Friday, July 10, 2020

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community - Liturgy for the 15th Sunday in Extraordinary Time - Presiders: Janet Blakeley, ARCWP, and Sally Brochu, ARCWP

Mary Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community
Fifteenth Sunday in Extraordinary Time, July 11, 2020  
Presiders: Janet Blakeley, ARCWP and Sally Brochu, ARCWP
Lectors: Cheryl Brandi and  Joan Meehan
IT: Pat MacMillan
Theme: We can see beyond what we see with our eyes.

Presider 1: Welcome to Mary, Mother of Jesus Inclusive Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida where all are welcome.  It is a delight to have so many join us from all over the country. Please know that all are welcome and if you are joining us for the first time we extend a very warm welcome. We hope you will introduce yourself near the end of the liturgy. Please have bread and wine or juice ready for Communion.

With this Zoom technology, we are able to hear certain voices while keeping our personal computers on “mute.”  If you feel drawn to share at the Prayers of Petition and the Shared Homily, please unmute your microphone, speak, and re-mute yourself. Even though you are muted, please respond when “All is indicated,” and don’t forget to sing your heart out! Nobody is listening, and it feels great!
Our opening song is:

OPENING SONG   “Shelter Me” written by Michael Joncas, sung by Spiritu

Presider 2:  Ever-present and Everyday God, draw our focus to you so that we may see and hear things as they really are, and as you see them. Help us to identify truth in order to speak it, as you would have it spoken. Continue to invite us in a movement toward our full life in you. Become our very life.   ALL: Amen.
Presider 1: Let us now take a moment to think of the times we have failed to love others and ourselves.

ALL:  Loving God, make us quick to see where and when we block your loving Spirit and thereby slow down the progress of creation to its completion in you. When we find it hard to forgive, help our egos to step aside and allow your Spirit to flow, bringing about a change of heart.  Amen.

All: (please extend your hands in blessing): Everyday God, teach us the virtues of pardon and peace so that we may – in turn – learn to forgive one another for our failures, to ourselves, to others and our planet Earth. Help us say “Please forgive me”.  
When we have hurt someone, either intentionally or unintentionally, help us say “I’m sorry.
Help us see the goodness in people and how and when they have loved us into life. Please,  help us to say ”Thank you”.
And help us remember to speak the  words “I love you” that is like sweet honey for the soul.

ALL: Glory to you, God and the Good of all creation. Be with us as we walk the path of the evolutionary process where we are called to grow into the fullness of you, with eyes fully open to see and ears better able to hear. Help us to see the goodness and beauty that surrounds us, that speaks of you. For all your goodness, we praise you. Amen.

                                    LITURGY OF THE WORD

 FIRST READING: (Cheryl Brandi)
The first reading is from the Book of Isaiah 55:10-11

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow came down and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the sower and bread for food.
So will my word be that goes forth from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will carry out my desire and hope, achieving the end for which I sent it.
These are the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah and we affirm them by saying:
So be it!

RESPONSORIAL PSALM 66:  (Cheryl Brandi)
 Psalm 66 interpreted by Nan Merrill.

Sing a joyful song to the Beloved all the earth, and praise Love’s name;
Sing in glorious exultation!
We say to You, “How magnificent are your ways:
So great is your power that fear and doubt vanish before You;
You are our Teacher for all ages:
We, who choose to listen and learn, sing songs of gratitude and joy.”

ALL - Response: Sing a joyful song to the Beloved all the earth and praise Love’s name.

You Have allowed us to fall into the net:
You have watched us reap all that we have sown;
We went through fire and through water,
yet you have brought us through our pain and into your dwelling place.
I enter your Heart surrendered to Love.

ALL - Response: Sing a joyful song to the Beloved all the earth and praise Love’s name.

I commend my soul into your keeping;
All that my lips uttered, all that my mouth promised
when I was in trouble and pain,          
I offer up to You.
Blessed be the holy Name of the Beloved,
Loving Companion Presence, who embraced me, and renewed my life.

ALL - Response: Sing a joyful song to the Beloved all the earth and praise Love’s name.


 GOSPEL READING: (Joan Meehan)
 A reading from the Gospel according to Mathew 13:10-15
Matthew 13:10-15

… the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?”
He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven,
but to them it has not been given.
For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance,
But from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.
The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive,
and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’
‘You will indeed listen, but never understand,
And you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
And their ears are hard of hearing,
And they have shut their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn –
and I would heal them.”

