Monday, April 21, 2014

Homily Holy Saturday 2014: Rev. Mary Sue Barnett, ARCWP

John 20: 11-18
Rev. Mary Sue Barnett
April 19, 2014
Betty Smith, Mary Sue Barnett, Denise Menard Davis from Christ Sophia Inclusive Catholic Community in Louisville

Yesterday was Good Friday.
Good Fridays, they come and they go.

Most of us here have lived long enough to have experienced many Holy Weeks, and with that, many Good Fridays.

Over all the years there have been cloudy, cold and dreary Good Fridays, as well as years of warm, breezy, sun-drenched Good Fridays, like yesterday.

Over the many years of our lives we have probably placed ourselves in a sanctuary on Good Friday where it is quiet, dark and somber,
where there is a recalling of the passion narratives and
where there are crosses large and small draped with red or black cloth.

Perhaps there have been Good Fridays in our lives that have coincided with our own personal losses and suffering when the rawness of the crucifixion cuts right through to our own weak and weary hearts.

Maybe there have been Good Fridays in our lives when we have felt righteously, fiercely disturbed by the violence of the crucifixion because we are so disturbed by the same violence in our own day.

Perhaps we have spent Good Fridays away from a sanctuary for being estranged from the church.

What was Good Friday like for you this year? Just yesterday it was Good Friday.

Today is Holy Saturday.
This year, 2014, the skies are blue and the day is sun-drenched and warm. And we are here together in a sanctuary.

Holy Saturday follows Good Friday with a profound quiet.
It holds within it an inexplicable silence and stillness.
The kind of silence that settles in.
A silence beyond silence.
It is a muteness that follows violence and trauma.
A life has been poured out and taken
So the human breath is gone.
There is vigilance at the tomb----
an unlikely place where the deepest mysteries of our faith begin to unfold.

The readings chosen for today's liturgy can guide us into the mystery of Holy Saturday.

The opening words of John's Gospel read:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into Being through the Word, and without the Word, not one thing came into Being."

Theologically, this passage can be also be read as follows:

"In the beginning was Sophia, and Sophia was with God, and Sophia was God. Sophia was in the beginning with God. All things came into Being through Sophia, and without Sophia, not one thing came into Being,"

The "Word" and "Sophia" are identical in meaning.
They refer to Divinity, to a Divine Principle that orders the Universe,
to a Divine Force for Transformation.

The "Word" and "Sophia" also refer to the Divine as Beloved One,
the Beloved One Who yearns, to be sought, to be found, Who is fiercely passionate to be in connection with people and the world in the deepest possible ways.
In the book of Proverbs, Sophia is revealed as a Female Who speaks in first person:
"When God established the heavens,  I was there, before the mountains had been shaped, I was there-----I delight daily in God's presence and in humanity."

So Jesus is the "Word."
Jesus is "Sophia."

When Mary Magdalen loses Jesus to a violent death, when she goes to the tomb, shaken and lost, she is led and carried by the Divine Love shared between Jesus and herself, carried by the passionate, transforming force of the Divine Beloved that defined their earthly walk together.

When Mary goes to the tomb, heart-sick and grief-stricken, her connection with Jesus is not lost.

The connection has changed.

The transforming force of Love between them reaches from Mary Magdalen on the earth to a different realm where Jesus has become the Risen Christ----the Christ Sophia.

In the Gospel of Mary Magdalen (a "non-canonical Gospel discovered in 1896) Mary Magdalen and the disciples experience the presence of Christ Sophia who greets them saying, "Peace be with you, may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you!
Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you.
It is within you that the Blessed One dwells.
Go! Seek! Find! Walk Forth! Announce the Gospel!"

The Gospel of Mary Magdalen goes on to say that,
"The disciples were in sorrow, shedding many tears, and saying:
'How are we to go out there and announce the Gospel?
They did not spare Jesus' life, so why should they spare ours?'
Then Mary Magdalen arose,
She embraced them all, and began to speak to her brothers:
'Do not remain in sorrow and doubt, for the Teacher's Grace will guide you and comfort you. Instead let us praise the Teacher's greatness who has prepared us for this. The Teacher is calling us to become fully human. Thus Mary turned their hearts to the Good, and they began to discuss the meaning of the Teacher's words."

Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest and writer says that the crucifixion did not destroy the intimacy that Mary Magdalen and Jesus experienced. Rather, the intimacy spanned the realms. Mary Magdalen walked forth from the garden on Easter morning a transformed woman.
She walked forth from the garden on Easter morning, fully human, intimate with Christ Sophia, determined to slip into holy souls and to make them friends of God and prophets.

Here we are on Holy Saturday, 2014.
Sun-drenched and warm.
In a quiet sanctuary.

All in all, the mystery of Holy Saturday remains a mystery.
It is inextricably connected with Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Perhaps we are left with the paradoxical words of the Teacher in the Gospel of Mary Magdalen:
"It is within you that the Blessed One dwells.
Go! Seek! Find! Walk Forth! Announce the Gospel!"

And perhaps we are left with the paradoxical truth that Mary Magdalen, a woman who suffered the violent loss of her intimate companion, is the one who is fully human and who carries into the world a transformational force.

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