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Our readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time could hardly be more appropriate to observe this occasion.
To summarize, the Gospel (Matthew 13:1-9) is a parable of Jesus, about the farmer sowing seed with mixed success. It gives partial insight into why not everyone in the community for which Matthew wrote understood and accepted the message of Jesus.
In the letter of Paul to the Romans (8.18-23) Paul has been making the case that Gentiles should be able to enjoy membership in the new people of God without having to keep the customary laws of the Jewish people. It was a tough sell. But Paul was so enthusiastic about God's new work in Christ that he saw it applied not just to human destiny but to all creation. He uses the powerful image of waiting that is part of birthing new life.
The first reading (Isaiah 55:10-11) relates to the time the Judeans, finally free from exile in Babylon, are struggling to return to their home land. They had only the promise of God's word to go on. God would bring them back. The prophet encourages them by comparing God's word to a powerful force well known to this desert people--rain and snow to water the earth and make it bloom and produce seed and food.
The experience of seeing a desert bloom after years of drought, let me tell you, is a sight to behold. It was one of the more memorable experiences of our travels in Arizona in 2005. After long periods of drought, the rains finally came in the winter months. When we were there in March, it was like driving through a field of gold. Golden poppies everywhere! God is faithful. Sometimes we must wait patiently that God’s promise will be fulfilled.
These readings show us how God acts – extravagant, crazy wild, throwing seed everywhere without regard for where it lands. This is a metaphor for a God with radical, all inclusive love – not just for the chosen few, the ones on the inside. Like the rain that falls, it comes down on everything in its path.
The exhortation in the Gospel to “listen’ recalls the Shema, the prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, prayed by observant Jews three times daily, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength.” While this prayer underscores Israel’s unique relationship with God, in this Gospel pericope, Jesus widens the audience to whomever God now extends the graciousness that was formerly directed to Israel alone. Jesus extended the Shema prayer (Mt. 22.) when he speaks of the two great commandments. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength” and “your neighbour as yourself.” Shema means ‘to listen’, ‘to hear’, ‘to internalize’, ‘to understand’, ‘to respond’. With this understanding of Shema, the exhortation to “listen, really listen” would not have been lost on Matthew’s mostly Jewish community, as it struggled to be inclusive.
The exhortation to “listen, really listen” correlates with one of the essential values of Roman Catholic Women Priests -- that of prophetic obedience.
The verb that the Hebrew Scriptures use instead of ‘obey’ is Lishmoa, shema – listen, hear. In the Biblical context there are no Hebrew words that would be equivalent to the English words, “obedience” or “obey” as we generally understand them -- “follow the rules,” “do what you are told.” What God asks is that people listen, and listen deeply to what God says to the people and to be active shapers of [God's] word through that listening, interpreting, responding. That is Shema. That is obedience.
In the introduction, I mentioned Bishop Marie Bouclin's homily at my ordination. In addition to the reference to sowing seeds, she spoke of three gifts or seeds women priests bring to the church: maturity, prophetic obedience, and servant leadership. This is what she said about prophetic obedience.
“Roman Catholic Women Priests bring to the church [the gift of] prophetic obedience. Prophets are people who stand up and speak out against unjust practices within their own institutions when others keep silent. We stand up and speak out against the exclusion of women as full members of our church. We choose to obey God rather than man-made unjust laws. We denounce all forms of violence, especially violence against women and children. From a place of relative powerlessness in a patriarchal church, we speak out for those who are even more powerless -- the victims of abuse, of violence, of senseless and needless poverty. We preach and strive to practice radical inclusivity and acceptance, not just tolerance and acceptance of differences. We signify this by welcoming everyone, as Jesus did, to our sacramental table.
"We answer the call to ordained ministry to keep alive the subversive memory of Jesus, his life and his teaching, through the celebration of the Church's sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Prophetic obedience to the Holy Spirit requires tremendous inner freedom.”
