Friday, July 3, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 14th OT, July 5, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

At baptism we are marked with oil
as a sign that we are consecrated to God
and anointed by the Spirit as prophets,
just as Jesus was,
so that we might “bring good news to the poor.”
Yes, each of us is called to be a prophet:
a messenger of God’s word.
In today’s reading from Ezekiel God tells the prophet that,
whether people listen or not,
they will know that a prophet has been there.
In the Gospel, Jesus comments
that no prophet is without respect
except at home, with his own kin, and in his native place.
Do people know that we are here,
whether they listen to our message or not?
When the United States declared independence from Great Britain
239 years ago this week,
voting was the privilege of white male landowners.
Slaves were considered property,
not human beings with equal rights and equal dignity.
On June 4, 1843, Isabella Baumfree,
who spoke Dutch but used English as a second language,
told her friends of her prophetic call:
"The Spirit calls me, and I must go," she said.
She changed her name
and left her New York home
to preach about the abolition of slavery.
Isabella Baumfree was a prophet for her time.
She herself had been a slave;
we know her as Sojourner Truth.
It was 84 years after the Declaration of Independence
that the law declared slaves free in the land of the free,
and more than a hundred years more after that
before free people of color
began to find equal protection
under the Voting Rights Act of 1965
and the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
Today, as Michelle Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow:
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,
our criminal justice system operates
as a means of enslaving young black men
and insuring their fall to the bottom of our society.
She is a prophet speaking out for what’s right,
standing in a long line of people
who have stood up to the bias and hatred of the status quo,
prophets like Rosa Parks and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,
and many lesser known prophets like the Rev. Bruce Klunder,
who was crushed to death by a bulldozer
as he protested the building of a segregated school.
This past week I was honored to be invited
when Toledo Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson
hosted a Clergy Prayer Breakfast at Warren AME Church,
beginning a conversation about Charleston
and how to make Toledo a place of love
and not a place of hate.
The prayers and speeches were inspiring,
but I remember most two words Rev. Bob Culp spoke
as he talked about the President’s eulogy
for Emanuel AME pastor Clementa Pinckney:
he referred to him as “Pastor Obama.”
And every one of the clergy in that room
understood what he meant:
a prophet is among us, our President himself,
speaking God’s message of grace and forgiveness.
We know many prophets of equality, some closer to home,
people who stand up and speak out
when they see people treated with indignity or derision
because they are different.
Some of them are local clergy,
like Bob Culp and Karen Shepler and Marty Donnelly.
But most are ordinary people,
like the members of the Dialogue-to-Change group
that is raising money to fund
a WGTE town hall event against racism,
and like the Northwest Ohio folks
who showed so much compassion
that our community came in second in the world
in last year’s Compassion Games.
We know people who are prophets for the planet,
tackling the environmental degradation
that hurts the poorest among us,
the ones on the margins who are already suffering and dying
from the thoughtlessness and waste
of those who have and want more.
We know the famous climate prophets
like Rachel Carson, Al Gore, Thomas Berry, and Pope Francis.
But most are ordinary people,
like families that actually do reduce/reuse/recycle;
and people who make environmentally friendly choices
and work at forming good ecological habits;
and, of course, our Tree Toledo folks.
The most important prophets are right here at home.
In our own words and actions,
we are the ones who speak God’s message
of love and peace and grace.
At the dinner table or in a restaurant,
we talk about current events
and pipe up with our own convictions,
but if we hear hate and bigotry,
we speak out and get it off the table.
On the job, we hear a racist comment and counter it.
When we hear one of the neighborhood kids
teasing someone because they’re different,
or bullying a classmate or a sibling,
or saying something unkind about another kid,
we take them aside and talk to them about it.
Prophets of the Golden Rule, that’s what we are.
I can’t count the number of times
I’ve heard a parent or a grandparent or a teacher ask a child,
“Would you like it if he did that to you?”
Yes, we are called to be prophets.
It’s not always easy, but we can’t hold it in.
We are sent to live God’s message, and we have to do it.

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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