Wild Lectionary: Be Careful How You Live

imageedit_2_7567561421Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost
Proper 15(20)B

Ephesians 5:15-20
John 6:51-58

By the Reverend Doctor Victoria Marie

There is a disconnect between my Roman Catholic tradition’s interpretation of today’s gospel and an interpretation that would be more indicative of the inclusive holistic teachings of Jesus. I think the second reading from Ephesians gives us an insight to the gospel, including today’s passage.

Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:15-18

So when Jesus says, those who eat His flesh and drink His blood have eternal life and that His flesh is true food and His blood is true drink, perhaps Jesus is saying if you internalize what I have taught you, you live in me and I live in you. Could it be that what we ritualize in our liturgies is meant to signify our commitment to drink in the teachings and practice the commandments that Jesus gave to us.

“Because the days are evil,” there are ample opportunities for us to practice the commandment to love our neighbour. Today, I want to bring attention to justice for our non-human neighbours. Any of us who have pets know, these animals are beloved members of our families. We need to extend that care and concern to all animals and creatures. Governments on both sides of the Canada/US border are bowing to the demands of money rather than the demands of environmental justice or the common good.

In the United States, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has been in place for nearly fifty years, aims to protect species that are under serious threat from habitat loss, climate change, overhunting or other challenges. Under the ESA, species are scientifically evaluated to determine if they are in jeopardy, and, if so, “reasonable and prudent” measures are instituted to limit the causes of that jeopardy. Few of the protected species have been restored to a healthy status but 99% of species listed as endangered have been saved from extinction. “The [Trump] administration and the [U.S.] Congress want to change ESA rules so that political officials evaluate evidence, not scientists, and economic considerations are given greater weight in deciding whether to save a species.” Source here.

In Canada, the scales of justice are unbelievably skewed in favour of corporate impunity. Kinder Morgan, a Texas energy giant that specializes in owning and controlling oil and gas pipelines and terminals, was charged with 4 separate infractions of the Water Sustainability Act after illegally tampering with salmon spawning by placing snow fencing in salmon spawning streams. Kinder Morgan was recently cited several times by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for pile driving in Burrard Inlet at levels much louder than those permitted during construction and failing to report the violations as required at the time. Preservation of the acoustic environment has become critical for Southern resident orca whales. On the other hand, the Coast Protectors, who engage in non-violent civil disobedience protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline and tanker project, now face up to $5,000 each in fines. It is a worrying time when a law-breaking corporation is fined $920 and an individual engaging in non-violent civil disobedience is fined $5,000.

You may ask, what has all this environmental and political stuff to do with the gospel when there’s so much injustice towards people happening? A lot, is the answer. First, species injustice is not seen as newsworthy because current news reporting tends to favour sensational news over important news.  Secondly, thank to social media, there is an awareness of abuses that are taking place against immigrants of colour, indigenous people and people of colour, in general. But most importantly, in the economy of the gospel, whatever we do to the least, we do to Christ himself. Jesus tells us that God cares about the ‘lilies of the field’ and the ‘birds of the air’. If these are important to God, they should be important to us. Please note, I’m not saying one is more important than the other. I’m saying God’s love makes us one—human, animal, plant, water, stone—all loved by God. Each one is a part of the whole that is Creation. Injustice towards one part impacts the whole.

To take Jesus into ourselves, is to take also Jesus’ love of God’s creation into ourselves and our actions should reflect our love. Wherever we see injustice, part of our Eucharistic living is to work to see that justice is restored or established. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever. John 6:58 . If we take in (eat) the Living Word of God and drink in the Spirit of Jesus teachings, we become part of the circle of love and life that abides with the Source of All being, the Eternal Word and the Holy Spirit.

Victoria Marie is is co-founder of the Vancouver Catholic Worker, on unceded Coast Salish Territory. She is a priest, spiritual director, and pastor of the Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Roman Catholic Women Church Community and author of Transforming Addiction: The role of spirituality in learning recovery from addiction (Scholars Press, 2014). This reflection is a shared or dialogue homily where Vikki gives a short “homily starter” then those present offer their reflections. Vikki was arrested on May 18 in front of the Kinder Morgan tank facility and goes to trial in November.