This is the Good News as told by the followers of the Apostle Mathew and we affirm these words by saying “Amen”.

Gospel Acclamation Alleluia (2nd Half)

Homilist: If you feel called to share, unmute yourself, raise your hand and wait to be asked to speak.  Mute yourself again after speaking

HOMILY- (Janet Blakeley)
God reaches and teaches us through our senses.    Hear, O Israel, the Lord Your God is One.   Hear.   That word has the potential to help us evolve on our journey to God, depending on how we respond to it.   Hearing – can be passive.   The sound falls on the eardrum.   Listening – requires some noticing.   Paying  attention  indicates a mental involvement.   Understanding something new about God – borders on being relational.  
Jesus, too, uses the familiar to nudge us along.   He talks about being able to see and hear, but hints that there is a degree of these two activities beyond the senses – a spiritual degree.  It requires being attentive with the heart and soul, learning to recognize the ways of God.   We have that capacity, but he warns that we can lose it.   Talents or giftedness never used or cultivated remain dormant and eventually will be lost.
So that we may see and hear as Jesus would have us do, we must cultivate seeing as God sees and hearing as God does.   The way to do that is to put our customary ways aside for a while and turn to look at God.   By becoming more familiar with God, just by consciously paying attention, we begin to know the ways of God, how God is, including how and what God sees and hears.   Even if we spend time seeming to learn nothing, as time goes by, our attentiveness begins to carry over into the day and we find ourselves changing in what we are able to see, hear, and love.
It was one of my life’s blessings to have a wonderful supervisor in spiritual direction – Bill Connelly, a Boston Jesuit.   As he was legally blind, what he taught came not from books but from experience.   Because of this, his teaching was authentic to the core.   One of his unforgettable teachings was how to deal with a problem.   “Of course you use your intellect to sort it out, but if you find yourself getting nowhere –just going around and around – you are looking at the wrong thing.   Take your focus off the problem and look at God.”   That is not to say “take the problem to God” in the sense of talking about it, because you’ll be looking at the problem again!   Just look and listen to God’s self.
He was telling us to expose ourselves to God’s ways.   This simple way of praying seems to change things.   Problems don’t go away, but things do change, especially ourselves.   Our capacity to see and hear evolves.   In time, we do begin to see and hear something of what God sees and hears. These days, many people are nearing despair about the state of the world because there is just too much for anyone to grasp, let alone make right!   Bill Connelly would say, “Quit looking at the problem.   The answer is not found in the problem!   Look at God.”   Learn how to see and hear what’s really going on.
In this community, we understand evolution to mean the results of God’s inviting us (and everything else) to come closer to God’s self.   We would consider an invitation to growth in seeing and hearing to be evolution.   To demonstrate this – let’s listen to a new source – the Gospel of Thomas.   This Gospel was not included in the canon of the Bible, but for early Christians it was a well-known and accepted collection of the sayings of Jesus.   About 50% of them are familiar to us and the rest have that familiar Jesus “ring” to them.
Saying # 108:  Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me.   I myself will become that person, and what is hidden will be revealed to that person.”   Reading it is one thing.   Reading it contemplatively is quite another.
Jesus said: “Whoever drinks from my mouth” meaning whoever takes in my words, swallows them, digests them…  “will become like me.”   That might be all a person would hope for – to be like Jesus.   Most of us are trying to do just that.  
“I myself will become that person.”   Jesus takes us beyond the first thought, in which we may become like him, to saying he will become us!   What a leap in understanding that suggests!   And what surrender on our parts!  
“And what is hidden will be revealed to that person.”
At this point, we could go right back to today’s Gospel and “get it,” because by lingering over words and thoughts we have evolved in our understanding.   We have moved to another place in our seeing and hearing, as Jesus said we could.   Let those with eyes, see and those with ears, hear.
The message of Bill Connelly seems more meaningful than ever: take your focus off the dilemma and focus on Jesus.   Let yourself become like Jesus.   Let Jesus become you.   All will be resolved. In this day and age, one might simply say “Keep your eyes on the prize.”   
STATEMENT OF FAITH  (Taken from “The Friends in Faith” and shared by Joan Meehan)
All: Gathered together as people of faith, we profess our belief in God who is larger than we can name, unable to be contained, yet present in each one of us.   We have come to know this God in the living of our lives, and in the holiness of the earth we share.

