Our Hope is in the One Higher than any President:Christ King of the Universe–Sun Nov. 20, 2016

This homily for Christ the King Day is by RC woman Priest, Rev. Dr. Beverly Bingle of Toledo Ohio, and I appreciate the way she tells it like it is in the wake of the Trump election. High fives, Sister Bev!  JL

The feast we celebrate today,
the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe,
is relatively new—
not even a century old in the 2,000-year history of our Church.
Some sources say that, when Pope Pius XI started it
as the “Feast of Christ the King” in 1925,
he was trying to stem the spread of secular rulers
taking over lands previously ruled by the Vatican,
disputes that were not resolved
until the Lateran Treaty in 1929.
Other sources say the Pope started the feast
to counter the increasing threat to the power of the church
from dictators like Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, and Stalin.
__________________________________________
Our church still engages in political disputes and power struggles.
The irony in this, whether back in the 1920s or now,
is that Jesus’ teaching is clear.
Jesus doesn’t call for the religious powers to govern a country,
as the Papacy had tried to do.
He doesn’t call for the government
to make everybody follow the rules of one religion,
as the U.S. Bishops have sometimes tried to do.
In fact, Jesus’ teaching is clearly not about worldly power,
no matter whether it’s the power of the state
or the power of the church.
The scriptures, especially John’s gospel,
show us Jesus teaching about the reign of God,
not the reign of church or state.
__________________________________________
The idea of a king is foreign to us.
But we do have people in positions of power,
and their decisions are not always ones
that our own well-formed consciences can agree with.
Because we are followers of Jesus,
we try to act in accordance with his teaching,
even when it goes against the government or the church.
Jesus showed us, in his teaching and with his life,
that there is another way, a better way, a more effective way—
the way of service, the way of peace, the way of love.
He said that he came not to be served but to serve.
That’s what he did,
and that’s what we’re called to do.
_________________________________________
We don’t have to think hard to figure out what that means.
Following Jesus means that we act out of love for all people.
So we oppose capital punishment.
We support gun control.
We welcome refugees and immigrants.
Our Holy Spirit Catholic Community stands vigil in prayer
when the State of Ohio executes a prisoner in our name.
We contribute to Compassion on Death Row.
We co-sponsor “Guns to Gardens”
with the Ohio Coalition against Gun Violence.
Following Jesus means
that we care for the poor and the oppressed.
Our Community members volunteer in countless efforts
to help the homeless and the hungry and the downtrodden.
That’s on top of very generous donations
to shelters and soup kitchens
and tutoring programs and disaster relief;
and your letters to elected officials and to the media
on behalf of programs to make life better for everyone,
here and around the world.
__________________________________________
We look at our government
and see challenges to the Way of Jesus.
Our next President has spoken against almost every principle
of Catholic Social Teaching.
He proposes that we set forth on a path of hate
for the most vulnerable, poorest,
and most oppressed among us.
His climate-denying lays out a path of death and destruction
for peoples here and around the world,
for us and for generations to come.
__________________________________________
But we have hope in the one
who is higher than the President of the United States,
higher than any power on earth,
greater than any power in the universe.
It’s the hope that Dorothy Day wrote about in the ’40s.
She said, “Often we comfort ourselves only with words,
but if we pray enough,
the conviction will come too that Christ is our King,
not Stalin, Bevins, or Truman.”
We can be confident because God is in charge.
__________________________________________
What we are celebrating today
is not a style of government with its earthly kings
but the victory of love over hate,
the triumph of life over death.
We’re celebrating that the reign of God is at hand—
the goodness, mercy, forgiveness, justice, and peace
that Jesus revealed to us.
__________________________________________
Our first reading today tells us that God chose David,
of the flesh and blood of the people,
to shepherd Israel as king.
Our second reading tells us that God chose Jesus,
our own flesh and blood, our brother,
to reflect God’s own self.
Our Gospel shows us Jesus,
true unto death to God’s way of love.
And now God has chosen us, just ordinary folks,
to bring about God’s reign in our time.
__________________________________________
Donald Trump is going about the task of selecting people
to help him do the things he promised during the campaign.
But we have hope
because God has chosen us to imitate the ministry of Jesus.
We have been chosen to do the work
that shows that the reign of God,
as the U.S. Bishops put it back in 1987,
“is more powerful than evil, sickness,
and the hardness of the human heart.”
Like Jesus, we are to take up “the cause
of those who suffer discrimination.”
We are the ones God has chosen now,
for the challenges of this time,
to bring light to the world.
As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday,
as we prepare to celebrate Eucharist today,
we have reason to give thanks.
We give thanks for our brother Jesus
who teaches us how to live and how to love.
We give thanks that we are called to follow him on the way,
servant disciples of our servant leader.
Amen!


