Saturday, March 05, 2005

Food for Thought...

Excerpts from Bishop Gumbleton's last Sunday's homily.
The Gospel describes the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus speaks to this woman. We hear, as the story goes along, that this woman is a public sinner. She is known in that town as a sinner. Everybody knows about her life. That's why she comes to the well alone, instead of with a group of people, as usually would happen. She's outcast and rejected, but not from Jesus. He immediately strikes up a conversation.

Sometimes, people want to make the Holy Eucharist something that is only given to those who are good, who can pass certain tests that they set up. Some would say, "Unless you do this or that you are not qualified to come forward." To me that is almost as though they don't believe in what the Eucharist really is. If we really believe it's Jesus … Well, can you see Jesus rejecting someone after you listen to today's Gospel?

No, he speaks to the person. He welcomes her. He wants to engage with her. And if someone tried to push her away, he would object. I think we need the same attitude about the Eucharist. It isn't something that we just adore -- an object. It's Jesus coming into our lives and into the life of anyone who wants to connect with Jesus.

This Gospel also reminds us of how sometimes people set up barriers between different faith traditions or within the Christian tradition between different denominations. Jesus just wipes those things away, doesn't he? The woman says, "Well, you Jewish people say you have to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. We Samaritans say we have to worship on Mount Gerizim." And Jesus says that's foolish. You don't find God at this place or at that place. God is everywhere, and those who worship God faithfully, truthfully will worship God in spirit and truth anywhere.

The gospel lesson also speaks powerfully about the role of women. Notice how John remarked, "The woman was surprised and she said, 'You're speaking to me. I'm a Samaritan.'" Of course, Samaritans and Jews were enemies. "But I'm also a woman," she continued, "and here you are speaking to me." Women were rejected in male society at Jesus' time; they weren't given their rightful place, their full dignity as human persons, and we still do that.

But if you listen carefully to this gospel, you will realize that this Samaritan woman is the first person in the gospel, at least in John's Gospel, who was sent to proclaim the good news! She was an apostle! She went and told the others about Jesus, and they came back to discover Jesus. She was the one who carried the good news. But in our church, we say women can't have the same roles as men. That is clearly contrary to what Jesus teaches, isn't it? Could you possibly say women can't have or should not have a role in ministering in the church, in carrying out the mission of Jesus and proclaiming the good news just as that woman in Samaria did?"
Submitted by a parishioner...

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Kanickers said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the parishioner who questions why women cannot serve as priests or deacons. Jesus Christ encourages the women around him to follow his teaching and pass the Word to others. There are several women in the Bible who were apostles of Jesus Christ because Jesus asked them to spread the Good News.

Hence the position of the Church to completely exclude women from the priesthood and the deaconess is totally the opposite of what Our Lord Jesus Christ preached and taught his followers. So, what rationale does the Church use to continue to exclude women from many church positions? Does the Vatican, the Cardinals, Archbishops, and Bishops feel that women are incompetent to serve as priests or deacons????

The Vatican refuses to change their policy and views on women ordained into the priesthood or as deacons even though there are many church being closed due to the lack of priests to serve in those parishes. Therefore, I feel that they would much rather close the vitally needed churches rather than tap into the large number of women who wish to dedicate their lives to the priesthood or to serve as deacons.

It is very clear that due to the Church' s position on women in the priesthood there are many Catholic parishioners who are not being served by any churches in their geographical area. So, what about Jesus’ teaching that the Apostles (and we are all supposed to be Apostles) become fishermen of men? Is our Catholic church actually conforming to this teaching? Of course not! Otherwise, there would not be so many churches closing every year.

Have the powers that may began to question how all of these parishioners will be able to attend a Catholic church in their hometowns? It is so cruel, and unethical to close churches and not serve these dislocated parishioners simply because there are no male priests to serve these churches. The number of men actually entering the seminary is few. Therefore, when, if ever, will those churches be reopened?????

