Saturday, February 6, 2016

Homily Starter for Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community: “Let’s Embrace our Blessedness!” by Jim Marsh, ARCWP and Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, 5th Sunday Ordinary Time, Feb. 6, 2016

Does God have a playbook?  What is our image of God, of the “Holy One?”  Is God the “grand puppeteer?” Do we believe the outcome of this game is predestined by God?  Does God take sides? 

Perhaps today, we Christians (we who follow the Way of Jesus) are given some ‘insights for our playbook’ from today’s readings.We hear two familiar stories about being called—the call of Isaiah and the call of fishermen: Simon Peter, and James and John, the sons of Zebedee.  Last week, we heard the story of the call of Jeremiah and what that meant…..  Lee and Kathryn relayed so well that Jeremiah reminds them about who they are, where they came from, and the power that is theirs.

Jesus doesn’t seem to offer them anything, doesn’t explain events to them, isn’t even concerned with their “faith” or what they believed …. He says “Do not be afraid … and they immediately left everything they knew, and followed him.”

As a church, we need not concern ourselves with doctrine and law, but imagine  ourselves to be a living, evolving, changing church.  For the last 35 years, we haven’t been allowed to ask questions … we have been told that all the answers can be found in Canon Law or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And then Jorge Bergoglio (Papa Francesco) comes along …. 
oh, God of surprises!!!!

Pope Francis officially named this year to be the “Year of Mercy.”  He opened this year in a Muslim neighborhood in Africa, not at the Vatican that is thought to be the very center of Catholicism.  He seems to be constantly reminding us to refocus, to change direction, “to put out into the deep” if you will.  

Francis said: “We have to put mercy before judgment, and in every case God’s judgment will always be in the light of [his] mercy.  Let us abandon all fear and dread, for these do not befit men and women who are loved.  Instead, let us live the joy of encounter with the grace that transforms all.”

Bridget Mary Meehan;

Like Peter in the Gospel today, we are being called to follow Jesus as modern day disciples. Perhaps, the question, we should be asking ourselves is : what “fish” do we need to leave behind in order to follow Jesus in world that is 13.7 billion years old?

During our recent weeks of study and reflection on Elizabeth Johnson’s book, Abounding in  Kindness, we have been sharing our understanding of Jesus mission to bring good news that God is everyone’s God. Jesus came to show us how to live in the abundance of divine love, one with all beings in a dynamic, evolving universe.

We have discussed contemporary scholarship on the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.

In summary, here are a few insights. Jesus heals, liberates and restores to wholeness all those in need, especially the least and the last. He breaks rules and threatens the religious and civil authorities  who put him to death.

As I was preparing this homily I asked myself What is the “fish” inclusive faith communities can let go of that will lead to deeper faith and understanding of the Gospel and our call to live the Christ Presence in our unfolding cosmos today?

After our discussions, I think many of us are ready to let go of  medieval  atonement theology that focuses on Adam and Eve's sin and embrace a theology of  blessedness.

Atonement theology was the brain child of a medieval theologian, St. Anselm. He taught that an angry God demanded the death of a beloved son as repayment for the sin of Adam and Eve.  Adam ate the apple, blamed Eve and Christ came to suffer and die in order to clean the slate of original sin. 

Franciscan priest and spiritual writer, Richard Rohr describes an alternative to Atonement Theology  that came from the Franciscan School of Theology which focused on God's extravagant love and abundance. 

The Franciscan theological position was never condemned and was always held as an alternative by the institutional Catholic Church.  However, most Catholics were not exposed to Franciscan theology, but this worldview fits well today with the spiritual journey of contemporary mystics in an emerging universe.

In his commentary, Rohr explains  that  the Franciscan School of Theology emphasized God as Outpouring Love, and  our call is to live love each day.

In other words, we are created blessed and we are loved from the first moment of our existence as is all of creation.

So too, as we follow Christ in living love, compassion and working for justice in our world we, like Peter, will experience deep awe.  But realistically, there will be challenges and suffering too as I am sure you have experienced.  The cost of discipleship in an antagonistic world can be great. But, we can relax that we are blessed, but not perfect. The Spirit of God is loving, healing and making us whole as a work in progress.

 So the take home message is: God is love and as St. Teresa of Avila in the Interior Castle, said, "we are called not to think much but to love much and so to do whatever awakens you to love." 

When we go inward to the still point of our being, we grow in consciousness that the Christ Mystery at the heart of the cosmos is unfolding in every flower, in every living being and in you and  in me. 

 Like the mother dove sitting on the nest outside my window, each of us is a word of the living God! In our giftedness and brokenness, Divine Mystery is nurturing us.

So let us embrace our blessedness and follow Christ in a great spiritual adventure today! 

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