Wild Lectionary: Married to the Land

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Vikki Marie has been listening to and collaborating with Indigenous people for many years, here she is with Western Shoshone leaders at the Navada Desert Test Site in 2011.

Second Sunday after Epiphany
Ordinary Time C
Isaiah 62:1-5
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

By Rev. Dr. Victoria Marie

Today’s readings speak to me of several related themes God’s love and God’s love of justice; our gifts and the gifts of others; to use our gifts in the service of the Creator; and, of our need to remember to trust and have faith. In this homily(-starter), I wish to plant seeds for reflection through giving snippets of my thought on the readings.

Like the Israelites of the first reading, the post-contact history of our Indigenous sisters and brothers, includes exile from their lands. The Idle No More, the Coast and Land Defender movements kept coming to mind as I read the words of Isaiah, “I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn.” Sister Eva Solomon, an Ojibwe nun from northern Ontario, says that for Aboriginal people, their traditions are their Old Testament. The lesson for non-Indigenous people is to listen to what Indigenous people are saying—to what their traditions have taught them, especially about the Land. We need to remember that God hears the cries of the poor and that the oppressed are God’s chosen people, listen once more to God speaking through Isaiah 63:4-5:

You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

It is time for us to look deep in our hearts and see that Indigenous Peoples are being true to God’s wishes when they assert that they are forever married to this land. As a true spouse, their desire is to protect their beloved.

How can we work together with the Indigenous people in the pursuit of justice for the land?  One size does not fit all. So first, we can listen with openness of mind and heart to the particular Indigenous People on whose land we reside. In many North American cities, people are oblivious of the people who originally inhabited their area. Although, Indigenous people are present and, in their midst, they are thought of as historic figures except when newsworthy as in Standing Rock. Our Indigenous relatives—I use the term relatives to reflect that we are all kin, bonded together through God’s love—so to continue, our Indigenous relatives are the knowledge-keepers about the places where we live. Imagine the difference it would make to climate justice, if we would follow their example and learn about the lands we call home and begin to love it. When we love someone, we notice when something is wrong.  For example, we could learn to listen to the songs of the various birds of our region. Through that listening, we could notice when one of those songs is missing and ask, “why?”

This brings me to the second reading. Paul tells us that we all have gifts, given to us by the Holy Spirit. We don’t need to be jealous or envious of another’s gift or talent; nor do we need to hoard or hide our own. We are given different gifts, not so that we can rank them one over another. Rather, our individual gifts are given for the good of all.

There are varieties of gifts, so that there is someone or some group for each service or need.  We are all equally gifted.  One part of our journey in life is to discover our gift. The other is to use our collective gifts with love and compassion in pursuit of all forms of justice including, environmental, racial, and economic justice. Striving for justice may cost us but we keep on working.  We may not be able to see the fruits of our efforts but we keep on working. We keep on working for justice because we trust that ultimately, God’s love and justice will prevail.

John’s gospel reading provides us with a glimpse of how Jesus handled a request for assurance concerning outcomes, specifically the following verses:

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” John 2:4

The words may sound harsh and a little critical. Yet, these words may have been intended to be neither harsh nor critical. It is clear that he did not intend to refuse to provide wine, but only that he needed a little time. Perhaps his intention was to calm his Mother’s anxiety; to prevent her worrying about it. Imagine that it went something like this: “Mom, don’t be anxious. When the time is right, I’ll make sure there is enough wine. In the meantime, let’s not worry about it.”

Looked at this way, the harshness fades and it can be understood that Jesus intention is to persuade Mary to dismiss her fears and to trust in him. If we look at it this way, it is more than just another miracle story about something Jesus did long ago. It is rather, Jesus assuring us “in the here and now” to dismiss our fears and to put our trust in him.

So, to sum up, we know although we may not see the outcome, that God’s love and justice prevail. Our job is to be God’s co-workers by the acknowledging our gifts and using them in the service of the Creator’s love and justice. Our prayer is to remember to trust and to have faith

Confident of Your promise, we strive for a circle whole and holy where all Your children have place and voice and where Your dream of justice is revealed. We are Your people, encircle us with Your Spirit, turn us to acts of justice, love us into roundness, and transform us for your gracious purpose. Amen. (Prayer adapted from Kairos 2012.)

 

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.

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

 

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