Two Roman Catholic Women Priests Reflect on Seeing As God Sees: For The 4th sunday in Lent-March 22,2020
Here, two Roman Catholic Women Priests share their thoughts on the important and provocative readings on how we see and how God sees, on our blindness, for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Rev. Beverly Bingle,RCWP from Ohio and I have each written our thoughts so that you can participate in the Liturgy of the Word at home at a time when actual meetings are not possible. This is the link for Rev. Beverly’s beautiful homily courtesy of Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan,ARCWP’s blog where it is published. We are deeply thankful to Rev. Bingle for sharing this with us.
Like many other churches that draw crowds during this time of “social distance” to prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading, our Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community in Fort Myers will not be able to meet this Saturday afternoon. Many members and friends have conveyed their sadness at this and asked to read our reflections here. So this is our “virtual celebration ” of sorts. We will still miss our worship time together and just being together in person to celebrate the recent happenings of this community. So I will mention a few highlight events here.
First our March and April Birthdays: On March 3rd our beloved Ann Palmer turned 90 years old. Her family gave her a huge surprise birthday party that Judy Alves and I attended for our Good Shepherd Community. The love she sowed in her life was so evident as so many whose lives she touched as a lifelong Fort Myers resident gathered round her expressing their gratitude. Remarkably, Ann is devout and traditional in many beliefs of the Church but she has warmly embraced women priests and our community since we began in 2007. and And on the same date, our twins Jakeriya and Jakein Maybin turned 18 years old. Raised and baptized in The Good Shepherd Church, we are so happy to see them arrive at their majority and congratulate them on remaining in High School and moving forward at a very hard time for them after the death of their mother in 2017. Our faithful church member and frequent cook and caterer Cyrillia Rismay also had a big birthday on March 18th and we send her birthday blessings on this very day. Timothy Vanderwarf who has also been with us since the beginning has a birthday on the 31st of March. We assured him that we will not forget his birthday. And April 3rd brings the 12th birthday of our dear Joelle White who has been with is for all of her amazing young life. What a joy to see her grow into a lovely and bright young woman who continues to love singing and acting and school. April 8th is Awsha Sanders’ birthday and we remember her as well. She has moved temporarily out of the area but always remains in touch.
BIRTHDAY BLESSINGS TO ALL!
We also say thank you and offer prayers for Pastor Judith McKloskey,RCWP from Kansas City, Missouri as she and her husband Dan drive back home from their winter here,in Bonita Springs. Our congregation will miss her caring warmth and music leadership.
We also give our condolences to Michelle Landino who lost her partner Nancy Callo, 57 years old, to sudden death in her sleep last week. They were a part of our GS community from 2013-2015 before they moved out of the area. A blessed Easter Rising to Nancy and our compassion for Michelle and Nancy’s family in their loss.
The pictures above are of Ann Palmer, 90 with Judy Alves and Joelle White,who will turn 12.
Seeing As God Sees– Introduction-
We have been travelling with Jesus toward the cross and beyond to his resurrection this Lenten season. We have been looking at our own lives and taking stock of where we,like the religious and his disciples fail to know and see and emulate Jesus. Jesus has been healing the sick and engaging with the outcast of his world including the Samaritan women with whom he entrusted the good news of his identity. He has been teaching and feeling frustrated with the religious who try to trap him and with the disciples who sometimes fail to see who he really is. This week we witness Jesus healing a man born blind. As we listen to Jesus we can identify with the religious critics and the disciples who “don’t get it” although, hopefully, we can also identify with the man who was blind but now can see.
For this Lenten Sunday we would have two opening hymns- a warm-up with the brief chant our congregation uses called “Revive us Again” that acknowledges that we need to be brought to life in Christ once again. And “All Are Welcome” for once again that is the message of the day-the blind, the lame, the sick, the deaf, the well, the poor , the well- to-do of all cultures, races, classes, sexual orientations and genders. ALL are welcome to Jesus’ Table-no exceptions.
