Saturday, April 13, 2019

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community Liturgy Palm Sunday April 13, 2019, Presiders: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP and Peg Bowen ARCWP, Music Minister: Janet Blakeley ARCWP, Lectors: Joan Meehan and Ann Cooke

Bridget Mary and Peg Bowen bless palms 

Theme: The Call of Discipleship Today

Presider: Welcome to Mary, Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community where all are welcome to share Eucharist at the Banquet Table.   We use inclusive language in our Scripture readings and prayers.   We invite respectful sharing at the homily that is related to our readings. We welcome all of you to share your intentions at the Prayers of the Faithful. In the Eucharistic Prayer we invite anyone to ‘voice’ one of the prayers if you are comfortable doing so and all pray the words of Consecration.   We welcome all newcomers and we are so pleased that you joined us today.   All are invited to join us for supper after the liturgy.

Presider: Brothers and sisters, today, we share the excitement of the people in the holy city of Jerusalem as they welcomed Jesus to be with them. And like them, we show our praise for him as they did with our display of palms. 

All: As we bless the palms we commit ourselves to discipleship. We will follow Jesus from death to new life as we live as the Christ Presence in service of others each day. Like Jesus, we will challenge all dominator systems that oppress and marginalize our sisters and brothers. Yes, Amen, Yes!

Blessing of the Palms (Please hold your palms at an angle towards the middle aisle.)

Opening Song: Hosanna to the Son of David #138 (1 2 3 4)

Getty Images

Communal Reconciliation Rite

Presider: We pause now to remember the times we have not loved and served our sisters and brothers. Recall one missed opportunity, one broken or damaged relationship. Now imagine this person or situation in the light of healing love as we ask for forgiveness.

(Pause briefly. Then Extend arm over community)

All: Please forgive me, I am sorry, I love you, I thank you.


First reading: Isaiah 50: 4-7
These are the inspired words of Isaiah, prophet and we affirm them by saying, Amen.

Psalm 22: (Nan Merrill, Psalms for Praying)

You are the One who took me from the womb;
You kept me safe from my mother’s breasts.
Upon You I was cast from my birth;
And ever since my Mother bore me,
You have been my strength. 

Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2) (Norine Ni Riain)

Come close to me for trouble is near;
I am poured out like water;
But, You O beloved, be not far off.
You who are my help, hasten to my aid.
For you promise to remain with those whose love is steadfast.
Your heart is our dwelling place forever. 

Response: Amen. Truly I say to you, gather in my name, I am with you. (X2) (Norine Ni Riain)

Second Reading: Philippians 2:6-11
These are the inspired words of Paul, apostle to the Gentiles

Gospel Acclamation: Spirit of the Living God by Daniel Iverson

Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on us
Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on us.
Melt us, mold us
Fill us, use us
Spirit of the Living God
Fall afresh on us.

Gospel: Luke 19:28-40
These are the inspired words of Luke, disciple of Jesus and evangelist. We affirm them by saying Amen. 

Homily Starter: Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
Homily Starter for Palm Sunday by Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

As we enter Holy Week, I recall memories of Holy Week from my childhood, holding green tightly woven palm crosses, smelling incense wafting through the air during the procession of the Blessed Sacrament on Holy Thursday, standing for what seemed like forever for the reading of the Passion on Good Friday and finally, tasting a big fat chocolate Easter egg on Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection an end my Lenten sacrifice of giving up candy.

Our readings today remind us that the call to discipleship is to follow Jesus’ example of prophetic vision and loving service which leads to rejection, suffering and in the end a new transformed life.

Like the prophets in the Hebrew scriptures, Jesus proclaims God’s dream for justice for all especially for the oppressed and marginalized. On Palm Sunday he is welcomed as God’s prophet by the people, but as the events of Holy Week unfold, Luke portrays the confrontation between Jesus and imperial authorities and religious leaders who are invested in domination and imperial power.