Holy Spirit Catholic Community
Saturdays at 4:30 p.m./Sundays at 5:30 p.m.
at 3925 West Central Avenue
Toledo, OH 43606
(Washington Church)

www.holyspirittoledo.org

Rev. Dr. Bev Bingle, Pastor
Mailing address: 3156 Doyle Street, Toledo, OH 43608-2006
419-727-1774

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Will The Catholic Church Allow Women To Serve In Leadership Roles?

This is a good interview with RCWP Bishop Nancy Meyer that appeared in WFYI Indianapolis today by Barbara Brosher. (The only error in fact is that there are closer to 240 women who are RCWP Ordained Priests and Deacons than 140). JL

Will The Catholic Church Allow Women To Serve In Leadership Roles?

BARBARA BROSHER
Will The Catholic Church Allow Women To Serve In Leadership Roles?

Bishop Nancy Meyer presides over mass at the Indiana Interchurch Center.

Barbara Brosher/WFIU-WTIU

There are more than 140 Roman Catholic womenpriests worldwide. But the Catholic Church doesn’t recognize them because of a longstanding policy that forbids the ordination of women. Only men can hold leadership roles.

Some are hopeful a new commission Pope Francis formed will lead to change.

Indianapolis Congregation Embraces Inclusive Church

At first glance, the Sunday mass at Indiana’s Interchurch Center in Indianapolis may not appear much different than those you’d see in traditional Catholic churches. There’s singing, praying and the offering of communion.

But there’s a woman presiding over the mass. Today, it’s Bishop Nancy Meyer.

“It became real clear to me that I was called to ministry when I was 11 years old,” Meyer says. “It was very clear to me it was a priest call.”

Meyer is one of several women who leads services for the St. Mary of Magdala Catholic Community. But what’s happening here isn’t sanctioned by the Catholic Church. That’s why the community gathers at the Interchurch Center or at their homes.

“I’m able to do almost everything that I want to do,” Meyer says. “I’m just not able at this point, in this country, to do it within the church building or with the blessing of the church officials — the archbishop of the church.”

Pope Francis is examining whether women can serve in the Catholic Church as deacons through a newly-formed commission.

Pastor Maria McClain says she’s heard this before.

“I know what the Pope has said about women and leadership and he’s not for it,” McClain says. “This could be just a way of trying to keep people happy.”

The Arguments For And Against Female Ordination

Whether women can be ordained in the Catholic Church has been hotly debated. In the ’90s, Pope John Paul II wrote that the church doesn’t have the authority to ordain women as priests.

“The idea is that in the office of the priesthood the priest is acting as Christ,” says Constance Furey, associate professor of religious studies at Indiana University. “And the traditional line that forbids the ordination of women says that because Christ was male and all of Christ’s followers must be male, the priesthood must be male.”

But Furey says there is evidence in the New Testament that women served as deacons. And there’s a growing movement that supports welcoming women priests into the Catholic Church.

“People who argue for the ordination of women think there’s another point that’s really important, and that is the question of, ‘Is this just affirming the patriarchy of the church? Or is this about something that was essential in the early church?’” Furey says.

The women with St. Mary of Magdala say there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to serve in leadership roles within the Catholic Church.

Meyer says she commends Pope Francis for exploring the possibility of female deacons. She doesn’t expect an immediate change, but she hopes the Pope will listen.

“We really need our voices to be heard because we look at things, we do things differently than men,” Meyer says.

