Archive | July 2016

Christ in All: Two RC Woman Priest Homilies for 18 Sun OT-7/31/16

It is exciting to see how various preachers are inspired by the same text. Here we present an inspired homily on vanity and unity by Rev. Dr. Roberta Meehan of Arizona. I am thankful for Dr. Meehan’s sharing. My spirit resonates with her inspiration. And I reflect here on the awareness of our own mortality and what that can and must do to in our lives.  We both conclude that unity with the vast diversity of humankind is possible in Christ and has profound meaning for our lives and times.  Even as Pope Francis commented that making bridges and not walls is the imperative of our times, we must be careful  now in the USA and everywhere to embrace leaders who can lead us in compassion and justice, in unity.


ALL Are Welcome at the Table

My own reflections on the same readings in Ecclesiastes and Luke 12:13-21 focus on the “mortality awareness” in these texts. It is vanity to think that we can live here on earth forever when we can be called home to God at any moment and be forced to leave behind whatever legacy we have accumulated. It is vanity to think that our lives and deaths are in our full control no matter how, these days, we try to control every aspect of life from birth to death.   To the wealthy man who accumulated more and more riches and needed bigger and bigger barns to put them in God said “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” In other words the old adage holds true of all material things-“you can’t take it with you when you go”. And a spiritual  and scriptural insight is true as well: “Your life is not measured by what you own, but by who you are and what you’ve done for the kingdom of God, for your neighbor”. But the words of the Epistle also are a challenging yet reassuring reality: If we have put on Christ, we are already dead to greed and vanity-we are alive to love and justice and are already renewed. This new life rises with Christ forever, starting now and continuing after earthly death: “Christ is all and in all” and we are in Christ.

Just a few words about genuine mortality awareness. When I was a young Professor of Social Work teaching a course in Human Development, I taught that young people don’t have a sense of mortality awareness-as when we are young it feels like life is forever, and that may be true generally, but not always so. The day’s knowledge put mortality awareness from early adulthood on. Now that I have proceeded to older adulthood, I’m with the Scriptures for today-most of us, young, middle aged and old think and act like we will not die. We just keep on accumulating,staying as we are, and taking life for granted   What teaches us that life on this planet is not a given but a gift that is not permanent, are our experiences with death and loss and the threat of death. This can make us aware, deeply aware at any age- not in our heads, but deeply within us, in our hearts and in our souls.

Young people who have lost parents or close relatives or dear friends, young adults in the military or anyone living in a war zone, including urban ghettos where bullets fly killing anyone in their haphazard path, unfortunately have as much mortality awareness as anyone who has faced death head on. Those living with cancer and their loved ones  as well as those with a range of life taking and life threatening diseases have plenty of mortality awareness. Part of our renewed ministry now is serving those who sit in chemo with Judy or gather in the huge room full of cancer patients waiting for treatment. God will direct and has directed us to those who need God’s love. It helps that we both share the bond.  Now that I have faced two cancers, and my partner in life and ministry, Pastor Judy Beaumont is facing a fourth one, we are acutely appreciative of every single moment of every single day. It doesn’t mean that we don’t still waste precious time with other preoccupations and ways of being, but it does mean a major sense of appreciation and thank you. We thank God for our lives and all lives on this earth and gone before us.  We thank God for the beauty of this planet and the beauty of ALL of God’s people.  We pray to continue in this life and to continue to serve God’s people as much as is possible for us. We have less time for trifling on any level. We have a sense of urgency about love and justice and that includes political decisions that will effect the lives of all in the next few years. If we can we will help people register to vote and we have no tolerance for those who sit home and say they don’t like the candidates. It isn’t about like it is about choosing the best of human/clay vessels to lead in life for all and  love, compassion, mercy and inclusion for all. That  sense of thanks be to God and urgency for justice is what knowing that our days are numbered and ‘tonight may be the night’ produces. Thanks and tireless service for compassion and justice is the outgrowth of our deep mortality awareness.  And that is what the Scriptures ask of us today. “Treasure and become rich in what matters to God” (Luke 12:21).  Actively love God with all your being, and love your neighbor as yourself. Thanks be to God!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee,RCWP

Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community world-wide.

The pictures below are about service and embracing unity in diversity, and justice for all, including for women’s ordination in the church.  The first is joining with our RCWP members in Cali, Colombia, including Maria Elena Sierra Sanchez and Rev. Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia. . The second is  RC Priests, Ray Bourgeois, Janice Sevre-Dusynska and Jane Via washing feet as Jesus did  on Holy Thursday and the third is the Odie-Ali and Sookdeo family celebrating life. 



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AND FROM REV. DR. ROBERTA MEEHAN-Anger at Vanity-Let Us Be One

Homily for the 18th Sunday — Cycle C — 31 July 2016

Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:21-23

Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17

Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11

Luke 12:13-21

This is certainly an interesting reading from Ecclesiastes – and definitely a rather famous reading too.  Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!  That sure is the truth, isn’’t it?  Can’t you just picture old Qoheleth (author of Ecclesiastes) sitting there with a long, oblong face, probably complete with a long, oblong beard, and drooping oblong eyes, and an extended oblong mouth saying, “Vanity of vanities?”

The first time I wrote a homily on these readings, I was in Australia.  Since that was for the First Sunday of August 2001, it was before 9/11.  Somehow things changed after 9/11.  We all know that.  But some of the problems I faced in writing that homily over a decade ago are just the same as the problems I faced in putting together this homily.  Maybe they are even more intense now.

I was in Australia doing a speaking tour and I had asked for that particular Sunday because I had a feeling it would be especially meaningful.  At the time I had no idea how truly meaningful it would be.  When I asked for that Sunday, I had not even looked at the readings!

