Saturday, September 8, 2018

Homily: ARCWP Ordination of Lynn Kinlan in Albany, New York on Sept. 8, 2018

Bridget Mary:

Lynn Kinlan claims to have CAD - career attention deficit - every ten years or so she has switched paths. First, she worked in budgeting and policy analysis for State government. Then, she and husband Bernie decided when their oldest son was 3 and their twin sons were 1 year-old, that she would stay home with the boys. This life-changing experience made it impossible to return a government office cubicle so Lynn turned to teaching high school and community college where she discovered the Indwelling Spirit in the splendid diversity of every single student. Lynn trusts that being a priest will turn out to be her most blessed career turn.
Today, we are witnessing the demise of the clerical patriarchal model of priesthood in the worldwide sexual abuse scandal and the affirmation of women priests by millions of Catholics and inclusive faith communities.
The majority of Catholics would like to see women have equal standing in ordained ministry: in France (83%), Spain (78%), (according to a 2014 Univision poll). In Ireland (86%) and in the U.S. 64%. 

Our international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement is a holy shakeup ordaining women to create inclusive communities rooted in Jesus teaching of God as love that embraces everyone including the marginalized and excluded in a discipleship of equals. Our renewed priestly ministry does not place the ordained on a pedestal, a higher level of being, closer to God, but, rather as companions on the journey within the community of the baptized in mutual love and service. 

As Sister Illia Delio writes: “The Church has a deep structural problem which is entirely bound to ancient metaphysical and philosophical principles, not to mention imperial politics, that at this point require either a radical decision towards a new ecclesial structure or accept the possibility of a major schism... There is no adequate theological argument for excluding women from Holy Orders except the well-worn “image of God” argument which, in light of modern science, is incredible. Ordaining women priests might help save the Church from implosion.” (Ilia Delio, “Death in the Church: Is New Life Ahead” , The Omega Center,

 In the Gospel of John, Mary of Magdala is portrayed as the apostle to the apostles. In extracanonical texts from the first to the fourth century namely the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary, Mary Magdalene is described as a leader with spiritual authority that is rooted in her close relationship with Jesus. She receives special spiritual visions of the risen Christ. Her understanding is described as deeper than that of the male disciples and her significant role is challenged by male disciples, particularly Peter. In the sacred text, Mary is defended by Jesus or one of the male disciples. (Beyond the Canon, Deidre Good, pp. 635-636, Women’s Bible Commentary)

In the Gospel of Thomas, for example, Peter expresses anger toward Mary’s knowledge of the hidden meaning of Jesus and complains to his brothers: “Did Jesus choose her over us?” But one of the other apostles challenges Peter saying, “if the Savior considered her to be worthy, who are you to disregard her?” [Thomas 114] 

Scripture scholars conclude that the Gospel of Mary confirms the fierce debate occurring in the second century over women’s leadership in the Jesus movement as it organized itself around a cult of male domination. Peter’s challenge to Mary may reflect the orthodox position and Mary’s position the experiences of communities in conflict with Peter and his followers. This bitter conflict led to the exclusion of the Gospel of Mary and other sacred texts that emphasized female leadership and feminine images of God from the officially approved canon of the New Testament, which is the reason, the Gospel of Mary is not included in the Catholic lectionary today.(James Carroll, Christ Actually, 242, 236)

In 21 centuries, what has changed? We are still having this same conversation with the Vatican’s Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about women’s worthiness and equality.

Like Mary of Magdala, apostles to the apostles we are women and men on fire with Divinity, claiming our spiritual authority as prophets and mystics, through whom the Holy One speaks and ministers today! We are leading the way toward healing and transformation of our Church as a community of equals full of compassion, and justice-seeking where all are welcome. We are co-creating a new Church that has returned to its origins.
Like Mary of Magdala, Lynn Kinlan is a woman on fire, embracing Love Eternal in everyone and everywhere as she is ordained a priest in ARCWP today.
In our first reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses is both scared and a bit stubborn. Despite Divine assurances, despite being raised in Egypt by the previous Pharaoh and knowing the culture, he tries to avoid returning to rescue the enslaved Israelites. He just doesn’t feel like prophet material; he’s seems quite sure that he isn’t destined to lead anybody anywhere.

Any of us who have had someone believe in us more than we can believe in ourselves identifies with the reluctance of Moses. When someone sees something promising in us, if we’re honest, we can admit to being a little flattered, a little curious, loving the compliment but also feeling wary of it --- because, with our talents outed, we might actually have to DO something about it. 