For now Meyer says she’ll continue serving as a womanpriest with the hope that someday she will be able to do so within the walls of a Catholic Church.

The Witness of Two Roman Catholic Priests at the U.S. Conference of Bishops on 11/14

This article is by Rev. Dr. Janice Sevre-Dusynska, a Roman Catholic Woman Priest  about her witness along with Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M., who is excommunicated for his active support of women priests, at the US Conference of Bishops on 11/14/16. It is a story of courage and inspiration and it challenges us all to do more as they are doing. “It is the Holy Spirit that calls us”.

If I may direct the reader to Fr. Roy”s book- MY JOURNEY FROM SILENCE TO JUSTICE:  published by fxBEAR, Yellow Springs. Ohio /  www.roybourgeoisjpurney.org   Fr. Roy says in conclusion:  “What I do know is tht silence is the voice of complicity,and my conscience will not allow me to be silent about this injustice in our Church-no matter the consequences.”

Let us not grow weary or lax in witnessing and prompting and prodding the church for justice. Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

The Inside Story: Our Witness for Women Priests and Justice for Gays by Janice Sevre Duszynska ARCWP

This cold and damp November 14  morning, Roy Bourgeois and I witnessed for gender justice at the Marriott Waterfront Hotel as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathered for their bi-annual meeting. Walter Sandell of New Jersey who we met at the Women’s Ordination Worldwide gathering in Philadelphia in 2015 joined us.
 
 
We began our day strategizing a plan of action over a bowl of soup in the restaurant.  Across from us we noticed activist friends, Rita Clark, sister of Jesuit Miguel d’ Escoto, Former Foreign Minister of Nicaragua (1979-1990) and President of the UN General Assembly (September 2008-2009) and friend of Roy’s, and her husband, Tom Siemer, an anti-nuclear peace activist. Years ago when to the bishops met in Wash., D.C. at the Hyatt and the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Tom and I witnessed to them and enjoyed a cup of tea together.
As the bishops began to gather for lunch, Roy began walking among them with his banner “Bishops, Stop Persecuting Gays” and I followed in alb and stole with mine, “Women Priests are Here.” I remember speaking to Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston. We were aware that this witness would be short-lived and soon we were told to stop.
Once outside, we decided to hold up our banners along the promenade by the harbor facing the hotel. Here and there, bishops came outside to smoke or walk by the water. They saw our signs and we spoke to them.  Several thanked us for our witness. I answered one bishop’s “Francis said ‘no’” with “It’s the Holy Spirit who calls us.”
A number of women and men gave us the thumbs up as they passed by and Roy gave them a copy of his letter to Pope Francis regarding gender justice in the church.  We spent time together talking about the Presidential election, politics and the church.
By 2:30 p.m. several buses drove up to take the bishops to their 5 o’clock mass at St. Peter Claver Church in West Baltimore, where there is tremendous poverty. Max told me this was the church where Phil Berrigan served as a Josephite priest. His funeral Mass was celebrated here and he was buried on the grounds of the Jonah House, a resistance community a couple of miles away where I go for Sunday liturgy. Roy and I decided to leave by 3 p.m. to prepare for our witness there. It was a blessing that Max took me to all the places yesterday and wrote out good directions, so Roy and I had no problem finding our way to the church.
After taking the lay of the land and some discussion, Roy felt strongly that he must do an action inside the church during the bishops’ Mass. I, on the other hand, felt my sign and voice could reach them as they drove up. So Roy went inside and I stayed outside. As the bishops’ eyes met mine, I remembered that 10 years had passed since my last time witnessing to them in the Capital. Now I was a priest of eight years.
Off the bus, the bishops went inside a building to change into their vestments and robes. Here and there, people passed by and were friendly. I felt safe like I did at St. Cyril’s as a girl. I was told that the bishops would be in view as they processed into the church. When they began their entrance, I stood by the gate and held my banner, “Women Priests Are Here,” my presence a visible sign of the existence of women priests.  They looked at me and many smiled. A few came up to greet me saying, “Bless you, sister.” I called out to them in a strong and firm yet unthreatening voice. “The Holy Spirit is calling you to speak out for women priests. The church needs the feminine. It needs women’s voices and leadership. Two-thirds of the world’s poor are women and their dependent children.. The Church needs to hear the Gospels interpreted from women’s lived experiences. “
As I turned my head, I saw Max standing nearby. What a joy to see him! He explained that after basketball, he had gone with others to a state senator’s office to urge her to sign on to a ban on fracking in Maryland. I asked him to hold my bag while I hurried to my car to get our ARCWP “Phoebe and Community” banner by Dina Cormick to show the bishops the history of women’s leadership in our church. He held it with me alongside the other banner as another group of bishops walked passed us. I heard one of them call my name. “Hello again, Janice,” he said, smiling. I’ll see you again tomorrow night.” I turned quickly and asked Max who that bishop was. “Archbishop Tobin,” he replied. I turned and responded, “Okay, Archbishop Tobin,” recognizing that he will become a Cardinal this weekend. I would miss our vigil against killer drone research at Johns Hopkins University tomorrow night to be at St. Vincent de Paul’s for soup and bread with Catholic Workers and the bishops.
Archbishop Tobin
 