The theme of our Australian tour was “Unity in Diversity.”  It occurred to me as I started to prepare the homily what Qoheleth (author of Ecclesiastes) said about vanity, that every time we fail to see unity in our diversity we are engaging in vanity.  Think about it!

This message had been especially poignant for me because of the people I was traveling with — Ruth Mills, a woman Anglican priest, and Hoan Ribera, a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest.  We were definitely an eclectic group!  But the message applies to any group.  No two people are the same – not even identical twins.  Can any of us even calculate the diversity found in our world?  I don’t think so.  And yet we are unified by our humanity and by our relation to the divine.

One of the things that struck me as a Catholic occurred when either Ruth or Hoan celebrated the Eucharist.  I was not ordained, although I did take my turn leading liturgical celebrations.  Is it not Catholic vanity to say that only one of them could be validly consecrating the bread and wine?  Is it not Catholic vanity to say that Ruth is not “proper matter” to be presiding at the Eucharist just because she is female, regardless of whether or not Anglican orders are recognized by Rome?

I am angered by our vanity.  I was angered back then and today I am even more angered.  Look at some of these recent rulings.  Pedophilia (which, granted, is one of the most heinous of crimes) is still only worthy of a slap on the wrist (or an occasional police report) but women’s ordination is now considered to be a sacrilege.  Women’s ordination is a crime worthy of excommunication because it defiles a sacrament.  This is a new ruling.  Pedophilia, which destroys the lives and souls of the victims, is a moral sin but it is not serious enough to warrant excommunication.  But, women’s ordination is not simple disobedience but is a sacrilege because the female body (being a second class creation) defiles the sacrament.

I am angered by the vanity.

And another statement from recent times comes from the Vicar of the Diocese of Rome.  He is urging gay priests to step out of the closet and leave the priesthood.  Can you believe the arrogance?  Well, Benedict XVI would definitely get his smaller, purer church!

I am angered by the vanity – by the arrogance, – by the self-righteousness.

Think back to the theme of unity in diversity.  We are as diverse as the stars – and we are as unified as the stardust!

Colossians today tells us that if we are raised with Christ, we should seek what is above.  So, why don’’t we?  What is above is not the diversity of our petty rules.  The diversity of our petty rules is vanity.  The diversity of all of creation is unity and what is above – with Christ ids the unity of all of creation striving for oneness with the Creator.  Our hair splitting and our dictating our rules to God is vanity.  And how can vanity be what is above?

In Luke’’s gospel, Jesus tells us, ““Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’’s life does not consist of possessions.””

So I have been sitting in my virtual pew meditating on the Eucharist,– a feast that was given for the unity of all.  And I have been horrified by the greed of our churches.  Yes, our churches are rich.  Some not in money – but richness is not limited to money.  And our churches are greedy.  Our churches say that all things are theirs and that even that which comes from another church ultimately comes from one church.  Our churches are filled with the vanity of self-righteousness.  Our churches are filled with the sense that they possess the way.  Maybe they do.  But is it not greed and vanity to say that only one way is valid?

I can accept the “only one way” concept as a valid answer to the vanity and greed of self-effacing righteousness only if that one way is emanating from God, only if that one way is extending from heaven and enveloping the earth.  I cannot accept that pompous vanity that says the “only one way” originates on earth and encompasses heaven.

I cannot say that my eyes have been opened by these Eucharistic experiences.  But, I can say that my heart has been pierced and my mind has become swollen with tears because our vanity – our attitude of “we are right and you are wrong” – has so totally corrupted the message of Jesus the Christ.

Despite what we say, we do not possess Christ in the sense of our ideologies greedily protecting God from the onslaughts of the “heretics” who do not split hairs the same as we do.  We do, however, possess Christ in the sense that we are in Christ and Christ is in us.  Christ is in all of us.  That is – ALL of us.  In our magnificent diversity, we are all unified in Christ.  We do not have a monopoly on Christ and our lives do not consist in an ecclesiastic monopoly on the ministry of our mandates to love and serve.

Vanity of vanities, indeed!  How dare we set rules to appease our vanity and foster our greed and dictate that we alone are right.  Let us be one.  Let the ecumenism of our celebrations image the unity that Christ pleaded for all of us.  The things the churches have presumed actually belong to God and not to us.  Let us each erase our greed and our vanity and let us reach out to each other in love and let us all be one,– unified in our diversity and not torn apart by the vanity of it.

— Roberta M Meehan, DMin


Update on Our Good Shepherd Ministries of SWFL,Inc.

July 26, 2016-An Update of Our Good Shepherd Ministries
The blessings of this summer day to you!
We are seven months into 2016 and it has been quite a year for us thus far. The Ministry and its needs continue despite our slowing down due to the new challenges of cancer for both of us. Presently, I am doing well physically after a partial surgery for breast cancer in March and another, thankfully unfounded, scare in May. I still contend with the aftermath of a partial gastrectomy for a rare GIST stomach cancer in 2013. But, since July 18, JudyB. is dealing with rigorous chemotherapy for Myelo Dysplastic Disease, a very serious possible precursor to AML. As you may know she has been cured and free of APL, a rare Leukemia, since 2007, but the strong chemo- treatment for that has likely, over time, brought about a complete deterioration of her blood. She is strong in spirit and faith but feeling weaker due to the condition and the present treatment. Our focus is on her treatment and it is a blessing that we had already been winding down on our Tuesday and Sunday church activities. She can not be in a room full of people as she has no immune system left. For the forseeable future we have stopped our Sunday and Tuesday activities as of July 5th and July 17th. We know you will join us in praying for her successful treatment and for all of our people as they continue on their journey to become Christ-like in love, service and seeking justice. Our hearts and prayers remain with them always.


