BELL: Moment of Silence
Presider: Welcome to Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community where all are welcome to share Eucharist at the Banquet Table. We use inclusive language in our scripture readings and prayers. We invite sharing at the homily and prayers of intercession. Everyone prays the words of Consecration in the Eucharistic Prayer. We welcome our newcomers at announcement time after Communion. All are invited to join us for supper after liturgy at a local restaurant.
GATHERING SONG: Womb of All Creation Flowing
Womb of all creation flowing with your blessing everywhere,
Bring to birth in us deep caring that your fullness all may share.
Fill us with your gentle power that new ventures we may dare.
Holy Darkness deep within us, nurture our creative seeds:
Bring our dreams to glorious flower as your peace your spirits feed.
In your center we find wholeness as your grace fills all our needs.
Loving womb your sacred darkness brings forth treasures night and day.
Nourishing our deepest longings, casting all our fears away.
May we join your holy labor, giving Earth new hopes we pray.
Presider: Let us begin out liturgy today in the name of our God, Source of All Being, Jesus our Eternal Word and Sophia Holy Spirit Wisdom.
ALL: O Lover of All, in this journey into the heart of compassion, we celebrate your love unfolding in the healing and wholeness of everyone and of every living thing.
You call us to see goodness and beauty everywhere and to live in harmony with creation.
You call us to heal the wounds of hatred and violence, discrimination and oppression in our world.
You call us to warmly welcome everyone who comes through our doors as your presence among us.
In communion with Jesus, our brother, and in the power of Your Spirit, we will live your love poured out each day. Amen
PENITENTIAL RITE: Litany of peace by Dan Shutte -Response (Let us be your peace)
Presider: God of all creation, ALL: Let us be your peace.
God who walks among us, ALL: Let us be your peace.
God of great compassion, ALL: Let us be your peace.
God of tender mercy, ALL: Let us be your peace.
As we work for justice, ALL: Let us be your peace.
With our hands and voices, ALL: Let us be your peace
With our words of comfort, ALL: Let us be your peace.
With hope and healing, ALL: Let us be your peace.
In joy and gladness, ALL: Let us be your peace
Now and forever, ALL: Let us be your peace.
ALL: Before we bring our gifts to share at the Banquet of love, we ask you loving God for forgiveness for the times we have failed to love one another and to care for your Creation. Amen
LITURGY OFTHE WORD
First Reading: From Bernard Haring “Prayer: The Integration of Faith and Life’
…For us too, Christ is still a promise, because we are still on our way and the world is still longing for the final liberation. But Jesus is with us on our way. He comes constantly into our life as the promise “already” realized and the firm but “not yet” totally fulfilled hope. As we discover his presence in our life more and more vitally, we long more and more to stay near him, to be with him. We have heard the inspired words of Bernard Haring. ALL: Thanks be to God.
Responsorial Psalm: 23 – Response: YHWH you are my shepherd, I want nothing more.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10 This is the word of God. ALL: Thanks be to God.
Gospel Acclamation: recited by ALL: Praise, honor and glory to our God. Be compassionate as God is compassionate. Praise, honor and glory to our God.
Gospel Reading: John 3:14-21
Reader: A reading from the Gospel according to John. ALL: Glory to you, O God.
Reader at end: The good news of Jesus, the Christ! ALL: Glory and praise to you Jesus the Christ.
Homily: Elena Garcia ARCWP: Jesus and Nicodemus
This week I have spent some time meditating and studying the story of Nicodemus. I delved a little deeper into who he was, the significance of the what and when of this encounter and what resulted for him and can for us during this Lenten season.