As the doors to the church closed, reporters and cameramen walked by and we chatted. I was hungry and it was cold. I asked Max to get me the blanket from his van. When he returned, I thanked him. I was warm again. We heard some singing from the church as I told Max about Roy’s intended action. Not long after Roy joined us. His faced looked angelic. He felt led by the Spirit, he said, to proclaim the message on his banner to the leaders of the US Church: “Bishops, Stop Persecuting Gays.” He said he had to pull himself and the banner away from a security guard before making his way to the altar. There he bowed down and kissed it before holding up the banner to the bishops and turning it to the people of God. Then, he said, two priests tried to pull the banner away from him and he felt like they attacked him. He was surprised because they were priests. He had expected them to just allow him to walk out. He based his expectation on what happened to a man who did a similar witness in Louisville, KY while he was there.
When Roy came outside, lots of plainclothes security followed him. Not long after he told us about his experience, six Baltimore policemen showed up. They were kind. Roy told them he had no intention of re-entering the church, and they were satisfied.
 
We stood with our signs for a short time as the bishops filed out, the night’s peace jarred by the deafening loudspeaker of a fringe character haranguing the bishops in an incomprehensible fashion. On the way for pizza, Roy told me he felt renewed by what had unfolded this day. “Yes,” I nodded.  I felt the same.

For God All Are Alive-Life and Love after Death: Reflections 32nd Sunday in OT, 11/6/2016

A dear friend and member of our church lost her most beloved sister a short while ago. Her grief was so profound that I cried with her as she shared it with me. Two sisters living far from their homeland representing home for each other although both are married with families and living in different States. Only this sister holds her earliest history and has loved her this long as her parents are also with God. Sisters and best friends now parted. Unimaginable grief. Despite her strong belief in the living Christ and in resurrection, my friend is much bereaved. She will miss her sister who died suddenly and that sudden loss is the greatest pain. She must mourn even though her beliefs that her sister lives with our loving God are very strong. But slowly, she claims her sister’s love that is always with her and that her sister lives forever with Love as she herself does now and forever. Her sister is close to her and she is comforted. Love comforts her. Life after life helps her to continue on. From Love she finds the strength for life.

As I reflect on the readings for this week, especially the Gospel, Luke 20: 27-38, where the Saducees who do not believe in resurrection try to make Jesus look bad by presenting a ridiculous situation in what they consider a ridiculous notion-life after life. Jesus is near his own death and is firm in this knowledge.  Jesus once again rises above a political trap and speaks truth that it is not easy to understand. Basically he says that there is resurrection-death is not the end. He says that we cannot really grasp and understand the kind of life we will have after we die, but “God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and to God “all are alive.”

This reflection by Fr. John Foley of St. Louis University says what I believe better than I can say it and it is similar to the way I comforted my friend who lost her sister and all who lose and anticipate loss of their dearly loved ones. I  draw comfort and hope in this. (The italics and emphasis are mine).