We have stopped our regular meetings of necessity, but we will continue relationships with our people and others who reach out to us. We will continue to meet many needs until the end of December as a non-profit 501c3 agency. We have commitments to families and individuals that help them maintain and sustain housing and educational endeavors. Some months’ notice is needed by people before we withdraw those commitments so they can work harder at becoming self-sufficient to the extent possible and also find other sources of assistance. We have made many referrals and will open fewer new cases, but will still continue a level of assistance until the end of December 2016. We remain available for the Sacraments and spiritual guidance as we are able.
Our commitment to children, youth and families and all of our people continues with the help of our associates in service. On July 15th we were able to take eight youngsters, ages 7-15, and two grandmothers, to the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater to see the Wizard of Oz. We were able to greet and eat with the group and our dedicated Church and Board member, Judy Alves stayed to chaperone and transport them. According to one bright and artistic nine year old “this Show was the best ever!” We also helped twelve of our young people with beginning school supplies and will be providing clothing and other school supplies to some of the others. School begins again in early August.





We have been helping people with their medical needs uncovered by insurance as well. For example, three individuals have received special orthotics and shoes for foot problems that interfered with mobility. Also, on June 5th, a Nurse Practitioner, Joan Gibble (Photo below) came to work enthusiastically with the large group on diabetes, other illnesses and nutrition. In the 703 hot meals that we served in this seven month period we have emphasized healthy cooking, no junk food or sodas and balanced proportions. We hope this helps form a base example and regret that for now we can no longer continue the meal program. We are especially thankful to Ellen and Jack McNally and their friends for feeding our Tuesday group and to our members Pearl Cudjoe and Judy Alves, and Lisa Munklewitz and Monica Picirillo of Lamb of God and Gini Beecroft and her Breckinridge community for our delicious Sunday meals.



We met needs for medications that were exorbitant to those on low fixed incomes. One older woman just finished a seven month prescription regimen that cost 80$ a month that she did not have. She and her family are very grateful for our assistance. Another man whom we helped with prescriptions and other needs was finally awarded SSDI and made a very nice donation to us so we could continue to help others.

We continue to assist Pat, our 62 year old formerly homeless woman who lived in the woods for over a year, to prepare for and attain Senior housing. After many applications and interviews and a process of paying old bills, Pat is ready to enter Senior housing on August 1st, 2016. She and her cat Sarah have been living at our Hospitality House behind the church since 2/3/16. She has been so thankful as she was able to “return home to God”, in her words. She asked to be Confirmed when the Bishop came in early June and joined six others who made a mature commitment to follow Christ. We will miss Pat and her joyful ways and Pat will miss us and her Good Shepherd church friends as her new home is over an hour and a half away. (All local Senior housing lists were over two years long). But she is so happy to have her own home after many years. This week she visited her new home in Belle Glades and she loved it. We are arranging for her furniture to be moved on August 1st and her first month’s rent and security paid as she receives her small Social Security check later in the month. Two or more of our members will accompany her and help her to complete the move. (Pat is sitting between our two young men in the Confirmation picture below).


Our Good Shepherd Hospitality House now has three people living there in transition to affordable housing and when Pat moves on, another person/church member will move in. While all there realize this is a transitional/temporary living space, we are pleased that we can continue to offer this safe and warm home to those in need at the present time.
We remain a 501c3 agency until that December 2016 when we voluntarily let that function go so we can continue to downsize. It is likely that we will continue after then with some people whom we serve as well.
We thank our loving God and we thank our friends so much for making our Good Shepherd ministries possible. We wish you all the best and continually thank God for you.
Love and Prayers and blessings,
Pastors Judy Lee and Judy Beaumont

Blessing  One AnotherIMG_0189

Mary and Martha and Moving On:16th Sunday in Ordinary Time-July 17,2016

Gospel: Luke 10: 38-42- Mary and Martha-Serving Two Ways

Pastor Judy Beaumont and I have been Mary and Martha to the Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers, Florida since 2007. We are living testaments to how much Jesus loved and called  Martha and Mary. What grace enabled this marvelous community to develop, and what grace will continue with it now! We both are like Martha as we serve our wonderful community, and we both are like Mary in our discipleship. But Pastor B’s service includes the laborious preparations for the community to eat and to receive clothing and food and other items as well as helping people to maintain housing by paying bills for them, and  mine includes preaching and teaching and counseling while we both shepherd people through maze-like systems toward self empowerment, and shepherd children and youth through enriching activities. Her ministry includes also leading in the Eucharistic celebration and an expertise in the liturgy we both prepare. Together we have “Pastored” this church of the poor and the not poor, the homeless and those with homes, those with much and those with very little of this world’s goods-people caring for and serving one another and their poorest neighbors.

We started our ministry with the homeless and hungry in a local Park early in 2007. This Sunday is our last time together as a church in the church-house we bought in late 2008. We are retiring from the level of active ministry we have done for the last ten years in Fort Myers, we hope to meet again with the people after a sabbatical time at various homes-“the good Lord willin’ an’the creek don rise! ” Some commitments we have made will be forever and others will continue as best we can until the end of 2016.  The next steps we leave up to God.

