Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 4th Sunday of Lent B, March 15th by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today John the evangelist gives us the picture of Nicodemus,
a religious leader who searches in darkness
and shows up—at night— to find out what Jesus is all about.
Later in the gospel John will show us
that Nicodemus has begun to walk in the light.
When he asks forbearance
from the Sanhedrin as they debate what to do with Jesus,
Nicodemus takes on the role of the prophet.
They don’t listen.
After the crucifixion, Nicodemus provides spices for Jesus’ burial.
So John makes the metaphor of dark and light
live in human bodies:
the people who prefer dark and evil works hate the light;
those who look for, and live, the truth, like Nicodemus,
come to the light.
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In our first reading the Chronicler tells us
that both the rulers and the people ignored the prophets.
King Zedekiah did “what was evil in the sight of God,”
while “all the leading priests and the people likewise
were exceedingly unfaithful.”
The prophets warned them, but they didn’t listen.
Disaster destroyed their homeland and led them into slavery.
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What do these prophets do?
What’s their role, their purpose?
Prophets aren’t fortune tellers.
They watch what’s happening around them
and pray and reflect on it.
They point to the signs of the times and call for action.
They speak truth to power, regardless of the consequences.
We know them in our time—
prophets who name oppression… and call for justice;
prophets who name war… and call for peace.
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Some of them are nationally and internationally known,
very famous people,
and some are well-known only in their own communities.
We all know of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of us here lived through those years.
Young Americans today are learning about him
through the movie Selma.
They’re also learning these days
about the ongoing struggle for civil rights
through the news reports of young blacks
killed by police in Ferguson and Madison.
But does anyone remember the BGSU students
sitting in the street
to block the intersection of Main and Wooster
in a show of sympathy with the marchers in the South?
Hardly.
Anonymous people with a passion for equality
and a commitment to solidarity with other human beings.
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People remember Fr. Dan and Fr. Phil Berrigan
and the Vietnam War protests,
the Ploughshares Movement of the 1980s.
Only the families and close friends of conscientious objectors
know of the sacrifices they made to protest the war.
Only a few are aware of faithful protestors
like Carol Falquette at the School of the Americas Watch.
Or the hardy group of folks in the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition
who stand on our street corners every Sunday
with their peace posters.
Ordinary people with a passion for peace.
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The prophetic call of Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
in their book Half the Sky
and the PBS documentary on human trafficking
based on their book is known around the world.
Hands-on workers like Toledoans Lee Ann Campbell
and Ursuline Sister Sandy Sherman at Rahab’s Heart
rouse people here
but are hardly known outside northwest Ohio.
Ordinary people
with a passion for the rights and dignity of every human being.
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We are blessed with many local prophets speaking truth to power.
On war and peace, the Pax Christi movement
with Sister Paulette Schroeder in Tiffin
and Josie Setzler in Fremont
and a whole slew of folks in Toledo.
On justice for Palestinians in Israel,
Anne Abowd and Lucy Abu-Absi and scores of others.
On labor rights, especially for farm workers,
we have Baldemar Velasquez,
the founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Council.
On gun violence, Toby Hoover of Perrysburg,
the founder of the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence.
On love of neighbor, the Compassionate Community movement,
the MultiFaith Council, Toledo Area Ministries.
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We here at Holy Spirit, each in our own way,
have a passion for justice and peace
that we work for day by day as best we can,
everything from cuddling babies in the neo-natal ICU
to volunteering at Hospice,
from praying to writing our legislators
to donating time and money
to marching in the streets.
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. As a parish community we share a passion for life on our planet
that we are expressing in our effort to plant trees
to mitigate climate change.
Twenty years from now,
when those trees and shrubs are breathing in CO2
and breathing out oxygen,
it’s unlikely that anyone will remember our names
and what we started.
It’s like Jonah’s prophetic message to the Ninevites—
they listened, and they were spared.
We are engaged in prophetic action
that will help avert the disaster
that is disrupting our planet.
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We do well to remember, as Paul tells the Ephesians,
that it’s not our good works that save us;
it’s God’s grace.
In that letter we hear that we are the handiwork of God,
called to do good works,
graced with a passion to help others.
But we have to be open to the call to follow the Way of Jesus.
We have to walk in the light.

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Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774

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