June 20, 2021
Today’s gospel story is more than a summer’s boat ride. “Let us cross over to the other side,” is more than a summer outing.
It is a metaphor for life. “A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat so that it was filling up.”
Life can be calm. Life can be rough. Life can be violent. Life can upset the ordinariness of life– what we consider normal.
Jesus sits in our boat of life. Most of the time, He is resting there, especially when we are not aware that He is there. Then, we expect him to act immediately when we get into trouble or when something throws us for a loop.
Today, Jesus asks us “do you not yet have faith?”
Faith is not a commodity, it is not a doctrine, it is not a thing. Faith is our mysterious connection to God’s divine presence. It happens to us in our hearts in living our lives with God. It is a gift by which we live life differently, reverently, graciously, “aware” that God is our refuge and our strength, that God is our motivation, our energy, our capacity to live and to love.
God is with us, God is for us. God helps us work out the details of our life.
If there is a group of people who have been in the storms of life, it has certainly been our Black American brothers and sisters, the first slaves brought to grow our America, whose rights have been abused for centuries and who now are claiming their full freedom to stand alongside the rest of us.
There has been a white supremacy and we know now, more than ever, that Black Life Matters, that all human beings matter. So finally, today we celebrate Black Pride, the first official celebration of Juneteenth, and the Emancipation of all human potential.
We need to recognize the multicultural reality, as Antioch has just done with its apology to Chinese Americans — that we are much, much more than Europeans who have come to be Americans. Immigrants know what it means to be in and to live the storms of life. Many times, those who have benefitted from our American culture and all their possibilities that we have received, we are sitting asleep and unaware of the playing field of life that has not been fair or just.
Last week, we have begun to emerge from the restrictions from the pandemic and everyone wants to return to normal. We can complain of being locked up and zoomed and restricted in our needs to be social.
I read an article by a social commentator who suggested that the first new normal is for us to cultivate a continued spirit of generosity and gratefulness.
While the pandemic is not over in this particular storm of life, hopefully, we have learned and discerned a new pattern for living, not to be hooked on things and activities, but more aware of people and relationships and our spirituality. That we might pay more attention to Jesus, to the divine spirit, who is sleeping in the back of the boat. He is happy to be alive in our lives, if we invite him to participate. Jesus is more than an answer to our problems. He is a friendly reminder of the good directions our lives need to take. The new normal: be grateful. Be generous!
I also read a recent study of those most affected by the pandemic. The largest group not affected were those who went to Church — even by Zoom. A good spirituality is a good spiritual medicine for the mind, the body and the soul!
Last, I want to speak for a few moments about our U.S. bishops and how they wish to guard teh Eucharist from being received without being worthy to do so.
What is this word that they keep using: “Eucharistic Coherence”? They seem to want to focus on Catholic politicians and fail to recognize that a Catholic can practice their Catholic Faith personally but must uphold the plurality of being in a society where 80 percent of the people are not Catholic.
Instead of trying to decide how a Catholic politician can remain a Catholic in a pluralistic society, the Bishops have to remember that they no longer live in a Catholic feudal society of 100 years ago.
While American society has not yet figured out adequately how to promote, to protect and preserve from the womb to the tomb, there is really no need for abortion if sexually active couples practice birth control. How can we reach out to all people of good will and encourage responsibility in this regard.
But then again, the Church does not want to encourage birth control through contraception believing abstinence is the ideal response, and thus abortion continues.
This debate: do we condemn or do we promote dialog and conversation. Is the Eucharist an award for being good and thinking, and hunkering down against an evil or by trying to come to a more creative, positive approach to more positive solutions. Pope Francishas suggested for the last eight years that mercy, that the Eucharist is a spiritual medicine that saints and sinners alike need. The storm on the sea of this issue is just beginning and will grow more intense.
I would stand with the bishops who oppose making Holy Communion a weapon.
Many Republican bishops were hoodwinked by the former president to think that he was a pro-life president and that he should be re-elected because of assurances given to Cardinal Dolan of New York. Nothing changed. This issue is a real hornet’s nest or a violent storm that is about to erupt.
So, I would say to all Republicans and Democrats, Independents and Green Parties: Politics do not determine the gospel or the pastoral policies of the Catholic Church.
There are political platforms of political parties that do not promote the Gospel of Jesus at all – and Catholics need to be smart enough to know those platform policies that do not promote the Gospel.
So, St. Paul’s words today are timely: “The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all, therefore all have died.” No longer do we regard one another “according to the flesh.” We are all filled by God’s spirit. Together, we need to figure out what that means and how it affects our spirituality and how our spirituality needs to change our political thinking.
There is a certain part of us that cannot think like a Republican or a Democrat. St. Paul wrote: “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation, the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
What are the new things? How do we begin to think in a new way? Where does Holy Communion fit in all of this?
Instead of writing a statement on “Eucharistic Coherence” the President of the U.S Conference of Bishops should be calling for an inter-governmental and ecumenical dialog to discover better how to promote the life of the pre-unborn and how to promote mutual support and mutual responses to the great moral questions of today.