Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Homily for Holy Spirit Catholic Community, 4th OT, Jan 31, 2016 by Beverly Bingle, RCWP

What is it that makes Jesus' neighbors so mad at him
that they want to throw him over the hill?
Some are truly amazed at the truth of his insights into the scripture,
but others complain
that he isn't working those miracles for them
like he did in Capernaum.
He responds by telling them that miracles require faith,
and he gives them two examples, neither of them Jews.
His friends and neighbors recognize the truth of what Jesus says,
knowing that those despised foreigners,
the Canaanites and the Syrians,
have the deep faith they themselves lack.
They reject his message.
But he knew his mission,
so he stood up, told the truth,
and went on his way doing what he was called to do.
Religion can bring out the worst in people.
They think their dogma and their ritual makes them better.
They exclude people
and begin to think that God wants them
to hate the “other”
and kill the “foreigner.”
It still happens.
Just as the citizens of Nazareth forgot the commands of the Torah
to “love the alien as yourself;
for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt,”
people today can forget the Great Commandment of love.
Religion can get distorted into fanaticism and bigotry.
On the other hand,
we know that religion can also bring out the best in people,
helping them to become more tolerant and loving.
We each have to ask ourselves what religion brings out in us.
Our first reading, that stirring passage from Jeremiah,
tells us that God has a mission for each one of us
that is only ours to do.
Jeremiah also tells us that It won't be easy
but that we will bear fruit.
We are fortunate here in Northwest Ohio
to be able to see the good that religion can bring out in others.
We are blessed with many prophets among us.
Some of you know Paul and Kathleen from Liberty Center,
who have left the snowy north for the winter,
but not to vacation.
They are trekking through the southwestern desert
to leave caches of water and food
for desperate refugees from South American terrorism
who cross into the United States at the risk of their lives.
And some of you know Sandy and Lin in West Toledo,
adopting and fostering so many special needs kids
that I've lost count.
And there's Sister Ginny
putting together an alternative to suspension for school kids
at the Padua Center.
And Marcia and Rose and hundreds of others
lobbying to get the lead poisoning
out of the homes of the poorest kids among us.
And Karen Shepler bringing our community together
in an ongoing dialogue to combat racism.
And Woody and Judy creating a way for followers of every faith
to work together as a community of justice and peace.
And, there's our own Tree Toledo,
scores of people planting trees
so future generations will have breathable air.
And then there's you,
prophets anointed by God
to bear the good news everywhere you go.
You're out there in the food pantries and the soup kitchens,
visiting people in the hospitals and nursing homes
and at home and at Hospice.
You're at the funeral home
comforting your friends when they lose a loved one,
tutoring and coaching and cheering for your grandkids,
donating to Rahab's Heart and disaster relief,
racing for the cure,
and praying in the quiet of the morning
and the still of the night.
Like Jeremiah, like Jesus, you
have been anointed by God to prophesy to the nations.
You look at the world and speak out,
sometimes with words but more often with action,
and with that patient, kind love that Paul preached about.
Sometimes you suffer rejection for standing up and speaking out.
The rejection can take different forms;
it can be personal or situational or social or cultural.
You could be passed over for promotion or fired,
you could be bullied or beat up,
betrayed by the people you trust the most,
or just plain ignored
when you try to do what's right
or speak up about something that's wrong.
But you do it anyway.
God has given each of us,
as the poet Mary Oliver describes it,
this “one wild and precious life”
and charged each of us with a unique mission.
It's unique because we each have different gifts to bring to it;
but it's the same for all of us:
we are all sent to love:
love God,
love neighbor,
love one another.

Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m.
Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue (Washington Church

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