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus. We know about Pharisees. Pharisees were laymen who were part of a religious and political party in Jesus’ day. They emphasized being “separate” from the Hellenistic culture of the day. They thought of themselves as the purists, the loyalists and the traditionalists who kept the traditions of Moses alive. Repeatedly in the Jesus story, the Pharisees were symbols of hypocrisy and hard-heartedness. They were the ones who plotted to kill Jesus. In other words, Nicodemus had many friends who were plotting and instigating the death of Jesus. Jesus, that activist that he was, had just cleaned the temple and overturned its money tables and the Jewish leaders would have been conniving in their minds what to do with this Jesus. Nicodemus, as a leader of the Jews, may have been part of the Sanhedrin, the ruling body in Jerusalem. In other words, Nicodemus wore more than one hat. He was a political leader of his day. Nicodemus was probably wealthy. As we remember, later providing a hundred pounds of spices to anoint Jesus’ body for burial was evidence of his status. My suspicion is that the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus occurred on the Mount of Olives rather than in a home in Jerusalem. Jesus had no home in Jerusalem. I have learned that Jesus “camped” overnight at the Mount of Olives when he was in Jerusalem. If we accept that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, our imaginations go to work and we can hear Nicodemus’ footsteps walking up the dirt path to the Mount of Olives. Jesus’ ear would have been cocked, hearing the footsteps of someone approaching in the quiet of the night. And there in the darkness was Jesus, the Light!
It was night. Darkness provides a cover for deeds we do not want known, whether good or evil. Night, as we find in verse 2 of the first psalm “happiness comes to those who meditate on the law of YHWH day and night”. So also night is a traditional time for study of the scriptures. It can be a time when “my heart instructs me” (Ps 16:7) or when God visits us (Ps 17:3) “You searched my heart, you visited me by night.” During winter, when the nights are longer than the day, darkness incubates the earth and invites cocooning and inward journeying. Regardless of its intent, darkness is shattered when light pierces it. Remember, “Light shines in the darkness” and “the darkness did not overcome it.” In today’s Gospel, coming to the light is presented as a conscious choice, one that can be difficult to make. We may be influenced by those cocooned in the darkness, or our own flight into a familiar dark comfort. Just as earth gradually comes into full light between its turn at the spring equinox and the summer solstice, so it was for Nicodemus and for us today that our coming to the light is a gradual process.
Nicodemus is a symbol of a person who was searching for the truth about God and the ways of God. He felt that Jesus was an authentic voice from God. I quote a similarity from Lama Surya Das, “In the original language of the Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha literally means awake, awaken from the dreams of delusion, confusion, and suffering: awake to all that you are and all you can be. Awake to reality, to truth, to things just as they are.”
So it was, that Nicodemus dared to approach the Light not knowing what would happen. He went with his fears, questions, doubts, curiosity and a small amount of awe. Some seed of belief had been planted while he had observed Jesus “doing his thing.” He was welcomed with a listening heart, truth, challenge, instruction, guidance, encouragement, mercy, compassion and those tiny seeds were nourished. I want to believe that Nicodemus replayed and revisited every minute of that encounter with Jesus. That he began to yearn for more and he looked for other opportunities for encounters with the light. That his body and soul, mind and spiritual being absorbed the message and that by doing so he gradually grew in union with the Divine Love.
We are all invited to such encounters with Jesus. And whether we go to him in the night or in the daytime while experiencing a darkness, let us go with our hearts full of anticipation to be inebriated with the Light of His Love, no matter how heavy our burden or how dim our light at the moment. He is always there as he was at the Mount of Olives.
I have become aware of how and why I am often called to prayer in the middle of the night. Is it my Mt. of Olives?
Lent is a time when we can decide to have that first encounter or yet another visit with Jesus. Find or make a quiet time and head up that hill with haste and anticipation. You will not be disappointed!
For this homily I read and studied the writings of Barbara E. Reid and Lama Surya Das.
Is there a darkness in your life where the Light wants to shine?
What is the choice you face at this time to embrace more fully the Light?
What does earth teach us about coming to the light.?