In her commentary, entitled Abiding Word, biblical scholar Barbara Reid writes: “Luke, more than the other evangelists, emphasizes Jesus role as prophet, and interprets the death of Jesus as rejection of his prophetic teaching and actions…He prepares his disciples for his own death, instructing them at the Last Supper, and modeling for them how they are to act, as they continue his prophetic mission. As at other points in his life, he feels God’s reassuring presence with him, strengthening him for what lies ahead. At the Last Supper Jesus interprets his impending death, saying to the disciples. This is my body…given for you.” In Luke, this gift is not one act that is thought to atone for sins but rather a life-long self-surrender in service to the least. In our second reading Paul refers to Jesus as “obedient to his death. These words do not mean that Jesus was obedient to a father who wills that his son die but rather Jesus’ obedience is to God’s love for all people and to the prophetic mission to liberate all who are bound by sin and suffering and bring jubilee freedom to all. He manifested divine love for humanity in acts of healing and forgiveness throughout his life.  In his final words, he forgave his executioners and surrendered his life in trust to God. (Barbara Reid, Abiding Word, pp. 31-32)

As we begin Holy Week, we reflect on how we can offer prophetic witness and healing acts as disciples of Jesus in our faith community and world today. As we look around us at the crucified people today, the hungry, the homeless, the excluded and marginalized, we find many opportunities to listen, speak, invite, challenge and love as the Christ presence in our communities and world. 

As members of MMOJ we have joined Sarasota United for Responsibility and Equity and sent letters to our Senators and Congressional Representatives to advocate on global hunger.  As a faith community, we invite Catholics who feel marginalized and excluded into an inclusive gathering where all are welcome to receive Eucharist each week. As a faith community, we are called to celebrate our oneness in Christ with our sisters and brothers of other denominations so we will gather on Good Friday for an ecumenical service with the congregation St. Andrew UCC at 6 PM in this sanctuary.

Holy Week for me is far more challenging in 2019 than the ones I remember as a child.  Perhaps, you may feel the same way. I believe this is so because we know in our hearts and souls that Jesus’ prophetic and healing mission is ours. From our sharing in dialogue homilies and in the witness of our lives, we are the Christ presence working to promote the kindom of justice, non-violence, love and equality here and now. The challenges we face are immense but we trust in the power of the Spirit moving through each of us to do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

What did you hear in our readings today about prophetic witness and discipleship?

Shared Homily/Community Reflection

Statement of Faith

Presider: Let us pray together our Statement of Faith

We believe in the Holy One, a divine mystery
beyond all definition and rational understanding,
the heart of all that has ever existed,
that exists now, or that ever will exist.

We believe in Jesus, messenger of the Divine Word,
bringer of healing, heart of Divine compassion,
bright star in the firmament of the Holy One's
prophets, mystics, and saints.

We believe that We are called to follow Jesus
as a vehicle of divine love,
a source of wisdom and truth,
and an instrument of peace in the world.

We believe in the Spirit of the Holy One,
the life that is our innermost life,
the breath moving in our being,
the depth living in each of us.

We believe that the Divine kin-dom is here and now,
stretched out all around us for those
with eyes to see it, hearts to receive it,
and hands to make it happen.

Prayers of The Community

Presider: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. 
Our response is: Holy One, You hear us.

At the end of prayers:
Presider: We pray for these and all unspoken concerns. Amen.

Procession of Gifts and Song

“Jesus remember me when you come into your kindom.” (Taize) 

(Presiders lift up the bread and wine and book of community intentions)

Presider: Blessed are you, God of all life, through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, these prayers of the heart, and our own lives to offer.  Through this sacred meal may we become your new creation as we respond to your call to use our gifts in loving service to our sisters and brothers.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Presider: All are welcome to join us around the table. 


Presider: God is within you, blessing the world through you.
All: And also within you. 
Presider: Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them up in the Holy One. 

Presider: O Holy One, the first passion of Jesus was his passion for you and his passion for justice, namely, to incarnate your justice by demanding for all, a fair share of a world belonging to and ruled by your covenant with Israel. In solidarity with the unnamed woman who anointed Jesus, the first to recognize the cost of his fidelity to you, and with all believers who have gone before us, we lift up our hearts and sing:

All: We are holy, holy, holy by Karen Drucker

Voice 1: Holy One, we celebrate the life of your son and our brother, Jesus. He lived his life and walked forward to his death knowing that you were leading him. We walk forward in his pathway and follow his teaching.

Voice 2: We pray for the grace to let go of money, possessions, pride and privilege, to become vulnerable and open to you, to accept poverty of spirit and reliance on you.

Voice 3: We pray for compassion for all human beings, to feel empathy and love for everyone, especially the poor, oppressed, and mournful. We remember all those who suffer and die each year from war, poverty and unjust disease. We mourn for them, and for all creatures we destroy, and for the earth itself.

Voice 4: We pray to be gentle, nonviolent, courageous and humble, like your saints. We pray to grow in awareness of our unity with all of creation and co-create with You our earth as a sanctuary of peace.

