Packing light when traveling for the Lord

Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

(Scriptures for this Sunday's liturgy)

Audio for homily

A friend of mine, a priest,
visits his sister in California every summer for 3 weeks.
When he leaves for Logan to catch his flight,
he carries one, medium size back-pack.
No other luggage!

When I go down to the Cape for two nights, I pack…
well, I’d be embarrassed to tell you how much I pack!

Some people pack light. Some folks pack heavy.
It’s clear in the gospel today that Jesus packed really light
-and expected his followers to do the same:
no money; no back-pack and no sandals.

Can you imagine getting ready for a trip and taking no money with you?
No purse, no wallet, no money clip, no credit card, no ATM card?
Can you imagine taking a trip with no luggage,
not even a medium size back-pack?
It’s hard enough to think of going on a journey
without bringing along an extra pair of shoes…
but how about leaving with no shoes?
And Jesus told his friends
not to communicate with anyone along the way.
Imagine setting off on a trip
with no cell phone, no lap top, no phone card!
And one more instruction from Jesus:
don’t make any reservations for a place to stay.
Go door to door until you find a peaceable household
- and stay there.

What’s going on here is that Jesus is calling his 72 followers
to a real detachment from things they’re accustomed to,
things they depend on.
He’s asking them to put those things aside,
to help them focus on their mission.

Well, some disciples from our parish, not 72 but 43
(34 students and 9 chaperones)
are getting ready for a Summer Service Trip to Maryland.
And in addition to packing suitcases with extra shoes and sandals
they’ll bring money with them - and their cell phones, too.
And while it won’t be a Marriott or a Hilton,
there’s already a place arranged for them to stay.

But even with all that,
a serious amount of detachment is being asked
of the youth and adults making this trip.

• The young folks will be detaching
from a week of summer vacation to work,
while their friends at home relax and play.
• The chaperones will be giving up a week of vacation time from work.
• They’ll be detaching themselves from the known and familiar --
to travel over 400 miles to work with people they’ve never met.
• They’ll be detaching themselves from the comforts of home
and sleeping on the floor in a local school’s classrooms and gym.
• Our young people will be detaching themselves from a life in Concord
where so many people do so much to serve and provide for them
and for a week they’ll be serving and providing for others --
but they won’t find out until they get there
the exact nature of the work they’re going to be asked to do.
And not knowing what they’ll be asked to do until they get there
is yet another form of detachment.

It’s best if we not to get too hung up on the particulars of detachment
as Jesus articulates them here.
What’s more important is understanding
that we are all better bearers of his message
when we’re willing to let go some of the things we cling to.

Now, not everyone’s able to go on a Summer Service trip
but all of us can watch for opportunities for little "service trips"
every day of the year.
But some detachment might be in order for us to accomplish this:
• detaching ourselves from our regular schedules
to make time for others, for serving others;
• detaching ourselves from cell phones and computer screens
to be more present to the people around us;
• detaching ourselves from our personal desires and interests
to become more giving, involved family members, friends and neighbors;
• detaching ourselves from creature comforts we don’t really need
to find the resources to help those who really are in need;
• detaching ourselves from our reticence and reluctance
to share our faith with others, simply and honestly;
• detaching ourselves from desiring, thinking and acting
as if we’re in charge of life
and, for an afternoon, evening, a whole day or even a week,
inviting God to decide what we’re going to with our time.

That’s just what the group from our parish
will be doing on their service trip next week:
detaching from the comfortable and familiar,
trusting in God, going where the Lord leads,
and doing what the Lord asks when we get there.

I’m sure our prayers go with them all but let’s pray, too,
that they will be models for us,
showing us in their week-long trip what each of us is called to every day:
to let go, to detach from things that own us;
to detach from schedules and comforts that run and rule our lives;
to detach and see what inhibits our freedom to reach out and serve;
to let the Lord have a voice in the choices we make,
to let the Lord be our companion along the path we walk;
to let go and let God…

We worship in the shadow of Christ’s arms outstretched on the Cross,
where he detached himself from everything, sacrificing all -- for us.
As a mother feeds her child from the milk of her breasts,
so the Lord nourishes us from his Body, with the mild of his mercy
in his precious Blood, in the sacrament of his table.

May the Eucharist give us courage to let go what is vain and useless
and free us for the mission and work God gives us.

Image: AlohaJoe

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1 comment:

  1. Sometimes it is parents of young adults who must make a serious detachment from the need to protect and nurture....to let go and let God...Please keep in your prayers a group of 5 graduates from Stonehill College (my daughter included) who will be traveling to India this month to teach for a year at a school run by the Holy Cross Fathers.


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