Sunday, October 20, 2019

Upper Room Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for Sunday, October 20, 2019 - Presiders: Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, and Michael Asbury

Michael Asbury and Mary Theresa Streck, ARCWP, led the Upper Room liturgy with the theme: The Path of Vulnerability to Grace.  Mary Theresa's homily starter and Michael's  homily conclusion is printed below. 

Opening Prayer

Let us begin by centering our thoughts on the Divine Christ presence within us, around us and among us. (pause)
Feel the peace of the Holy One within you. (pause)
Offer that peace to each other in this circle (pause),
Offer that peace to our community (pause)
Offer that peace to our world.

Opening Song: Prayer of St. Francis



First Reading: Being Vulnerable by Joyce Rupp
Being vulnerable does not mean being weak and allowing anyone or anything to hurt us. It Is actually a great inner strength which comes from freely choosing to be open to being wounded because we are open to loving in the manner in which Jesus loved.

Most importantly, to be vulnerable is to know the paradoxical power in surrendering ourselves to God. It is to allow the power of God’s Spirit to take over and to move through our being. It is to know that by ourselves we can do nothing, but with a surrendered heart we can do all things through the one who gives us strength.

Gospel: Luke 18 1:8 The Widow and the Judge

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.

He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,

'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'"

And Jesus said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of the chosen ones
who call out day and night? Will God be slow to answer them?

I tell you, God will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Mary Theresa's Homily Starter: The Widow and the Judge

Biblical Scholar Amy-Jill Levine writes:
“Jesus told a very short story about a judge and a widow, both with problematic characteristics; the judge is not inclined to grant the widow’s request, but because of her persistence and her threats he does. That’s it.  Our interpretive task begins with those four versus.

This is not an easy parable and is open to a number of interpretations. Levine tells us that the parables are meant to provoke and challenge us as we enter into the story and figure out the challenge Jesus presented to his followers then and presents to us, now.
How are we like or unlike the widow and the judge?

The widow is persistent. She promises to be back in court again and again until she gets justice. Or is she seeking revenge? We’re not sure which because the Greek word could be translated as either justice or revenge. 

The judge is indifferent to a point. He is willing to give her a decision not on the merits of her case but because he feels threatened. This widow just may give him a “black-eye.” Or, maybe he just wants to get rid of this annoying woman.

Some scripture scholars agree that this parable has little to do with prayer and that the lines before and after were added by the author known as Luke as his interpretation, and were not likely words spoken by Jesus. 

So, why would Jesus present this parable to his followers? They heard him speak of the “attitudes” for building the kin-dom, the Be-attitudes. Be pure of heart, be merciful, be just, be a peacemaker, be vulnerable as described in our first reading, be compassionate, love the Holy One, love one another. So, where was he going with this parable? 

I have my interpretation of this parable, but Mike and I wanted to hear your thoughts first. So, what are your thoughts? Where are you in the story or how are you challenged by it and how will you respond?

Community shares their inspired words.

Conclusion

Mary Theresa: As I pondered this parable, I thought, maybe Jesus wanted his followers to look at their own life situations when they are the person wronged or the person passing judgement and to be persistent in their pursuit of justice. But, not just any justice, be persistent in a restorative justice – one that is compassionate and vulnerable and leads to deep inner peace.

Michael’s Conclusion: In our current age, focused so on “getting even” and becoming the “winner-take-all”, the Gospel of Jesus stands apart. Thus, from his example of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness ... for only restorative justice to all... may we come to know the infinite, uncanny and unpredictable love of God, as we unite to become the risen body of Christ.

Communion meditation: Let Justice Roll Like a River by Marty Haugen
https://youtu.be/r2Ku8VfhCis




Blessing

We are one human family. We each light a flame in the darkness of this world. Love one another. Amen.

May you know you are one with all creation. Love, intentionally, love extravagantly, love unconditionally. Our world waits in the darkness for the light that is you. Amen.

Lean on Me by Bill Withers

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