Thursday, February 25, 2016

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 3rd Sunday of Lent C, by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

In today's reading from the book of Exodus,
Moses spots a flame in a bush,
and when he checks it out,
he finds that it's a messenger from God.
And then, when he gets nearer, he hears God's name—
God IS.
Moses learns the nature of God, and of all that is:
the ground he stands on is holy;
the people of God are holy;
all creation is on fire with God's love.
The bush is burning.
From the stardust of creation
to this very day,
every bush is burning.
God's name is written in all that is,
and it is to be remembered forever.
Nearly 1500 years later, Jesus looks around
and sees that people are not remembering the name of God.
They are not remembering that the ground is holy.
They do not see that all creation is on fire with the love of God.
So he tells people about it.
In the passage just before today's Gospel,
he tells the crowds that they know
how to interpret signs of the earth and the sky
but not the signs of the time.
He asks them why they don't judge for themselves what is right.
Then he tells them that, if they don't change their ways,
they will all perish,
and he follows that
with the parable of the fig that isn't bearing fruit.
The owner wants to cut it down,
but the gardener pleads for time
to try some routine horticultural practices
for just one more year to bring it into fruit.
Now, it takes three to five years for a fig tree to fruit,
and the planter of the tree expects fruit in the fourth year.
The gardener knows that it should mature and bear fruit
by the next year, its fifth year.
If there's no change, it will be destroyed.
The crowd recognizes the fig tree
as a typical metaphor for the Israelite people.
They understand that Jesus is saying
that the center of their culture—
the Temple in Jerusalem and its cult of Roman collaborators—
is unfruitful.
And the crowd clearly understands his message:
unless they change, unless the Temple changes,
all will perish.
Now, 2000 years after Jesus, and 3500 years after Moses,
we hear the same message,
this time aimed at us.
In Pope Francis' encyclical Laudatio Si'
we hear that the center of our culture is unproductive;
unless we change, we will perish.
We hear Francis calling us to heed the signs of our times.
There's lead in Flint's water, microcystin in ours.
Record heat and record cold.
Record earthquakes and cyclones and tornadoes.
Violence in Kalamazoo and on our streets in Toledo
and around the world.
Zika virus.
Air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, extinction of species.
They're all around us, the signs of our times,
calling us to change our ways,
or we will perish.
It's inspiring to see so many Toledoans,
especially our Holy Spirit Community,
changing their personal lifestyle habits
to become more and more responsive
to Francis' call to care for creation.
Some folks carpool, or bike to work, even in winter.
Some turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater.
More are buying local food at local businesses.
Some are researching candidates' environmental positions
so they can vote their consciences in the March 15 primary.
And all of us are trying to get a few trees planted.
Big things and little things,
each of them part of the effort to take better care of our planet.
Inspiring as all these good works are,
we know we have to do more.
God's name is written in all that is,
and human selfishness and greed are destroying it.
That's why we're spending time this Lent fine-tuning our lives,
eager to follow ever more closely the lesson Jesus teaches.
We must read the signs of the times.
We must judge what is right and act on it.
We must care for creation
as an act of love for God and neighbor
and a work of justice for all.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
Holy Thursday, March 24, 5:30 p.m.
Holy Saturday, March 26, 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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