Sunday, February 17, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Sunday Liturgy, February 17, 2019 - Presiders: Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Bernie Kinlan

Kathleen Ryan, ARCWP, and Bernie Kinlan led the Upper Room Community’s Liturgy on Sunday, February 17, 2019. Kathie’s homily starter is below the readings.  

A Reading from Being Peace 
By Thich Nhat Hanh. 

When you look at the night sky, you might see a very beautiful star and smile at it.  But a scientist may tell you that the star is no longer there, that it was extinct ten million years ago. So our perception is not correct.  When we see a very beautiful sunset we are very happy, perceiving that the sun is there with us.  In fact it was already behind the mountain eight minutes ago.  It takes eight minutes for the sunshine to reach our planet.  The hard fact is that we never see the sun in the present, we only see the sun in the past. Suppose while walking at twilight, you see a snake, and you scream, but when you shine your flashlight on it, it turns out to be a rope.  This is an error of perception.  During our daily lives we have many misperceptions. If I don’t understand you, I may be angry at you, all the time.  We are not capable of always understanding each other, and that is the main source of human suffering.

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke
Jesus said to his disciples:
“To you who hear I say,
love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
To the person who strikes you on one cheek,
offer the other one as well,
and from the person who takes your cloak,
let them have your shirt as well.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
For if you love those who love you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners love those who love them.
And if you do good to those who do good to you,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners do the same.
If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, 
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners,
and get back the same amount.
But rather, love your enemies and do good to them,
and lend expecting nothing back;
then your reward will be great
You’ll rightly be called children of the Holy One,
since the Holy One is good even to the ungrateful
and the wicked.
Be compassionate as the Holy One is compassionate.
“Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give, and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.

Kathie’s homily reflection:

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk.  He was a friend to Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King. He worked to end the Viet Nam War. He is a peace activist. He is non-violent and speaks the truth to power.

Last week we had a Thich Nhat Hanh reading which in a nutshell said “when we have understanding we have love.”   Today in the first reading Thich Nhat Hanh talks about misperceptions that create misunderstandings and these misunderstandings often result in anger.

The gospel today starts out with Jesus reminding his listeners and us to love our enemies, do good and bless and pray for those who hate and curse you, and then he uses the famous examples of “if a person strikes you turn the other cheek, and if he asks for your cloak give him your shirt as well.”   Our present day understanding of these examples may be a misperception.

Over the years we have come to understand these examples as ways to react to people who are unkind and bullying. You know don’t fight back instead take a passive stance.  But Jesus was a rebel-non-violent yes, but revolutionary nonetheless. He was always being watched and challenged by the authorities. The higher ups, those in power, civil and religious feared his message.  

Jesus gave these examples to a crowd who interpreted his message differently than you and I.  In the time of Jesus masters could strike their servants at will but the masters had a code of conduct that they followed.  The master used a backhand strike, the use of this type of strike showed who was in charge, it was shaming, a put down, it was a reminder “I am master you are servant” If the master used a closed fist to strike his servant this indicated an equality between the two. Men who were equals fought with closed fists they did not back hand one other. When Jesus says turn the other cheek he is in effect declaring an equality between master and servant.   If you are backhanded-and turn your cheek, it is impossible to be backhanded again. By turning the other cheek you are taking some of your power back and declaring equality.

 In a similar way if the master took your cloak and you offered your shirt as well, you would be left naked and the master again is caught breaking a code of conduct. 

Jesus always challenged the norms of the day…turn the other cheek, give them your shirt as well, were huge challenges to the status quo…they were not passive suggestions.  It was a non-violent way to remind others that we are all equal and beloved children of the Holy One.

I love studying these stories of Jesus getting the one up on the authorities. They make me feel good.  But then we move on to the last part of this gospel. Jesus says stop judging and condemning, forgive, and give.  Be compassionate as the Holy One is compassionate.  Jesus just got the one up on me.  Jesus always gets the one up on us.

Going back to the first reading Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us to watch our misperceptions, work on understanding, and love will come. And Jesus reminds us that the love the Holy One offers is a Love that is a full measure and is overflowing.

What did you hear? What will you do? What will it cost you?

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