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,
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