Monday, July 15, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Presiders: Margaret Dilgen and Dave Debonis

Liturgy - The Ministry of Jesus - Awareness of our Call

Welcome and Theme - Presider 1(Dave): I would like to welcome everyone to our liturgical gathering.  Today we revisit a well-known passage-the Good Samaritan-- and we consider its meaning from different perspectives and in light of the challenges of today.

Peace Prayer - Presider 2 (Margaret): Longing by Jan Phillips
Longing by Jan Phillips

I am the alms looking for the orphan
I am the blanket searching for the cold
I am the cure looking for the healer
I am the diamond longing fo the coal.

I am an ending seeking the beginning,
I am feeling pining after form,
I am the gallows calling for forgiveness
I am a haven longing for the storm.

I am the inner calling for the outer
I am a jewel crying for the mine
I am kinship searching for a family
I am the light-year hungering for time.

I am midnight chasing after morning,
I am newness aching for the old
I am oneness calling for the many
I am passion looking for a soul.

I am the question longing for the seeker
I am the rainbow yearning for the rain,
I am solace looking for the mourner
I am triumph thirsting after pain.

I am union calling to the lonely
I am voyage looking for the way
I am wind longing for the windmill
I am the yin falling for the yang.

As the spirit sings out for a body,
And the body ones itself to soul
I am ever fused to the Beloved
I am the part bowing to the Whole.

Opening Song: We are Called by David Haas

Liturgy of the Word

First Reading:  Dt 30:10-14

Moses said to the people:
"If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.

"For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
'Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
'Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?'
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out."

These are the inspired words from the Book of Deuteronomy and the community responds by saying AMEN.


Gospel Lk 10:25-37

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said,
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law?
How do you read it?"
He said in reply,
/"You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your being,
with all your strength,
and with all your mind,
and your neighbor as yourself."/
He replied to him, "You have answered correctly;
do this and you will live."

But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus,
"And who is my neighbor?"

Jesus replied,
"A man fell victim to robbers
as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho.
They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead.
A priest happened to be going down that road,
but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
Likewise a Levite came to the place,
and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side.
But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him
was moved with compassion at the sight.
He approached the victim,
poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.
Then he lifted him up on his own animal,
took him to an inn, and cared for him.
The next day he took out two silver coins
and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction,
'Take care of him.
If you spend more than what I have given you,
I shall repay you on my way back.'
Which of these three, in your opinion,
was neighbor to the robbers' victim?"
He answered, "The one who treated him with mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

These are the inspired words of the gospel of Luke and the community responds by saying, AMEN.

Shared Homily  

Dave’s Homily Reflection:

The gospel reading has traditionally been interpreted in a certain way that on the surface appears to makes sense. Specifically, the priest and the Levite, who have special religious roles and are viewed as members of an elite group, do not help the injured man but the Samaritan, who is viewed as a member of an oppressed and misunderstood group, does help. The lesson often drawn from this parable is that the work of the Gospel is not about being “holy” or participating in church-related things. It is about compassion and caring for our brothers and sisters. The traditional interpretation also sometimes suggests that the lawyer is questioning Jesus not because he sincerely wants to learn, but rather to test Jesus. Remember, the word test was used when the devil tested Jesus in the wilderness.

The question for us today is whether the themes communicated by this traditional interpretation are truly the messages that Jesus intended. As we regularly do here in the Upper Room, we want explore this passage more deeply and we can do this with the help of the writing of Amy-Jill Levine, whose book Short Stories by Jesus, includes a chapter on the Good Samaritan. The author, who is a Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, describes her goal as follows: “This book is an act of listening anew, imagining what the parables would have sounded like to people who have no idea that Jesus will be proclaimed the Son of God by millions, no idea even that he will be crucified by Rome. What would they hear a Jewish storyteller telling them?”

First, the author notes that that there is no reason to believe that the lawyer’s questions are not sincere. For example, the lawyer’s question “Who is my neighbor” makes sense because Jewish law does not require him “to love his enemy who lives outside the boundaries of the community.” Jill-Levine points out that only Jesus requires that we love our enemies and that he may be the “only person in antiquity to have given this instruction.” This is a reminder to us how truly ground-breaking this concept was and is.

Second, the author points out that the priest and Levite were not viewed by the Jewish people as elites. In fact, they often relied on the generosity of the public for their financial survival. So rather than casting the priest and Levite as different from those listening to the parable, it was much more likely that the Jewish audience viewed them as one of their own. And perhaps they could also relate to their decision not to help the injured person. Jill-Levine notes that the best explanation for why they did not stop to help the injured comes from a speech Dr. Martin Luther King gave shortly before his death. He said: “It is possible these men were afraid…And so the first question that the priest and Levite asked was ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan came by and he reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’ 

So, the priest and Levite are all of us at times. Driven by our own fears, we often ask: “What is the cost to me of living out the Gospel message?”  And once we see ourselves as one with the priest and the Levite, humans who sometimes miss the mark, we no longer cast them as the “other” and we avoid the anti-Semitic sentiments that unfortunately appear in the gospel writings.

