“I Am Doing Something New”:Two RCWP’s Reflections and Homilies for 5th Sunday of Lent

God is doing something new according to the reading from the Hebrew Scriptures for this Sunday (Isaiah 43:19) and in the Gospel we see Jesus doing something new, something that enacts compassion, justice and mercy toward women and those with the cards stacked against them.  Today we present Rev. Beverly Bingle’s challenging homily that asks us to consider the judgments that we must make now in this time of political cacaphony in the United States when many say they want something new but fall back on fears and hatreds as old as time.   And then I reflect on the texts as well. And so we have the homilies of two women who are validly ordained Roman Catholic priests but banned by unjust church traditions/man-made laws from enacting God’s call to the priesthood. In thus presenting I challenge the Church and the world to dare to really do something new in our times: to allow the female half of the human race (and all those who are oppressed and exploited) to respond to God’s call to the fullness of life, whatever that may be for each one. And, to enact justice and compassion and mercy where it is sorely lacking.

Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s Homily

Today’s Gospel is not about adultery.
It’s about how to judge.
Jesus’ message is not that we should not judge
but that we must make considered moral decisions
when we do judge.
We must form opinions through wise and careful discernment,
with reason and common sense
and most of all, with heart.
It’s about good judgment and bad judgment,
about judging others and judging ourselves.
It’s about merciful forgiveness.
________________________________________
The scribes and Pharisees are all riled up…
at the woman… and at Jesus.
And he puts the brakes on their anger
and their self-righteousness at her
and their wily attempts to use her to trap him.
He stops and considers.
Then he gives them a response
that reminds them of a passage in Deuteronomy
about casting the first stone.
They think about it
and change their minds about stoning the woman
and they leave off their attempt to trap him.
________________________________________
Tuesday is primary election day here in Ohio,
and we all have some judging to do.
How will we decide
about whether to vote for or against a tax increase?
How will we decide
about who to nominate to run in November
for County Commissioner or District Court or U.S. Senator…
or President?
Jesus has a lot to say about how to judge.
In this Gospel passage, Jesus says,
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone.”
In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount
he teaches to “stop judging.”
Earlier in John’s Gospel, in Chapter 5,
he teaches that what makes a judgment just
is first to listen to the facts and opinions and witnesses
and then to follow God’s will, not our own.
That doesn’t mean we are to imitate the terrorists in the Middle East
who murder people who don’t agree with them
and claim to be Muslims doing God’s will.
Nor does it mean we are to imitate
the demagogues in our own country
who denigrate people who disagree with them
and claim to be Christians doing God’s will.
________________________________________
The Presidential race has been headline news for months,
accusations from all sides
tweeted around like sparrows on steroids.
But we have to judge.
It’s our responsibility as human beings and as citizens…
and it’s our responsibility as Christians.
We are called to exercise faithful citizenship,
to enter into a process of conscientious discernment
for justice and the common good.
In our discernment process
we are blessed with the long tradition
of the principles we call Catholic Social Teaching,
yardsticks to help us judge rightly,
all based on the right and dignity of the human person.
________________________________________
So we listen to how each candidate talks
about the economics and law and policy
that affect human rights and human dignity.
We listen for the impact that candidates’ ideas have
on the common good and the well-being of all,
whether they will help or harm the poor and vulnerable.
We listen to what they say
to find out if their policies will protect human rights.
We pay attention to whether a candidate’s platform on the economy
will serve people,
and not the other way around.
We want to see that they respect basic rights to productive work,
to decent and fair wages, to unionize, to a safe workplace.
And we look at candidate positions
to see if they reflect the fact
that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers,
one human family regardless of national, racial, ethnic,
economic, religious, gender, or ideological differences.
We check out each candidate’s policies
on caring for our common home.
________________________________________
And then, this coming Tuesday, and again in November,
we will judge.
We’ll make serious choices,
keeping in mind that every person is precious,
that people are more important than things,
and that the measure of our society
and of our own soul
is whether we choose to threaten or to enhance
the life and dignity of every human person
and the earth we call home.
Glory be to God, this is a holy business we’re about!


Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Thursday, March 24, 5:30 p.m.
Holy Saturday, March 26, 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774

I Am Doing Something New-Rev Dr. Judy Lee’s Homily

Did you ever wonder where the man who was also caught in the act of committing adultery was when the religious leaders of Jesus’ time hauled the woman off to Jesus to trap him in his knowledge of the law? The Law is pretty clear (In Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 22-24), that most instances of adultery demand a strong response to both the man and the woman.  Could this have been the rare case where only the woman was to be punished,that is killed, or were the leaders remiss in their own understanding of the law? Or, most likely, could it be that in their patriarchal society that women were punished much more than men, no matter what the Law said or intended? That is truly the case in many societies today as the recent documentary short “A Girl In The River: The Price of Forgiveness”, Oscar winning Short film by Pakistani producer Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, demonstrates. I will comment on this excellent film in a moment.