Life  After Death-This is part of Fr. Foley’s Homily: 
John J. Foley SJ liturgy.slu.edu/32OrdC110616/reflections_foley.htmal

“Our God is God of life, the Gospel says; “to him all are alive,” even the dead! How could this be? Because God keeps love safe.
What?
Yes. Real love is the rich earth that nurtures great trees. Roots dig deep down in the soil for nourishment and moisture. Their green selves grow out of the earth—and notice something obvious: the earth does not grow out of them! Their life and our lives are rooted in the rich loam of love. Life grows out of love, not visa versa.

It is difficult to say the last sentence correctly. Let me try again. Love is a force much deeper than life. When life ceases, love stays. It becomes the home, the embracing arms that enfold us. Love is the substance, life is the outgrowth.

So the “place” dead persons go, leaving their bodies behind, is into the heart of love, into the arms of God who is love.

Here is how the poet Hopkins put it:

Hither then, last or first,
To hero of Calvary, Christ’s feet—
Never ask if meaning it, wanting it, warned of it—men go.*
Christ’s feet are where you and I will be, honoring the perfect fullness of love he achieved. Oh yes, we have to release our tight grip on the treasures we hoard, things we might be grasping instead of love.

If you and I have a hard time “meaning it and wanting it” during our lives, even so, we are still folded into the luxuriant soil of God’s love. Sometimes we refuse it, of course, and then our roots dry out in the sun. But Love forgives us and invites us and helps us back.

It is hard to talk about, but worth it.”

John Foley, SJ

I am glad that Fr. John Foley did not choose the other readings of the day or other aspects of the readings to reflect on-for this is the heart of it, now and forever. AMEN.

Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

IMG_0139

Life grows out of the rich soil of God’s love, and returns to it…Living on in Love.

A RC Woman Priest, Rev. Chava Redonnet, Reflects on “the Sacrament of Civil Disobedience”

Here is a report and All Soul’s Day reflection by Rev. Chava Redonnet,RCWP that spotlights immigration. It is beautiful and worth reading! For further reflection on All Soul’s and All Saints Day you may also look in the Archives of this blog for the Nov. 1, 2015 homilies and reflections of Rev. Beverly Bingle and myself. . Rev. Dr. Judy Lee, RCWP

 FROM Rev. Chava Redonnet, RCWP

Oscar Romero Inclusive Catholic Church
Bulletin for Sunday, October 30, 2016                                                            31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear friends,

It’s November 2, the Feast of All Souls, celebrated throughout Latin America as Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.  Two years ago today I was in El Salvador with Rachel McGuire and Ruth Rodriguez de Orantes, and experienced the Day of the Dead for the first time.

You know how in the United States, cemeteries are all grey and white, marble and granite, kind of spooky and scary and uncomfortable? My kids used to hold their breaths when we drove past a cemetery. I’m not sure what was supposed to happen if one happened to breathe, but it was an example of how we feel about cemeteries in our culture.

The first time I visited the cemetery in Santa Ana, I was surprised to find that the graves looked nothing like what I was used to. In Latin America, cemeteries are very colorful places. Tombs are constructed with ceramic tile – green, blue, yellow, pink, all the colors ceramic tile can be. And on Day of the Dead the cemeteries explode with color as each tomb is lovingly decorated, like so many home-made valentines, a love letter to those still carried in the hearts of those who loved them.

On Day of the Dead, a family might take a picnic to the cemetery, and stay all day. Everybody has the day off, and on that day two years ago it seemed like most of the population of Santa Ana was at the cemetery. Musicians play, and of course there are some tears – but as I looked around, it seemed the air was full of love.

It was like the beatitudes came alive: blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted – by loving memories, by the community of all who mourn together, by celebrating the lives of those who still live in our hearts. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven, full of color and flowers and music, tears and love, all together.

