Thursday, August 14, 2014

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 20OT, Aug. 17, 2014 by Rev. Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Jesus was born into a Jewish culture
that despised the Canaanites and denigrated their beliefs.
At the beginning of today’s Gospel story,
he treats the Canaanite woman with disrespect,
calling her a dog.
A recent parallel for us would be rock star Ted Nugent’s
calling President Obama a “mongrel.”
A few scripture commentators go to great lengths
to try to gloss over this incident with the Canaanite woman,
saying that Jesus was not really being rude
by using a racist slur
but was somehow setting up a lesson for his disciples,
and that the unnamed woman was in on the act.
I don’t see anything in the Gospel to argue for that interpretation.
On the contrary, I see confirmation of our traditional understanding
that Jesus was fully human.
Just like us in all things.
Like us, he had to learn.
So this Gospel tells a story
of how Jesus gained a wider understanding
of faith and of tolerance
through conversation with the woman.
Because of his encounter with the Canaanite woman,
and because of her faith,
Jesus changes.
To Matthew’s community,
this story is a lesson that Jesus’ mission
goes beyond the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”
to encompass the outsiders in their culture.
The lesson is the same for us.
Who are the outsiders now?
• The pastor of a Church in Tampa
canceled Julion Evan’s funeral service
when he found out Julion was gay
and had married another man.
• Residents of Murietta, California, screamed in vicious protest and
refused asylum
to Central American children fleeing from oppression.
• Extremist militants in Iran filmed their atrocities
as they beheaded babies and raped women
because their victims were Yazidi,
a Kurdish-based ethnic minority
and a religious group the extremists call "devil worshippers."
• At Claver House Monday one of the guests
loudly accused another guest of being greedy,
pointing to the amount of food he put on his tray,
calling him names, belittling him mercilessly.
• Hundreds of West Toledoans
have been putting their houses on the market
and heading for the suburbs
because a black family bought a home nearby.
• School will be back in session next week,
where scores of children will be bullied
because they’re different—
what they wear, where they’re from,
what they look like, how they talk.
How do we treat the people in our lives who are different from us?
Today’s scriptures give us some pointers.
In Romans, Paul lifts up the “outsiders”—
those Gentiles who embrace the Way of Jesus.
Isaiah makes it clear that God embraces foreigners
because they meet the real requirement of love of God,
unlike the proud and haughty among the natives
who are more enamored of title and position and wealth
than they are of God.
At the same time that examples
of exclusion and persecution surround us,
so do the examples of inclusion and acceptance.
• A woman who wants to do something to combat racism
decides to invite a mixed group of women
to get to know each other at a supper at her home.
• A high school student, one of the “in” crowd,
notices a new student in class
and asks him to sit at his table for lunch.
• A factory supervisor hires a Hispanic
to work inside the factory instead of in the fields.
• A teen bakes a cake for the family
to welcome their new neighbor into the neighborhood.
• I notice that I lose patience with people when I’m tired,
so I try to get enough sleep.
None of us is perfect.
Folks today see a conflict between the idea of a perfect Jesus
and the faith statement that he is fully human and fully divine.
Perfection doesn’t fit with their experience of humanity.
Perfection isn’t required for their own participation in Divinity.
What is required for both divinity and humanity
is the conscious, continuous effort to love God and neighbor.
That effort requires reflection.
It requires openness to change.
So we are in the same position today as Jesus was.
We may not notice right away
the clamor of people calling for our attention,
but once we do notice them,
we need to listen.
We may not respond right away with grace and love,
but we need to keep our ears open anyway.
We may not have the energy or the resources,
but we need to do what we can.
We may not respond perfectly,
but we can learn.
Like Jesus.

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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