Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community 5OT B, Feb.8, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Today’s gospel passage is set
in the framework of Jesus’ first day of ministry,
with Mark showing the kinds of things that happen
when Jesus preaches the reality of God’s rule:
Jesus teaches with authority;
he casts out demons;
he heals the minds, bodies, and spirits
of the people who gather around him;
and finally he struggles to find a place to pray,
only to be called
to continue to spread the Good News farther afield.
My first day as a priest was
two years ago this coming Tuesday, February 10,
when we gathered in the fellowship hall of Unity of Toledo
for our first Mass as Holy Spirit Catholic Community.
But my first day as a priest was not my first day of ministry,
just as I suspect that Jesus
did not go from not ministering to ministering
at the crack of dawn on that day Mark describes for us.
My first ministry may have been in 1948, when, at the age of four,
I frantically searched for my three-year-old baby brother
who had gone missing when the family moved
from the middle of the city to the country.
Or maybe it was before that, when we had the measles
and I tried to comfort him by letting him know
he wasn’t alone in that darkened room.
Over the years I made decisions,
sometimes to help… but sometimes to hurt.
I made commitments and tried to keep them.
I tried out different lifestyles and different livelihoods,
keeping some and deep-sixing others.
Eventually, at the grand old age of 69,
I answered the call to service as a priest
and became your pastor.
That life experience suggests to me that Jesus, being human,
would have had to go through the same journey:
listening, learning, praying, taking action,
gradually becoming the teacher, healer, and pray-er
who still fills us with his loving, life-giving spirit.
Unlike me, unlike all of us, he responded completely
to the unique expression of the Divine Presence within him.
We all try to form our lives the way Jesus did.
Sometimes we make mistakes.
Sometimes we just fail.
Or we intentionally do wrong—we sin.
We are not Jesus.
But we do try to follow his Way.
Sometimes we sit, like Job,
in the slough of despond, the depths of our despair,
because we are suffering.
Maybe it’s a failed relationship, or physical pain,
or the death of a friend or family member.
Maybe it’s sorrow at the state of our city or our world,
the war and violence and oppression around us.
Maybe it’s losing a job and not finding work that pays a living wage,
or not finding work at all.
We have done the best we can,
and we’re hurt and suffering anyway.
Through the pain we ask why.
Why is a question that Jesus doesn’t answer.
What he does do is heal, sometimes physically
but more often by his loving, accepting, insightful presence.
Jesus tells people the Good News that God loves them
and is with them.
Speaking in the middle of the awful reality of Roman oppression
he points to the larger reality of the love of God.
Jesus loves people and spends time with them.
Down at Claver House on Wednesday one of the guests, Barney,
sat at the table with his head down,
talking loudly to himself.
It was as if he were possessed by a demon.
He wasn’t threatening anyone,
but it was obvious that he wasn’t okay.
I watched as Tom came out of the kitchen
and talked with him so very respectfully yet firmly,
figuring out with Barney what to do,
then taking him in his car for help.
The living Gospel, right there—
the demon in Barney exorcised by a follower of the Way.
I’m so impressed when I see that kind of commitment to the Way.
It echoes Paul’s message to the Corinthians.
It’s an obligation to preach the gospel, and—
as St. Francis of Assisi said, use words if you have to.
It’s being poor with the poor, weak with the weak,
offering service without charging for it.
Claver House is my College of Christianity—
pretty much every weekday I sit there and drink coffee
and have a good time with my buddies,
and I see the guests,
with their street language and patched clothes
and worn or crippled bodies,
being kind and concerned for one another—
obviously not successful by the measure
that the world cares about,
but in the midst of their own suffering and destitution
able to pray for Mayor Collins’ recovery;
ready to listen to each other’s theory on the Super Bowl;
inquiring about whether their elderly neighbors need help
to make it through this bitter and snowy winter.
And then I see the volunteers, six or seven of them each day,
from all walks of life and all different religions, serving—
like Paul, “free in regard to all”
but making themselves “a slave to all
so as to win over as many as possible.”
Their impact—the fruit of their gift of service—is obvious:
the random group of guests are black and white and brown,
Indian and Iraqi and Asian and American,
Catholic and Lutheran and Muslim
and Jewish and Buddhist and Hindu,
old and young and in-between—
and they treat each other with respect and concern.
They get along!
When I look around our Holy Spirit Catholic Community,
I see the same gift,
the same service to each other
and to others around the city and around the world.
I find it delightful to be among people
who care and act on their concern,
who give time and love
to their family and friends and neighbors
and to people they don’t know and will never meet.
Just as Claver House has been my College of Christianity
over these two years since I was ordained,
so this Community—you, the People of God—
are the professors in my graduate school.
Thank you for being everything God created you to be!
Happy Anniversary!

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
at 3535 Executive Parkway (Unity of Toledo)
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor


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