Two Homilies From Roman Catholic Women Priests: Rev. Roberta and Rev. Beverly for the 4th Sunday in OT
For Sunday January 31, 2016 (the 4th Sunday in Ordinary time) we present two homilies by Roman Catholic Women Priests, Roberta Meehan of Arizona and Beverly Bingle of Ohio. Rev. Roberta presents God’s abiding love, refuge and deliverance to us and Rev. Beverly focuses on how the religious can hold on to the “same old same old” and close the door on new and refreshing views of God and the Gospel. In the Gospel (Luke 4:21-30) Jesus is rejected in his hometown and says that “a prophet is without honor/not accepted in his own country”. He points out that in the times of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, strangers and foreigners received their words and healing actions more than their own people. He knows the same is about to happen to him and it does, so we too are included as God’s beloved children, a theme Rev. Roberta expands upon.
As a Pastor serving the poor I am often impatient lately. And, I am happy to review the qualities of love in I Corinthians 13. I am impatient because the “system” breaks the back of the poor and, in many towns including this one, offers little in return. Today I have a family of seven who are homeless. They were living in a rented van but had to return it. The lead sheltering agency in this town has only ONE unit for families. I was told that there are 24 on the waiting list. In a nearby town they can be third on a list where there are seven family units. But tonight they would be in the street if we were not able to put them in a Motel for a while. We did so, but will run out of money to pay for their two rooms before they get the one room apartment that they can afford. The family left their little dog tied up outside in the cold to get inside where no pets were permitted. I lost patience on behalf of the tiny dog. We are working it out. The little dog is now inside.
I wait for the God promises,especially the deliverance of the poor. I want to bear all things and hope all things, but it ain’t easy! So pray for us as we minister with less than elegant love.
I enjoyed both of these homilies and am pleased to present them here.
Rev. Roberta Meehan’s Homily
Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time / Fourth Sunday after Epiphany – Cycle C — 31 January 2016
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Again today the key for one of our themes can be found in the Psalm. Look at these lines: “In you, Lord, I take refuge. On you I depend since birth.” When you hear that, do you see yourself as a child – or maybe as a young adult – fleeing to a God who has outstretched arms, ready to gather you up and love you infinitely? But, you say, you are not a child or even a young adult. Neither am I. Does that stop any one of us from longing for the loving arms of our God? I think not.
I remember back in 1997. I was 53 at the time and I was visiting my mother. I curled up in the bed in her guest room and was thinking about going to sleep. She appeared at the bedroom door with a fuzzy teddy bear in hand. She pulled the blanket up a bit around me and handed me the teddy bear. Recall, I was 53 at the time and my mother was 83. But, what I felt was what this Psalm is talking about. “I take refuge. On you I depend.” Is this not what we think when we flee to our God? We see our God’s outstretched arms ready for us – perhaps with a fuzzy teddy bear.
Now, how does that relate to the rest of our readings? Think about it! In the Lord I take refuge is our theme. Shift back to the reading from Jeremiah. “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” And thus ends today’s reading from Jeremiah. Listen to that! Hear that! “I am with you to deliver you!” Can you not relate with me as I snuggled up in bed with the fuzzy teddy bear my mother brought me? Is that not exactly what is happening here when the Lord comforts people by saying, “Do not worry. No one is going to hurt you. I will protect you.”? Our God will protect us! We have been told! So when we re-read that passage from Jeremiah, we see how staunchly our God says, “I am with you.” If God is with us, how can we lose?
So many homilies on these readings center on the reading from 1 Corinthians. Clearly 1 Corinthians 13 is a theophonic summary of the entire message of Jesus as found throughout the New Testament. It is one of the most famous passages in the entire New Testament. The ending is profound – “And the greatest of these is love.” I have used this passage often with dying patients and their families. It ranks right up there with Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd. I love this chapter from Corinthians and perhaps I relate more to it than I do to Psalm 23.
But the question becomes, how does this reading relate to our theme of taking refuge in the Lord? Examine the passage again. The message seems to be about OUR reception and OUR action regarding the gifts of God. Certainly that is true. Let us look at two key sentences from this passage. “Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.” And, “Love is all that counts with great gifts – prophecy, faith, angelic tongues.” [Slightly paraphrased.]
If we carefully re-read this powerful passage, however, we see that everything culminates in the ending – “And the greatest of these is love.” We are called to love and to love absolutely. We are told this specifically here but we also know this from numerous other scriptural passages. But, how can we love if we have not been shown love? This is a profound question and we have a very explicit answer – right here in today’s readings.
Our God has said, “I am with you and will deliver you.” Our God has said that we will be protected. Time after time we hear messages like this – messages from our God. How can anyone – including our God! – send these messages without an underlying love? Of course, that is not possible. Our God loves us absolutely. This fulfills the message from 1 Corinthians 13 – And the greatest of these is love. So, we can turn this whole passage around and know that this is God, speaking from the God-self. Our God loves us and will protect us and is with us and will deliver us. Our God will let no harm come to us.
