Dennis McDonald, ARCWP, and Julie Corron, ARCWP, led the Upper Room liturgy for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. The readings speak of being chosen by God, anointed and dedicated to sharing the Good News, even when confronted by those who do not recognize a prophet in their midst. Dennis and Julie ask us to reflect on the readings and wonder, who are prophets in our midst today? Who speaks truth to power? Who hears the call of the Spirit and to where does that lead one? Dennis’ homily reflection is below the readings.
Take a moment to sit a little more comfortably. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your breath.
On your next breath in, inhale peace into your heart.
On your next breath out, exhale tension.
On your next breath in, inhale peace into your life.
On your next breath out, exhale stress.
On your next breath in, inhale peace into your world.
On your next breath out, exhale fear.
With your eyes still closed, imagine sharing that peace with the person to your right. And now imagine sharing that peace with the person to your left.
When you’re ready open your eyes.
Now we will begin with our first song
Opening Song: Ruah by Colleen Fulmer
Opening Prayer: O Holy One, you birthed us and continue to nurture us. We are your faithful followers and we are united with all followers of your way, those with us now and those who have gone before us. We are grateful for all of the strong women who continue to encourage and inspire us as prophets and mystics in our time.
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Now the word of YHWH came to me and said” “Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I dedicated you. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“So now, Jeremiah, brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you. Do not break down in their presence, lest in their presence I break you down. Look—today I make you a fortified city, a pillar of iron and a wall of bronze so you may confront this whole land: the royalty of Judah and the officials, its priests and its people. They will assault you but never conquer you, for I am with you to deliver you—it is YHWH who speaks.”
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
Then he said to them, “Today in your hearing, this scripture passage is fulfilled.”
All who were present spoke favorably of him; they marveled at the eloquence of the words on Jesus’ lips. They said, “Surely this isn’t Mary and Joseph’s son!”
Jesus said to them, “Undoubtedly you’ll quote me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your own country the things we heard you did in Capernaum.’ But the truth is, prophets never gain acceptance in their hometowns.
“The truth is, there were many women who were widowed in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens remained closed for three and a half years and a great famine spread over the land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but to a woman who had been widowed in Zarephath, near Sidon. Recall, too, that many had leprosy in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one was cured except Naaman, the Syrian.”
At these words, the whole audience in the synagogue was filled with indignation. They rose up and dragged Jesus out of town, leading him to the brow of the hill on which the city was built, with the intention of hurling him over the edge. But he moved straight through the crowd and walked away.
Dennis’ Homily Reflection
“Before I formed you in the womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I dedicated you. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Glennon Doyle, founder of Together Rising and author of Carry On, Warrior, shared this when interviewed on On Being “The first story I ever learned about God and being a woman was, God put two people in a garden, and —no, first, one person in a garden. That was Adam. And then he gave birth to Eve. OK, all right. So men give birth to women. OK, it’s not what I’ve seen in my life, but —got it. And then everything was fine until the woman wanted something, and then she went for it, and then all hell broke loose, and everything was terrible forever.
And then we’re like, why are women so confused about what they want I don’t know, she just wanted an apple. And what I think about over and over again is, what that story does, what every story we learn about being a woman does is make us start to fear what we desire. What women want is bad. What women want is scary, which makes us doubt ourselves, over and over again. What do we want? Who knows? We don’t know.
But what I find, talking to women all over the world, is that if women started to go for it, power structures would tumble. So doesn’t it make sense that every single power structure would have to make women doubt what they desire? Because if women went for what they desired, the world would crumble.”
And this is what the members of the Women’s Priest movement are doing. They are shaking power structures, and there is concern from those in power, that these women, who are in their midst, might cause their world to crumble. They might lose some of their power. And so they, like the people of Nazareth, who tried to silence Jesus, take steps to silence this movement. There is a proclamation that no one can speak of women’s ordination, or face the consequences, or if, God forbid, women would actually move to be ordained, it would mean instant excommunication.
But these women, now over 250 worldwide, take to heart the proclaimed word in Jeremiah that they have been called, they have been dedicated and appointed to be prophets in their time.
And because of their willingness to hear and listen to the Spirit, they are bringing change to the world, a little at a time perhaps, but change nonetheless. They are witnessing to the world that truth can speak to power, and that their gifts and their call will be recognized. These women are dedicated to their communities ministering in many different ways, from leading worship services, to running children’s agencies, to counseling women impacted by domestic violence, to speaking out against militarism and nuclear weapons.
And in their acceptance of the call, they move beyond those in power, and like Jesus, they proclaim the good news to all who will listen, to recognize the gifts with which they are blessed, and share them with the world in which they live. The truth is, we are all chosen by the Divine, and we can take heart in the words heard in last week’s Gospel, “the Spirit of God is upon me, because the Most High has anointed me to bring Good News to those who are poor. God has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, and release to prisoners – to proclaim the year of our God’s favor”.
The world might crumble, when we follow the way of the Spirit, but as Glennon Doyle states,
“Other worlds, based on equality and justice and love and peace would have to be rebuilt in their place. So what I want women to do is just go for the apple and let it burn.”
What did you hear? What will you do? Where do you hear the call? What will it cost you?
Communion Song: Psalm 139 by Kathryn Christian
Closing Prayer: Julie
May the blessing of God go before you.
May Her grace and peace abound.
May Her Spirit live within you.
May Her love wrap you ‘round.
May Her blessing remain with you always.
May you walk on holy ground.
Closing Song: Go Make a Difference by Steve Angrisano