Our hearts are full as we approach Sunday. They are full of love that we will always have for our people. They are full of joy as we can see so many that are able to carry this ministry on themselves. Our leaders and members can reach more people on the streets and in their communities than we ever could- and they do.  Our hearts are full of peace knowing that well over one hundred have been housed and moved on toward income stability and fuller lives. Forty-nine people have lived in the rear apartment of the church house when they needed a home until they could have their own home. This includes old and young, families, children and individuals with pets-five dogs, two cats and a pet mouse found a home behind the church with their beloved people. Men and women have tended to health and mental health and recovery issues and some have found a way home to God and  turned their lives around. What a rainbow community we are, black and white and brown, and yellow and all colors of the LGBTQ rainbow as well-a rainbow community choosing to follow Jesus.  We have had twenty-five baptisms and twenty three youth and adults have been Confirmed in Christ. We have witnessed marriages and anointed the ill and dying. We have heard confessions and witnessed new life abounding and rising from the ashes.  God has done a wondrous work in this small and modest building. And we will miss every aspect of our ministry there. Saying goodbye for now is a great sadness for us, but it does not compare with the love that remains for us and for our people. Together, like Mary, we sat at Jesus’ feet on Central Avenue and together and individually we will continue like Martha to serve.  The church is not the building , it is each one of us and despite Pastor B’s serious illness and my own health challenges, reasons enough for retirement, neither we nor our members can or will ever retire from serving our loving God. As the Epistle says (Colossians 1:24-28) we , like Paul, can be joyful that even our bodily suffering can be  aligned with the much greater suffering of Christ for the Church and the people of God. And we can paradoxically, like Paul, deeply know and feel the joy of this.  We wish we could stay forever, but we can not and moving on makes room for  growth in all of us to carry it on in other ways. We move on to different arenas of service and love, meeting again as we can, but never failing to serve one another  and all we come in contact with in some way-perhaps a way that only God knows and makes possible.

What a beautiful Gospel for our last time together in this church and building as we know it now. It speaks to everything we are about, this Mary and Martha, and this church. Jesus and the Gospel writer think women are important enough to speak with AND to become both servants and disciples. And for this Martha and Mary being Priests and pastoring this people is simply responding to the call of Jesus to tend the sheep, and the ewes and the lambs.  Mary is sitting at his feet as disciples sit at the feet of their beloved teacher. She has put aside whatever she usually does to take in what Jesus is teaching-only then she can live it and teach it and gain the strength to serve. Martha eagerly welcomed Jesus to her home and is busy serving Jesus and probably his disciples and friends. She is overwhelmed and needs Mary’s help, asking Jesus to tell Mary that. Instead Jesus legitimizes Mary’s role as disciple. He wants to relieve Martha of her burdens to serve when she too can listen. I imagine that didn’t go so well.  But Martha also knew that Jesus wants her kind of service as well from all of us. The corporal works of mercy to others is what it is all about- Jesus himself washed feet and touched and healed the broken. But unless we love Jesus enough to sit at his feet, unless we listen to Jesus we don’t know the meaning of what we do, if we do it, that is.  In all of us there is a Mary and a Martha.  Let us move forward in active service and in sitting at Jesus feet. He said “Don’t worry about so much-just be my disciple. Come sit here…” Let’s do it as we go forth in deepening our service to our Loving God and one another. Amen!

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community

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And now Rev. Beverly Bingle’s inspired homily: 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
That movie was released forty years ago, in late 1967,
just months before the assassinations
of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.
Joanna was bringing her new fiancé John
to dinner with her parents
in a groundbreaking film that
presented interracial marriage in a positive light.
It turned America’s cultural biases upside down.
Same thing happened 4,000 years ago,
when it was God coming to dinner
in the form of the visitors to the tent of Abraham and Sarah.
And again, 2,000 years ago,
when God again came to dinner
in the presence of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel.
And guess who’s fixing the dinner?
Just take a look at Abraham, the father of our faith.
He is indeed the patriarch.
He gives orders, and everyone jumps.
His wife heads for the kitchen to bake bread.
His slave runs off to slaughter the steer.
Abraham is consumed with providing the hospitality
that customs requires.
Sarah, on the other hand, is in the background,
baking the bread
and listening to their conversation from the tent.
She laughs—to herself—when the visitor says she will have a son.
But God knows what’s in her heart
and asks Abraham why she laughed.
Then Sarah speaks up,
and God speaks directly to her.
A woman talks, and God answers!
That turned the cultural norms upside down!
Luke’s story of Mary and Martha is usually presented
as the difference between contemplation and action,
but it’s more than that.
Before this, in chapters 5 and 7,
Luke put Jesus at two other contentious dinner parties,
one where he ate with tax collectors and sinners
and the other where he praised the woman
who washed his feet
and criticized the male host who did not treat him hospitably.
There’s no question that he made a habit of turning the tables
on the social and religious norms of his time.
Now, in chapter 10, Luke shows Martha
toiling away in the kitchen at what she,
and the society she lives in,
consider to be women’s work,
but Mary is sitting with and listening to Jesus in the living room,
where the men gather while the meal is being prepared.
Martha complains, asking Jesus
to tell her sister to get back in the kitchen…
to get back to the acceptable role for women.
But Jesus says that Mary has “chosen the better part.”
It’s one more dinner party scene
that contradicts the culture of the time.
What is that “better part?”
It’s not to be contemplative instead of active.
And not that contemplation is better than action.
It’s both at the same time.
When we love God and listen to God’s word,
we learn to love our neighbors
and help them when they’re in need.
As Pope Francis puts it,
contemplation and service to others
“are not two opposing attitudes….
For a Christian the works of service and charity
are never detached from the main source of all our actions:
listening to the Word of the Lord,
being—like Mary—at the feet of Jesus
in the attitude of the disciple.”
It’s not an accident that Luke tells this dinner story
right after last week’s Good Samaritan parable
that showed us the second commandment—
love our neighbors as ourselves.
This dinner story shows us the first commandment—
love God with our whole being.
Living that first commandment
isn’t just for when we’re at church or reading the scriptures…
…or attentively listening to my homilies.
No matter what we’re doing or how busy we are,
we are called to live in reverence and gratitude to God.
It will show in everything we do.
It will show especially in the way we treat the least among us—
the ones our culture tells us are not as good as we are.
Here in the United States these days,
that may be blacks or women
or immigrants or Muslims or LGBT folks.
It may be older people or younger people, single parents,
uneducated or poor or homeless or jobless people.
Some of our biases come from who we are,
and some from what we’ve experienced,
but the most insidious ones are hidden
in the systems and practices
that are so much a part of culture that we are blind to them.
It’s hard to remember that God is not only with us but among us,
always present in the people we have learned not to see.
Down at Claver House this week my friend John—
he’s the one who fixed my lawnmower
and didn’t charge me anything for it,
and does that same kind of thing for a lot of other people;
John, a Vietnam vet with a pacemaker
and a weekly visit to the clinic
to get the fluid drained from his lungs;
a lifelong truck driver,
living alone on a fixed income;
John, big black John,
who usually takes part
in the animated conversation that goes on at Claver,
seemed preoccupied,
so I asked him what was up.
He told me that two young men
were shot behind his house last night,
and one of them died.
Then he lifted up his coffee cup and said,
“So I was just being thankful for the coffee.”
Then he added, “And breakfast.
“And a safe place to be.
“And nice people to be with.”
He leaned forward a bit, looked me straight in the eye, and said,
“And I was hoping
that everybody else in the world
could have as much as I do.”
It was like a eucharistic prayer:
thanksgiving for life and food and drink and community.
All I could do was say “Amen!”

