A Hopeful Paraphrase of Today’s Lesson from Acts 15:7-21

After much debate had taken place,
the women who had been called by the Spirit got up and said to the Curia and the Cardinals,
“My brothers, you are well aware that in these later days
God made her choice known among you through many mouths
that women could hear the word of the Gospel and be called.
And God, who knows the heart,
bore witness by granting us the Holy Spirit
just as She did you.
She made no distinction between you and us,
for by faith She purified our hearts and called us.
Why, then, are you now putting God to the test
by placing on the shoulders of women
a yoke that neither you nor your ancestors have had to bear?
On the contrary, we believe that we are called
through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as you.”
The whole assembly fell silent,
and they listened
while these women described the signs and wonders
God had worked among women.

After they had fallen silent, the Pope responded,
“My brothers, listen to me.
We have heard and witnessed how God concerns herself
with acquiring priests and deacons from among women.
The words of the prophets agree with this, as is written:

After this I shall return
and rebuild the fallen hut of David;
from its ruins I shall rebuild it
and raise it up again,
so that the rest of humanity may seek out the Lord,
even all the women on whom my name is invoked.
Thus says the Lord who accomplishes these things,
known from of old.

It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to accept the priesthood of women who are called by God.

Paraphrase Isaiah 58:1-9a

[As often, I find in Isaiah words that I can adapt to be what I would say to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.]

Thus says GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my priests their wickedness,
and the house of Peter their sins.
They seek Me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a church that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask Me to declare what is due them,
pleased to imagine they have exclusive access to Me.
“Why do we set ourselves apart, and You do not see it?
exult ourselves, and You take no note of it?”

Lo, you set yourselves apart to carry out your own pursuits,
and drive away my children.
Yes, your setting yourselves apart results in pride and abuse,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might set yourselves apart
so as to make My voice heard through you!
Is this the manner of setting apart that I wish,
of keeping a vocation:
That a man stand proud behind the altar
robed in silk and fine linen?
Do you call this a vocation,
a life acceptable to GOD?
This, rather, is the life that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own;
Casting out the abuser and comforting the abused.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of God shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and God will answer,
you shall cry for help, and God will say: Here I am.

Riff on Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8

In these years of trouble, I look for our God,
Our gracious Lady Wisdom.
I imagine Her seated on Her high throne,
with the train of Her garment filling Her house,
providing a place of soft comfort and rest for all.

Seraphim are gathered above,
crying one to the other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lady of All Wisdom and Peace!
All the earth is filled with Her glory!”
At the sound of that cry, the door opens to all
and the house is filled with sweet fragrance.

Then I boldly say to Her,
“Woe are we who are ignored, abused, cast out!
For priests have judged us unclean, unworthy,
living among a people who are unclean.
Yet our eyes see You, God,
though not as conquering Warrior King, Lord of Armies,
but as enveloping Wisdom Woman, Lady of Peace.”

Then one of the seraphim flies to us,
holding a small lily of the valley
that she had gently plucked from the shade
of our Lady’s garden.

She puts it in our outstretched hands and says,
“See, now that the Lady has given you this flower,
you are outcast no more.
Look on this flower’s gentle beauty
and know that you were never unclean.
Inhale its soft fragrance
and know you were never unworthy.
Consider how it grows and spreads,
even in the shade and poor soil,
and know you are strong and will thrive.

Then I hear the voice of the Lady asking,
“Whom shall I send? Who will dare go for us
To these errant proud priests?”
And the women, my sisters, join hands and cry,
“Here we are! Send us!
For we know how to carry the unseen,
how to speak for the voiceless,
How to love the loveless.
Send us and we will try, together.”

Paraphrase of Gal 4:4-7

Sisters and brothers of Jesus:
In the fullness of time, God’s eldest Son,
our brother, Jesus, came,
born of an ordinary young woman,
born under the Israelite law,
to free those enslaved by the law
and to bring home those lost in the wilderness,
so that we all might know our reality as cherished children of God.
As proof that we are free and loved forever,
God has sent the Spirit of Wisdom into our hearts,
so our hearts now cry out to God, “Abba, Ama, Father, Mother!”
So I am no longer a slave but a beloved child,
and if a child of God then also an heir, through God.

On the Feast Day of the Slaughter of the Innocents

A Meditation on 1 John 1:5-2:2

Beloved friends,
This is the message that I understand from Jesus,
Whom we call the Anointed One.
This is the message I share with you,
Asking for your own thoughts
And your corrections, if needed:
God is the light of acceptance,
In God there is no darkness of rejection at all.
If we say, “We live in community with others,”
Yet we continue to reject some,
Well then, we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we live in the light of accepting others
As God is the light of acceptance,
Then we have loving community with one another.

The life of God’s son, Jesus, shows us how to live with God.

If we say, “We are alone, there is no God,”
We simply deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge God-in-us, God is faithful and just
And will live in us
Helping us avoid wrong thinking,
Unkind actions,
Mistaken judgements.
If we say, “We have never made those mistakes,”
Ha, we only fool ourselves
And God’s word and life is not in us.

My friends, I am writing this
So that we may not reject and despise,
Abuse and exclude each other.
But we will fail sometimes.
We will fail but that does not mean we have no hope.
We always have hope of light, even in darkness,
Because we have an Advocate with God, our loving Parent.
We have a wise big brother,
Jesus Christ the accepting one, the righteous one.
His life is the example for us to follow,
His words are a guide out of the darkness of rejection
Into God’s light of acceptance.
Following Jesus, even into exile for a time if necessary,
We will cherish innocence, not slaughter it.
We will listen to wise women and men,
Not try to deceive them or tell them what to do.
Our hearts will be lightened in community
Not darkened in exclusion.
Our spirits will be lightened by equality
Not darkened by hierarchy
And not just our hearts, not just our spirits
But everyone’s.

What I Heard When Zechariah Spoke (Based on Luke 1:68-79)

Blessed be the God of all peoples,
who has come and set us free,
who has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of God’s servants, David, his wives and concubines:
Bathsheba, Ahinoam of Jezreel, Abigail the Carmel,
Maachah of Geshur, Haggith, Abital and Eglah,
Probably other wives and concubines, nameless now,
But once young women with names and dreams.
Through prophets God promised of old
To save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
Through many women – Rachel, Rebecca, Leah,
Miriam, Tamar, Rahab,
Deborah, Jael, Ruth,
Elizabeth, Mary, the mother of Jesus,
the sisters Martha and Mary,
Mary of Magdala, Priscilla, Junia,
Lydia, Lois and Eunice
and so many unnamed –
God showed mercy to our mothers and fathers
and honored the holy covenant,
the oath sworn to our father Abraham,
the oath for the children of our mothers,
Sarah, Hagar and Keturah:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship without fear,
holy and righteous in God’s sight
all the days of our lives, all the ways of our faith.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high breaks upon us,
to shine on us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

A Woman’s Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of my divine Sovereign;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for God has looked upon this lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is the Name of the Almighty
God has mercy on those who fear the Almighty
in every generation.
God has shown the strength of the Almighty’s arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
God has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich God has sent away empty.
God has come to the help of the Almighty’s servant Israel
for God remembered the promise of mercy,
the promise God made to our fathers and mothers,
to Abraham and Sarah and their children for ever.”