Saturday, July 8, 2017

ARCWP Ordination Homily July 8, 2017 By Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Lindy Sanford ARCWP

from left to right: Lynn Kinlan, Margaret Alderman, Bridget Mary Meehan, Anne Keller

From left to right: Lynn Kinlan, Lindy Sanford, Bridget Mary Meehan, Anne Keller

By Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Lindy Sanford ARCWP
Today we rejoice, as we ordain Lindy Sanford, as priest, and Anne Keller, Margaret Alderman, and Lynn Kinlan as deacons.

Like the Emmaus disciples – our hearts are ignited with the divine energies of love, the sacred within us and within all in our evolving cosmos, as we share the Christ Presence at an open table of hospitality and mutual partnership.

Let’s begin our reflection by asking who were the disciples on the road to Emmaus?
Luke 24:18 identifies one of the disciples as Cleopas.

According to Dr. James Boice, a scripture scholar and Presbyterian minister, the Emmaus disciples were a married couple.

He cites John 19:25 where we encounter Mary, the wife of Cleopas, who was present in Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion: “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary, the wife of Cleopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

Boice believes that the writer of John makes the distinction between two different Marys in the second part of the sentence, Mary, the wife of Cleopas and Mary Magdalene. And it is logical to assume that she was the one returning to Emmaus with him on the morning of the Resurrection. (Mark 15:40, 41: cf. Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:10).

Dr. Boice concludes that the Risen One appeared first to Mary of Magdala and then to Cleopas and Mary before appearing to the so-called “regular” disciples.”(The Way to Emmaus” by Dr. James Boice,

Prolific author Diarmuid O’Murchu also affirms the primacy of women witnesses in the Resurrection appearances. The women were “The first followers, particularly the women knew him to be alive, in fact in a way, that intensified and exceeded his earthy mode of human aliveness. That extended aliveness of Jesus we describe as Resurrection.  … And in the empowering wisdom of the Holy Spirit, first the female followers, and much later the male ones, recommitted their lives to the work of the companionship.” (Diarmuid O’Murchu, Christianity’s Dangerous Memory, p. 150)  

Like Cleopas and Mary who recognized the risen Christ in the breaking of the bread, in our inclusive Catholic communities, we see the face of God in the women and men we meet each day. 

As I  share a simple meal of McDonald’s chicken nuggets with homeless women and men in Sarasota, Florida, I touch the Body of Christ, suffering and struggling to survive in my neighborhood. I know that you, too, could share many stories of compassionate encounters with the Christ Presence in the areas where you live and work.

Like the women followers of Jesus, who were among the first to encounter the Risen Christ, the international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is leading the church to a deeper consciousness of our baptismal equality and mutual partnership in a companionship of empowerment in the 21st century.  
St. Paul teaches that baptism makes us one. He writes that in Christ: “there is neither Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.” (Galations 3 :28)

Reflecting on Galatians 3: 28 spiritual author Michael Crosby observes:
Just as the church once struggled to surface the risen Jesus in Gentiles and slaves, it continues to struggle with experiencing that same unique person in women, especially in women who have a calling to preside at the Eucharist.”

Today Lindy, Ann, Margaret and Lynn are responding to their call to facilitate the breaking of the bread at the Banquet of Love around the Eucharistic table.  

Lindy Sanford

     Being ordained Deacon and being ordained Woman-Priest is a great honor and receiving, a sacred act.  For we who are ordained here today it is also a public statement that as Jesus treated women as equals, so should Christianity.  So should every religion, every culture, every country in our world today treat women as equals.
     Feeling called can be a long and scary process.  For women in a world that rarely sees us as equals it can be even more so.  Still here we 4 women are; here blessed by your presence and support on this incredible day. 

     On the road to Emmaus Jesus walked with two disciples many theologians think may have been a couple.  He reminded them of who he was by breaking bread...It was an experience that healed the pain that washed through them when he was killed.   He healed healed them by reminding them of what he had taught. Today the Risen Christ is always with us on our journey, and much more.  Like the Emmaus disciples, our hearts are burning with joy and awe and much more.

Jesus taught with his stories and how he lived that Heaven is here and now. That God, like a loving father provides all we need and all we search for.  That God, like a loving mother cries with us when we hurt, smiles when we learn, and laughs with us when we are happy.

When pressed by his friends, Jesus told them that the only thing he could and would insist of them is to love one another.  A simple commandment that takes a great deal of effort. Loving everyone includes seeing each as equal, includes hospitality, inclusivity, acceptance, tolerance, and forgiveness.  It is easy to see people who are like us as equals, and to welcome them.  It is easy to respect those who do what we would do, to include others who make the same choices we would make. 
 To love everyone we meet, everyone in our community, in our country, on our continent, walking this earth, no matter what we say and do, to include others is acceptance, inclusivity...and is hard work!  