Last week I wrote about the 25 people picked up by ICE in Buffalo. On Thursday, October 24, there was a demonstration at the Immigration Courthouse in Buffalo. Lots of people from Rochester were there! – including 5 of the 8 people arrested for chaining themselves to the front door of the courthouse – James and Annie from St Joe’s, Ryan from House of Mercy, Carly from the Worker Justice Center and Shannon from Take Back the Land. Jake and I were their support people, and waited for them to be released after what turned out to be a pretty harrowing afternoon in jail. There is a national group called Cosecha that organized the protest, and three young women from that organization were arrested, too. If you would like to keep up with what is happening with the Buffalo 25, I suggest getting on their mailing list, at  movimientocosechainfo@gmail.com  .   This link will take you to the page for their next event:https://www.facebook.com/events/713467655488084/?notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1477926951460313   Carly Fox is organizing drivers for farmworkers who want to attend events supporting the Buffalo 25. Contact her at cfox@wjcny.org

Just before the 8 folks went up the steps at the courthouse to begin their sit-in, I said to Annie, “What you are doing is holy. We should call it the sacrament of civil disobedience!” For a little while, they voluntarily experienced what so many experience involuntarily – all the indignities of incarceration – hunger, cold, lack of privacy. They told of being strip-searched. Carly said she was never so aware of her privilege —  voluntarily experiencing all that, but ultimately able to leave, with a court visit and not even a fine to pay, just “don’t get in trouble for six months and this will go away.” . Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall have their fill. Thanks for standing with the Buffalo 25, you 8!

Two rather lovely things happened in the past week or so. Last Thursday night at the Rural and Migrant Ministries dinner, Marilu Aguilar received an award for her years of work on behalf of farmworker justice. Tomorrow, another award – this one for Librada Paz, for being an inspirational leader! – from Latinas Unidas. Very proud of both of you! Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God – both Marilu and Librada have been steadfast and pure of heart in their work for justice.

We continue to meet for Mass at 11 am Sunday mornings at St Joe’s, and you are always welcome. The Migrant Mass has been on hiatus for a bit because people are working so late, but hopefully starting again soon. Let me know if you want to join us some Thursday!

Love to all , Chava

Oscar Romero Church  An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy

Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition   Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620

A member community of the Federation of Christian Ministries

Below Rev. Chava Redonnet, RCWP a member of RCWP-East, is the 3rd from the left in the front row as you view the picture.

image1-2

Called By God: A Woman Priest’s Homily for 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time 10/30/16

We present here Rev. Dr. Roberta Meehan’s homily for this Sunday. Rev. Meehan deftly connects the readings for the day with the themes of God’s great love for us and God’s call to each one of us. The gospel for the day is the calling of Zaccheus, the short of stature tax collector whom others see as a sinner. Zaccheus climbs a tree to even see Jesus and Jesus honors him with a visit to his home. Zaccheus is filled with Jesus’ love and promises to right his wrongs toward others. The Psalm of the day reminds us: “Our God lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.”(Psalm 145:14). As I read the Gospel text I identify with Zaccheus, not because I am rich or have cheated others, but because my own imperfections are ever before me. They are different from Zaccheus’ imperfections but there nonetheless. I am so pleased to be loved by God as Dr. Meehan points out and to be invited to house Jesus. As I struggle with the difficult transitions of my life I look to our loving God to be lifted up and raised up. And I pray that my service to others who have little and hurt much brings the face of Love to them. So if you feel like Zaccheus today-climb the tree of faith and look for Jesus who will welcome you with open arms.  Then carry him to everyone and live your calling to love and enact justice.

Rev. Dr. Judith Lee, RCWP

Homily Rev. Dr. Roberta Meehan, RCWP:

Thirty-First Sunday Ordinary Time – Cycle C – 30 October 2016

 

Wisdom 11:22 – 12:2

Psalm 145:1-2, 8-9, 10-11, 13-14

2 Thessalonians 1:11 – 2:2

Luke 19:1-10

 

[The Book of Wisdom is found in the Apocryphal section of some translations of the Bible.]

One of the themes brought out in today’s readings is the call.  We are told we are good and we are told to follow our call.  Our calls are not denied and the theme of call runs throughout today’s readings.  But, what else is there?

Look at this phrase from the Book of Wisdom.  “You [God] love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made.”  Were we not all made by God?  Do we not all fall in this category of God loving all things that God has made?  Of course we have heard since we were small children that God loves us.  But, how often have we stopped and thought about how absolute and profound that statement is?

