Thursday, January 21, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 2 Sunday OT, Jan. 24, 2016 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

In today's first reading we heard
how the people of God stood for six hours
while the book of the Law of Moses, the whole of the Torah—
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy—
was read and interpreted for them.
What were those words that moved them to tears?
I suspect it was Deuteronomy, the last book of the Torah,
where Moses gives them God's law.
It specifically commands only two prayers,
the most important of which
is the definitive statement of Jewish identity, the Shema.
We know it as the response Jesus gave
when he was asked about the greatest commandment:
Sh'ma Yisra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.
Hear, Israel, God is our God, God is One.
And you shall love your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your might.
Even through 70 years of exile and bondage
this prayer remained familiar
to the captive Israelites.
Hearing it read and interpreted
would have resonated in their hearts.
_________________________________________
Then we have today's Gospel
telling us that Jesus went to the synagogue
in his hometown of Nazareth
and taught there.
Is that factual?
Yes, according to the scores of scholars
taking part in the Jesus Seminar.
Jesus really did teach in synagogues throughout Galilee.
Did he know about Isaiah's writings?
That is also probably a fact.
The book of the prophet Isaiah was popular in Jesus' time,
as shown by the great many surviving manuscripts.
As an observant Jew, Jesus would have heard it often.
Could Jesus read?
Probably not.
Fr. Raymond Brown points out that this passage in Luke
is the only indication in all of scripture
that Jesus knew how to read,
and most scholars think that he did not read
because his was an oral society,
particularly for the peasants...
and he was a peasant.
But Luke's story is TRUE.
Jesus did preach the fulfillment of jubilee justice.
It's the message Jesus taught,
and it's the message of the prophets that Isaiah taught,
and it's the message of the law that Ezra taught.
All through our scriptures the jubilee message is clear:
God calls us to the works of justice.
The anawim—the sick, the poor, the slaves,
the oppressed, the powerless—
are God's highest priority.
_________________________________________
And no one is exempt from doing justice.
Paul, in our second reading, tells the Corinthians
that fulfilling the word of God
needs each one of them and all of them—
readers, interpreters, listeners, workers, and pray-ers.
No one does everything,
and each one does something.
_________________________________________
This afternoon we gather, just as our forebears gathered,
to hear about Ezra reading the Torah to the returning exiles,
about Paul preaching the word to the Corinthians,
and about Jesus preaching to the people of his hometown.
And in each of those scriptures we hear
God calling US to take action for justice—
to bring good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives,
to let the oppressed go free.
God is calling each one of US
to bring a jubilee of justice to our world.
We can, with Pope Francis, call it mercy.
Or compassion.
Or love.
We can answer the call in many ways,
each of us with our own gifts and, as Paul says,
each of us an essential member of the one body of Christ.
We can work to end human trafficking,
or to reform the criminal justice system,
or to welcome refugees,
or to house the homeless,
or to educate children,
or to care for creation,
or to make peace.
_________________________________________
However and whenever we do the work of justice,
we take our place in the long line of the people of God
who hear the word of God and find a way in our daily lives
to embody the “golden rule”
that is common to every major religious tradition.
As Jesus puts it,
“Do to others
whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the law AND the prophets.”
_________________________________________
So we continue the ancient tradition.
Thanks be to 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

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