learned about the Great Depression,
and I asked my maternal grandmother, who was born in 1900,
what it was like back then.
No different, she told me.
Didn’t have anything before. Nothing to lose.
When I think about what she said,
I remember that she and Pa
had a small house down in the Riley Township swamps,
a wood stove to heat and cook, no indoor plumbing,
a shallow dug well, an outhouse—
literally, as the saying goes, not even a pot to pee in—
and they lived off the land.
They hunted and trapped and fished.
They had a big garden, a small flock of chickens, and a cow.
Gram took in mending,
and Pa hired out as a day laborer when there was work.
Anyone who came to their door was invited to share a meal.
The Great Depression came and went,
with rich people jumping out of windows
because they lost their money
or their corporations or their jobs.
Some people thought my grandparents were poor,
but they were solidly standing
on a real base that supported them
as the world around them fell to pieces.
Look around at our world today.
Is this the worship God wants?
A summer home up north and a winter home down south?
We see our world falling to pieces around us—
rising prices and falling wages for the poor,
oppression in the poorest nations, terrorism,
death and destruction from increasingly severe storms,
earthquakes from our fracking for oil,
poison water from our careless agricultural exploitation,
asthma and autism and allergies and infections
that defy our attempts to control…
and like the Ninevites
we want to know what to do.
Where are we to turn?
What is the radical choice we have to make?
The question is the same for us
as for the Ninevites and the Corinthians,
and so is the answer.
Share your food with the poor.
Stop wasting—it’s not yours to waste.
Make do with what you need and share what you have with others.
The human causes of climate degradation are clear:
waste, overuse, misuse.
The call today is the same: to repent and change our ways.
We at Holy Spirit have decided to plant trees, as many as we can,
because the trees our great-grandparents
uprooted and burned to make the way
for roads and farmland and cities—
those 40,000 square miles
of Ohio’s deciduous hardwood temperate rainforest—
were the lungs of our planet.
But we know we need to do more than plant trees.
We are called to put on sackcloth—
to own only as many clothes as we really need,
to give the extras to those who have none,
and to stop buying clothes that we don’t need.
We are called to fast—
to stop buying foods
that leave a heavy carbon footprint across the globe
and to choose locally grown foods in season;
to grow some of our own food;
to buy foods that are grown sustainably;
to buy only what we need and stop throwing food away;
and to share our bounty with those who are starving—
to give our surplus to the soup kitchens here
or to the organizations that help people in other countries
to become self-sufficient.
We are called to live in smaller houses,
to set back the thermostat,
to drive less and carpool more,
or ride a bus or a bicycle or walk…
or just stay home
and spend some time getting to know our the neighbors.
We’re called to turn off the lights and the TV and the radio
when we leave the room.
In short, we’re called to a life of radical simplicity
and mindful use of God’s gifts.
That basic turnaround in the way we live—
that repentance for the evil we have done—
will lead us
to the kin-dom of God.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor