I’m down for maintenance this weekend, so I did not write a homily. But during mass this evening I noticed some interesting things. In today’s Old Testament and Gospel readings it was women who showed the fortitude of trusting in God. In the reading from Kings the widow was practicing the hospitality required by her religion when she trusted God’s word as it came to her from the prophet Elisha, and she used up what she thought was her last bit of oil and flour. She found the fulfillment offered by God. In the Gospel it was the woman who put into the temple treasury her last bit of money, and her goodness was recognized by Jesus.
As it has been since the beginning, women are teaching men what it really means to follow God as one knows God. Women taught many of us in school during our formative years. Women bring a dimension to pastoral ministry that we celibate males will never have, and in doing so have paid prices that we celibate males will never pay. I feel that with women being kept from priestly ministry our church, and our people are suffering.
Back to the Stories. Probably many of their contemporaries thought these women were acting in a less than common sense manner, but the women did what they thought was right. It would seem that there are interesting parallels today, as women still teach us what it means to follow one’s conscience and prayerful insights, and do what has to be done, regardless of what others may say or do. Perhaps most obvious is the LCWR whose fault was that they lived the Gospel as their prayer life, both community and personal, called them to do. They did not jump to every single note of the bishops’ tunes. In other words, they put the bishops to shame by living the Gospel and not just telling other people what they have to do to prove to the bishops’ standards that they are living the Gospel. For this the religious system is calling them to task. They are perceived as a threat. It would not be a surprise if somehow the bishops figured out a way to blame the LCWR for the bishops’ failure to impose their political will on folks of other or no religion in the recent elections, especially in the matter of same sex marriage. When you know everything you can’t accept blame for anything. Either they don’t know or they don’t care that fewer and fewer people are paying attention to them these days.
Among other examples are the women who feel called to the priesthood. The risks they take in following what they believe is their call are serious and nasty, but they have the courage to go where they believe the Spirit is calling them. The fact that this phenomenon is increasing throughout the world ought to be an opportunity to seek prayerful openness to the Holy Spirit for all the rest of us. Also there are any number of prayer-filled women who feel called by the Spirit to serve in a ministry to folks of same sex attraction. The Holy Spirit does not seem to be constrained by the system’s fears and self-serving zeal, but spreads wherever She will. It might help to be a bit more open to what she is doing. There are many wonderful and prayer-filled women working for church reform and renewal throughout the Church. Any who deviate from the system’s established norms are in for a rough time. The strength, courage, and dedication of these women put many of the rest of us to shame.
These and many other women are resolute in the face of tremendous opposition from men who are defending their own power and authority, which, especially after the recent election in our country, seems to be slipping. Speaking of the election, perhaps the whole experience might teach the bishops that religious freedom is for all Americans, not just the bishops. Perhaps they might realize that not everybody pays attention to them. Good leaders lead by example, not by edicts and threats. Good pastors lead by pastoring, and following Jesus, who, as near as I can determine, did not issue edicts and threats. There was a story once, something about an emperor having no clothes . . .
Also in the Gospel Jesus says,”Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets.” One can only wonder.
Just sayin . . .