Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community: 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

What's all this end-of-the-world stuff about?
Our first reading gave us Daniel's vision of the end-times.
Then we heard the passage
that's referred to as Mark's “Eschatological Discourse,”
presented as if Jesus is teaching it.
It helps to know that this kind of apocalyptic writing
was a common way of talking about change and renewal
in ancient times.
The Greek word apocalypse means "uncovering.”
It's a lifting of the veil, a revelation.
As if the events haven't happened yet,
the apocalyptic writer recounts historical events
up to the moment of writing,
then vaguely writes about future cosmic events
and how God will reward the just
and condemn the unjust.
Scholars say that it's highly improbable
that Jesus ever used apocalyptic images
in the way Mark puts them together.
Mark frames Jesus' message about the reign of God
in apocalyptic language to encourage his own community
to stay alert and follow the Way,
At the start of this chapter, Mark had Jesus describe
the “tribulation” that starts today's reading,
citing events that have already happened.
Mark has Jesus say that the Temple will fall,
not one stone left on another.
The disciples think it will last forever.
It's too big to fail.
But Jesus sees it differently.
He sees the foundation cracking and the facade crumbling.
It's not God's dwelling place; it's a den of thieves.
It needs change, not repair.
Over time our institutional church has ignored the message
that Jesus was trying to communicate.
We were taught a literal interpretation
telling us that we can earn after-life in heaven
if we unquestioningly obey church rules and church rulers.
We can see the dangers of that approach
in the wrongs committed in the name of our Church
throughout history—the massacres of the Crusades,
the silencing of Galileo and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,
to name some of the more notorious of the past,
and in recent times the expulsion of progressive priests,
the suppression of theologians,
the Vatican investigation of the U.S. religious sisters,
clergy sex abuse, and the coverup by church officials.
It seems that Pope Francis was trying to teach Jesus' real message
last Tuesday in Florence,
looking at the Temple that is our church
and saying that “Catholicism can and must change.”
Francis said that it's not useful
to look for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism.
He said it's not useful
to try to restore “obsolete conduct”
or forms that are no longer “culturally significant.”
He said that doctrine is not a closed system;
it generates questions and doubts.
He called for open and honest dialogue.
He called for a church which is poor and is for the poor.
He said that "We are not living an era of change
but a change of era."
Whenever a new way of thinking takes over,
it overturns the established order.
For people used to the old way, it feels like the world is ending—a
cosmic collapse.
Today we're experiencing a new reality
in the global spread of communication, technology, and trade.
In Paul's letter to the Hebrews Jesus is the new reality of his time.
The old order had passed away.
In our time the old order of Roman Catholicism is passing away.
As Francis says, we're entering a new era,
a time of transition in our church and in our world
that is troubling and challenging...
and at the same time promising.
Winter is upon us,
but even now the buds are forming for next year's sprouts.
Just as the signs of nature are clear,
so are the signs of this new era.
Our scriptures, ancient wisdom that they are, show us the way:
we must watch and listen and,
as the book of Daniel tells us,
lead the way to justice.
Our local “Tree Toledo” project
to mitigate climate change by planting trees
takes another step this week and next
with the planting of 2,000 more oak seedlings
in the Metroparks.
It might seem like we're just another bunch of tree-huggers,
but a closer look shows that we're
making a more just world for future generations,
those grandchildren and great-grandchildren
who will breathe the oxygen
given off by the trees we're planting.
We're working to keep them from suffering the climate catastrophes
that are even now disrupting lives
and killing people around the world.
In the old world, the light seemed to focus
on those who worked for their own good
without thought or concern for the common good.
The old world rewarded those who profited on the backs of others.
This new world is different.
In this new world, the ones who will shine like the stars
are those who do justice.
Ohio citizens are there, shining in their vote
for an end of gerrymandering of state legislative districts.
The students and faculty and even the football team
at the University of Missouri are there,
shining in their insistence on an end to racial injustice.
The MultiFaith Council of Northwest Ohio is there,
shining in its work for religious tolerance
and building a more compassionate community.
We're there, too, shining, with our Tree Toledo effort
and our pleas for divestment from fossil fuels
and our parish community contributions
to programs that give the poor a hand up.
The old world is passing away.
The reign of God is at hand, here, among us and within us.

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

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