Does lightening have to strike the powers in order for them to think clearly that excluding females from becoming priest or deacons is a very bad choice indeed. This impacts the Catholic people that have been disenfranchised. No priests, closed churches, and no Catholic religious services creates a loss of the Catholic population; Some simply will have to join another Religion that does ordain women to serves as pastors and, therefore, will never shut the door the church in their face as the Catholic Church had done.

It has become common knowledge in the Catholic Church that policy must be changed immediately to rectify the lack of priests and deacons. My concern is when are these changes in policy ever going to occur? I pray to God that this occurs very soon because the future of our Catholic Church is at stake. Let us all, as Children of God, pray for the successful resolution of this major dilemma.

Views from a Parishioner

Kanickers said...

Amazing the enthusiasm that one homily from one good bishop (Gumbleton) will create in the faithful! If only we had two Gumbletons!

The commenter is right; there is absolutely no reason why women should not be participating fully in Christ's call. The fact that we have so few priests (many Catholics in the world attend mass rarely because of lack of priest), so many bad priests (abusers and the like), so many mediocre priests (such as the Holy Spirit Parish pastor), may be God's way of
dragging the hierarchy kicking and screaming to finally accept the fact that sex and marital status should have nothing to do with aptness for the priesthood.

One of our shortcomings as humans with a short life span is our inability to see history clearly. We may think that the church, being almost two thousand years old, is ancient and has long since been perfected. But Peter said "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day." (2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, you might say that the church is only two days old, and it sure acts like a 2-day old sometimes!

The church evolves over the centuries, which is easy to see for anyone who cares to study a little church history. We are not yet where Christ wants us, which is also very easy to see if you read the gospels and compare it to our lives today. "Sell all that you have, give to the poor; come follow me.", etcetera. Who has done that?!

Let us continue the exciting journey with Christ, Vatican II and beyond!

From a hopeful parishioner who is, nonetheless, exasperated with the hierarchy's blindness and clinging to worldly power.

Kanickers said...

Comment on Bishop Gumbleton's Homily.
We can certainly talk about the shortage of priests, but not about the shortage of vocations as our church leaders often claim. God is calling and people are hearing the call, but the church is not listening.
Our church leaders, by wanting to hold onto male power and control, don't want to even discuss the possibility of allowing women to answer to their calling and mandate to be apostles, to serve as priests, as Jesus did when he sent the Samaritan woman to bring the good message to her people.
It seems the church leaders are even afraid of empowering the laity to fulfill their calling and by doing so, the people are not being served as they should.
· 49% of the world's parishes have no priest and therefore have no Sunday Mass.
· Women and other potential priests (former priest now married, and other married men called to the priesthood) are leaving the Catholic Church for protestant religions to answer their call.
· Church leaders are giving the celibate male priesthood more importance than the people who go without Mass and the Sacraments (some leaving also to Protestant churches) because of the priest shortage.
None of these was very clear to me until I traveled to Honduras a couple of years ago on a mission education experience. Two Maryknoll missionaries were the only priests serving more than 80,000 people of one of the poorest colonias in San Pedro Sula.
Seeing these priest working, teaching, walking with and living amongst these poorest of the poor made me understand what a true vocation to the priesthood was all about, becoming like Jesus.
But they were overwhelmed by the amount of work and the shortage of help (clerical). Every Sunday, from dawn to dusk, they went around this huge colonia giving Mass and still couldn't reach everyone. With the help of a few nuns, they trained volunteers, 90% of which were women, to be what they called Ministers of the Word.
These Ministers went to the more remote parts of the colonia on Sundays and sometimes during the week, to read the Gospels, and to bring the Holy Eucharist to the people. The people were empowered and what a wonderful job they were doing reaching and serving their brothers and sisters.
Why then our leaders are afraid of empowering the laity, of allowing women to respond to their calling? I'd like to know.
From a Parishioner-

A Viewer said...

You're doing a wonderful job.
The addition of the beautiful background music is wonderful.
Thank you for giving us hope.

Let's never fear to hope!