Freeing the Spirit
Homily by Nancy L. Meyer, RCWP on 8/8/21 for the 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time — Brownsburg Inclusive Catholic Community’s first Mass celebrated in “hybrid” form (in-person and Zoom).
Reflection at opening of liturgy: Here we are in our new space, with so many of you on zoom and in person…so grateful to have all of you here. Two years ago, we never dreamed that this would be our future! It is exciting and another step forward as we build bridges for those looking for a place to be spiritually nourished and an open and supportive group of people. We welcome all worshipers as we celebrate community in a new way in Word and Sacrament that is safe and receptive to everyone. Sometimes, we get really weary like Elijah and the disciples in the boat and we need a presence that calms fears and gives nourishment.
Homily: Let’s begin with a story by Edwina Gateley, quoted from Mystics, Visionaries, and Prophets: A Historical Anthology of Women’s Spiritual Writings.
Outside the Box
Once upon a time we captured God and we put God in a box and we put a beautiful velvet curtain around the box. We placed candles and flowers around the box and we said to the poor and the dispossessed, «Come! Come and see what we have! Come and see God!» And they knelt before the God in the box.
One day, very long ago, the Spirit in the box turned the key from inside and she pushed it open. She looked around in the church and saw that there was nobody there! They had all gone. Not a soul was in the place. She said to herself, «I’m getting out!» The Spirit shot out of the box. She escaped and she has been sighted a few times since then. She was last seen with a bag lady in McDonald’s. …
…and before that at Boulder Creek restaurant with a table of folks outside, so ready to be back together. And then at Arbuckle Park walking with some young moms as they discussed their future, their life, and the life of their family. Since McDonald’s she has been at Brownsburg East Middle School and the High School lunch tables with students of all backgrounds, gender identities, and ethnicities as they sort through their own pressing questions of the day. Their questions are many and complex! All these folks are breaking bread of sorts, sharing their life in the presence of the Spirit. Do they and we recognize the Spirit in the Breaking of the Bread?
Sometimes, like Elijah, we are exhausted as each one grapples with Covid, isolation, political ideologies, our institutional church in crisis as well as our friends and family illnesses and struggles. The term languishing, was recently coined by sociologist Cory Keyes to described this state where we are most recently living. It is the state between depression and flourishing. This state is described as blah, drained, or limbo. We say with Elijah, “This is enough!” We ask, “Where is the angel/the messenger of God, with the bread and water to give us nourishment and to feed our soul and weary, blah spirit?”
The disciples in the boat were also in some dilemma with the weather situation they were experiencing. They were scared because they were unsure how this would end for them. These disciples were astounded as they experienced Jesus, walking on the water. Various ancient traditions imagined rulers walking on water. So, this story discloses Jesus’ identity as the revealer of God’s reign. Walking on by, like he was indifferent to their situation, may actually signify a divine revelation from our first reading, if our first reading continued to show us Elijah heading to Mt Horeb, where he heard the Holy One in the cool soft breeze.
Jesus’ words to us: “Fear not, it is I.” Paul’s supporting words to those in the boat with him as they were experiencing violent storms: “keep up your courage.” We have words, stories and experiences of hope.
It is ours to look with new eyes and see below the surface of what is happening to us, to our neighbors and to the universe. Will we notice moments of grace, as our Christ consciousness evolves and unfolds? Our world is in a massive transition across the board socially, politically, religiously and spiritually. Are we capable of responding with mercy, justice, compassion, wisdom, and self-giving love? Can this be the bread that we give others to eat, or have we left the Spirit in our box?
Nancy L. Meyer, RCWP is the pastor of Brownsburg Inclusive Catholic Community and Bishop of The Midwest Region of Roman Catholic Women Priests.