Still, we are loved, accepted, respected, cherished by a tender and caring Mother/Father Creator… Like the couple on the road to Emmaus if we open our hearts and minds to Jesus’ message to love one another, we will harness the power of love, and change the world. 

  We are daughters and sons of the Holy One.  We are all called!...To love one another!  To let Love for all creation be a fire burning within us. 

Bridget Mary: Conclusion

Like Cleopas and Mary, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we awaken to grace in intimate encounters with the Divine, illuminating our paths everywhere we go, and recognizing the Holy One in everyone and everything.

Our brother, Pope Francis advocates a more inclusive society. In a recent TED talk, he said: “The only future worth building includes everyone.” I agree and if Francis connects the dots, this may lead to a more inclusive church. I believe that the only church worth building is a church that affirms everyone, including women priests.

Let us rejoice that “a church for everyone” is already a reality here and now as we embrace the full equality of women in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests and in the Upper Room Inclusive Community as we ordain our sisters Lindy, Anne, Margaret and Lynn in Albany, New York.

"The Elephant in the Church" by Mary Malone " For women have always done theology, and ministry, in both word and deed. Their theology has not necessarily been expressed in tomes or lecture halls, but it is the daily living guide for more than half the Church. "

The Elephant in the Church by Mary T. Malone, Theologian

Throughout Christian history it has always been recognised that the home is the place where Christianity is passed on, and that women, mothers and grandmothers, have been the prime evangelists. Now in the twenty-first century, homes may no longer function as centres of evangelisation. The old headship of the male husband and father is no longer a reality, and the male leaders of the churches are diminishing in numbers.

 And yet the women are still there, and this is the problem. And what of the women down through the centuries? How were they ‘there’. As we have seen, they were there among the first and most faithful faithful disciples, as house-church leaders, apostles, teachers, prophets, and presiders at the agape meal, the initial form of Eucharist. They were there, to men’s great surprise as martyrs and virgins, not having been deemed capable of either role in male theology. They were there as abbesses and founders, writers and preachers, mystics and scholars, reformers and missionaries, not only at home on the continent of Europe, but in far distant lands, again demonstrating virtues of courage and ingenuity that they were not supposed to have. And in our own time women have been there as theological scholars and biblical exegetes, parish leaders and pastoral guides, chaplains in a huge variety of settings, and ministers of the gospel at bedsides and graves, birthing rooms and schools, publishing houses and universities. And all of this has been done entirely on their own initiative, without any official calling from the Church because the Catholic Church does not consider itself capable of calling women. And what have these women believed? How have they lived as Christians? What has been the focus of their spiritual lives? Have they seen themselves as the second to be created and the first to have sinned or as more prone to heresy? These women, both today and down through the centuries, right from the beginning, have built their lives around the following of Jesus, the living out of the imago dei, the public exercise of compassion and the unique sense of themselves as Godward and God-bearing people. They know that in the depths of their humanity, like Jesus, they discover the signs of divinity. They have learned, as Marguerite Porete, and Teresa of Avila have pointed out, that there is no telling where God ends and we begin, where we end and God begins. They know, as Julian of Norwich did, that there is ‘no wrath in God’, that God is ‘closer to us than our hands and feet’, and that God is as truly Mother as God is Father.

They know that the Spirit of God inhabits their lives as tides lurk in the sea, coming and going, rising and falling, but always present. And above all they know that love is the meaning of everything, It is quite extraordinary that Pope Benedict XVI, in his first encyclical on Christian love, never mentions the love of a mother or a father for their child, and never mentions the love that is the central focus of mysticism. It is obvious that Christianity has travelled through the centuries on two paths, one recognised, acclaimed and celebrated in word and liturgy, the other hidden, often reviled, unrecognised and uncelebrated. If there is to be a future church, these two paths will have to meet. It is not at all clear how this is to be done, but a necessary first step must surely be to attend to the voices of women throughout history and today. Four new women Doctors of the Church have taken their place with very little pomp and circumstance –on the Christian calendar. That might be a place to start at an official level.

But perhaps on an even more important level, the experience of the ordinary day-in, day-out women of Catholicism, can begin to be respected as among the primary bearers of the Faith, and respected, heard and treated as the significant theologians that they are. They can also be recognised and respected as the foundation stones of many a parish community, for without the presence and ministry of women, these communities would not exist. For women have always done theology, and ministry, in both word and deed. Their theology has not necessarily been expressed in tomes or lecture halls, but it is the daily living guide for more than half the Church. This is not to exclude lay men, but at least they can move freely in the male symbolic universe that is Catholicism. Women have had to create their own religious universe, and it is the uniting of these two universes, practically unknown to each other, that will save the Church of God in our time."