Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Homily Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 20 OT, Aug. 16, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

We continue today with Chapter 6 of John's Gospel,
another piece of the “bread of life” discourse.
Again we find a developed Christology
that is not from Jesus
but is a story about how Jesus' followers felt about him.
Fr. Flor McCarthy notes that “flesh and blood”
is a Jewish idiom for the “whole person.”
When the Gospel has Jesus say
that his flesh is real food and his blood is real drink,
it means that the followers have to accept the whole person.
They can't pick and choose the teachings they want—
they have to swallow the whole thing.
In the Book of Proverbs
Wisdom and Folly both invite us to a banquet,
and we are free to choose which invitation to accept.
Today's first reading is Wisdom's invitation.
We can't be “cafeteria followers,”
picking a piece of Wisdom and a piece of Folly.
We have to choose one way or the other,
the whole thing.
Sometimes those of us who choose
to disregard one of our institutional Church's rules
are called cafeteria Catholics,
but that's not a fitting metaphor for what we're doing.
Doctrine and rules
are not the same as the free exercise
of an informed conscience on a moral issue.
I prefer to see us as “grocery store” Catholics.
We're already in the store.
We look carefully at the array of options
in scripture and theology and history and tradition,
and then we choose the best,
the most moral for us
in the life we're living
at the time we're living it.
In a grocery store, we buy it or we don't,
depending on what's in it and where it came from.
In the church, the same goes:
we buy it or we don't,
depending on what's in it and where it came from.
Before we had a Federal Food and Drug Administration—
the FDA—to require ingredient labeling,
our food routinely contained dangerous chemicals
like copper sulphate, salicylic acid, borax, and formaldehyde.
Today we learn that some foods are tainted
with things we shouldn't eat, like pesticides, BHA and BHT,
food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and refined sugar.
If we eat beef, we may find out
that our hamburger comes from a South American cow
that grazed on pasture planted where a rainforest used to be.
We routinely hear of salmonella breakouts from contaminated food.
So we are more careful now
to read the labels when we go to the store.
The same thing is happening in our Church.
We grocery store Catholics want to know
where the rules came from, and why.
We want to know who made it, and when, and what is was for.
We want to know its history,
just like we want to know
if the people who grew the beans for our coffee
were paid a just wage
or if they were trafficked kids sold into slavery.
What are we eating these days?
When we listen to Jesus,
we learn how to read the labels.
When he taught the commandments to love God and love neighbor,
he pointed to Wisdom's choice, not Folly's.
When he practiced open table companionship,
he showed us how to include everyone,
not to exclude anyone.
What is our institutional Church feeding us?
Pope Francis has been making improvements.
About homosexuals, he said, “Who am I to judge?”
About the environment, he issued an encyclical
that makes the moral choice clear.
On the other hand,
we can recite cases of food poisoning
from our institutional Church
because we have swallowed it whole and found it bad.
Among other things, history shows us
that our scriptures have been used
to massacre and enslave and oppress.
And we know of the damage—
some of us have experienced it personally—
from the rule that divorced people
who remarry without an annulment
are banned from communion.
We've seen the damage done
by pedophile priests and the bishops who covered up for them
and set them loose to prey on even more children.
We've seen the damage done
when homosexual people commit suicide
because they can't live by the Church's rule
that requires them
to try to be something other than what God made them to be.
We don't want our children and our grandchildren
to go through what we did,
so we teach them to disregard the silly rules
and to reject the harmful and hateful rules.
And we work to make our institutional Church better—
to reform it,
that is re-form it
where it has strayed from the way that Jesus taught.
Today's reading from Ephesians tells us
that we are to be filled with the Spirit.
We are to live as children of the new age,
an age that chooses wisdom over folly,
that chooses love over hatred,
inclusion over exclusion,
an age full of love of God and neighbor.
When we live like that, we re-form ourselves,
and that re-forms our Church...
because we are the Church.
When we live like that,
we take in the flesh and blood of Christ,
the whole person.
We become what we eat.
Just as we have shared the food of the scriptures,
let us continue
as we share in the breaking of the bread.

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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