Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, First Sunday of Lent by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

The book of Deuteronomy tells us that,
like our ancestors in faith,
we must recognize that the power of God
has brought us to this land flowing with milk and honey.
We are to say, “My father was a wandering Aramean”
who traveled from place to place,
out of oppression into freedom and security,
living in peace.
Between the years of 1835 and 1837,
violent acts were perpetrated
against the Jews of Marköbel, Germany.
George and Minnie, married there in 1833,
left Marköbel in the midst of that violence.
With two-year-old Henry, their only child,
they traveled the 4,200 miles to America,
hoping for peace and security
in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Henry married Anna Elizabeth, daughter of British immigrants,
and they raised three sons in northwest Ohio.
Henry's son Conrad married Sarah,
also a child of immigrants, hers from County Mayo in Ireland. They
traveled 25 miles west
and settled in Scott Township, Sandusky County, Ohio,
where they joined St. Mary's Catholic Church in Millersville,
east down the Greensburg Pike
about a mile-and-a-half from their Home in Tinney.
They raised seven of their nine children to adulthood,
sweating and scrabbling to make the boulder-strewn fields
flow with milk and honey.
Their youngest surviving son Cletus married Marie,
whose ancestors were Dutch and Danish and German,
Shawnee and British and French.
They found a small piece of land about halfway
between his native Tinney and her native Vickery,
rich and productive soil that became
for them and their three children
a land flowing with milk and honey.
Yes, my parents—
and their parents and their parents' parents,
as far back as I can trace—
were “wandering Arameans.”
I am blessed to live a long and fruitful life
and settle into a place flowing with milk and honey—
well, with eggs and lettuce and tomatoes and beans—
and the loving embrace of friends and family on the journey.
It's the history of the human race,
whether they're our ancestors by blood or by faith,
ordinary people looking for security,
and the power to make a living
for themselves and their children.
Those Arameans that Moses talked about
were an ancient people in Aram and Babylonia—
the land we now call Syria—about 3,000 years ago.
Too many of today's Arameans are wandering the world right now,
hoping for a land
flowing with milk and honey
instead of bombs and bullets.
Over 7 million have left Syria in the last four years,
and another 2 million have fled their homes inside the country.
Nine million men, women, and children
running from violence and oppression—
that's equal to the whole population of the state of Michigan.
Over 200,000 have died from the violence.
That's like murdering seven out of every 10 Toledoans.
Or the entire population of Akron.
Toledo, a city built by immigrants, has offered safe haven
to 54 of the 80 Syrian refugees received in the State of Ohio
in the last four years.
Some of you volunteer with our local organizations
to help refugees settle here:
UsTogether, Welcome TLC, and Water for Ishmael.
Some of you volunteer in the many activities
of our Northwest Ohio MultiFaith Council,
building peace among Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists,
and every other religious group in our community.
And we write letters and sign petitions
in support not only of Syrian refugees
but South American refugees
and refugees and immigrants from every country.
It's not just refugees.
Too many people here in Toledo live in despair
of ever finding anything but affliction, toil, and oppression.
We rank #1 in the nation
in the increased concentration of poor people.
One out of seven in our town live below the poverty level.
And poverty is much worse in other places around the globe
than it is here in Toledo.
Our homeless shelters are full again this winter,
but we have shelters
and we have generous donors like you.
You work for and with people in need here in Toledo.
You show your belief in Paul's observation
that there is no difference between Jew and Greek,
that all are one in Christ.
Just this month you sent financial support to 1Matters
to help the homeless,
St. Martin de Porres' Black History Month concert,
and the Seagate Food Bank.
That's on top of the load of in-kind donations
you pack into my car every weekend
for Monday delivery to Claver House and Rahab's Heart.
And then there's the environment.
Twenty percent of the world's population
uses up resources at a rate
that robs poor nations and future generations
of what they need to survive.
That kind of excess and waste and abuse of the environment
break the fifth commandment:
Thou shalt not kill!
But all of you, by putting your time, talent, and/or treasure
into our Tree Toledo project,
are keeping that fifth commandment.
So we say, on this First Sunday of Lent,
“My mother and my father were wandering Arameans.”
It's time to give thanks, like Moses says,
for the great gifts of God that we enjoy.
It's time to help others get to this same place
because, as Paul tells us,
we are all one, all equal, all without distinction before God.
It's time, as Luke's Gospel tells us, to look to our brother Jesus,
another wandering Aramean,
as he heads into the desert on a spiritual search.
It's time for us to walk with him into these quiet Lenten days,
searching and praying
to become even better
at following him on the Way.

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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