Friday, June 5, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community Body and Blood of Christ, June 7th, by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Did you ever notice what happens when you go into a restaurant?
Someone greets you and shows you to a table.
If you’re a woman alone,
you’re likely to be seated with a close-up view
of the door to the kitchen or the restroom.
If you’re a well-dressed couple,
you will be more likely to be seated
in a quiet corner with a pleasant view.
You’ll be ask what you want to drink,
and a basket of bread will show up with it.
In a similar way, meals were markers of status in Jesus’ time.
Invitations showed who was "in” and who was "out.”
Seating arrangements
reflected hierarchy, patriarchy, status, and gender rules.
During meals everyone saw
who sat at the head of the table
and who was at the foot
and who washed the feet.
Social and religious values were maintained
in the ritual washings, prayers, and symbols.
Meals were a way for the wealthy to show off their wealth
and for the guests to gain honor.
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This was Jesus’ world, but he didn’t follow the rules.
Instead, Jesus challenged social and religious exclusivism
with his practice of open table fellowship.
He ate with "sinners,” offending the religious elite.
Jesus ignored religious traditions
about washing and fasting and Sabbath,
overturning the system that put rules ahead of people.
In the homes of the rich and powerful
he did not hesitate to tell parables about misguided priorities,
even contrasting a host’s lack of moral values
with a repentant sinner.
He turned social rank upside down.
Jesus embodied his subversive, counter-cultural message
in meals—a table theology, so to speak.
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It is clear from our scriptures that the first century church
remembered those lessons from Jesus’ open table fellowship.
John’s Gospel includes 5 different meal scenes.
Matthew’s has 9.
Mark’s has 10.
Luke’s has 11.
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It’s ironic that over the centuries
our Catholic theologies have missed the point
about the significance of Jesus’ table fellowship.
Paul’s letter to the Hebrews carries two of those errant theologies:
the “atonement” theology of Jesus’ bloody death
as redeeming us from sin;
and the “supercessionist” theology,
also called displacement or substitution theology,
where the “new” covenant of Christianity
is seen as replacing the “old” covenant of Judaism.
Statements about atonement theology
weigh heavily in the Vatican’s translation
of the New Roman Missal now in use here in the U.S.
As for supercessionism,
a few verses before today’s reading from Hebrews,
Paul asserts that God has judged
the covenant with Moses and Israel
as deficient and obsolete, old and close to disappearing.
That theme, a product of the dissension
among the various strains of early Christianity, grew
into vicious anti-Semitism, the Crusades, and the Holocaust.
Since Vatican II, theologians and popes have made some efforts
to move away from supercessionism,
yet that theology remains as recently as
Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium. .
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But Jesus was Jewish.
His disciples, remembering their meals with him,
remembered them as Jewish Sabbath meals
and practiced them that way.
They would set the Sabbath table with two candles
to represent the commandments
to remember and to observe the Sabbath;
a glass of wine;
and at least two loaves of challah bread
to represent the double portion of manna that God provided
to prepare for Sabbath in the wilderness of the desert.
They would bless the candles and light them,
then pray the Kiddush while lifting a glass of wine:
This Kiddush is a blessing prayer
that has echoes in every Catholic Mass.
They began: Barukh atah Adonai—
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe,
who sanctifies us with your commandments,
and has been pleased with us.
Then the head of the assembly would lift the two challah loaves
and recite another blessing:
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, King of the Universe,
who brings forth bread from the earth.
They would break the bread into pieces
and pass it around the table
and each person had a piece to eat.
Then they would start the Sabbath meal.

We use those same prayers at every Mass—
Blessed are you, God of all creation,
through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made….
Blessed are you, God of all creation,
through your goodness we have this wine to offer,
fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
We pass the bread and we pass the cup
for everyone to eat and drink.
This is our holy meal,
the very same meal Jesus celebrated with his disciples.
It is our thanksgiving—that’s what the word Eucharist means.
It is our ritual remembering of our brother Jesus and his teachings.
These and all the other meanings of this meal
make us Catholic—that is, universal—
in our connection with God
and each other
and all of creation.
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Each time we celebrate here,
we go from this holy table
to the other holy tables in our world.
There’s the holy table in our homes,
whether we eat with family or friends or alone.
There’s the holy table in friends’ homes,
in restaurants, in soup kitchens.
There’s the holy table even when there’s not a table,
in the bleachers at a baseball game
or at a picnic, or on the beach.
There’s the holy table when we pray for the oppressed in our world.
There’s the holy table
when we send a bag of canned goods to Claver House
or toiletries to Rahab’s Heart
or clothes to Assumption Outreach Center.
Once we have seen this holy table
and shared this meal of bread and wine,
we begin to experience it everywhere in our lives,
in every connection,
all along the way.
And at every step our hearts sing out, Barukh atah Adonai!
Blessed be God!

--
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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