Thursday, September 3, 2015

Homily at Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 23rd Sun. OT, Sept. 6, 2015 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

Catholic scripture scholar Raymond Brown observes
that today's gospel tells of an “unusual amount of contact”
between Jesus and the man he heals.
It's one of just two stories in Mark
where Jesus heals using physical techniques,
which did not appeal to later writers
who preferred showing Jesus healing with a word.
So Fr. Brown suggests that the story we hear today
developed in at least four stages.
First, there was the original exorcism performed by Jesus,
where the man's “tongue was released.”
The scholars of the Jesus Seminar agree
that Mark did not create the event,
that the healing of a deaf-mute very likely really happened,
coming out of the oral tradition
and gathering details as it was re-told.
Then the post-resurrection church in Palestine framed the event
in the words of promise in Isaiah 35’s Messianic prophecy,
which we heard in today's first reading:
"The eyes of the blind shall be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped."
After that the Hellenistic church,
telling the story in the context of their own time,
portrayed Jesus as a wonder-worker,
with emphasis on the physical means of healing
that was part of their cultural understanding.
Finally, Mark adds a new layer of meaning
by drawing a comparison between
the disciples' deafness to Jesus' message
and their inability to profess faith in him.
Are we, here in 2015 US of A, hearing this gospel in a fifth stage?
We are 50 years into the Vatican II renewal
with its emphasis on the preferential option for the poor,
and we see Jesus talking with, reaching out to,
actually touching, with healing love,
one of the poor, the outcast, the unclean of his time.
So today we understand
that we cannot claim to be followers of the Way of Jesus
without reaching out to the helpless, the oppressed, the poor.
As you know, I go to Claver House
for breakfast on weekday mornings,
and it's there that I see this gospel put into practice.
Just like in the gospel story,
I see people who can't hear, people who can't speak,
people wearing tattered clothes,
people who haven't had a shower in a while,
people with missing teeth, or no teeth at all.
More than that, I see lots of people reaching out.
Black and white and brown sit together and share a meal.
People from India talk to people from Indiana as equals.
When someone comes by for the first time,
at least three people will call out a “welcome”
and someone will get up and show them
where to get a tray and plate and silverware
and explain how to negotiate the food line and coffee pot. There's
talk about the weather and the news,
banter about the winners and losers in last night's games,
laughing at jokes and sharing worries.
On top of that open welcome, I see compassion.
People who have nothing themselves
worry about each other.
When one of the regulars doesn't show up for a few days,
someone phones or drops by to make sure they're okay.
And I see prayer.
Each morning about 8:30 we pray the Our Father together.
But I notice Kenny, whose schedule gets him there
after the rest of us have prayed,
take off his hat, close his eyes, and bow his head,
and I see all the others at his table
wait in respectful silence while he prays.
And I see the volunteers,
not just Catholics
but Protestants and Muslims and Jews
and people without a religious tradition,
giving up a morning a week to slice and dice and serve,
to put together casseroles and soups and sandwiches,
to make toast and coffee and refill the sugar and creamer.
I see them taking a break now and then
to sit and chat with the guests.
I see them listening, talking, caring—
more than being friendly,
but being friends.
When I get there on Mondays,
the back seat of my car is packed to the roof
and the trunk is filled with donations
that you gave me over the weekend—
those containers and plastic bags,
pancake syrup and scouring powder,
clothes and shoes and laundry detergent,
jigsaws and stuffed animals for the kids.
Sometimes two or three of the men
have to come out to help haul everything in.
That's when I see you,
you faithful followers of the Way,
reaching out and healing,
just like Jesus teaches us to do.

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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