We believe in a God revealed in all peoples, all genders, religions, and orientations.   We embrace a compassionate God who champions justice and mercy, and is always faithful when we call.   Our God gives and forgives, patiently loving without conditions.

We gratefully believe in a God who feels our deepest struggles and celebrates our deepest joys.   A God who both dances with us in celebration and holds us when we cry.   This God is not the “other” to us but shares our breath in every moment and promises we are never alone.

We believe in a God who believes in us – believes that we are precious and incredible gifts, worthy to claim image and likeness to the divine.   We hold fast to our God who journeys with us, who continually calls us to choose the shape of our days through the choices we make.   This God accepts us as we are and shares our hope we have for becoming.   This is the God in whom we believe, our Creator, our Mother and Father, who became human in Jesus, our brother.   Our God is the Spirit of Life, the voice that continues to speak love, and asks us to answer.   In this God we choose to believe.   Amen.


Presider 2: As we prepare for the sacred meal, we bring to this table our blessings, cares and concerns. 
Creator God, we look with you at the various life forms that exist on this beautiful Earth, and ask you to open the eyes and hearts of all humans to the destruction we seem unable to prevent ourselves from causing.
All: Holy One, hear our prayer.

We see with you our overworked and stressed friends and neighbors who care for the sick and who keep our civilization running.   Stand beside them, strengthen them, and work through them.
All: Holy One, hear our prayer.

For what else shall we pray?  
            Unmute your microphone. e Speak your concern when there is an opening.
            Re-mute your microphone.

We pray for these and all unspoken concerns that we hold in our hearts.  
All: Amen.

“Everyday God” – Bernadette Farrell

(Please set out your own bread and wine.)

Presider 1: 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 2: God is within you, blessing the world through you.
All: And within you.
Presider 2: O Holy One, we lift up our hearts to You, You who gently invite us to enter into a deeper relationship with you that will affect how we live our lives and make decisions.   This transformation seems to come through difficulties and pain, yet you are there with us always.   Come Holy Spirit, be with us and with all who have gone before us, as we lift up our hearts in praise and sing:

All: We are holy, holy, holy (Karen Drucker)

Presider 1: Our Holiness is your Holiness within us. Help us to seize opportunities to reveal it to the world.

All: You pour out Your Spirit anew upon this bread and wine and upon us as we become more deeply the Christ Presence in our world. On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with the men and women he loved.   He washed their feet.   For this they would remember him.  

Presider 2 : Please lift the bread as we pray the Prayers of Consecration:
All: When he returned to his place, 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, my body, given to strengthen you.   Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you. (pause)

Presider 2: Please lift the cup as we pray:
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)

Presider 1: 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.

ALL: 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: We trust you to continue to share with us your own Spirit, the Spirit that filled Jesus, for it is through his life and teaching, his loving and healing that all honor and glory is yours, O Holy One, forever and ever.
All: Amen!  (Linda)

Presider 2: Let us pray as Jesus taught us:
Prayer of Jesus: “Our Father and Mother…”

Sign of Peace: Presider 1: If you are with others now, please turn to them and give them a sign of peace. Then let us all face the screen and express a sign of peace to one another.   “May God’s peace be with you”,

Prayer for the Breaking of the Bread
Presider 2: Please join in the prayer for the breaking of 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.
(All hold up the bread and wine.)
Presider 1: This is the bread of life and the cup of blessing.   Through it we are nourished and we nourish each other.
All: Through him, we have learned how to live.                                                 
Though him, we have learned how to love.                                                                       
Through him, we have learned how to serve. AMEN.

Presider 2: Please now receive Communion with the words “I am (You are) the Body of Christ” and “I am (You are) the Blood of Christ”

Presider 1: 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.

Prayers of Thanksgiving, Introductions, Announcements:

Closing Prayer:
Presider 2: Creator God, how good it is to enjoy community in your presence. We hope to carry this life-giving joy with us throughout the week. Please grace our days with your love as we carry all this good out into our daily lives
ALL: Amen.

Closing Song:  Day by Day from Godspell

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