Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BBC
Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BBC
This Sunday, the importance of Catholic women preach is so clear.
We have a gospel with stories of two women who experience healing in the presence of Jesus.
We have a little girl, 12 years old, near death. Her loving, desperate father goes to Jesus, begging for help to heal his girl. And Jesus, who busts through a noisy crowd to get to their home and calls the girl forth with the words "Talitha Koum -- Little Girl, get up!"
That story wraps around another story of the so-called hemorrhaging woman, who in her desperation, after years of what we're told is a flow of blood that has afflicted her, busts through a crowd to get healing from Jesus.
There is a beautiful detail that Mark offers us. It’s about the way that Jesus responds to her: He feels the power of her presence in his body. I love the notion that his body and her body, and their power, somehow come together to create the circumstances where healing can happen, and her truth can be shared.
It's at this point that it is so tempting to spend the rest of my time preaching only to the men, celebrating the ways that you good guys respond to women's power: As you cheer us on. As you decrease so we can increase. As you stand by in silence and awe in the birthing rooms, and boardrooms, and all the sacred spaces in between. And gentlemen, we will have that conversation at a future time.
But for today, my hope is that we can spend time thinking about and appreciating the living and dying and rising that happens in women's lives over and over again, including in their bodily experience, something that is absolutely core to our Christian story.
Now it's possible that you've never heard a woman preach on the Sunday. It's also possible that you've not even heard the story of the hemorrhaging woman, because our Catholic lectionary puts a bracket around her story; there's a little asterisk that indicates that it's optional, it can be left out because the gospel feels long or perhaps a preacher just doesn't want to deal with all the complexity of her story.
We must not leave out the hemorrhaging woman. She is absolutely too important for all of us, and has special meaning for women.
I've talked to a lot of women about their experience of this gospel, and what I've learned is that women feel a real solidarity with the hemorrhaging woman. They appreciate her courage, the way that she finds her way to get what it is that she needs, going straight to the source, to Jesus. They also appreciate the way that she lets go of that stuff in her life that's no longer working.
But most of all, it resonates for them: her bodily affliction, and her healing. In talking to women about this gospel I hear tender stories: Stories of long struggle with infertility, or recovery from addiction, or women finding themselves surviving sexual assault of all kinds.
When I talk to women about this gospel, there's a whole lot of feelings that come to the fore. Of course there's joy at our creative power and our mysterious flows. But there's also, sometimes, a sense of pain or grief or even ambivalence about the ways our bodies let us down or seem strange to us or don't make sense. There's a whole lot of awe and wonder, though, that comes when women reflect on their scars and their stretch marks, and the resiliency of their bodies and the power that we have to heal and to rise, and to rise again.
When women gather in the light of faith to talk about their bodies, it's almost as if the hemorrhaging woman herself joins us at the table, helping us better appreciate the great mystery of who we are as women -- and our bodies, in the way they reflect something core to the Christian story.
I think this is so very important -- these conversations -- especially given the fact that too often in our world, women are told that their bodies are lesser; in our church we're told that our bodies don't belong in the sanctuary, that we do not image the fullness of the body and person of Christ. It's as if the hemorrhaging woman helps us know better, and helps us celebrate the stories and the ways that our bodies reflect the great Pascal Mystery.
I'd like to offer you an image: I've been praying and thinking a lot about this gospel. I have a sense of the women -- the girl now a woman, and the older woman now healed -- coming together at some future date for a conversation. And I hear the younger woman, sharing some story of heartache -- some affliction, maybe some new illness. I sense the presence of the older woman listening carefully, lovingly, making room for the girl's truth to be told. And it's as if I can feel her leaning forward and responding to the younger woman:
"Girl. You've got this. We've been here before. Remember? we all do. You were 12 years old. And we thought you were dead. But you weren't. And a man who saw the goodness and wholeness in you, he whispered to you, 'Little girl, get up!' And you did. You got up: in that body of yours, that risen, beautiful, powerful body of yours. You walked across the courtyard, skipped across the marketplace.
And today as you're facing this fearsome thing, I want you to remember, I want us to remember: that we're part of this powerful thing that's so much bigger than us. So little girl, get up. We've got this."
On this 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, many of us grieve the stories that get left out. Many of us lament the homilies unheard. But there's good news. There are so many homilies that wait to be shared, so much good preaching that comes from women, for this Sunday, and all the Sundays to come. Stories from women and stories that come from their wonderful, rich experiences.
So I say to you: Woman, get up!
Bring it to the table: bring your joy, your pain, your blood, your sweat your tears. And preach to us. Because we need to hear from you of the way your living and dying and rising speaks to something so much bigger, including the aspects of your life that are in your body.
There's so much good news that waits to be shared.
And I for one, can't wait to hear it from you!
Bridget Deegan-Krause, M.Div, BCC
Bridget Deegan-Krause, M.Div, BCC
Bridget Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BCC, has served for nearly 30 years in professional ministry in Catholic healthcare and higher education. As a consultant for Catholic health systems and a retreat facilitator for boards and teams, she has worked to equip mission-focused leaders for service and is passionate about exploring spirituality as a resource for leadership. Bridget served as co-founder and managing partner of Leadership Formation Partners, LLC, where she oversaw information and learning technology and directed publishing and program design for its innovative and award-winning ministry leadership formation programming, including the comprehensive ongoing formation program Mission: Day by Day, utilized in dozens of Catholic healthcare institutions throughout the United States.
Bridget has served as the keynote speaker for a variety of regional and national gatherings, including the Catholic Health Association and professional associations in government and not-for-profit setting. She has conducted interdisciplinary research and published articles in the Catholic Health Association’s journal, Health Progress, the NACC’s professional journal, Vision and the forthcoming Raising Voices, Renewing the Church (Orbis 2023). Her preaching has been featured by US Catholic and Catholic Women Preach. Her forthcoming book on Catholic identity and the art of reflection will be released by Liturgical Press in spring 2024.
Bridget, a former Jesuit Volunteer holds a Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame with a BA in its Great Books program. A board-certified chaplain and former member of the board of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, Bridget has long served in leadership within the profession of Chaplaincy, helping in the development of professional standards and ethical guidelines in her profession. She currently serves as a sponsor director for Bon Secours Mercy Health System's Toledo market board, and as a founding board member for the Discerning Deacons project.
A native of Michigan, Bridget resides in the Detroit area with her husband, and two young adult children.
The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world. The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.
“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association
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