The reading goes on with, “for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.”  God is absolutely and positively in love with each one of us and if God were not in love with us, we simply would not be here.  We would never have been here!  Look at a few more phrases from Wisdom.  “And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it; or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?”  Have we not been willed by God?  Have we not been called forth?

Sometimes words like that sound very distant.  We know them in theory but do we really know them in our heart of hearts?  Think of the person you find most despicable, the person you absolutely abhor.  Does it hurt you to think that God loves that person with the same absolute passion that God loves you?

How does this statement of love relate to our call today?  Look at the letter to the Thessalonians.  “(W)e always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith.”  We see a very definite progression here.  God is absolutely in love with each one of us and now we hear a prayer that we may be made worthy of God’s call.  Yes!  God is calling each of us.  Our calls may be temporary or our calls may be permanent.  We may have a call to listen to someone for an hour or we may have a call to spend forty years as a missionary in a foreign land.  We may be called to our family situation or to our profession.  We may even be called to be unemployed.  But, regardless, God calls each of us.

The point is that the letter to the Thessalonians is a prayer that we may be worthy of our call.  Our calls are unique.  They are a part of who and what we are.  They are a part of our innermost beings.  Are we worthy?  We are working on it!  We are not perfect.  Think back to that question of how we react to God loving the most despicable person we can think of even as God loves us.  It does not matter that we are not perfect.  Only God is perfect; all we can do is strive toward perfection and ask that we may be worthy of our call.  No one in Scripture was worthy of his or her call – at least not by our standards.  But, every one had a call.  Every one of us also has a call (or a series of calls).  We can only ask to be worthy of our call.  We will falter and sometimes we will fail but if we remember that our God is absolutely in love with us, our ultimate moment is not failure but the fulfillment of God’s ultimate purpose for each of us.

It is interesting that the gospel today – Luke’s story of that short and bossy little chief tax collector named Zacchaeus – should be a part of this series of readings on our call.  Tax collectors were held in less regard in Scriptural times than they are today.  The followers of Jesus certainly had no great love for Zacchaeus!  He was a tax collector and he was rich.  But, he knew how to answer the call!  It is entirely possible that professionally he was called to be a tax collector!  He was also called by Jesus.  Look at what Zacchaeus had to do just to see Jesus!  Somehow he got up in that sycamore tree.  This may have been quite a feat for a short fellow!  He felt the call – a call that extended beyond his profession as a tax collector.  And he felt it so strongly that he went to extreme lengths to answer it!

But, even though Zacchaeus was seeking to see Jesus, Jesus was actually searching for Zacchaeus and Jesus told him gently to come out of the tree because he (Jesus) was going to stay at Zacchaeus’ house that night.  Again we see the absolute love of God – the Hound of Heaven.  And what does Zacchaeus do?  He prays the essence of the message from Thessalonians!  He prays to be worthy.  He makes a commitment to his call from God.  He will give half to the poor; he will repay anyone he has cheated four-fold; he will turn his life over to God.

And, God says that salvation has come to Zacchaeus’ house.  Notice that we have no indication that Zacchaeus will stop being a tax collector.  That may well have been and would continue to be his professional calling.  We also have no indication that he will stop being rich.  Even if he gave away half of his possessions, he may still have had enough to be classified as rich.

But, notice something else.  His answering the call was a change of heart.  He knew that God loved him absolutely.  He knew he was going to make amends for any wrongdoing and he was going to turn his will and his life over to God.  He was answering his call from God.  We do not know if he changed his profession; we do know he changed his life.  He answered the call to be who he was – the beloved child of God, doing what he could do to be what the love that God had for him called him to be.  That is our calling too.

 

Roberta M. Meehan,  D.Min.,RCWP

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I Want to See Women Priests in the Catholic Church: Swedish Bishop to Pope Francis

Pope Francis will visit Sweden next Monday as the Swedish Lutheran church celebrates Reformation Day. This ecumenical and unity move is another good move by Pope Francis, but he can expect the Swedish Lutheran Bishops to continue to express strong pro-women priests sentiments  as they have before.  The Swedish website: The Local SE has the following article by Ilgin Karlidag. http://www.thelocal.se/20161028/i-want-to-see-women-priests-in-the-catholic-church

Interview

‘I want to see women priests in the Catholic Church’

Archbishop Antje Jackelén meeting Pope Francis earlier in 2016. Photo: L’Osservatore Romano/AP

Pope Francis still has a lot of work to do on a range of moral issues despite encouraging comments from the Catholic Church head, leaders of Sweden’s Lutherans say ahead of his visit to the country.

