Worship At Home
Small Group Reflection of 07-26-20

 

In these days of social distancing we have endeavored to provide a Corpus Christi online worship experience. The Worship At Home web page has been our attempt to provide that. One of the ways our community has used this resource has been to gather virtually in real time using video conferencing software like FaceTime, Skype, Messenger, and Zoom. In an effort to hold onto our deep liturgical roots, one virtual group has gone to the point of having rotating presiders, lectors, and even homilists. The reflections provided by the members of this group have often been very inspiring. In an effort to share these reflections with the larger community several of them have been collected and published here on the CC website.

Reflection from 07-26-20, provided by Kathy DiGiorno.

 


Before I share my reflection on today’s Gospel, I want to take a minute to talk about an important woman in the church.

This past week, on July 22, was the Feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene. In 2016 Pope Francis raised the liturgical rank of the day honoring Saint Mary Magdalene “from the liturgical rank of Memorial to a Feast,” and authorized a new Preface before the Eucharistic Prayer, which was translated into English last September and authorized for use during masses in her honor beginning in 2020.

It is truly right and just,
our duty and our salvation,
to glorify you in all things, almighty Father,
whose mercy is not less than your power, through Christ our Lord.

[Jesus] appeared in the garden
And revealed himself to Mary Magdalene,
Who had loved him in life,
Witnessed him dying on the Cross,
Sought him as he lay in the tomb,
And was the first to adore him, newly risen from the dead.
He honored her with the office of being an apostle to the Apostles,
So that the good news of new life
Might reach the ends of the earth.

I love that phrase “an apostle to the Apostles.” Luke tells us that it was from Mary Magdalene that Jesus cast out seven demons. Then, having been freed from her demons, she followed Jesus and, as the text tells us, she supported Jesus’ ministry from her own pocketbook. In the end it was Mary Magdalene who did not deny Jesus, nor betray Jesus. She didn’t leave him alone, but with just a couple of other faithful women, she stood at the cross. And after Jesus died, it was Mary who came to his tomb while it was still dark. She stood there and wept. She didn’t recognize the resurrected Christ until he spoke her name, but she turned at the sound of it. And it was her, a deeply faithful and deeply flawed woman, whom Jesus chose to be the first witness of his resurrection and to whom he commanded to go and tell everyone else about it.

On to Matthew Chapter 13.

Liturgical Cycle A, which is the liturgical cycle we’re in this year, is my least favorite. So many parables. They just go on and on. We’re not done with parables yet—Matthew’s gospel is packed with them, and we read Matthew until the end of the liturgical year, closing with the parable of the sheep and the goats, where we hear the corporal works of mercy, but we are finished with chapter 13.

I have many memories of hearing what I think of as the farming parables from Matthew’s gospel during the summer. Sitting in a hot church. Often at the lake. These readings always seem like they belong in the summer: sowing seeds in the garden and the field, weeds moving in on the crops, tiny seeds growing into enormous plants, a good catch of fish. These are summer stories for me.

I think it is really interesting that we read all of Chapter 13 except the last few verses, which tell us that after Jesus finished telling these stories when he was on the road with his disciples, he went home to Nazareth. Think about that–Jesus went home to visit his family! When he was there, he taught in the synagogue and people were amazed until they thought about who he was, and then they dismissed him. Here’s the text:

Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said: “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon and Judas. All his sisters live right here among us. Where did he learn these things?” And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his family.” And so he only did a few miracles there because of their unbelief.

Just think about that. Jesus, who we are still talking about today, more than 2000 years later, was dismissed by the community where he grew up. They dismissed him because of who he was and where he lived. Because Jesus was so ordinary to them, they could not believe that God was working through him, that he was God’s son.

What about us? Whose prophetic voices do we dismiss? Whose voices do we dismiss because they are too close to us? A parent? A child? A neighbor? A friend? What about voices from our community that we dismiss because we don’t think they are important? We need to be open to having God revealed to us through the people we know best, and through our ordinary day to day experiences.

I read a book this week by a Lutheran pastor named Nadia Bolz-Weber who started an ELCA mission church in Denver called House for All Sinners and Saints. She talks a lot about grace. About how God’s grace is a gift that is freely given to us. That we don’t earn God’s love, but that it is a gift and we try to live in response to the gift. She talks about how God’s grace is revealed to us, and she makes the point that the movement in our relationship to God is always from God to us. Always. We can’t, through our piety or goodness, move closer to God. God is always coming near to us. Most especially in the Eucharist and in the stranger. All we have to do is be open to God’s presence, in the myriad of ways it is revealed to us every day.