Today I, you, we, Mary of Magdala Inclusive Catholic Community are trying to live the mandate to “listen”, to be prophetic disciples of Jesus -- even if it means going against the flow of culture, even Church culture, that is in conflict with the commands of our God. We can name some of the ways we live inclusivity as a community on this five-year anniversary. We recognize that all people are equally children of God and that no one should be marginalized, be without a job, be homeless, or be killed because of ethnic, racial or gender identity. We are engaging in consciousness raising about our privilege as white people. We are involved in actions that support implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Report. We support the LGBTQ2SI community. We have connections with the Ahmadiyya Muslim women in Regina. We share the generous contributions that are made to the community with agencies that support asylum seekers, the homeless, shelters for abused women and their children, and the RCWP Canada movement.
While we celebrate what God has done for us, we are continually attentive to the seed of the Word of God thrown our way. We continue to ‘listen,’ ‘hear,’ ‘internalize,’ ‘understand’ and finally ‘respond’ to the message of inclusivity Jesus proclaims? In the words of our opening song of our liturgy, “Who Will Speak if We Don’t?”
[Jane Kryzanowski, Regina, SK is bishop for RCWP Canada]
For an audio recording of the homily version of the above article, click here.
Celebrating the wholeness and holiness of the LGBTQI Catholic community -- The Rally for Equality
Marianne Duddy-Burke, dignityusa.org | July 11, 2020
We’re mobilizing. We’re teaming up with GLAAD, Shelly’s Voice, PFLAG Indianapolis, the Ariadane Getty Foundation and many more to host the Rally For Equality.
Last month, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis launched a new policy against transgender and gender non-conforming students that will ban them from enrolling in more than 60 Indiana schools and enforce severe forms of discrimination against those already enrolled. We won’t stand by and let this happen. We must respond.
Read More and sign a petition
Homosexuality and the Bible
Walter Wink, stpetersloganville.org
Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did a hundred and fifty years ago.
We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance, and find ourselves mired in interpretative quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?
Relinquishing the patriarchy -- This is mostly a note to straight, cis men; but also includes trans men, queer men, and all who participate in masculinity
unsplash.com photoAdrienne Maree Brown, adriennemareebrown.net | May 28, 2019
If you see yourself in these words, this is a love note to you.
Patriarchy (the system of society/government in which men hold the power and women are excluded from it) is collapsing, and it’s time for you, too, to give it up, to get yourself out.
The pilgrimage of the transsexuals to the Black Madonna of Montevergine (Italy) -- Patron of LGBTQ people since medieval times
Cameron Doody, novenanews.com | July 13, 2020
Every year thousands of devotees visit the shrine of Montevergine in the Italian region of Campania (Italy). Among them, many transsexuals who feel welcome in front of “Mamma Schiavona” (Slave Mama or Slavic Mama). “Even if we are daughters of an ancient cultural tradition, discrimination against us is still deeply rooted.”
New in Homilies
Gender Identity, and Gender Expression
What does LGBTQ2S+ stand for?
myhealth.alberta.ca | 2020 Government of Alberta
Gender means social and cultural expectations of roles and how we present ourselves in society.
For most people, their gender matches up with the cultural expectations of the sex they were given at birth (cisgender). Others may self-identify as being transgender, agender or gender nonbinary.
Will Church change for LGBTI+ people this century?
Virginia Saldanha, ucanews.com | July 04, 2020
The month of June, the Pride Month, has just passed. Since India decriminalized homosexuality two years ago, LGBTI+ people in India have found the freedom to be who God created them to be.
Even though Indian and Catholic culture are highly influenced by an anthropology that is gender binary and frowns on LGBTI+ people, young members of the community participate in Gay Pride celebrations with abandon. But sadly, many have not yet come out to their parents about their sexuality because of the homophobic attitudes nurtured by religion and culture.
Responding responsibly as parents of transgender children
Colt St. Amand, Luisa Derouen, ncronline.org | July 7, 2020
"When I was contemplating coming out as transgender to my Catholic parents, I was paralyzed with fear. My mom, a physician and cradle Catholic, affirmed that although she didn't understand, she knew I was a good person and that God knew me and loved me more than anyone. My dad, a psychologist and Catholic convert, took longer, but assured me that no matter what, we would get through this together." —Dr. Colt St. Amand
German Bishops’ head wants world synod on ordination of women, blessings for gay couples
Cameron Doody, novenanews.com | May 28, 2020
The German Bishops’ head has said he will seek a world synod on issues such as the ordination of women and blessings for gay couples.
