Katie Nimcheski’s Homily:
The reading today by Audre Lorde. Perhaps it seemed a bit unusual that on such a happy and blessed occasion as today that I bring up the subject of anger. But I cannot pretend to feel something else. This calling to the priesthood has been bittersweet. The more I have learned about the early church, and the more I have learned about Jesus’s ministry, the angrier I became realizing how far Christianity has strayed.
While taking the People’s Catholic Seminary classes for ordination, I have also been working on a 76-credit hour Masters of Divinity with another Christian Seminary as part of my requirements for military chaplaincy. So for the past two years, there have been many days when I am enraged by what I am learning. The People’s Catholic Seminary classes were teaching me the knowledge that had been lost or changed over time by the hierarchical church. And, my general Christian Seminary often teaches and preaches half-truths, exclusivity, and distortions of the gospel of Jesus, which further enraged me.
When I came across Audre Lorde’s speech, I immediately connected with the words…especially the ones that mention an “arsenal of anger.” I have acquired a very large arsenal of anger. I can even visualize this space. It’s like a small underground, bunker-type room. A dark place where I have ruminated on the centuries of men who have kept their feet on the necks of my sisters…suffocating, oppressing, stifling progress, halting the spread of the Gospel.
However, thanks to the Upper Room Community here, my family, and God’s presence, I have begun to learn what to do with that arsenal of anger. So the first reading allows me to acknowledge my anger as part of what brought me here. The second reading defines love. And, the gospel brings them both together.
For me, this miracle of Jesus turning water into wine represents the transformation needed of me today as I give my vows to this calling. In the story, feeding the wedding guests water was going to be an embarrassment and an early end to the celebration. In this same vein, as a priest, I cannot feed people with my anger. It would be an embarrassment to this community and my family, and it would end my effectiveness before I have even begun.
I must transform my anger into love in the same way that the water was turned into wine. Marianne Williamson wrote that, “Angry people cannot create a more peaceful planet. But, the unhealthiest thing to do with anger is to deny you have it. Always seek less turbulent skies. Hurt. Fly above it. Betrayal. Fly above it. Anger. Fly above it. You are the one flying the plane.”
In the miracle story, I found it comforting that Jesus didn’t make wine out of thin air. He needed the water in order to make the wine. I too know that I needed this anger in order for the Holy One to turn it into love. As Audre Lorde wrote…”it is to be used to fashion a better world.” Today marks that official day where I will vow to turn my arsenal of anger, that dank basement room into a beautiful wine cellar instead….filled with the choicest and most decadent wine you’ve ever tasted. Wine that represents unconditional love and sacrifice. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
I hope to represent our Upper Room Community and ARCWP well, and I hope to make my family proud. Ultimately though, I must obey God and not men, so please be patient with me and pray for my discernment that I know the difference between the water and the wine.
Reflection by Mary Ann Matthys: Time and time again women show up and do the work that needs to be done. Typically they do this work quietly, in unassuming ways. I think all women who showed up week after week to do the work of Christ with their hands… with their hearts…with their presence…
You know them. These are the women who meet people where they are…in homeless encampments, in grief support groups, on the border with Mexico, in the kitchens, in hospitals, in food pantries and nursing homes.
We live in a world that is out of balance. It has been out of balance for a long time, as those in power sought to eradicate the feminine from her place alongside men as apostles like Junia and Magdalene, and deacons like Phoebe and others. For the life of me I can’t understand the “Why” in their design. The feminine compliments the masculine, bringing much needed qualities like compassion, inclusion, and love in action. It is no wonder that our world has lost its balance.
The invitation in this moment is to restore that balance.
We are at a place when history is being made each and every day and the world seems to be standing on the edge at times. Just as in those days after Jesus’s death and resurrection when a strange newness was happening, there is an awakening happening today and we dream possibilities for a future where women stand alongside men around eucharistic tables where Divine Presence is celebrated. We seek an equal voice. We seek an equal seat at the table. We are living a new chapter of history. A chapter filled with uncertainty. A chapter as yet untold, and yet if we will seek the Holy Spirit and invite the inspiration that comes forth in our hearts we will all be drawn into a ministry filled with love, hope, compassion, and inclusion. May it be so. Amen.