Our Opening Prayer is: Our living, loving and forgiving God, we come before You with contrite hearts mindful of the ways we choose darkness rather than light. We pray that You will be with us and our troubled world, now plagued by a frightening health scare, and bring us guidance,healing and peace. We seek to see as You do, we seek to find You again in this Lenten season….”
Liturgy of the Word
First Reading 1 Samuel 16:1,6-7,10-13. the prophet Samuel goes to choose a king for Israel from Jesse’s sons. Samuel looks at Eliab, an handsome young adult. But God guides him to David, the youngest son and says to him” Do not judge from appearance…God does not see as people see: I look at the heart”
Responsive Psalm 23: God is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want”. We respond with the chorus of the hymn Shepherd Me O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears from death into life
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14- Live as Children of the light.
– shine with goodness, justice and truth.
Before the Gospel Acclamation we chant and claim the ground we stand on and ourselves and our neighbors, pointing at each, as Holy Ground.
Acclamation: Praise to You, Jesus Christ, who reigns in endless Glory.! “I am the light of the world, the one who follows me will have the light of life” Praise to You…
Gospel: John 9:1-41 “work for the night is coming…I am the Light (so you can see the work that needs to be done…)” “I came into the world so that those who do not see may see…”
The Gospel is read in English and in Spanish, the latter by our associate Pastor, Rvda Marina Teresa Sanchez Mejia who will also do a translation of the homily.
Today Jesus heals the blind man and he sees the light. Although both he and Jesus are ridiculed, he sees who Jesus is-The Messiah, the Son of Man, the Light- and has both faith and sight restored. To have faith, to believe and to affirm what Jesus has done and who he is is to “see”. The Pharisees would rather debate Jesus and try to trip him up than to see his light. They have no compassion for the man born blind. They see him as a sinner and a loser. But imagine how he feels as he sees for the first time-light, color, his parents, trees, flowers, people… his life is completely changed in an instant. I have a friend who had a cataract operation recently with a complicated condition. She could not stop describing light,textures and color. The religious of the time can not see what Jesus did only what they want to see- a man breaking Sabbath law by healing on the Sabbath. The man who suffered and begged as Jesus walked by on the Sabbath is of NO concern to them. They say they can see-but they are the ones who are blind. Jesus tells them that directly.
So we must wonder: what is it that we cannot see? Where are we also blind? What are our blind spots even if we can “generally” see Jesus? Are certain people or certain groups of people of no real concern to us? Are we blind to their situations-their experiences- to their suffering? Are there things people try to show us that we can not see? Are our own religious, social, economic, political or other beliefs thick lenses that blind us to the way God would see others? Do we look on the appearance rather than on the heart? Are we so worried about our own fears and wants that we cannot see others? Oh Dear Jesus, help us to see and own our own blind-spots. Help us to see others, to see You and to see the world as You see it, and act accordingly. Be the light for us….AMEN.
The Communion Hymn we would have had this week with Pastor Judith MCKloskey singing and leading us was “Change our Hearts” by Rory Cooney Copyright 1984 spiritandsong.com,a division of OCP. All rights reserved. “Change our hearts this time, your word says it can be. Change our minds this time,your life could make us free. We are the people your call set apart,Lord, this time, change our hearts.”
During Holy Communion we would sing the Spiritual softly “It’s me,it’s me, it’s me oh Lord, standin’ in the need a prayer” and “Thank You, God, Thank You God…You been so good…You been my friend…”
And after our Mutual Blessing of one another at the ending before the Deacon tells us “The Mass is over, go and serve one another” we would sing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”, hopefully more resolute in this desire than when we began our worship.
May God Bless you on the 4th Sunday of Lent, and bless you with light, now and always, AMEN.
Pastor Judy Lee, RCWP
Good Shepherd Inclusive Catholic Community , Fort Myers, Florida
Rev. Dr. Judith Lee
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