 Living our souls’ mission can be a challenge and there are a million ways in this life to escape becoming who we are really meant to be. Not so for Moses who is embraced with Divine support on that mountain: I will be there. I will be with you, Moses. I will teach you what to say. When Moses fends off the promises, the Holy One comes up with the ultimate gift– the loving assistance of another person, his brother Aaron who is the visible living, loving proof of God’s faith in Moses. 

Both Aaron and Moses proceed on the Exodus task with the awareness that we must hold in our hearts; we never have to be alone. Our loving God gives us to each other. God sees the best in us - perhaps it is fair to say that the Holy One seeds the best in us - and doesn’t lose faith in us even when we are stubborn and afraid and even when in plain sight, we miss what it is we are really capable of doing.

 Our second reading by Eugene Kennedy, a former Maryknoll Priest and noted psychologist describes so well the 9-11 moment when facing death, probably unsure about how much time is left, people become fully immersed in love, sending out messages of connection, gratitude and belonging. In their last moments, they are not victims of terrorists but lovers, certain and true. Kennedy notes that in this moment fraught with danger and death, “we see them as they really were all the time.” 

What were they all that time? What are any of us, but blessed and created in the image of God Divine, the Source of Love and Light? We are lovers too; willing to strive beyond our human frailties to be our very best selves; searching for and adding to the love and kindness in our world. No one wants to receive a call like the ones on 9-11 but I suspect every one of us wants to live and some day, die immersed in Love Eternal. 

 At our best, inspired by God and those who love us, we recognize that Love is Eternal and the Eternal is Love. Moses realized this when he took on the challenge to free his people, even when it led to plagues and the first Passover and decades of desert wandering. The 9-11 callers knew it for sure as they declared that love is the strongest force in life and death. They lived out the prophetic injunction to reach out not just when it’s safe or convenient but also in times of fear and uncertainty. For us, that probably includes the moments when people do or say annoying things and when they aren’t exactly loving in return. While not simple, living like this brings us to being fully engaged in all that life has to offer, not letting it pass us by, promoting civility and moving toward harmony with everyone we come in contact with. And curiously, treating other people respectfully reminds us to treat ourselves just as well. In the moments that become days and years, whenever we can embrace being kind to one another, we are delighted and grateful for life, we are at home everywhere, in our own skins, with each breath and maybe even as we take our last breath. 
 The Gospel of Mary of Magdala gives us a frame for understanding those 9-11 callers as well as the ancient Moses story. In it, Jesus calls his friends and followers, “Children of the Living Spirit” and promises a Kindom of God. The phrases and ideas mirror very closely those in the Gospel of Mathew except Mathew dramatizes the message as being publicly proclaimed to large crowds. Both Mary and Mathew used the ancient concept of “Kingdom” which we have changed to “Kindom” in our readings for a more modern and egalitarian profile of justice moderated not by a patriarchal figure with dictatorial powers but by what we respect and find in common with each other as Kin or people in relationship with each other. 
 Rather than public proclaiming, Mary’s Gospel shows Jesus at supper nudging a few friends and followers to a deeper conversion. It is a more intimate look at Jesus and the frank perplexity of the disciples is charming, as if they are asking not for the first time, “What are you really all about, Jesus? And what’s the end goal here?” There’s a certain wanting to nail this thing down. Just how do I qualify for the glory you imagine and when is it going to happen already? 

The answer is so basic that they miss it in plain sight. The glory, the treasure, the joy that is love, broken and shared is already given each one of us as blessed creations of the Divine. Getting in touch with it may require a bit of fasting from the world says Jesus…. by which I think He means, putting our cell phones down, being introspective, dreaming and wishing and hoping and making all of that into praying. It means, like Moses, joining with others to do the hard work of making this broken world a better place. Otherwise, we too miss out on the Kin-dom that’s in plain sight. 

 Jesus explains that the Kindom is spread over the Earth in the here and now, not in a remote part of the sky to be accessed only after we die. The Kindom dwells in each and every one of us. It isn’t something earned or deserved by following rules or atoning for past faults. And when Jesus adds that there is light within a person of light, we can sense the Kindom able to spread, ready to enlighten, and shine beyond any single person, tribe or group. For no one has a monopoly on this Kindom and nothing but our own proud or reluctant selves can separate us from the Love that is the Kindom of God. 
 The Holy One within Jesus speaks to the holy within us when he says, “Be still and know that I am.” If we can live like that with plain sight, we live in The Light. 

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