Wild Lectionary is a weekly blog on ecological justice themes in scripture, curated by Laurel Dykstra, gathering priest of Salal + Cedar, Coast Salish Territory.


Holy Light


Photo by Erinn Fahey

By Nancy Sehested

Holy Light,

We stand somewhere in the shadows, in-between the battlefield of our struggles and the sanctuary of our souls.

Shed a little light on our way. Keep your lighted sanctuary within us portable, able to see clearly, to walk courageously, to withstand the forces that corrupt the truth of our belonging to your one world-wide family.  Continue reading

Of Deserts, Drunks and Too Much Doing

Kim RedBy Kim Redigan, a reflection on Exodus 16 for the St. Peter’s Episcopal community in Detroit

Today’s reading from Exodus is one to I turn to often. Not because it brings me comfort or consolation but because it so often mirrors my own spiritual condition. I am so like the disgruntled Israelites cursing Moses and Aaron for leading them away from the known, the familiar, the place of their oppression and into the desert where they would have to confront their own personal and communal demons. They are my people – I know them and their circuitous journey well.

For the past several months, I have been wandering in the desert of depression and grief related to some tough inner work that is part of my recovery. Although, I have been sober for 28 years, I reached a point last year where it was either grow or go. It was either stand up to the pharaohs of the past and say good riddance to Egypt or sit around a campfire ringed with barbed wire and eat to my heart’s content. All of us come to these turning points in our lives when we have to make the choice: Will it be bring on the Egyptian dessert or bring on the desert? Will we opt for fleshpots or what feels like famine? Oppression or liberation? Continue reading

Mark as Manifesto

BindingWe continue our every-Sunday-celebration of the 30th anniversary of Binding The Strong Man, Ched Myers’ political reading of Mark’s Gospel.

Mark’s Gospel originally was written to help imperial subjects learn the hard truth about their world and themselves. He does not pretend to represent the word of God dispassionately or impartially, as if that word were innocuously universal in its appeal to rich and poor alike.  His is a story by, about, and for those committed to God’s work of justice, compassion, and liberation in the world. To modern theologians, like the Pharisees, Mark offers no “signs from heaven” (Mark 8:11f). To scholars who, like the chief priests, refuse to ideologically commit themselves, he offers no answer (Mk 11:30-33). But to those willing to raise the wrath of the empire, Mark offers a way of discipleship (8:34ff). Continue reading

A Prayer for Sacred and Wondrous Child Warriors of Mother Earth

LylaBy Lyla June Johnston (right), a Diné singer, writer, and activist specializing in intergenerational and inter-ethnic healing, as well as Indigenous philosophy. This is a prayer she posted to social media on July 27, 2018.

Dear creator, may you help me and may you help the people of the world to release their fear and replace it with faith and compassion. May you help us to seek and find joy in this life. May we find bravery in the midst of so many shadows dancing in the mind. May you give us the strength to cry, and the courage to bear our hearts to the river and to the sky that we may bring all of those fears and worries we buried deep inside and lay them down on the bosom of the earth where they may heal. Let us not be afraid to feel and not be afraid of being afraid for a time. Let us come with our truth and come with our beauty. Help us to remember that we are beautiful sacred and wondrous child Warriors of Mother Earth. Give us the opportunities and the skills we need to give life and to protect life. And most of all give us peace when others present us with war. Give us love when others present us with hate. Give us smiles and laughter when others present us with petty lies. Give us the strength to pray for those that we respect the least. And give us the opportunity to plant seeds in the dirt that some day might grow into beautiful gifts for the next generation. Let us live our lives in such a way that our great-grandchildren look back and see that in the face of so much hardship we were brave and we were kind and we were loving.

Holy Work

Katie CannonA compelling charge from  the late-and-still-very-present Rev. Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon (January 3, 1950 to August 8, 2018):

…it’s an abomination for those of us that hear, to be as smart as we are, trained as we are and to not know how to make it clear and gettable for anybody who wants know what we know. Theology is holy work, it’s a sacred vocation. It is our job to make it available to the masses of the congregation. To anybody who wants to be able to read what I know, I should be able to write so they can get it.