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


The Law of Love and Justice: Two RCWP Homilies for 6/10/16-15th Sunday in OT

Today is the day that we hear the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel reading: Luke 10:25-37. This is certainly a parable for our times. We live every day in the midst of often horrific local and global conflicts that pit “my group” against “that group.”In Jesus’ time the Jews and Samaritans were enemies across the border and across the street that could not agree on anything- where to worship, how to worship, the one right way mentality and racial and ethnic differences.  Jesus was courageous enough to address this with a parable that probably no one wanted to hear.  This parable is often “spiritualized”, but here Jesus is teaching what the love of God and our fellow human beings looks like in the context of terrible conflict.

And it is the story of our times here and now. Most notably this week we have two black men in different parts of the USA and in different circumstances killed by white policemen as they tried to comply to what the police asked of them. Then we have five white policemen killed in Dallas, Texas in a spirit of vengeance and retaliation. And, internationally and locally we have the ongoing assault of terrorism and hatred. The words Paris, Istanbul,Bangladesh,  and Orlando all speak in code of this terrorism. And, in Orlando, and elsewhere, the words “hate crime” also apply.  Orlando speaks to the hatred against members of the LGBTQ community and Latinos mixed with the perverted understanding of the Muslim religion that “radical”  terrorists adopt. And in our own community here in Fort Myers, the black on black crime/murder by young thugs makes headlines at least twice a week, and trust for the police is very shaky despite some good local efforts and the new hiring of a black Chief of Police who will have to prove himself and the force trustworthy. I look at the people in my congregation and wonder if a stray or well aimed bullet will end a life this week. Relatives of our families have been killed this year in this crazy violence of young men with guns and assault rifles. Some have been shot by ricochet and some by direct aim in “making good on a beef”-in this strategy not only the gang member is a target but ANY member of his family, young or old. We also have a law here forgiving good Samaritans of any prosecution for crime if they save a life.  It is time for us to put ourselves meaningfully into the Good Samaritan story.



Jesus told this story in response to a question from a “scholar of the law”  who asked what he must do to inherit eternal life? In response to Jesus’ question about how the scholar read the law, the scholar answered according to Jesus’ own sense of the essence of the Law: love God totally and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus and the scholar were on the same wavelength. Or so it would appear until the scholar asked “Who is my neighbor ?” Obviously Jesus’ answer was not what he expected or wanted to hear. The real neighbor who saved the Jewish man who was assaulted and mugged on the dangerous road to Jericho was the hated Samaritan. He not only helped the victim but went the second and third mile, tending his wounds and paying for lodging for him.

Here are some stories I know about good Samaritans. This is an ad we see on TV here: there is currently a bad heroin epidemic and four addicts are shooting up. One,a woman is suddenly dying of an overdose. Two of the men run away as they fear for their lives. The third is terrified but calls 911 and acts to save her with CPR at the instruction of the Operator. When he is told that he has saved her life and simply commended the look on his face says “this could transform me”.

An elderly white woman was assaulted and robbed by black youth on the way home from the store. What little she had was taken from her and she was frightened and hurt. An older black man gently assisted her and saw her home. When he suggested that she press charges she replied: “they must have needed what I had, they are good boys, I can’t press charges”.  Here both the man and the victim, the woman, are the good Samaritans.

A black woman tearfully brought a wreath to place on a spontaneous memorial for the policemen killed in Dallas. She said this was in thanksgiving for their service and assistance. She was joined by a beautiful rainbow variety of other people moved to tears by this anti-police terrorism.

Many white people and Hispanics and Asians, young and old joined in the mourning and orderly protests for the black men killed by police in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge.  As we step out with courage against all forms of hatred, we are good Samaritans.

Yesterday we attended a traditional Roman Catholic Mass with a black woman from our community. When we are not having our own Mass we travel from church to church in the greater community, introducing some of our members to other churches. In this huge well attended church there may have been two or three black people all together.  The priest incorporated great empathy for  the violence against police  into his sermon. He even had a Sheriff who was black come up for a blessing at the end and asked him to say a few words. He asked for cooperation from the community. This was moving, but sadly, it only encompassed one half of the problem.This priest of good will failed to ask us to mourn and pray also for the black men who were killed by the police and their families. Similarly the priest in the Television Mass on EWTN prayed only for the policemen killed not the other victims of brutality and murder by police-perhaps police who were truly frightened and not well trained enough, but who killed without actual threat to their lives, nonetheless.  He recognized only half of the mutual conflict- there is no peace or courage in that.

