Monday, March 28, 2016

Will our Eyes be Opened?

Luke 24:36-43

In the Name of God who appears to all and yet in God’s own way….

Today’s reading of the Good News reminds us that religious folks have always had an issue with actually seeing what is in front of them. This inability to use our eyes and accept the reality of life seems to have begun shortly after Jesus’s crucifixion and continues to this day. Quite simply religious people like to pretend they don’t see a lot.

We like to pretend to that we don’t see the homeless person standing on the side of the road as we drive by in a rush to make it to our next appointment. We like to pretend we don’t see the requests the local food bank sends out in order to meet its ever-growing demand. We like to pretend that the issues and struggles facing other faiths have no relation to Christianity. We like to pretend that the obstacles others are facing in their lives have no effect on our own. Heck, sometimes we like to pretend we are the only person in the room and we are all that matters.

However, today we are not allowed to dwell in our state of ignorance and refusal to see what is before us. Today we are called to attention and to open our eyes. In our passage, the Eternal Christ appears and says, “Peace be with you.” These words may seem simple enough; we have heard them countless times in our lives. But these words require a response. They require that the person who is offered them respond by saying, “Peace be with you also.” The disciples fail to do so. Instead we are told they are frightened, startled, terrified and disbelieving. As matter of fact, the passage leads me to believe that disciples would have been happy to pretend they never saw Christ standing in that room. You know, just look busy.

Christ, on the other hand, demands that his presence be acknowledged. Christ forces them to gaze upon his body, to touch his hands and his feet. You see Christ knew all to well that religious people like to pretend. They like to pretend that all is well and they have no need to engage the individuals who stand before them in life.

Today, the Eternal Christ calls our attention to the individuals we find in the middle of the rooms of our lives and demands that we respond.

We are given the sacred opportunity to quit pretending, to open our eyes and behold the person who seeks to give peace and receive peace. The person, this mystical appearance of the Eternal Christ, happens all the time and rarely do we notice it. I saw Christ this morning in the face of the person standing on the side of the street hungry and homeless. I have seen Christ in the face of a child who wondered where their next meal would come from. We have all beheld Christ in the faces of our brothers and sisters around the world who fear for their lives simply because of their skin color, religion, gender, or sexuality. The Eternal Christ is always present in our midst seeking to reveal the Divine to us. But we like to look busy.

In our passage, Christ asks his disciples to give him something to eat. When given a piece of broiled fish, we are told Christ “ate in their presence.” You see today is no different, Christ stands before us in so many different forms, perplexing forms, even frightening forms and yet asks the same… Christ asks for peace and something to eat. The question is whether we will keep pretending to not see or if we will allow ourselves to touch the face of God in the homeless, the broken, the hurting, the marginalized and the forsaken. Will we give them a piece of sustenance, a piece of ourselves, a gift of life in order that they will abide in our presence blessing us with all the gifts they have to give?

Christ comes to us again and again in this life. But so often we find ourselves terrified at his appearance because it wasn’t expected or we don’t know what to say or what to do. And yet all we have to really do is say, “Peace be with you…here is a gift of love.” It is in the simplest of gifts, the smallest of deeds, that allow us to enter into true relationship with the Divine – we enter into relationship by not ignoring those around us or living in some mystical detached life but in embracing the world around us and seeing God in all we encounter.

God seeks to abide in our presence. God appears constantly. Will we allow our judgmental doubts and fears to stop Christ from dwelling in our presence? Or will we embrace the Christ in all, acknowledging their realness, their need, and their humanness and ultimately break bread with them?

It is no mistake we share the words, “Peace be with you,” before partaking of communion. It forces us to see the people around us, to see God in them and to reconcile ourselves to them. Can we do the same for those we meet on the street and in our neighborhoods? If not, we have truly failed in our mission and our liturgy, our religion, is in vain. This worship service is only the beginning of the liturgy…life out there is the continuation and the same rules of love and willingness to embrace all are upheld if not needed even more so. Gaze upon all and you will see Christ. Love all and you will experience Christ. Listen to all and you will hear Christ whispering. Receive peace and give peace.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Our Lady at the Cross

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother.... (John 19:25)
This day Our Lady watched her son be crucified by the powers of fear. Her heart was pierced as his hands and feet were pierced. Her tears flowed down her loving face as his blood flowed forth. Her tongue whispered prayers of desperation and mercy as Jesus said, "Father, forgive them." She cried out in anguish and fainted as her son gave up his spirit. 
Our Lady shared in Our Lord's death.
Do we allow ourselves to feel the pain of those crucified by fear in this life or do we turn a blind eye Let us be as Our Lady and stand by the cross always, let us stand by those who are crucified and let us intervene as possible...
Our Lady trembles this day. We tremble with her.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Eucharistic People...Love One Another

This is a homily I presented at Bloomington Inclusive Mass last year, 2015, on Maundy Thursday. May you find something of value in it for your Holy Week journey this year. We are called, mandated, to love one another every day. God's peace be with you...