Voice 5: We pray for a heart that hungers and thirsts for justice for all people who live in poverty, imprisonment and war.  We pray for the courage to carry on your struggle for justice for the world’s oppressed as we challenge the world’s domination systems.

Voice 6: We pray to be merciful, especially toward those whom the culture deems unworthy of your mercy and care. We embrace everyone with compassion and respect.

Voice 7: We pray for a pure heart, inner peace and holiness so that everything that comes from within us might be loving and holy. Opening ourselves up to your Spirit, may we see You everywhere, especially in every human being.

Voice 8: We pray to be Your peacemakers, to renounce violence and to serve your movement for the abolition of war and all oppression. We pray to make peace everywhere.

Voice 9: We thank you for your presence within, around and among us. We arise and walk forward even when rejected and persecuted while working for justice and peace. With you we will not retaliate but respond with love and compassion.

Voice 10: We rejoice, O Holy One, and we are glad as we join the lineage of Your prophets of justice and peace. We, Your daughters and sons, continue to work with your grace as we arise and walk forward in the footsteps of our brother, the nonviolent Jesus.

All: On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the people closest to him. Like the least of household servants, he washed their feet, so that they would re-member him.

Presider: (lifts bread as community prays the following:)

All: When he returned to his place at the table, he lifted the Passover bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying: 
Take and eat of the Bread of Life 
Given to strengthen you  
Whenever you remember me like this  
I am among you. (pause) 

Presider: (lifts the cup as community prays the following:)

All: Jesus then raised a cup of blessing, spoke the grace saying: 
Take and drink of the covenant 
Made new again through my life in you. 
Whenever you remember me like this, 
I am among you.  (pause)

All: Let us share this bread and cup, 
and welcome everyone to the Banquet as we live the gospel of justice and peace in our world.

Voice 11: We are called to do everything Jesus did, to be the living presence of a love that does justice, of a compassion that heals and liberates, of a joy that generates laughter, of a light that illumines right choices and confronts the darkness of every injustice and inequity.

All: So, we trust you, O Holy One, to continue to share with us your Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing all honor and glory is yours forever and ever. 

All sing: Amen.

Presider: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
All: Our Father and Mother ….
Sign of Peace

Presider: Let us hold hands and sing “Peace is flowing like a River” as we pray for peace and justice to spread through our world.

Prayer for the Breaking of Bread

Presider:  Please join in the prayer for the breaking of the bread:
(Presiders break the bread)

All: O God of Courage, You call us to live the Gospel of peace and justice.  We will live justly.
O God of Compassion, You call us to be Your presence in the world.  We will love tenderly.
O God of Truth, You call us to speak truth to power.  We will walk with integrity in your presence.

(Presiders hold up bread and wine)

Presider: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing. Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other. All are welcome to the Feast.

All: What we have heard with our ears, we will live with our lives; as we share communion, we will become communion, both Love’s nourishment and Love’s challenge.

Communion Song: Instrumental- 

Communion Meditation: Janet Blakeley ARCWP
Presider: Prayers of Gratitude, Introductions and Announcements


Presider:  Let us raise our hands and bless each other.

All: May you be blessed with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships.
May you seek truth boldly and love deeply within your heart.
May you continue to be the face of the Holy One to all you meet. 
May your name be a blessing in our time.

Closing Hymn: We Are Called #628 (1 2 3)
(Liturgy written by Bridget Mary Meehan and Mary Theresa Streck. The Eucharistic Prayer was adapted from Beatitudes for Peace by John Dear.)

Where are the Women?, Vocations Sunday, Find a Worshipping Community with Women Priests

Find a Worshipping Community with Women Priests

"Silence equals complicity in US border 'crisis", National Catholic Reporter, Excellent Analysis and Wakeup Call to U.S. Catholic Bishops

My Response: We are all responsible if we do not speak up for immigration reform and for humane handling of desperate families seeking asylum at our southern border. Ask yourself, what would Jesus do, and do it? On this issue Pope Francis and the bishops on the border states have been prophetic voices for compassion and justice. The rest of the U.S. bishops should join them in solidarity.  May  we all make our voices heard to President Trump and our congressional leaders.

Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,


A U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent travels along the border fence March 28 between U.S. and Mexico near Tecate, California. (CNS/Reuters/Mike Blake)
As profoundly deficient as President Donald Trump might be as an elected public official, he is equally masterful as a public illusionist, scattering flashy and disruptive distractions about the landscape, deflecting attention from serious matters. And nowhere is that skill more apparent than with the issue of the southern border and the tens of thousands of migrants, including many families with children, seeking asylum.
Set aside for this moment the long, systemic ills in Central America — and the United States' well-documented role in creating those problems — that fuel the migration. For years, they've been amply documented in these pages. This administration has neither the tolerance nor the attention span to consider even that recent history.
Further, such considerations wouldn't fit the simplistic dualisms of senior adviser and "border hawk" Stephen Miller, one of the few to have survived a series of White House purges and who has Trump's ear on immigration issues.
What we're experiencing today is administration-generated chaos.
The wall. A government shutdown over funding of the wall. Separated families. Children in cages. A presidentially declared national emergency. An emergency so dire we'll shut down the border. Oops, commerce complains. We'll hold the border closing until after the election. Refugees have to remain in Mexico. Except a federal court overturns that policy. Maybe we'll begin separating families again.
In the meantime, we need even more distractions because people are beginning to notice the grief and suffering. Fire Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen. Hire more cronies for border security. And the numbers at the border keep rising. Anyone have a workable policy?
In any other context, this might be a comedy sketch. But lives are at stake, children have died, families are desperate, and serious and sober work goes on that belies the xenophobic and poisonous rhetoric of Miller and Trump.
While the administration relies on a week-to-week hysteria, a longer perspective is illuminating. Numbers of undocumented immigrants showing up at official ports of entry and between have increased and totaled 103,492 in March. But as reported by NCR Bertelsen intern Maria Benevento, who has been diligently following border issues for months, that number is not unprecedented. Undocumented immigrants numbered more than one million a year 19 times between 1983 and 2006, with a high of more than 1.6 million in 2000. It was only in 2010 that numbers began to consistently drop below 500,000.
That's reality. There is a humanitarian crisis brewing at the border, but it has nothing to do with Trump's characterization of dangerous criminals and drug dealers. It has to do with a yearning by a lot of oppressed and frightened people for the same opportunities that drove our ancestors to these shores, many of whom did not first study U.S. immigration law.
The difference today from years past — and where a record is being established — is in the number of families seeking asylum, where once the migration consisted primarily of individual men. It isn't that the U.S. does not have the capacity to deal with families (Trump's absurd assertion that the "country is full" notwithstanding); it is that developing such an infrastructure has not been a priority.
The staff of Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., or CLINIC, and local groups affiliated with the Catholic Church have well outpaced their capacities, stretching themselves beyond limit to provide legal services, consultation and aid at the border.
Catholic bishops along the border have also been working tirelessly to both combat the Trump administration narrative and provide care, compassion and on-the-ground assistance. They could use a great deal more support.
One of the sad realizations in all of this is that elections do have consequences. That is certainly apparent in the undisciplined and mindless lack of rationale in the Trump administration regarding the border. It is also apparent at the episcopal level. It is unfortunate that the leaders of the U.S. Catholic conference have been relatively missing — save for a few press releases and endorsements of legislative initiatives — from the fray. It is depressingly clear that they have been unable to free the conference, so long beholden to Republican Party ideologues, from that grip.
Catholic bishops along the border have also been working tirelessly to both combat the Trump administration narrative and provide care, compassion and on-the-ground assistance. They could use a great deal more support.
Where is the episcopal outrage over separated families and caged children? Where is the insistent teaching from the pulpits about the evident life issues involved? Where is the invocation of the strong and consistent language of Pope Francis regarding immigrants? Where are the Fortnight for Freedom advocates? Where are the episcopal letters to parishes, the bulletin inserts and the bus caravans to Washington or to the border?
From his initial descent down a gilded escalator into the political arena, Trump defined his candidacy — and ultimately his presidency — by advancing an inhumane and utterly incorrect characterization of immigrants of every kind, with a particularly vicious assault on Mexicans. He later learned to add Central Americans to his screeds.
His policies have nothing to do with protecting anyone or anything beyond his vaunted political base. He plays to the lowest instincts imaginable, floats above reason on a cloud of fear and likely has no real appreciation of the level of cruelty he inflicts on some of the hemisphere's most vulnerable.
Silence, bishops and fellow Catholics, gives consent.
This story appeared in the April 19-May 2, 2019 print issue under the headline: Silence equals complicity in US border 'crisis' .