And on a personal note, in 2013 when I had major surgery for a stomach cancer I remained in the hospital in semi-isolation for eight days. During that time ministering angels came to me. First,  Joseph Cudjoe, the head of an African family whom we have worshiped with for 17 years, came to the hospital just before my surgery. As an elder in our church, he joined Pastor Judy and her sister Jill, who nursed me through the difficult first nights, in healing prayer. Then my primary Doctor Teresa Sievers also a member of our faith community, came and sat with me ministering through the entire night.  When she was brutally killed by friends of her husband in 2015 our entire community was in mourning and shock. We wished that she had had a ministering angel, but if she did, it was not of this violent world. After those first nights, it was really the CNA’s who tended most to me. In particular there was a CNA,a woman from Haiti whose joy and kindness overwhelmed me and another CNA, a gentle and competent Orthodox Jewish American man, who talked with me about God and Israel. In my earlier days I took a Zionist tour of Israel and we had much to share. These were my good Samaritans.

Thanks be to God for all the good Samaritans in our lives, and may we be courageous enough to truly be good to others-to live and remember in our every act the Law of Love and Justice, for it is one.

Amen. Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, Co-Pastor Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers

This is the homily of Rev. Beverly Bingle with thanksgiving to her for her inspiration:

“Scripture scholars agree that Jesus
actually spoke today‘s parable of the Good Samaritan,
or something very much like it.
They call the parable itself “a classic example
of the provocative public speech of Jesus the preacher.”
But they also say that Luke
created the dialogue around the parable,
reasoning that the dialogue asks two questions
that are different from the teaching of the parable itself.
Those two questions
are what I’m used to hearing about this passage:
“Who is my neighbor?” and “Which one acted like a neighbor?”
But the parable itself leads us to ask this question:
“From what quarter can I expect help
when I have been robbed, beaten, and left for dead?”
If I’m the one in need of help,
who do I think will step up and be a neighbor to me?
Phyllis is one.
Whenever I have to go out of town overnight,
she tends my chickens and keeps watch on the house.
Then there’s Carrie and her family, across the street from me.
They’ve learned how to herd chickens
from those times the mail carrier or meter reader
has left the gate open.
Down at Claver House George and John and Tina and Shirley
get worried and phone me if I don’t show up for breakfast.
And you, the members of our Holy Spirit Catholic Community,
tend me every time you see me struggling—
like when I was hobbling around on crutches last spring.
I am surrounded by Good Samaritans,
people who help me instinctively
because they have formed themselves
into compassionate human beings.
So there are people around me who I expect will help me.
But who would I not expect help from?
Jesus’ audience for this parable would have thought
that the beat-up and bleeding man in the ditch was a Jew.
They would have expected the priest and the Levite to help him.
But they didn’t.
They would not have expected the hated Samaritan to help him.
But he did.
And he went way beyond that,
reaching out with boundless compassion and resources
to bring help and healing.
Would I expect a Muslim to help me? Or not?
A Mexican immigrant?
A politician?
A homeless person?
A bishop?
My answer will show what I think of other people.
It will lay bare my acceptance of some and my rejection of others.
We all want to become the kind of person
who will be expected to be a neighbor to anyone in need.
The only way to do that
is to practice compassion in ordinary, everyday life.
When we decide to follow Jesus, it’s a process.
We decide to reflect and pray and study and act
in ways that will form us into a person of virtue.
If we think people who are different from us—
in race or ethnicity or religion
or gender or political persuasion—
would not be expected to help us in a crisis,
that’s a sign that we need to change.
Toledo janitor Karen Loudermill, taking a break from work,
saw a young girl walking alone on the street
in the middle of the night.
Karen didn’t hesitate to get involved.
She didn’t worry about getting back to work on time.
She didn’t wonder if the girl was on drugs, or mentally ill,
or dangerous in some way.
She didn’t think about what could happen to her.
Karen walked over and started the conversation
that uncovered serious mistreatment
in the home where the girl had been kept a prisoner.
D.C. government worker Larry Skutnik,
caught in a traffic jam on a bridge over the Potomac
as he headed home,
got out of his car
and saw that a plane had crashed into the river.
Larry watched as a helicopter rescued two of the three people
hanging on to the tail of the plane.
When he saw the third starting to go under,
he took off his shoes and jacket, dived into the freezing water,
and brought the woman to the shore.
Larry’s comment: “I reacted instinctively, that’s all.”
What made Karen and Larry take those heroic actions?
What made them risk danger to help a stranger?
What gave them that instinct for compassion?
That kind of virtue comes from how they had learned to be
in the ordinary times,
not from extraordinary circumstances.
They are ordinary people
who learned compassion
to the point that they didn’t even think about themselves
when they saw another human being in need.
The crisis didn’t create their character.
It revealed it.
Social psychologists who study bystander apathy
identify three things a person uses
to decide whether to do something in an emergency:
whether or not they feel the person is deserving of help;
whether they have competence to help;
and what relationship they have with the victim.
As Christians—and as Americans—
we say we believe that all people are equal
and therefore equally deserving of help.
We believe that everyone is a child of God, a brother or sister to us.
That means that we have the same relationship
with any and every victim.
And that means that we have a responsibility
to develop habits of compassion
that will cause us to act instinctively
to help whenever we can.
We can’t hesitate because the person isn’t like us,
or because we don’t know who they are,
or because we aren’t EMTs.
When Jesus says
that the law is summed up as love God and love neighbor,
it sounds easy…
but it’s the journey of a lifetime.
Amen! ”

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




Rev. Chava’s Reflection On Gifts

Here is a beautiful reflection by Rev. Chava Redonnet,RCWP, Priest with the Migrant Workers in New York State. Please remember Rev. Chava’s church in your prayers and giving. They are nearly able to buy the house for the church they so richly deserve. Address on bottom. 

thank you and blessings,

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee

Rev. Chava’s Reflection Sunday July 3, 2016, Oscar Romero Church

Dear friends,   

One day many years ago, someone complemented me on my singing. I deflected the complement, thinking of all the wonderful singers we had at church – Eastman students, and professionals, lots of amazing voices. But I felt in my spirit a powerful nudge that said, “don’t devalue your singing!!!” It was like an order.

