Sunday, August 14, 2016

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 20th OTC, Aug. 14, 2016, by Beverly Bingle RCWP

Don't make waves.
Mark's gospel—the earliest canonical gospel—
reports that Jesus' relatives set out to seize him,
believing him to be out of his mind.
He had been walking around Galilee,
teaching and healing,
calling people to live under God's rule and love one another.
Don't be a troublemaker, they tell him.
But he keeps on,
preaching truth and justice with fiery passion.
Scholars tell us that today's gospel reading
preserves “an echo of Jesus' voice,”
a glimpse into his soul.
They say that Jesus really talked about setting the earth on fire—
setting it on fire with the passion of justice.
They believe he really said that conflict is inevitable
whenever people act on their passion for justice.
Don't get carried away, his family tells him.
Don't go off the deep end.
But Jesus is on fire for justice.
He preaches the reign of God,
the reign of justice that brings peace.
He chastises the folks who want him to be quiet.
In the passage that immediately follows what we heard today,
Jesus calls them “hypocrites,” telling them
that they know how to tell what kind of weather is coming
but do not know how to interpret the signs of the present time.
Thanks to television, we know what's going on in our world. Sometimes
we see it live, just as it happens.
The signs of our times are clear.
The question for us is whether we know how to interpret them.
How, for example, do we interpret
the ongoing signs of racism in our country?
On the evening news we see demonstrators
carrying signs that say “Black Lives Matter,”
and then the white folks missing the point of what's happening,
holding up their signs that say “All Lives Matter.”
Of course all lives matter,
but the point is that some lives—the black ones—
routinely suffer demeaning and degrading situations
and live under the daily threat of violent consequences
that are not faced by the white lives.
Where is God in all this conflict?
God stands with the one who is excluded.
God lives in the one being ridiculed.
God dies in the unarmed teen shot to death by police.
If we don't stand with the victims of racism in our country,
we're not standing with God.
As Christians we have to recognize Jesus of Nazareth
in the death of every innocent
who is surrounded by a halo of hate.
Another sign of our times, the Olympics!
Before the games started, Pope Francis sent a letter
to the members of a team that represents 60 million people—
the Olympic Refugee Team,
made up of people
who have escaped the violence of their war-torn homelands.
The Pope wished them success
and hoped that their courage and strength
would “serve as a cry for peace and solidarity."
These refugees are a sad sign of our times,
so many people living in camps
without clean water, without enough food,
without health care, without a home to go to,
without a way out.
Seventy percent of the Syrian refugees coming to Ohio
have settled in Toledo.
We stand out as a welcoming community
during a time when refugees have become
a contentious political issue.
Nationally we hear talk of building walls,
deporting people without documents,
banning Muslims.
But here in Toledo, we welcome them.
We at Holy Spirit Catholic Community,
thanks to Laurie Snyder and UStogether,
have been privileged
to be part of extending a welcoming hand,
and we intend to keep on helping.
Sure, we've met with some criticism.
We've been told it's okay to pray for refugees,
but don't bring “those people” here to live next door.
We believe, as Catholic Christians,
that we are responsible
for watching and listening and taking action for justice.
We know what happens when good people fail to do good things.
Concentration camps.
Jim Crow.
We look to Jesus, unafraid to speak out,
no matter the consequences.
We don't set out to make waves.
We set out to make our world right and just.
If our way of living the Gospel
would never spark a fire or risk a division,
never cause a ripple of conflict, or debate, or argument,
then wouldn't we be practicing an inoffensive Christianity?
Cheap grace, not costly.
Gospel lite, not the Gospel of Light.
So we make that phone call
when we see child abuse or domestic violence next door.
We blow the whistle at work,
even if it means we'll lose our job.
We speak out when we hear racist jokes,
even though some of our own family will call us names.
We act with justice,
and that can bring conflict and division.
More than that, it brings us the peace of Christ.

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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