So, if we can see the continuity between the Psalm and the first two readings, what do we do with this gospel? Truly, it is confusing. Not the gospel itself but how it fits into the total picture.
Luke includes this story as part of Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee. The same story in Mark’s gospel marks the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The transposition is irrelevant. What is important is that Jesus told the listeners in the synagogue (and thus told us) that Scripture had been fulfilled. What Jesus says here actually initiates the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies. That is critical. Even more critical to our theme is what the members of the synagogue said about Jesus. They were amazed at his knowledge and they commented amongst themselves about how everyone knew his family. This took place in Nazareth where Jesus had grown up. The group also mentioned events connected with Jesus that had taken place in Capernaum. (Jesus lived – legal residence! – in Capernaum during the time of his ministry.)
Then, suddenly, the people (…(R)ose up and drove him out or town.) Jesus had said that “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Indeed! That is what happened. They heard him in the synagogue, they were impressed, and then they turned on him.
How does that fit into our theme of taking refuge in the Lord? Jesus took refuge in God! Jesus never doubted that God was with him. His whole mission was to bring people to God and to demonstrate that he was indeed the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophesies.
Even when we are driven out of town (as was Jesus), our God is our refuge. regardless of whether our problem is with the love of God or with our being driven out of town – or anywhere in between. Our God is our refuge. It is as simple as that and that is all there is. We turn to our God who will always be our refuge. And sometimes our God will have a fuzzy teddy bear for us – along with warm and loving outstretched arms.
— Roberta M Meehan, D.Min.
Rev. Beverly Bingle’s Homily
What is it that makes Jesus’ neighbors so mad at him
that they want to throw him over the hill?
Some are truly amazed at the truth of his insights into the scripture,
but others complain
that he isn’t working those miracles for them
like he did in Capernaum.
He responds by telling them that miracles require faith,
and he gives them two examples, neither of them Jews.
His friends and neighbors recognize the truth of what Jesus says,
knowing that those despised foreigners,
the Canaanites and the Syrians,
have the deep faith they themselves lack.
They reject his message.
But he knew his mission,
so he stood up, told the truth,
and went on his way doing what he was called to do.
Religion can bring out the worst in people.
They think their dogma and their ritual makes them better.
They exclude people
and begin to think that God wants them
to hate the “other”
and kill the “foreigner.”
It still happens.
Just as the citizens of Nazareth forgot the commands of the Torah
to “love the alien as yourself;
for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt,”
people today can forget the Great Commandment of love.
Religion can get distorted into fanaticism and bigotry.
On the other hand,
we know that religion can also bring out the best in people,
helping them to become more tolerant and loving.
We each have to ask ourselves what religion brings out in us.
Our first reading, that stirring passage from Jeremiah,
tells us that God has a mission for each one of us
that is only ours to do.
Jeremiah also tells us that It won’t be easy
but that we will bear fruit.
We are fortunate here in Northwest Ohio
to be able to see the good that religion can bring out in others.
We are blessed with many prophets among us.
Some of you know Paul and Kathleen from Liberty Center,
who have left the snowy north for the winter,
but not to vacation.
They are trekking through the southwestern desert
to leave caches of water and food
for desperate refugees from South American terrorism
who cross into the United States at the risk of their lives.
And some of you know Sandy and Lin in West Toledo,
adopting and fostering so many special needs kids
that I’ve lost count.
And there’s Sister Ginny
putting together an alternative to suspension for school kids
at the Padua Center.
And Marcia and Rose and hundreds of others
lobbying to get the lead poisoning
out of the homes of the poorest kids among us.
And Karen Shepler bringing our community together
in an ongoing dialogue to combat racism.
And Woody and Judy creating a way for followers of every faith
to work together as a community of justice and peace.
And, there’s our own Tree Toledo,
scores of people planting trees
so future generations will have breathable air.
And then there’s you,
prophets anointed by God
to bear the good news everywhere you go.
You’re out there in the food pantries and the soup kitchens,
visiting people in the hospitals and nursing homes
and at home and at Hospice.
You’re at the funeral home
comforting your friends when they lose a loved one,
tutoring and coaching and cheering for your grandkids,
donating to Rahab’s Heart and disaster relief,
racing for the cure,
and praying in the quiet of the morning
and the still of the night.
Like Jeremiah, like Jesus, you
have been anointed by God to prophesy to the nations.
You look at the world and speak out,
sometimes with words but more often with action,
and with that patient, kind love that Paul preached about.
Sometimes you suffer rejection for standing up and speaking out.
The rejection can take different forms;
it can be personal or situational or social or cultural.
You could be passed over for promotion or fired,
you could be bullied or beat up,
betrayed by the people you trust the most,
or just plain ignored
when you try to do what’s right
or speak up about something that’s wrong.
But you do it anyway.
God has given each of us,
as the poet Mary Oliver describes it,
this “one wild and precious life”
and charged each of us with a unique mission.
It’s unique because we each have different gifts to bring to it;
but it’s the same for all of us:
we are all sent to love:
love one another.
Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)
Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
Teach Me Your Way, My God…..Teach Me to Love
Love and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP
Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community Fort Myers, Fl