I think about that sometimes when I’m leading services. Whether at St Romero’s on Sunday mornings, or at the Migrant Mass, or leading services on the floors at the nursing home, we are singing a capella. Without my voice, there is no music. I sing in the car to Santiago all the time, too. He calls me his pajarita, his little bird.

So this past week, we had that reading where Jesus sends people out “like lambs among wolves” and tells them not to bring anything with them, and to accept whatever hospitality they are given. That’s a lot like our little church, worshipping in borrowed spaces, with makeshift altars, no musicians, sometimes even out in the open air. The floor services in the nursing home are like that, too, just making church with what we have and the people that are there. It was so hot one day last week I chose not to wear my alb, and thought that fit pretty well with “don’t even bring an extra cloak.”

Services in the nursing home are usually pretty sleepy affairs, with just one or two really alert people in the room. This week, though, in that one service, it was like a light went on. We were singing “Lord of the Dance,” and people were clapping. One woman was dancing in her wheelchair. A man who was visiting sang along, and his bass voice made it feel like we really had music happening, almost as good as if we’d had an instrument accompanying us. When it was over he thanked me and said “That was great!” It wasn’t until later that I realized, a big part of what made it great was his voice! He was our gift in that moment.

Are you aware of yourself as gift? When I was a student chaplain, we students tended to want to walk into patient’s rooms with stuff in our hands – Bibles, prayer books, rosaries, whatever. Our teachers told us over and over, “YOU are what you bring into the room!” It was our listening presence that people needed, not the stuff we carried.

I think when we are aware of ourselves as gift, we are more easily aware of the gift that others are to us. The giving always goes both ways!


We won’t be having the migrant Mass this week, or Mass at St Romero’s on Sunday, because I will be away.  I’m going to Boston to speak at Spirit of Life church, where Jean Marchant and Ron Hindelang are pastors. Jean asked me to bring pictures, so this week I found all the pictures from five years of the migrant ministry to put on a flash drive. I found photos I’d forgotten, pictures of so many old friends, most of whom have moved on – deported, or moved away – but lots of happy memories.


Blessings and peace, and enjoy this beautiful summer. (Beautiful, but they badly need rain out near Batavia!)

Love to all , Chava


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                                                                          A member community of the Federation of Christian Ministries

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The Apostle to the Apostles-Mary Magdalene Recognized by Pope Francis

This long overdue recognition of Mary Magdalene as Apostola Apostolarum, the Apostle to the Apostles is another welcomed act of Pope Francis. Feminist theologians have long taught this and it is a moment of joy to have it recognized with a genuine Feast Day. Who knows what is next? Maybe we, Roman Catholic Women Priests will be welcomed back too! (Well, it is always good to be hopeful)!

Here is the article from NCR, National Catholic Reporter:

Pope elevates memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to feast day


Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.

A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.

Both the decree and the article were titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).

In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”

“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Roche wrote.

While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.

In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day”), St. John Paul II explained that the “commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him.”

Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Francis highlighted Christ’s mercy toward a woman who was “exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous,” but she was loved and forgiven by him.

Her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus,” the pope said April 2, 2013, during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”

Roche explained that in giving St. Mary Magdalene the honor of being the first person to see the empty tomb and the first to listen to the truth of the resurrection, “Jesus has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who manifests her love for him, looking for him in the garden with anguish and suffering.”

Drawing a comparison between Eve, who “spread death where there was life,” and St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” the archbishop said her feast day is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”

“It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”

Comforted, Made New and Sent:Two RCWP Homilies for Sunday July 3rd,2016

As we experience local and global events that raise anxiety and concern this 4th of July weekend in the United States, we may be prompted to say: What kind of a God do we have? It seems that  acts of horrific terrorism are only matched by  acts of love and kindness. Millions of dollars have been raised to help the families of the 49 Orlando victims and millions of loving acts have been expressed as well. This happens after each mass tragedy and restores our hope though it cannot change what happened. Natural disasters, some precipitated clearly by human neglect or environmental abuse, also challenge us. We are up to the gills here in usually beautiful Florida with a major water problem threatening infection by a blue-green algae and a run-off of murky brown water. Unless we can turn the channel quickly we see over and over again a baby manatee stuck in a surreal and toxic blue-green sludge.  It is a powerful symbol and a page from a bad science fiction movie but alas, it is real. Our mis-management of our water resources has come to this. And yet God was there-there in human love and care- there were people endlessly dragging hoses to the water’s edge and bathing the little one ,making sure it drank clean water. If only people acting together can literally turn this tide. But maybe we can….

The First Reading from Isaiah 66:10-14 is a beautiful poem about God’s love for Jerusalem, and for us.We know that the State of Israel has become a life-filled former desert flowing with water that continues to represent hope for so many and yet the eternal wars and now nuclear threats almost block out the sun of this joy. Almost but not quite.  The text tells us that God is like “a mother who comforts her child” and God says”So I will comfort you….” So, we have a God who loves and provides comfort when we are most in need of it. We are in need of it as a global community, and as a nation and in our individual lives. This year Pastor Judy Beaumont and I have faced the literal threat of another two cancers. Mine could be handled (again!) by surgery and I am on the mend after a second scare that was unfounded-nothing had spread- but hers is not so easy and we turn again to our God of comforting and our God of healing. She has been healed- cured of three other cancers in the last 16 years. We know that God is still with her now. And the prayers and love of the community also bring comfort and strength to us.