– “Whatever arises synodalically must also be answered synodalically”
– Demand for women priests “is there, in the middle of the Church”
– Gay Catholics “suffer” from lack of Church recognition of their relationships
The authors of Scripture would never have understood the logic that women could not be ordained
Roger Vermalen Karban, rcwpcanada.altervista.org | April 27, 2017
One of the Catholic Church’s traditional arguments against the priestly ordination of women revolves around Jesus of Nazareth being a man.
According to this “official” line of reasoning, the priest must be “another Christ,” a male other Christ. Such an individual must have a “natural resemblance” to the first Christ. By definition, a female can’t fill that role.
The authors of the Christian Scriptures would never have understood that logic.
Read More of this reflection by Roger Karban linked in the May 1, 2017 issue of The Review
[Roger Vermalen Karban a priest of Belleville, Illinois and pastor-emeritus of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Renault, Ill and an eminent Scripture Scholar died July 10, 2020. Roger was known personally by the editor of The Review and by the Bishop for RCWP Canada. His homilies are linked in The Review on the Homilies page under "fosil".]
The truth about the derogatory phrase 'gender ideology'
Pixabay.com photoDaniel P. Horan, ncronline.org | June 24, 2020
Often over the course of two millennia, when church teaching has come up against developments about the human person and in the natural sciences, there have been those who rallied to decry such humanistic advances as "heretical," "threatening," "unfounded," or "against the natural law." History has witnessed this in terms of the Catholic Church's resistance to recognizing the full humanity of Indigenous people, to rejecting the abject immorality of chattel slavery, and to embracing the universal human right of religious liberty, just to name three examples of the church's institutional sinfulness and its slow course to correction.
Today we are seeing a similar dynamic play out in real time as it deleteriously affects LGBTQ people in the church and broader society. The phrase "gender ideology" has become a rallying cry for such discrimination and defense of inexcusably outdated anthropological foundations. In certain Catholic contexts, recourse to "gender ideology" is placed in opposition to what is presented as a static, universal, Aristotelian-Thomistic anthropology, which is understood to be immutable and divinely revealed.
However . . .
I came across this statement in a February interview with Richard Rohr conducted by The New Yorker magazine. It fits where CTA is going so perfectly that I feel obliged to share it with you, "The Core."
"...as adherence to traditional religions dwindles, social action will become a more relevant form of spiritual practice."
We know that our activities with immigrants and refugees has a "be Jesus" spirituality to it. But so does the "Black Lives Matter" effort, the COVID volunteers harvesting and distributing food for those out of work, the first responders working with desperation and doggedness to save lives.
God works in mysterious ways, but He works through many more of us than we give Him credit for.
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay at home!
[Steven Lanoux, Brownsville, TX]
It is time for the Pope to apologise for the patriarchal sexism that has excluded women
Luis T. Gutiérrez, novenanews.com | July 8, 2020
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the infamous 1994 apostolic letter by Pope St. John Paul II on “reserving priestly ordination to men alone,” was a brutal abuse of religious authority.
Climaxing 2000 years of ecclesiastical marginalization of women as inferior to men, it implies that apostolic succession is contingent on masculinity by absurdly arguing that such is the plan Christ had for the Church when he chose twelve male apostles to represent the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel.
While undoubtedly well-intentioned for some reason that is hard to fathom, this act of pontifical fundamentalism has eroded the credibility of the Catholic Church at a time when clerical sexual abuse can no longer be hidden and the patriarchal age is coming to an end.
New Ways Ministry
New Ways Ministry educates and advocates for justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Catholics, and reconciliation within the larger church and civil communities.
Through research, publication and education about sexual orientation and gender identity, we foster dialogue among groups and individuals, identify and combat personal and structural homophobia and transphobia, work for changes in attitudes and promote the acceptance of LGBT people as full and equal members of church and society.
New Ways Ministry is a member of Equally Blessed, a coalition of faithful Catholics who support full equality for LGBT people both in the Church and in civil society.
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