Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 4th Sunday of OT, by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

If you google “best kept secret” and “Catholic Church,”
you’ll get over two million results in a couple of seconds.
And they’re not about pedophilia.
Or corruption.
Or the inquisition.
More startling than that!
Our church’s best-kept secret is our Social Teaching.
It all started with Jesus.
Today’s Gospel tells us
that people were astonished with Jesus’ teaching
because he taught them on his own authority.
And nothing has changed.
It doesn’t matter what our lifestyle is,
as Paul tells the Corinthians.
No matter where or how we live,
we are to be free from anxieties
and give our undivided attention to God.
When we do that,
we find ourselves practicing these principles
that we now call Catholic Social Teaching.
Those principles come from Jesus’ vision of peace and justice:
Love God.
Love your neighbor.
So we speak of the rights and dignity of the human person:
that all people are sacred
and have a right to be free of war and oppression,
discrimination and bigotry.
We have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,
as our U.S. Constitution tells us.
Jesus preached it two millennia before we even had a country.
So no war, no capital punishment,
and no discrimination
on the basis of race, gender, color, nationality.
When we walk the walk, it means we choose peace.
We smile at strangers.
We socialize with people who are different from us.
We speak out when we see injustice.
We hear the call to family, community, and participation:
that people have a right and a duty to participate in society,
seeking together the common good and well-being of all,
especially the poor and vulnerable.
So we study the candidates and issues on the ballot,
and we vote our conscience.
We keep an eye out for injustice
and call it to the attention
of people who have the power to change it.
We write letters to the editor and letters to our council reps,
and we send thanks to officeholders who do the right thing,
especially on issues that affect the poor.
Our Catholic tradition calls for rights and responsibilities,
that every person has a fundamental right
to life and to those things required for human decency,
with corresponding duties and responsibilities to one another,
to our families,
and to the larger society.
For us, a basic moral test
is how our most vulnerable members are doing.
Catholic Social Teaching requires
a “preferential option” for the poor and vulnerable.
We cannot rest in comfort
if the poor are deprived of their basic needs.
So we donate to soup kitchens.
We tutor in the inner city.
We take part in the Compassionate Community Challenge.
We send a bit of cash to Haiti or New Orleans.
We cut back on our wants
so that we have more to give for someone else’s needs.
And for us Catholics there can be no argument about worker rights.
We believe that the dignity of work is a God-given right,
so people have basic rights to productive work,
to decent and fair wages,
to organize and join unions,
to collective bargaining,
and to private property.
So we don’t shop at stores that pay substandard wages.
We tell our legislators we want a fair minimum wage.
We buy Fair Trade coffee and tea.
We boycott with FLOC for better working conditions.
Our scriptures tell us,
right from the get-go with Cain and Abel in Genesis,
that we are our brothers' and sisters' keepers.
We are one human family,
required to practice the virtue of solidarity
no matter what national, racial, ethnic, economic,
and ideological differences we may have.
We must love one another, even our obstreperous families.
So we get in a Dialogue-to-Change group
and have honest conversations with people of another race
so we can learn how to get along better.
We work at carrying on a civil conversation
with Great Aunt Millie
even though she’s a right-wing fundamentalist
or a left-wing whacko.
We learn about the minorities in our city
and go out of our way
to see that they are welcomed and treated equally.
If we’re in the minority,
we let the majority know
when they stray from their responsibility
to be in solidarity with us.
We get to know our neighbors,
and if our neighbors all look like us,
we consciously go out of our way
to make friends with people who are different.
Finally, care for our planet,
as we are doing at Holy Spirit with our Tree Toledo project,
is a requirement of our being Catholic.
It’s not just an Earth Day slogan;
it is a requirement of our faith.
As Catholics, we know that we cannot ignore
the fundamental moral and ethical dimensions
of the environmental challenge we face.
Catholic Social Teaching insists that we have the right,
and also the responsibility,
to speak to issues that affect the right to life
and that assure that all persons live with dignity.
These principles are so powerful, challenging, and relevant
that if we shared this “best-kept secret,”
if we practiced what we preach,
we would turn society upside-down
and change—transform—the world.
But we find, as Jesus did,
that some people don’t want the world to change.
Love of neighbor is a dangerous teaching.
When we decided to read and discuss Diarmuid O’Murchu’s book,
Christianity’s Dangerous Memory,
we found that one of the local Catholic bookstores
would not stock it on their shelves—
a symptom of their fear of what happens
when people look at reality
and embrace the message and vision of Jesus.
Looking at the world around him,
speaking the truth about it,
and preaching love
is what got Jesus killed.
We claim to be Christians—followers of Christ.
We share in Christ’s role as prophets, by our baptism.
So we must—all of us, not just priests—
we all must preach the good news—
and our first reading today
clearly tells us
that we must practice what we preach.
Our Gospel tells us that Jesus taught with authority.
As Jesus’ followers,
as prophets called by baptism,
we are called to teach with authority;
to preach the vision;
and to practice what we preach.
The secret is out.
Let’s do it!

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

1 comment:

diane pendola said...

well said. Thank you.