For this 5th Sunday in Lent we see the religious establishment of Jesus’ time enforcing laws on sexual behavior and trying to trap Jesus in his understanding of the Law  (John 8:1-11). We see a woman “caught in adultery” brought before Jesus and a community armed culturally and religiously to stone her. Now,  There is something wrong with law when it does not provide justice and there is something wrong with those who enforce laws when they act unjustly. The plaintive cry”black lives matter” addresses a level of  that injustice in the USA. It is the job of the prophet to call us on it when either of these things happen. According to the prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, God is asking God’s people not to dwell in the past but to see that God is “doing something new”!( Isaiah 43:16-21). And, what we see in today’s Gospel Jesus is doing something new.  If one reads Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22-24 we see the complexity of the Torah/Halakah on matters of sexual behavior and infidelity. While the law is clearly stacked against the woman in this patriarchy there is some sense of fairness. In most cases both the man and women are to be punished. Yet, in this event only the woman is brought before Jesus.  The religious leaders are angry at Jesus for doing something new-in this case, for being inclusive of women in his ministry and in his healing and teachings. Not only did they blame Jesus for hanging out with sinners and even hated tax collectors, but for hanging out with lowly women as well! Luke 8:1-3 names several women who followed Jesus along with the male disciples,including Mary of Magdala who was the first to see Jesus after his resurrection, and to tell of his resurrection thereby becoming the apostle to the apostles. The meaning of this Gospel is, as Rev. Beverly Bingle  so wisely,says beyond adultery to learning how to judge, but it is also about the injustice toward women perpetuated by both the Law and society that Jesus, in his every action prophetically exposed,challenged and and changed. He allowed Mary to anoint his feet, that is to actually touch him,(it was forbidden to women to touch a man and a rabbi at that), he healed a woman with endless menstrual flow(“ritually unclean”), talked with a Samaritan woman who then preached the good news, and he was friends with Mary and Martha and Mary of Magdala among others. I bet the religious leaders very much wanted to get him to participate in the stoning of a woman!!! This would help put women back in their place, and it would make a teacher of nonviolence participate in violence at the same time. They thought they really had him this time! And yet he would remind them of the spirit of the Law, of the Torah, with its fair, though by our standards, harsh, intent. “Let the one among you  who has not sinned, cast the first stone!” Some of the ancient manuscripts said that what Jesus wrote on the ground was the sins of each one there who held a stone.  There was no one left to condemn her and, advising her not to sin again, he did not condemn her. She was free. what an upset to the world that was so eager to stone her.

In the Oscar winning  Documentary “A Girl in the River:The Price of Forgiveness”, a young Pakistani girl named Saba, from a small village runs away to marry a young man that she loves. As only the father is to arrange marriages, this girl has broken the law (both Quranic and local) and has sinned big time. It is noted that the Quran has many more complexities and fair intents than the local law. The family and the village justifies the father and brother killing the girl and dumping her in the river. (Every year over a thousand girls in Pakistan are killed for the honor of the family when they refuse the marriage contracts the father wants to arrange).  Miraculously, however, Saba, though scarred, lives and is able to start a life with her husband and her in-laws. The father and brother are jailed but to get them out with no further punishment and to make peace between the families the girl is asked by village elders (all male) and both families to forgive them.  She is initially advised by lawyers who believe in justice for women and want then punished. But her lawyer is changed by the elders.  She is pressured on all sides to forgive them and does so with words but not within her heart. Injustice, letting the men and the society off “Scot-free”  is seen as the price of forgiveness although reconciliation with her mother is a precious gain for her especially as she expects her first child. She bravely hopes it is a girl who will be able to be free. This moving and insightful expose of today’s injustice to women under religious and societal laws was well deserving af an award. But it leaves us with questions about the meaning of forgiveness and the place of women all over the world in the 21st Century. The story of Malala Yousefi , the girl who was shot for championing education for girls is another case in point. Malala, Saba and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy are prophets in their own time. The courage they display is amazing. Even as the courage Jesus displayed in taking on the religious and political establishments of his time was amazing and indeed dangerous. Thank God for doing something new -something that sorely needs to be done. Thank God for Jesus who treated women equally as his friends and followers.  Thank God for showing us the path to justice, compassion and mercy. May we, including our religious establishments, try harder to live it.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP

http://www.goodshepmin.org

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