Monday, October 15, 2018

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Twenty-Eighth Sunday - Jim Marsh, ARCWP and Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, Presiders

Lynn Kinlan, ARCWP, and Jim Marsh, ARCWP, led the Upper Room Community's liturgical celebration. Jim's homily starter is printed below the readings. 

Opening Song: Celebrate the Works of Wisdom 
(by Jan Aldredge-Clanton and sung to the tune of Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee)

Celebrate the works of Wisdom,
shining forth in all that's fair;
Wisdom shows us peaceful pathways,
calling us to dream and dare.

Like a vision bright and Golden,
Wisdom comes to light our way,
bringing us her gifts most precious,
leading to a better day.

Wisdom works in every nation,
guiding us to live in peace,
teaching healing care and kindness,
she will help all violence cease.

Wisdom works through daring people,
prophets bold throughout the years,
speaking up for truth and justice,
crying out for all to hear.

Words of wisdom bring abundance,
lovely works beyond compare;
Wisdom opens doors of freedom,
calling everyone to share.

Like a tree of life she blossoms,
spreading beauty through the earth;
we can join the work of wisdom
new creation now to birth.

Reading 1 Wisdom 7:7-11 

So I prayed, and understanding was given to me;
I called for help and the spirit of Wisdom came to my aid.
I valued Her above even my throne and scepter,

and all my great wealth was nothing next to Her.
I held no precious jewel to be Her equal because all the gold in the world was just a handful of sand compared to Her, and all the silver in the world was worth no more than mud.

I loved Her more than health and beauty;

I preferred Her to the light of day, for Her countenance shone unceasingly,
Through Her, I received all good things, and because of Her, I had wealth beyond counting.

These are the inspired words from the Wisdom of Solomon, and the community affirms them by saying: AMEN!

Responsive Psalm:       Psalm 90 (Nan Merrill)

L: Teach us, O Beloved, to honor each day
that we may have a heart of wisdom.

R: Awaken us, O Holy One! Too long hav we been asleep!
Have mercy on your people!

L: We wait in Silence listening for your Word.
May we have the courage to face the fears within.

R: May we know the grace and gentleness of the Holy Spirit
Who directs our feet upon the paths of Love.

All: May your Light increase within us as we pray this day! Amen.

Gospel Mark 10:17-27 

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, someone came running up and asked, "Good teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?"

Jesus answered, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments:

No killing.
No committing adultery.
No stealing.
No bearing false witness.
No defrauding.
Honor your mother and your father."

The other replied, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my childhood."

Then Jesus looked at the person with love and said, "There is one thing more that you must do. Go and sell what you have, and give to those in need; you will then have treasure in heaven. After that, come and follow me." At these words, the inquirer, who owned much property, became crestfallen and went away sadly.

Jesus looked around and said to the disciples, "How hard it is for rich people to enter the kin-dom of God!" The disciples could only marvel at these words. So Jesus repeated what he had said: "My children, how hard it is to enter the realm of God! It is easier for a camel to pass through the Needle’s Eye gate than for a rich person to enter the kin-dom of God." The disciples were amazed at this and said to one another, "Then who can be saved?"

Jesus looked at them and said, "For mortals it is impossible—but not for God. With God, all things are possible."

These are the inspired words from Mark, disciple of Jesus, and the community affirms them by saying: AMEN! 

Jim's Homily Reflection

In our First Reading, the author of the Book of Wisdom gives words to the Great King Solomon of Israel. Solomon did not receive a special blessing of wisdom just by being born into the royal family. What we hear is a love-letter poem about this king's relationship with "her", meaning Sofia Wisdom. He prays and pleads for Her companionship and it was granted. The Jewish author may be cautioning future Jewish leaders to resist the cultural influences and prevailing philosophies of their day and return their hearts and minds to a deeper way of being servant leaders within their community. Solomon ends by boasting that Wisdom has given him an abundance of all good things.

This Gospel story is familiar, yet challenging at the same time. In most translations, it’s a rich young man who approaches Jesus; in our inclusive translation today, it just says someone asks “what must I do to inherit eternal life, to live forever?”

Let me begin with a few observations:

First, the person is un-named. Could this be for our benefit … so we can identify our story with this unnamed character?

Second, this sincere person seems to sense that there is something more required than just keeping Torah: “I’ve kept these since my childhood.” For observant Jews keeping Torah was all that was required to inherit a place in God’s kingdom.

Third, Jesus looks at this person lovingly and said, “There is one more thing…Go sell all that you have and give it to the poor.” Ouch!

Fourth, we’re told this person went away sad. Does the story end there? Did he ever return?

Fifth, “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

Let us remember that Mark’s Gospel begins with Jesus proclaiming that “the reign of God is at hand.” Here in the tenth chapter, Jesus leaves his home in Capernaum and is now clearly heading toward Jerusalem where he knows he will suffer and die. The time is short … so I believe he reiterates his message about being kin-dom people within this story—living with integrity, justice, compassion and love. For Jesus, sharing is the way to serve; sharing keeps us connected, humble and human. “There is one more thing: Go and sell what you have, and give to those in need…. Then come and follow me.” Rid yourself of obstacles and rearrange your priorities.

Jesus doesn’t indicate that there is anything inherently wrong with being rich. Throughout much of Jewish scripture, wealth was a sign of blessing while poverty and disease were seen as a curse. Just read the Book of Job or remember some of the miracle stories where folks asked “who sinned?” And let’s not forget that Jesus’ own ministry was “bankrolled” by some wealthy women. So what is this story really about?

Much like the parables, I suggest we take a nuanced look at this story and ponder our personal attachments: family, health, beauty, status, prestige, reputation, house, cars, education, career, and the list goes on. We know that status seeking (keeping up with the Joneses) often result in a spinning ‘dizidom’ of furious grasping and gasping. Do any of our attachments stand in the way of our being disciples of Jesus—kin-dom people? If so, then that’s what we have to “go and sell.”

I even think the exaggerated image of a camel passing through the Needle’s Eye gate is quite an amusing metaphor. Scripture scholars say such a gate never existed and it is probably a mistranslation of a Greek word kamelos (camel) for kamilos (rope); obviously the scribes did not have spellcheck. Even today camels are still used as beast of burden, often laden with all sorts of goods, so in order for this animal to get through a gate, much would have to be unloaded for the camel to crawl, if that is even possible. As one who sews, threading a needle is hard enough with thread; impossible with rope.

With Wisdom, we can achieve a proper balance and sense of what things are, what they are not, where they come from and where they lead to; that empowers us with a freedom from ‘things’ and a freedom for being a disciple without conditions and strings. And that my friends takes discipline. Let us take heart, “With the Holy One, all things are possible.”

So did you hear good news, bad news or fake news that we can all just ignore?

Communion - Earthen Vessels by John Foley

Closing - Be Light for Our Eyes by David Haas

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