CREED: Taken from “The Friends in Faith” and shared by Joan Meehan
ALL: Gathered together as people of faith, we profess our belief in a God who is larger than we can name, unable to be contained, yet present in each one of us. We have come to know this God in the living of our lives, and in the holiness of the earth we share. We believe in a God revealed in all peoples—all genders, religions, and orientations. We embrace a compassionate God, who champions justice and mercy, and is always faithful when we call. Our God gives and forgives, patiently loving without conditions. We gratefully believe in a God who feels our deepest struggles, and celebrates our greatest joys. A God who both dances with us in celebration, and holds us when we cry. This God is not “other” to us, but shares our breath in every moment, and promises we are never alone. We believe in a God who believes in us- believes that we are precious and incredible gifts, worthy to claim image and likeness to the divine. We hold fast to our God who journeys with us, who continually calls us to choose the shape of our days through the choices we make. This God accepts us as we are, and shares each hope we have for our becoming. This is the God in whom we believe, our Creator, our Mother and Father who became human in Jesus, our brother. Our God is the Spirit of Life, the voice that continues to speak love, and asks us to answer. In this God we choose to believe. AMEN
Presider: With hearts filled with loving compassion, we now lift up the needs of our community.
Presider: Loving God, You called Abraham to serve you with obedience and love and did not allow the death of his son.
ALL: Teach us to discern what is pleasing to you, always keeping the welfare and rights of others in mind.
Presider: Loving God, You chose David, a youthful shepherd, to lead your people.
ALL: Help us to look beyond outward appearances as we choose our leaders.
Presider: Loving God, You made Jesus a vessel of your healing love.
ALL: Show us how to reach out to the sick in healing ways, with respect and reverence.
Presider: Loving God, You sent manna for your people to eat in the desert.
ALL: Let your word nourish our minds and enkindle our hearts toward the transformation of our lives.
Presider: Loving God, Your Mercy reaches out to all in need.
ALL: Bless the sick and the dying and let them know your presence. Set free all those bound by hatred, hostility, and violence.
Presider: Loving God, grant that those who have gone on ahead may dwell forever in Your presence, especially those we now name, (pause for names)
Presider: For what else shall we pray?
Presider: We hold these and all our unspoken intentions in our hearts as we gather around the Banquet Table today.
OFFERTORY: Spirit of the Living God
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. 2x
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Spirit of the living God, move among us all.
Make us one in heart and mind, make us one in love.
Humble, caring, selfless, sharing.
Spirit of the living God, fill our lives with love.
PREPARATION OF THE TABLE
Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own lives to offer. Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation.
ALL: Blessed be God forever.
Presider: God is with us, loving and healing through us.
Presider: Lift up your hearts.
ALL: We lift them up in tender love, open to serve.
Presider: Let us give thanks to our God.
ALL: It is our joy to give God thanks and praise.
Voice: Gracious Wisdom, You embrace us with extravagant affection in our blessedness and brokenness. We thank you that in this festive meal, your spirit continues to be poured out among the circle of disciples gathered here in our giving and receiving forgiveness and offering the gift of your shalom/peace. We join with the angels and saints and people of every race, faith and nation to glorify your presence as we sing:
ALL: (sing) Holy, holy, holy. (Karen Drucker)
Voice: Gracious God, you set the banquet table and invite all to the feast of unending delight. Here we celebrate divine love beyond what words can describe in our evolving cosmos. Here your divine compassion connects us to the young, the old, the least and the last, to everyone everywhere on our journey into the heart of mercy.
Voice: We especially thank you, nurturing God, for Jesus, Your anointed, who shows us how to love with a peaceful and courageous spirit. In Jesus, you show us how to care for those who face illness and grief, and how to help those who experience rejection and marginalization.
Voice: God of tenderness, Jesus showed us the heart of mercy when he preached good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and healing to the broken. Jesus called women to be apostles and disciples and treated them as equals in his circle of companions.
Voice: In response to people’s sufferings, Jesus broke rules and violated religious taboos. He shared meals with women, saved a woman from being stoned and said that prostitutes would enter heaven before religious leaders. He healed the sick and comforted the lonely. He challenged the priestly class and political leaders of his time and so they ridiculed, tortured and put him to death.
Voice: In faithful love, you raised the crucified Jesus radiant and glorious to new life. Like the holy ones throughout the ages, Moses and Miriam who led their people from oppression to freedom, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection shows us how to live freely and joyously in the midst of injustice, darkness, evil and death.
(Please extend hands as we recite the Epiclesis and Consecration together)
ALL: May your Spirit, present in these gifts and in us, fill us with a new outpouring of love that makes us more deeply one Body in the Cosmic Christ living the fullness of your compassion.
