Thursday, May 12, 2016

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, Pentecost, May 15th by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Three years ago—May 6, 2013—
an African-American dishwasher in Cleveland
was one of the heroes who helped rescue three women
who had been held captive in his neighborhood
for over 10 years.
When reporters asked him about it, he said,
"I knew something was wrong
when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms."
Charles Ramsey's experience of racism in America
made Amanda Berry's running to him
a “dead giveaway” that something was seriously wrong.
When CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked him
how he felt about being a hero, Charles Ramsey said,
“I’m a Christian, an American. I am just like you.
We bleed the same blood.”
Twenty-five years ago—May 10, 1991—Terry Anderson,
freed after nearly seven years as a hostage in Lebanon,
said he bore no hatred toward his captors.
"I don't hate anybody," he told reporters.
"I'm a Christian and a Catholic,
and it's really required of me that I forgive,
no matter how hard that may be,
and I intend to do that."
When I'm a hundred years old, the majority of Americans
will not be what we Americans think of as white.
Right now, the majority of the world is not white.
In fact, whites make up just 16% of the global population.
And the majority of the world is not Christian.
Christians are in first place at 31%,
and Muslims are second at 22%.
That makes some people in this country so afraid
that they are lashing out in anger.
When something doesn't go their way,
they try to blame people who are different from them.
Just look at our world—
sometimes it seems as if the Spirit has gone out of it.
The very environment that supports our life
is being shattered by our greed.
War continues to devastate people—especially the poor—
around the world.
Here in our country, too many people of color
hunker down in fear when they see a police car coming.
And, in this election year, we're seeing our country torn apart
by the hateful and vicious bigotry in our political campaigns.
We hear candidates call for immigration policies
that would deport 11 million people,
separating parents from their children,
or for building a wall across our southern border
to keep out the Mexicans—
people whom one candidate called “rapists.”
And there's a proposal to end terrorism
by banning anyone who appears Muslim
from coming into the country.
Is the Spirit still with us?
Sometimes it doesn't seem so.
Most of the 31% of people in this world who are Christians
will be hearing today's Pentecost readings.
Will they accept the message there for us?
The followers of Jesus were all in one place together.
They were all filled with the Holy Spirit.
God was present and active,
not some distant abstract being
that we might encounter someday after we die.
Those early disciples tried to live
in the presence and power of the Spirit of God
every moment of every day.
In the Gospel, John talks about how the followers
were huddled in a locked room.
Afraid and alone, wondering what might become of them,
they remembered Jesus words:
Peace be with you.
Receive the Spirit.
Forgive one another.
Just imagine for a minute if,
instead of inciting fear and violence, separation and hatred,
our politicians would live those words.
What if they followed the Spirit?
What if they listened to Pope Francis?
In February he said, "A person who thinks only about building walls,
wherever they may be, and not about building bridges,
is not a true Christian.
This is not in the Gospel."
What if our politicians celebrated Pentecost
by remembering how the Holy Spirit has knit together
people of all nations and languages
to share Jesus' good news?
What if they listened to Dorothy Day?
She wrote:
“As we come to know the seriousness of the situation,
the war, the racism, the poverty in our world,
we come to realize that things will not be changed
simply by words or demonstrations.
Rather, it's a question of living one's life
in a drastically different way.”
Here at Holy Spirit,
we try to celebrate Pentecost in every part of our lives,
all year long,
year in and year out.
Our Tree Toledo project—our one ministry as a community—
was born out of months of discernment
about how best to use our limited numbers and resources
to serve our neighbors.
On top of that work to mitigate climate change,
we have donated to many organizations
that carry out the works of mercy,
like CRS' disaster relief, Compassion on Death Row,
UStogether, 1Matters, Tent City, Seagate Food Bank,
the International Institute for Peace Education,
the Dialogue-to-Change anti-racism effort, Rahab's Heart,
Second Chance, Claver House, Padua Center,
and the 1for3 water project.
And I see each of you,
in addition to what we do as a community,
passionately involved
in the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,
living lives of dedication to serving others.
Our oxytocin level is sky-high!
[In case you missed the homily May 1, when we're generous, kind, and
caring, our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that brings feelings of
warmth, generosity, euphoria, and connection to others.]

The Spirit is indeed alive here!
And the Spirit will be with us
as we go through the turmoil of this election season.
With the same discernment that we live the rest of our lives,
we will go to vote this November
with the principles of Catholic Social Teaching
uppermost in our minds—
the right and dignity of the human person
and all that goes with it.
We'll look at all the candidates
from President through Senator and Congress
to state Supreme Court Justice down to County Commissioner.
We'll look at the issues.
And we'll vote our Pentecost understanding
that we are all one body in Christ
and that faithful discipleship and faithful citizenship
both require that we love one another…
to the ends of the earth.

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


No comments: