Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 18th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Aug. 3, 2014 by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Down at Claver House last week
we received a few dozen cans of tomato sauce.
We thought to put it in the soup of the day,
but when I picked up a can,
I noticed that the expiration date was December of 2009,
and the can was dented.
I opened it and sniffed—smelled okay. Looked okay.
I tasted it. It wasn’t okay.
For me, that can of tomato sauce
symbolizes what we’re doing with the needy in our world:
too often they get food we wouldn’t eat,
get clothes we wouldn’t wear,
get overcharged for dilapidated houses we wouldn’t live in.
Isaiah tells us today to receive grain and eat.
Drink wine and milk.
Delight in rich fare.
Come to the water!
Lake Erie is dying.
It’s full of plastics and poisons and fish with mercury in them.
The rich can buy Perrier water and organically raised seafood;
the poor drink from the tap and throw a line in the Maumee.
Then they go home to their central city rentals,
where their children are exposed to lead
from the peeling paint
or the poisoned soil
or the lead water pipes
that the landlord is not required to make safe.
And lead poisoning causes neurological damage,
so their children can’t succeed in school
and will face a life of poverty and failure.
Isaiah asks, why spend your money for what fails to satisfy?
The poor have no choice—
they can’t afford the good stuff
like a safe place to live
and safe food to eat
and safe water to drink.
They’re stuck with the bad stuff.
In Matthew’s Gospel we hear the story of Jesus’ feeding the 5,000.
The disciples’ attitude is the attitude of those who have.
It’s late. They’re getting hungry.
They want Jesus to send the crowds away
to buy food for themselves.
The disciples sound a lot like some of today’s politicians
who vote tax breaks for the rich
but won’t raise the minimum wage.
Let them go away and take care of themselves, the disciples say.
But Jesus tells them to share what they have.
And it’s more than enough.
This story of the feeding of the crowds
is told six times in the four gospels.
The lessons drawn from these stories by our ancestors in faith
are many, and they hold true for us.
Like the evangelists,
we draw lessons from them that relate to the signs of our time.
Our tradition is clear:
we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
We do not believe in the literal interpretation of the scriptures
that tell us about a paradise that we fell from by sin.
We do not believe in the literal interpretations
that led to the development of atonement theology.
We do believe this: we are to feed the world.
But so much of what is done these days does not nourish:
the five loaves are full of GMOs and toxins.
The two fish have fed on plastic beads and DDT that cause cancer.
Those of us who can afford it
buy the best and freshest fruits
and vegetables grown without herbicides and pesticides,
organically fed free-range beef and chicken and pork.
We can demoralize people with our refusal to share,
whether it’s decent food or safe water
or human dignity or meaningful work.
Or we can share what we have.
Wherever I go around town,
I hear how extremely generous
our Holy Spirit Community has been—
food, clothes, dishes, even a refrigerator…
every week there are donations of good stuff for Claver House,
and we have a generous weekly collection
that more than pays our expenses,
enabling contributions to many important causes.
And you’ve been extremely generous with your time and talent—
the overnight hosting and the meal for the homeless
in the Family Promise shelter last week is just one example.
Folks stop me and say they saw one of you
with a sign at the peace demonstration,
holding a baby in the neo-natal intensive care unit,
or driving your mother or your neighbor to the doctor’s office,
or donating blood,
or reading to a child at the library…
the list goes on and on.
You use your energy and your resources to heal
with an intervention,
a gift of food or clothing or cash or an odd job.
And you work just as hard
to dismantle the systems that oppress people,
or conversely, to build a society that empowers everyone.
From time to time some of you tell me
That you feel that you don’t do enough,
don’t really do anything significant.
At a meeting this week
Pastor Karen Shepler shared an image
that came to her on retreat,
and I think it fits.
She thought of a butterfly, flitting from flower to flower.
It doesn’t look like it does much, she said.
It seems to randomly stop here and there,
drink nectar and inadvertently spread a little bit of pollen,
but not nearly as much as the busy bees do.
At the end of the day a butterfly really hasn’t done very much.
But millions of butterflies
will have pollinated billions of flowers,
and that is a very big thing.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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