Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sermon: John XXIII

Sermon for June 3, 2013 ~ 10:00 Healing Service
Feast Day of John XXIII [Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli]
St. Philip’s In The Hills Parish, Tucson, AZ
The Rev. Vicki K. Hesse
For online access to the readings click here
Joel 2:26-29, Psalm 50, 1 Peter 5:1-4, John 21:15-17

I speak to you in the name of One God, Father Son and Holy Ghost. Amen

Today is the feast day of John XXIII. 
In the Catholic liturgical year he is remembered on October 11,
the day that the Second Vatican Council began. 
In the Anglican calendar we remember him on his death day, June 3
(well, transferred to today for our healing service.)

I am curious what you know about Pope John XXIII,
who was beatified (made a saint) on September 3, 2000?

His biography includes:
·       Born in 1881 into a family of poor sharecroppers in Italy
·       Ordained a priest in 1904
·       Served in Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and France.
·       During WWII, he helped the Jewish underground and other refugees
·       Was elected Pope in 1958 to his surprise, at age 77

If I was going to introduce you to him as a friend at a party,
I would mention two aspects of his life that stood out for me. 

One was his clear passion for equality. 

He was known to say, “We are all made in God’s image and
thus we are all Godly, alike.” 

This passion for equality inspired him to recognize the sins committed against the Jews, …

“…many centuries of blindness have cloaked our eyes so that we can no longer see the beauty of Thy chosen people nor recognize in their faces
the features of our privileged brethren. We realize that the mark of Cain
stands upon our foreheads. Across the centuries our brother Abel
has lain in blood which we drew, or shed tears we caused by forgetting Thy love. Forgive us for the curse we falsely attached to their name as Jews.
Forgive us for crucifying Thee a second time in their flesh. For we know what we did.”(from Catholic Herald, 1965). 

In this spirit of equality, his near-last words are said to have been
“may they all be one,” which was Jesus’ prayer from the Gospel of John chapter 17. 

I wonder – how strong is our passion for equality? How do we see others in God’s image,as we are known?

Second was his gift of starting the conversation.  
He started it in Bulgaria, he started it in Turkey/Greece conversations, he held conversations in France, he started the renewal of the Catholic church in the second Vatican council. 

Many of these conferences were only the beginning. He bravely started,
not knowing exactly where they would end but trusting in God’s presence and
that the Spirit of Truth would fuel ongoing dialogues.

In a culture where “achievements” are recognized and held up as proof of our loveability, here was someone who simply “started” conversation – didn’t wait around – he trusted in God’s mercy and ongoing revelation. 

I wonder – how we can start a conversation – somewhere in our lives? Not knowing where it will end? 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds Peter three times about tending or feeding
his flock of sheep or lambs. John XXIII took seriously the call to care for his sheep, through his passion for equality and his desire to start conversations.

So for today, Who are the sheep in your fold?  What does it mean to “tend” those lambs?

God’s promise, as we hear from Joel, is that God will pour out God’s spirit –
into new and fresh revelations.

The good news today, is that through the example of John XXIII, we recognize a gift of passion for equality and for conversation. 

God promises to pour out God’s spirit into our lives,  refreshing and renewing our lives each day. God continues to supply us with gifts and passions, so that we can hear God’s call and care for the sheep in our fold. 

And, so that we all may be one, as Jesus and the Father are one.


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