The Entrance Antiphon for Sunday in Living with Christ (p.56) says “Your merciful love ,O God, we have received in the midst of your temple.  Your praise,O God, like your name, reaches the ends of the earth; your right hand is filled with saving justice”.  Yes, God is still with us. And while it may not always seem so to us,  saving Justice is always with us. The responsorial Psalm of the day is Psalm 66. Verse 20 says” Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what God has done for me, Blessed be God who refused not my prayer or God’s kindness”. The response is “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy”. Yes, it is hard to cry out with joy in the midst of terrorism, violence, pollution and our individual tragedies and challenges-but it is our faith and living experiences of God that let us know that God’s kindness and comfort and God’s saving justice is still with us. Like the 72 sent forth in the Gospel of Luke(10:1-12 and 17-20) we are to “declare what God has done for us”.  And, the Gospel for the day let’s us know that God’s reign IS with us BUT we are to spread it everywhere. We  are called and sent to bring the reign of God, with the Gospel of love and justice and inclusion all over the world, and that means to bloom fully as maturing Christ followers, imitating Christ, right where we are planted for most of us. Jesus has given us the power to deal with all of the enemies of love and justice that we can name, but more, to be thankful that we are named by God. Wow! We belong to the God who  reigns and longs to mother us like a mother comforts her child.  And more, to em-power us to change the world around us. As the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 6: 14-18-it is only the new creation that matters. The new creation, the reign of God, comes through us with power and with love as we LIVE the Gospel and heal the sick and say ” The reign of God is at hand for you”.  Thanks be to God!



And now Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle’s inspiring homily:

In the chapter before today‘s Gospel,
Luke tells the story of the sending of the twelve apostles,
symbolic of the twelve tribes
and therefore representing the church’s mission to Israel.
Matthew and Mark also tell of the sending of the twelve.
Luke, though, is the only one
who adds the sending of the seventy-two
that we heard in today‘s Gospel.
Like the twelve, the seventy-two is symbolic.
A little background here:
the Greek manuscripts of Luke’s gospel
differ about the number—
it’s seventy in some, seventy-two in others.
In Genesis Moses chose seventy elders to help him,
and Jacob had seventy descendents.
Both seventy and seventy-two
may also symbolize the number of nations in the world—
the Hebrew text of Genesis says seventy nations,
the Greek text seventy-two.
Whichever number is used,
it stands for the mission of the church to the whole world
and shows the understanding of the early church
that they were sent to proclaim Jesus’ message
to all people everywhere.
And that message begins with peace.
They are to be bearers of peace everywhere they go,
telling people that God is in charge,
not the violent or the greedy or the hate-filled.
As Luke writes it, “The reign of God is at hand for you.”
Comparing the ways the gospel writers
described the sending of the disciples
makes it clear that the early church communities
freely adapted Jesus’ words to their own circumstances.
The word of God is not abstract.
It doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
God’s word is alive,
and like our ancestors in faith,
we must interpret God’s word
to learn how we are called and sent to preach the good news.
We are the ones who are sent now,
apostles of peace in our time.
But how can we possibly bring peace to this world?
Or maybe the question is how we can BE peace In the world.
Down at Claver House this week I noticed Katy being peace.
She and her husband Rob are regular guests.
Katy greets folks by name when they come in.
Whenever a bag of donated clothes arrives,
she unpacks it and folds things on the table,
calling out to folks, “Shirley, this would look great on you!”
or “Matt, wouldn’t your granddaughter like this?”
When Katy notices someone near her with an empty coffee cup,
she’ll get up and get them a refill.
And she does all this with cheerful respect.
And Rob… whenever one of the guests starts to get loud,
or, two of the guests let an argument get out of hand,
Rob calmly and firmly asks them to quiet down.
I’ve seen him defuse some situations that could have turned nasty.
Katy and Rob are peace in the world.
Then there’s Barbara Coleman.
From her experience
with the anti-racism “Dialogue-to-Change” group,
she realized that her life did not include people of color.
Sure, she worked with black people,
and she went to church with them.
But she went home to a white suburb.
So she decided to integrate her social life.
She began to invite participants in her group
to supper at her house,
eventually resulting in new friendships
among a half dozen or so people
of different races and backgrounds.
I remember my Aunt Anne being peace in the world.
She preached with her actions,
mothering her five boys,
welcoming their neighborhood buddies into the house
with smiles and snacks
and always an invitation to stay for the next meal.
Whenever a new family moved into the neighborhood,
she was on the step with a cake to welcome them.
She volunteered at the Church.
She made sure people had what they needed,
whether it was a ride to the doctor’s office or a listening ear.
She was a good listener,
asking the right questions and never criticizing.
Kind and generous, she preached peace in her own house,
peace in the neighborhood, peace in her parish—
just by being who she was, all without saying a word.
Aunt Anne had the marks of Jesus in her heart—
marks made by a life of gentleness and a loving spirit.
In our second reading St. Paul says he’s been troubled so much—
stoning, chains, beatings—
that he considers his scars
to be like the marks of Jesus on his body.
Paul had turned away from his deadly persecution of Christians
to preach peace and practice nonviolence.
We may not have the marks of Jesus on our bodies,
but we can bear the marks of Jesus in our hearts.
Those marks are visible, especially in the world we live in.
They’re the ones that John’s Gospel says
will make all people know that we are Jesus’ disciples—
that we love one another.
No one of us can bring peace to the Middle East.
No one of us can stop the killings on our city’s streets.
What we can do is be peace right where we are.
Like Tom McDonald and Sharon Havelak
and the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition,
we can stand on a street corner and hold up a sign.
Like Katy and Rob at Claver House,
we can urge peace in the middle of turmoil.
Like Barbara Coleman,
we can build friendships with people who are different from us.
Like my Aunt Anne, we can reach out with hospitality and concern
to family and friends and neighbors.
Our hearts will grow in peace
when we walk the way that Jesus taught,
and we too will become peace in the world.
We will be apostles of peace,
living signs of love that can soothe tempers,
bridge divisions,
and heal wounds.
Glory be to God!

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