Open the Door:Two RC Women Priests Reflect on 21st Sunday in OT August 21,2016
From time immemorial groups tend toward exclusivity, to shut their doors actually or metaphorically on those of difference and newcomers who are not yet trusted. The reading from Isaiah 66:18-21 today says that God sees it another way: God knows God’s chosen people and wants to include people of every nations and languages who have not known God to come to the holy mountain. Isaiah goes farther and says that God will “take some of these as priests and Levites”(verse 21). This must have been a shock to the religious of the time even as the calling and ordination of women as priests in the RC church today through the Roman Catholic WomenPriests Movement ( that began in 2002 on the River Danube) and the inclusion of a host of people formerly seen as outcast at the Table of Jesus shocks some of the faithful today. Yet that is the prophetic word-open the doors, God wants everyone to come in. Jesus says essentially the same thing in Luke 13:22-30. As Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP of Toledo, Ohio says in the homily below being a “church member” and hearing sermons and taking Holy Communion is not enough- we have to really get it, get the Gospel of love and justice and “walk the walk”. Jesus challenges us to walk the walk , to love God with ALL our hearts and beings and to love our neighbors as ourselves, the same challenge of the early Hebrew community. Jesus is also saying that God is happy to invite people from all over the world to come and recline at the Table in the kin-dom of God. Let us then be people of INCLUSION, let us leave no one out, let’s open the door!
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP Co-Pastor The Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community, Fort Myers, Florida www.goodshepmin.org
And now the insightful homily of Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle:
Four weeks ago we heard about God as our friend—
Luke’s parable about the neighbor
pounding on the door to borrow a loaf a bread,
and the door being opened,
even though it was the middle of the night.
Today we hear a different story,
one where it’s not so easy to get in
and take a place at the feast in the kin-dom of God.
This time there’s a gate, and it’s a narrow one.
Lots of people will try to get in, but they’ll be turned away.
But other people will get in.
They’ll come from the four corners of the earth,
like in that first reading from Isaiah,
nations of every language.
They will be the very people
thought to be the last ones to make it—
not the rich and the famous
but the powerless and marginalized.
Those “others” are the ones who will get in.
Jesus’ explanation is simple.
Sure, people listened to him, but that’s all they did.
They didn’t take his teaching to heart.
They didn’t change their lives.
So, even though they ate and drank with him
and hung around to hear the message,
they didn’t do anything else.
They didn’t put Jesus’ message into practice.
When I was growing up back in the 50s,
it was common to hear
that “outside the church there is no salvation.”
I remember my 5th grade classmate Judy.
Sister told us that we couldn’t talk with Judy except at school.
We couldn’t go to Judy’s house after school.
When I asked my mom about it,
she told me that Judy’s mom was divorced and remarried
and that put her “outside the church.”
So, except in class, we couldn’t have anything to do with Judy.
So we didn’t.
Then, when I was in 7th grade, my maternal grandparents,
pushing 60 and pretty much unchurched,
decided to be baptized at Grace Lutheran.
My mom wanted us to go.
The priest said no.
We stayed home.
Too often we Catholics were like those people
that Jesus called “evildoers” in today‘s Gospel.
We knew the rules, and we followed them.
We jumped through the hoops.
We thought our baptism would get us through that narrow gate.
We said prayers with plenary indulgences attached,
just so we could get a free pass into heaven.
It was all about saving ourselves.
People who didn’t follow the rules would just have to go to hell,
and it would be their fault.
Three years ago, when we had the same readings we heard today,
Pope Francis told us that
to get through that narrow door
we have to aim our whole life at following the Way of Jesus.
That means living and witnessing
in prayer, in works of charity, in promoting justice,
in doing good for others, especially the poor and the outsider.
It’s a lot more than just jumping through those hoops.
It’s not enough to get baptized and be labeled a Christian.
It’s not enough to share a meal with Jesus.
It’s not enough to just listen to what he says.
It is necessary to get to know God by following Jesus’ Way.
As Elizabeth Johnson put it,
we have to become a friend of God and prophets,
and do it now.
The banquet is ready.
Every day is full of chances to walk through that narrow gate
to feast in the reign of God.
We do it in company with the Syrian refugees
we help to settle here.
We do it walking side by side with our African American friends.
We do it standing on street corners with our peace signs,
handing out those tiny tree seedlings,
voting our conscience for the common good.
We do it in the love we show our family and friends and neighbors…
We pass through that narrow gate
by the way we live our lives.
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