Presider: On the night before he was betrayed, Jesus gathered with his friends for a meal. He took bread into his hands, broke it and said: ALL: Take this all of you. This is my Body. Do this to remember me.
Presider: In the same way after supper, Jesus took the cup, raised it with love beyond all telling, gave thanks and shared the cup with those at table and said: ALL: Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of my life blood, of the new and everlasting covenant. Every time you drink of it remember me.
Presider: In sacred memory, let us proclaim the mystery of our faith.
ALL: In every creature that has ever breathed, we see your tenderness; in every living being that has passed on before us, we see your goodness; in everything yet to be, Jesus The Christ will come again! In our breaking of the bread of earth, Jesus the Christ of the Cosmos is being re-membered!
ALL: Holy One, your transforming energy is always moving within us and working through us. We give thanks for all holy women and men who have been your face in our lives. They showed us how to forgive self and others, let go of guilt, refrain from judging others and see the good in people who irritate us. Let us pause to remember and name some of these holy women and men aloud or in the silence of our hearts.
ALL: Through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, all praise and glory are yours, Loving God. Amen
The Prayer of Jesus ALL sing holding hands: Our Father and Mother who is in Heaven, blessed is your name…….
Sign of Peace
Presider: Jesus, you said to your disciples, “My peace I leave you, my peace I give you. Look on the faith of those gathered here today and...
ALL: …. grant us your peace. O God, following the example of Jesus and with the strength of the Spirit, help us spread that peace through our words and actions to everyone, everywhere, with no exceptions. Amen
Presider: Hold hands as we sing: Peace is Flowing like a River. Love is…. Joy is……
LITANY AT THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD
Voice: Loving God, you call us to Spirit-filled service and to live the Gospel of peace and justice.
ALL: We will live justly
Voice: Loving God, you call us to be your presence in the world and to be bearers of understanding and compassion, forgiveness and healing, everywhere in your name.
ALL: We will love tenderly.
Voice: Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power.
ALL: We will walk humbly with you and with one another.
Presider: This is Jesus, who liberates, heals and transforms us and our world. He calls us to open doors that are closed and share our bread on the altar of the world. All are invited to eat and drink at this sacred banquet of love.
ALL: We are the body of Jesus the Christ.
Precious God, as we come to share the riches of your table….
Voice: We cannot eat this bread and not think of those who are hungry.
ALL: O God, your world is one world and we are just stewards of this nourishment for all your people.
Voice: We cannot drink this wine and not think of those who are thirsty.
ALL: O God, this very earth and its people everywhere cry out for environmental justice.
Presider: We cannot listen to your words of peace and not grieve for the world at war’s doors.
COMMUNION MUSIC: INSTRUMENTAL
COMMUNION SONG: I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE # 343 verses 1 and 4 in English and 5 in Spanish
Verses 1 and 4 in Breaking Bread
Si Senor, creemos - que tu eres el Mesias,- el hijo de Dios-
Que has venido al mundo -para redimirnos.
Refrain: Yo los resucitare,-Yo los resucitare,- Yo los resucitare en el dia final.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AFTER COMMUNION
Presider: Loving God, may this Eucharist in which we shared Jesus’ healing love deepen our oneness with you and with one another, our sisters and brothers. May your grace fill us all with the strength we need on our journeys, this period of Lent and beyond. We will strive to live our lives in such a way that your compassion may be felt through us to all your children as we live the Gospel values of justice, peace and equality. ALL: Amen
COMMUNITY PRAYERS OF GRATITUDE, INTRODUCTIONS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
CLOSING COMMUNITY BLESSING (Extend an arm in mutual blessing)
ALL: Loving God, be with us during this season of Lent as we seek to serve you more faithfully. Bless our country and our world. Enlighten our leaders, make them instruments of your peace. Bless all involved in research, reward their efforts with healing for your people and regeneration for our environment. Let this be a time of salvation for us and of glory and praise to you. We ask this in Jesus name. Amen
Presiders: Let the service continue in union with Jesus, the Light that dispels all darkness. Amen.
CLOSING HYMN: “Take the Word of God with you” #373 All verses