Friday, May 8, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Easter 6B, May 10th by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

All three readings today carry the same message,
and the scholars tell us that the teaching
definitely goes back to Jesus:
Love one another.
By the time the first letter of John was written,
the struggle between the synagogue leaders and the Jews
was no longer an issue.
But another struggle
threatened to split the fledgling Johannine community,
a struggle that Scripture scholar Raymond Brown
describes as “sparked by different views of Jesus.”
The reading from Acts of the Apostles
gives us a picture of another rift,
this time the one that led to the permanent separation
between Christianity and Judaism.
It involved, again according to Raymond Brown,
Peter’s defending the baptism of Cornelius and his household
even though Cornelius is not Jewish.
Peter explains why he did it
by telling about a heavenly vision he experienced,
in which God declared all foods clean.
Author Garry Wills points out that Cornelius,
as the Roman prefect at Caesarea,
would have had a large and very diverse household
including adults, children, slaves,
and military personnel attached to Cornelius’ headquarters.
As a result, Wills sees a second Pentecost
in the final verses of today’s passage from Acts.
In the first Pentecost,
the wonder is that Jews from all over the world
hear the message in their own language.
In this second Pentecost,
the wonder is that people from very different backgrounds
all are inspired by the Spirit to speak
in language that Peter and his companions can understand.
Wills concludes that this miracle happens
in order to make the circumcised Christian Jews
accept the non-circumcised Gentiles as Christians.
That leads to the solution for Peter and the Christian Jews,
echoed in John’s Gospel and the First Letter of John:
to remember that all are equal in God’s eyes,
so we must love one another as God loves us all.
In the passage from John’s Gospel
we are presented with another piece
of Jesus’ Last Supper discourse.
While the language and the scene are created by John,
scholars agree that the message to love one another,
the message that all are equal in God’s eyes,
is undeniably the message of Jesus.
It’s a radical message, and it is clear:
All live in God’s love.
The Jews are a Chosen People, but God shows no partiality—
God chooses everyone else, too.
Love one another:
the teaching comes from the historical Jesus,
rephrased and applied to the current situations
in the language of the scripture writers.
Love one another:
it’s not easy!
Our world today needs to listen to Jesus’ message once more.
When we watch the evening news
and see the violence and hatred
around the world and right here at home,
it seems that people must think
that some lives are more important than others.
The latest escapade of a movie star
‘ gets more air time than 7,000 people
killed by the Nepal earthquake.
A new cellphone ap
crowds out the story of genocide against the Yazidis.
Our local paper spills more page-one ink
when a police officer shoots a dog in the leg
than when a policeman shoots an unarmed black man
in the back.
In the midst of this barrage of skewed news headlines
we hear Jesus' command to love one another—
an order to consider each life as important as every other life.
Love one another in Baltimore.
Love one another in Nepal.
Love one another in Toledo.
All lives matter.
But what can we do?
How can we possibly make a difference
against all the hate and war and violence in the world?
We can show up for one of TUSA’s Nehemiah Actions,
and we can send a check to Catholic Relief Services for Nepal,
and we can join a Dialogue-to-Change anti-racism group,
and we can stand on a street corner
with the Northwest Ohio Peace Coalition,
and we can plant a tree,
or we can convince someone else to plant a tree.
All these things are good,
and we do them out of love for God and neighbor.
But it all seems so little,
compared to the great need in our world.
I take heart from that old story
where a man on horseback comes along
and sees a chicken in the middle of the road,
lying on its back with its feet in the air.
He stops, hops off his horse,
and asks the chicken what she’s doing.
The chicken replies,
“I heard that the sky is about to fall, so I’m going to hold it up.”
The horseman laughs at her,
“Silly chicken,
you expect to hold up the sky with your spindly little bird legs!”
The little chicken looks up at him and says,
“One does what one can.”
Each of us can do something.
So we do what we can, just like that chicken,
holding up our little piece of the sky
as we love one another the way Jesus taught us to.

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

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

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