Sunday, July 6, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Community for 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

The middle part of today’s Gospel passage
contradicts the beginning and the end
In the high Christology of the late first-century church,
it restricts revelation to those who follow Jesus.
It excludes.
In the first part of the passage, though,
Jesus calls for radical inclusion.
Those who are the least—the powerless children,
the ones who don’t count,
those with no standing in the society—
Jesus says that God speaks directly to them;
they understand what escapes the educated and the clever.
According to the scholars of the Jesus Seminar,
Jesus would have said something just like that.
Jesus’ message regularly overturns the prevailing authority—
the religious and the military and the political—
who hold their power by domination.
The final part of today’s passage
contains a proverb commonly known to the people of the time,
my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
It fits with the inclusion of the first part.
Entrance into the reign of God is easy.
It’s simple enough for children.
It doesn’t require the intercession of the educated or the powerful.
Remember what it was like when you were or five or six?
When I was growing up back on the farm,
time had a different quality about it.
It comes back to me from time to time
during these days of my retirement
when I’m in the garden or on retreat,
a kind of suspension of the need to be efficient and effective,
of the need to care how I look or who’s looking,
when time seems to disappear
in the face of a flower or the glow of a rainbow,
the flash of the fireflies…
even in the happy chuckle of a clucking chicken.
Reality breaks in on the artificial,
shatters it and sends it packing.
These days I know a lot more about biology and cosmology,
but the contemplation of reality
can still stir me to awe and wonder,
can still bring me back
to the joy that Zechariah celebrates in our first reading,
the dominion of peace and freedom
that comes not from an army
but from the meek, the lowly, the ordinary.
As Paul’s letter to the Romans puts it, the Spirit of God dwells in us.
Not every child has the experience of God’s peaceful presence.
This week we heard a lot about children
seeking asylum here from the terrors of their homeland—
the domestic abuse, gang violence, human trafficking,
or extreme poverty in their home countries.
Like the children of Jesus’ time, they are powerless.
Yet they seek freedom and peace.
God speaks to them in their hearts of liberty and hope.
This weekend we celebrate our Independence.
How different for us the sound of exploding fireworks,
the flares in the night,
than for the hundreds of thousands of people around the world
whose homes are bombed, whose neighborhoods are strafed.
For us the sound and sight is liberating;
for them it is pure terror.
That’s the kind of terror Jesus and his neighbors knew—
the terror of an occupying army
and greedy landowners
and corrupt leaders.
Jesus walked into the midst of that terror
and proclaimed that God’s reign was within them.
That Good News healed their flagging spirits, kindled hope in them,
empowered them to stand straight and walk tall,
to follow Jesus’ Way in freedom and holiness.
We do not suffer the terrors of so many around our globe,
but we will not be truly free until everyone is free—
until everyone has the luxury of a retreat,
a walk in a peaceful garden,
instead of flight to a refugee camp;
until everyone has the joy of celebrating their independence,
instead of fearing domination and war;
until everyone has the resources
to provide plentiful, healthy food
for themselves and their family and their neighbors,
instead of begging for a bowl of rice
to share among too many sick and starving children.
Martin Luther King said it well in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
In the midst of the trouble and tyranny of his time,
God gave Jesus an insight that drove his life:
the kin-dom of God is within you.
Fr. Diarmuid O’Murchu writes that the Greek translation
hides what Jesus meant by the reign of God.
In his native Aramaic it was
the “companionship of empowerment”—
the truth that we live in relationship and thrive in relationship,
that relationship empowers each and every one of us.
That meaning is embedded
in the Trinity metaphor of our Roman Catholic tradition.
That is, God exists in relationship, lives in relationship,
acts in relationship, heals through relationship.
And that relationship includes us.
The new cosmology gives us scientific and expanded vision
into the interrelatedness of creation,
the ancient insight that all is connected—all is in relationship.
So: God IS,
God is BEING,
God is within everything.
It’s the burning bush message of I AM WHO AM.
Nothing is outside of God.
God is within us and within everything we can see or imagine.
God is, by the way, even more than that,
and we can’t even imagine what that is.
What we have to imagine is how we can spread the Good News—
that the kin-dom of God is within us—
so that everyone can hear it and live in it.
For us here at Holy Spirit,
we individually spend time and energy
on the Family Promise rotating homeless shelter,
Assumption Outreach Center, Claver House,
Pax Christi, anti-racism,
the protests
against war and executions and drones and GMOs…
and as a community we devote ourselves to the environment.
Like Jesus, we are sent to tell the Good News:
the kin-dom is within us.
Glory be to God!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 9 a.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor

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