In the Name of God, who is revealed to us in the one who broke bread, was crucified and buried.

Tonight we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. As people of faith exploring the Divine according to Catholic traditions and rituals, we are often called a Eucharistic people. A people that have been called forth by God to become, to be, the Body and Blood of the Eternal Christ in the world around us. This calling should not be taken lightly nor is it simply a theological formulation that is no earthly good.

As matter of fact, being a Eucharistic people is all about being earthly good. It is the holy process of taking on the nature of Christ so that God may intervene in this world in a way that is challenging, justice oriented and full of hope.

2,000 years ago Jesus of Nazareth walked this earth in a way that was radically unexpected. He engaged in public conversations with women who were deemed by religion to be unworthy of acknowledgment. He encouraged unruly children to flock around him, unconcerned if their behavior happened to upset the proper adults. He called as his personal disciples both the married and unmarried, women and men, young and old, the intelligent and the unassuming, those deeded holy and even those who would betray him. He attended wedding feasts on a dime and was even known to make it possible for the drunken revelry to go late into the evening and early morning hours. Jesus was at home at sharing dinner with thieves, adulterers and fornicators. Actually he not only shared dinner with the “un-holy,” he never called them un-holy nor did he ever categorize them as other or beneath him or lacking. He simply broke bread, leaned back and shared the love of God with anyone who would listen.

Yes, Jesus was so radical – so inclusive – so loving – that the people around him came to know him as the Eternal Christ, God’s own child sent to this world to reveal God’s ways. However, Jesus wasn’t really a philosopher, he wasn’t a member of a judicial or political party and he didn’t seek to change the world through lofty rhetoric from high places. Instead, Jesus revealed Divine love through concrete actions. Love was found in his face as he laughed with women who no one would speak to. Love was displayed in his actions as he held children who many thought should be hidden and silenced. He distributed love as he shared his own bread with anyone who was hungry and needing a friend. This is the Jesus we find in the Holy Eucharist we celebrate this evening. This is the Jesus, the Eternal Christ, we are called to become this evening and each and every day of our lives.

Sadly, the very faith that carries the name of Jesus Christ has often failed at being a Eucharistic people. As the baptized, our calling is to symbolize the Body and Blood of Christ - to make it known - to make it real in this world. However, in recent weeks we have witnessed our Christian neighbors, across this country, fighting for laws that would allow the discrimination of our LGBT friends and family, the discrimination of our Islamic brothers and sisters and the discrimination of any minority group, including women.
This thirst for the ability to discriminate has been justified in the name of Jesus Christ, in the name of God. It is a search of selfish desperation, rooted in doctrines of ignorance, to be able to refuse dinner to the hungry and to say no to the invitation to celebrate wedded bliss.

Conversely, in tonight’s reading of the Good News we find no discrimination. Rather we are reminded that Jesus, the very person that Christians invoke as Savior, never discriminated and instead embraced all. Jesus instituted the Eucharist during the Passover Meal, that in and of itself tells us that women and children were present in the Upper Room. The Passover Meal could not be held without all God’s children represented.

So tonight we witness Jesus breaking the bread and pouring a cup forth not only for 12 men but for their wives and their children. Jesus shares the tangible realities of God’s love, in the form of bread and wine, with all gathered - no matter their gender, age, orientation or life background. If they will receive, Jesus will give - even to the very one who will betray him. This is the love of the one we call the Christ. A love that knows no boundaries - even in the midst of facing persecution and death. A love that gives and gives and gives.

In this truth, tonight, we share this sacred Mass with all who have gathered. Unlike some who would claim their God demands that they refuse to share with others, to serve others, or to celebrate with others - we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and accept our calling as a Eucharistic people. Tonight we are reminded of the mandate of the Eternal Christ: "Love  one  another.  Just  as  I  have   loved  you,  you  also  should  love  one  another.  By  this  everyone  will  know  that   you  are  my  disciples,  if  you  have  love  for  one  another."

Are we Christ’s disciples? Are we a Eucharistic people?

If we are, we may never allow ourselves to discriminate. Instead, we must reveal love though concrete actions to the least of these and especially to those who society would rather silence and put away.

Our calling as Eucharistic people demands that we, like Jesus, seek after justice and equality for all God’s people. Anything less is to crucify Christ ourselves, to seek the silencing of God’s demand for justice and to ignore the one who died in order that we might truly live. In this last meal, Jesus calls us to share with all and to be willing to love even unto the point of death. If you dare to do so, the divine promise of resurrection is yours.