Finally, Jill-Levine reminds us that the Samaritan was not viewed by Jesus’ Jewish audience as oppressed but rather as the oppressor and would even go so far as to resist the thought of being saved by a member of this group. The author suggests that by having the Samaritan demonstrate such compassion would have shocked Jesus’ audience---comparable to saying “the good murderer” or “the good terrorist”--and raises another important question: Are we willing to recognize the human face of our enemy?  Can we acknowledge that all people have the ability to do good?  Do we truly believe what we say often at our liturgies that everyone has a spark of the Divine?

Margaret’s homily reflection:

Thank you all for your wonderful sharing. As always, you give us so much to think about it.

So, the question for me is “Who is my enemy?” The border guards who have been described as racist? The terrorists of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala?  The corrupt government? Where is the divine in them? I know it is in us to show the divine in ourselves by helping and standing up for the people of these countries.

Also, I placed two pictures on the altar today. The pain and the joy of life. Please take a look at these at the end of our liturgy today. 

Statement of Faith 

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen. 

Liturgy of the Eucharist
(Written by Jay Murnane)

Presider 1: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we lay our stoles upon the table as a sign that just as Jesus is anointed so is each of us.  We bring to this table our blessings, cares, and concerns. (Please feel free to voice your concerns beginning with the words, “I bring to the table…”)

Presider 2: Please join in praying the Eucharistic prayer together.  

All:  God beyond our words, we gather to give thanks and open our awareness to the goodness of all of creation. You invite us to co-create with you and we remember our responsibility to serve.

We open this circle to the memory of all of the joyful troubadours and faithful servants who have gone before us. Joined with all that is alive, we lift up our lives and sing:

Blessed be our God! 
Blessed be our God!  
Joy of our hearts, source of all life and love!  
God of Heaven and Earth! 
God of Heaven and Earth! 
Dwelling within, calling us all by name!  
Alleluia, sing! 
Alleluia, sing! 

Gift of love and peace!
Gift of love and peace!
Jesus Christ, Jesus our hope and light!
A flame of faith in our hearts!
A flame of faith in our hearts!
Proclaiming the day, shining throughout the night!
Alleluia, sing!
Alleluia, sing!
(Alleluia Sing by David Haas) 

All: We thank you for Jesus, simple servant, lifting up the lowly, revealing you as God-With-Us, and revealing us as one with you and all of creation.

On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him. Like the least of household servants, he washed their feet, so that they would re-member him.

Presider 1: (lifts bread as community prays the following:)

All: When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 
Take and eat of the Bread of Life 
Given to strengthen you  
Whenever you remember me like this  
I am among you. (pause) 

Presider 2: (lifts the cup as community prays the following:)

All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace saying: 
Take and drink of the covenant 
Made new again through my life in you. 
Whenever you remember me like this, 
I am among you.  (pause)

Let us share this bread and cup 
To proclaim and live the gospel of justice and peace.

All: We are willing to do everything Jesus did, to re-create the living presence of a love that does justice, of a compassion that heals and liberates, of a joy that generates hope, of a light that illumines people and confronts the darkness of every injustice and inequity.

So, we trust you to continue to share with us your own spirit, the spirit that animated Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, all honor and glory is yours, O Holy One, forever and ever. Amen.

Presider 1: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:

O Holy One, who is within, around and among us, 
We celebrate your many names. 
Your Wisdom come. 
Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us, 
Each day you give us all we need; 
You remind us of our limits, and we let go. 
You support us in our power, and we act with courage. 
For you are the dwelling place within us,  
the empowerment around us, 
and the celebration among us, now and forever.  Amen  
(Miriam Therese Winter) 

Prayer for the Breaking of Bread

Presider 2: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:
Presiders break the bread

All:   O Holy One, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.
You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will love tenderly.
You call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.

(Presiders hold up bread and wine)

Presider 1: "This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.

All: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Communion Song:  The Summons by John Bell


Presider 2: Let us raise our hands in blessing pray together:

All: May we continue to be the face of God to each other. May we call each other to extravagant generosity! May we walk with an awareness of our Call as companions on the journey, knowing we are not alone. May we, like Jesus, be a shining light and a blessing in our time!

All: Amen.

Closing Song:  Room at the Table by Carrie Newcomer

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