CACINA

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A 2014

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, homily, inspirational, religion, Resurrection, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr. Ron Stephens on November 9, 2014

Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time A 2014

(Bishop Ron’s second volume of “Teaching the Church Year- Cycle B” is now available on amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OSRJST0# ) be ready for Year B starting in Advent.

A woman’s place in the church has never been debated more than it is being debated right now. If I look at my Facebook, I see almost every day not very flattering comments regrading the male dominated clergy and the Roman Curia. We follow the stories of the nuns who seem to be being chastised for doing the very thing that the Gospels tell us to do.

I have no trouble seeing women as the equals of men – never have – and so, it is often beyond me how half the population can be treated the way that have been.

It seems to all stem from the patriarchal societies of the past – certainly seen in almost all aspects of the Scriptures, with the exception of the Gospels and Jesus. And that is where the strange dichotomy lies. If anything, Jesus treated women with love, compassion and with equal intelligence. I see no sign or hint of the kind of lesser treatment, the kind of slave-like submission that has been in everything else.

Even the earliest Epistles of Paul, the ones we are sure he wrote himself, have little sign of this. But apparently culture is a hard thing to change, and soon the early church was picking up the culture around them and suddenly we hear Paul saying that women should keep quiet, and be submissive toothier husbands. Was it Paul, or was it a sort of backward step taken by those Christians who did not know Christ but lived in a chauvinistic age that did not value women except as property.

And yet, even within this unequal treatment of women, the Scriptures can paint beautiful pictures of women. Certainly the description in proverbs of an ideal wife is beautiful and remarkable in that it seems to treat the husband and wife as equals. This ideal wife is trusted by he husband, she does everything to help her husband, she is a hard, willing worker, she handles the finances of the family, she is strong and even able to work in the fields, she is charitable and wise and teaches kindness. She is respected and loved by her children and the community. Quite a woman!

The psalm is a little more sexist in that the woman is seen only as a fruitful vine – a baby machine – but that is, of course, also cultural. Families needed many children to carry on the work of the family as well as the name. In the Bible, nothing was more horrific than being barren.

St. Paul’s epistle is not really about women, but does contain the image of a woman giving birth. It is in reference to the Lord’s second coming which is unknown to us but will come, and will be painful, like a woman giving birth. But the conclusion for Christians is also true. They say women can forget the piano of childbirth when hey see the child born tot hem. Similarly we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to God and all pain will disappear in the vision of our God.

Finally, we hear again the parable of the talents. I find it rather ironic that this is the reading today – almost as though whoever chose the reading was giving a hidden message to the sexist church.

The actual moral of the story of the talents is that we have to use what we are given. In context, what Jesus is talking about is the message he has given regarding the kingdom of heaven and how he has given that message to his apostles and followers and they must spread that message, making converts and increasing the kingdom. We are responsible for using what is given to us and increasing its value.

That’s where I see the irony with regard to women. Women who hide their talents, or who are not allowed to develop them, or who are kept in submission so they can’t increase their abilities and talents would be something that Jesus would consider wrong. The women we most respect in the world and in history are women who often went against the establishment and did remarkable things despite men trying to be put down. From Joan of Arc to Mother Teresa, they have spread the kingdom and used what was given to them. Similarly, the nuns today traveling around by bus and spreading the word despite being told to “cool it” by the male dominated hierarchy, are doing exactly what Jesus tells us to do today.

And so, let us today celebrate women, encourage women, recognize the strengths of women not in men, and perhaps women will take on those leadership roles that are so important for Christ’s kingdom to spread to others and become what it will be on Christ’s return. And this is the God News of hope that i suggest to you today!

Bishop Ron Stephens

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

The Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

[You can purchase a complete Cycle A  and B of Bishop Ron’s homilies, 75 of them, from amazon.com for $9.99 – “Teaching the Church Year”]

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