 

“It is clear that he has said and done things that have ignited much hope among many Catholics and even many people outside the Catholic Church,” Sweden’s first female Lutheran Archbishop, Antje Jackelén, told AFP.

 

Stockholm Bishop Eva Brunne hailed the Argentine pontiff as “a breath of fresh air”. But the openly lesbian bishop added: “He has a lot to work on when it comes to gender issues, for example.”

 

Francis kicks off a two-day visit to Sweden on Monday to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – a highly symbolic trip, given that Martin Luther’s dissenting movement launched centuries of bitter and often bloody divisions in Europe.

 

Sweden’s branch of the Lutheran Church is amongst the most liberal in Christendom, and the pope’s visit highlights deep splits between the Vatican and this gay-friendly constitutional monarchy, where same-sex marriage is allowed even for priests.

 

Francis has tried to make the Church less judgemental in its approach to divorced, cohabiting and gay believers since he became pope in 2013, but his critics say he has delivered little concrete change.

 

In August he launched a commission to study the idea of female deacons – a rank just below priest – but made clear he did not see women becoming priests.

 

“I believe (the Catholic Church) must bear women and men at all levels,” Brunne said, blasting the lack of progress the Vatican has made on female representation.

 

“I told the pope last year during a speech that it is time to no longer speak for women about women, but to speak with women,” Jackelén said.

 

“I want to see women priests in the Catholic Church and I know that there are many Catholic women who are well-educated and would be excellent priests,” she added.

 

The Swedish Lutheran Church has been appointing women priests since 1960. Figures released in 2010 showed that 45 percent of its nearly 4,500 professional priests were female, with the proportion even higher among parish priests.

 

Francis raised hopes early in his papacy that he might steer the church towards greater acceptance for homosexuality, and in June he said Christians “must apologize” to gays and lesbians for their past treatment.

 

Yet new Church guidelines on family life released in April failed to recognize homosexual couples.

 

“When the pope was asked about homosexuality and responded ‘who am I to judge?’ some hope was ignited,” Jackelén said.

 

“One could say that as far as this special stance is concerned nothing has changed,” she added. “There is impatience over change in practise.”

 

Anders Arborelius, bishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Stockholm, said the pope’s approach had been one of continuity, despite a “progressive” image compared to his predecessors.

 

“Pope Francis comes from another continent and has a different way of expressing things, but one cannot say that he has changed anything in the teachings,” he said.

 

Despite tensions between the two churches, the purpose of the pope’s visit to the southern Swedish towns of Malmö and Lund is to celebrate dialogue and common ground between Catholics and Lutherans.

 

“We are getting closer on how to tackle climate change,” Brunne said, referring to the pope’s calls for action against global warming in an encyclical issued in June 2015.

 

“We have reached a point now where we have gone from conflict to solidarity, and we are celebrating that now.”

 

The Nordic region was completely conquered in the 16th century by the Lutheran Reformation as Protestantism established itself as the dominant form of Christianity across northern Europe.

 

Officially, Catholicism is on the rise in Sweden – the Church has 113,000 members (1.1 percent of the population) compared only 87,000 in 2000, but it says it believes the actual number of Catholics in the country to be 150,000.

 

The Swedish Lutheran church says it currently has 6.2 million members, which amount to more than 60 percent of the nation’s population.

 

But the figures have been slightly falling each year because old members die and fewer children are being baptized, according to the church.

 

Immigration is also on the rise, prompting religious diversity.

 

By AFP’s Ilgin Karlidag.

Women Priests are already here in the Roman Catholic Church.  There are over 230 world-wide.Some of the priests of the Eastern Region of Roman  Catholic women priests-10-15-2016.  See, for example,  www.romancatholicwomenprests.orgimage1-2