Homily for Sunday, July 7

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Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily 

Imagine being one of those 72 whom Jesus sent out,
the advance team Jesus sent out ahead of him.
Imagine going on a journey and taking nothing with you:
no cell phone, no wallet, no purse, no cash, no credit cards.
Imagine being told that when you meet people
all you need to say to them is:
“Peace!  The kingdom of God is at hand!”

Wouldn’t that make you feel secure about going on this journey?

Imagine doing that, not 2,000 years ago – but today…

Well, what I’m asking you to imagine here
is also what I want to ask you to do this summer.
I’m giving you a small mission to accomplish over the next two months.

You won’t have to take anything with you,
you won’t need a cell phone or money or credit cards.
And the basic message of your mission will be a simple one:
“Peace!  The kingdom of God is at hand!”

Let me be a little bit more specific.   It’s the summertime.
People will be getting together to sit around and talk,
to barbecue and talk, to have a few drinks and talk,
to sit at the beach or on a deck or a porch - and talk.

Your mission, should you accept it,
is to take those summer opportunities
to tell your friends and neighbors and family
that “the kingdom of God is at hand.”

But don't do it quite that bluntly.

What I want you to do is to find a way to invite back to our company
those who have drifted away, who have gone away,
those who have left us and who no longer pray with us.

It’s estimated that in the Archdiocese of Boston,
on any given Sunday,
no more than 20% of Catholic people come to church.

So chances are good that this summer
you’re going to be eating and drinking and talking 
with lots of Catholics who don’t come to church anymore.

They are everywhere.
Perhaps you left some of them at home this morning.

I want to send you to invite them to come home.
And I want you to do this just as Jesus suggests in the gospel today.

So, FIRST: you don’t need to take much with you.
All you need is you and your faith.
You don’t have study up on Catholicism or bring a bible along with you.
As Jesus said: Take nothing with you 
-- except the faith that brought you here today.

SECOND: do this in a peaceable fashion.
If you come on like gangbusters you’ll probably drive folks
even further away from the Church than they already are.
Be as gentle and comforting
as the mother described in the first reading.
Jesus told the 72 he sent out to cure the sick in the houses they visited.
You might not be able to do that.
But let your presence this summer
be helpful and kind, peaceable, and perhaps, in some ways,
especially among family and friends,
- let your presence be healing.

THIRD: don’t do this so often and so obviously
that people stop inviting you to cookouts because they know
you’re on some kind of Catholic crusade!
The Lord calls us to share our faith,
not to force it down other peoples’ throats.
Again, remember the gentle nursing mother
in Isaiah this morning.
So how do you start?

Well, when you’re with family and friends this summer
one thing you’re sure to talk about is the heat and humidity.
So when folks start talking about the weather, you might say,
“Well, at least it was nice and cool at Mass on Sunday morning."
(You're there - right away!)
"Oh, and we’re downstairs at church for the next two months
because the upstairs is being painted and all fixed up."
Just find a gentle way to share your experience of prayer with others.

The most important thing you can share with others
is your own experience of faith.

Then as you pour a lemonade or hand someone a beer
or pass the mustard and ketchup,
you might add something like:

“You know, I really need that time every week
to get away from it all and just sit down
and find some peace and quite for prayer – where it’s cool." 
"Sometimes I think it’s going to church on Sundays
that helps me make it through the rest of the week.” 
“You know, there’s something about church
that helps me make sense of my life
when I just can’t figure things out.” 
“You know, it helps me when I pray with others at church
because sometimes I don’t know how to pray by myself.” 
Or whatever it is you might share from your faith and experience
in just a sentence – or maybe two.

I don’t know where the conversation might go from there.

In response, for sure,
some will begin to criticize the Church for its grave mistakes
and more likely than not, you’ll agree with them.
Let them know you agree
– that you don’t condone or accept those things either -
but that in spite of all that, you still find peace in your faith
and in coming to pray with others at Mass on Sunday.

Some will be drawn in by your words and others won’t be.

Perhaps the conversation will lead you
to invite someone to join us again for prayer.

Or maybe the conversation will go nowhere at all.
And that’s ok.

Because you’ll have done what the Lord has asked you to do:
you’ll have shared your faith.

We’re the ones who plant the seeds,
it’s God who does the farming.

The Lord needs us to be his “advance team,”
to go out and prepare the way for others to come to him,
to come home to him
and to our prayer together.

Be peaceful, be gentle: just open a door.
Let your own experience of faith drop like a seed
into the conversations, the minds and hearts
of those you spend time with this summer.

And be faithful yourselves to this table 
where we come to hear the Word,
to this altar where we share in the sacrifice
of the Body and Blood of Christ.

And pray with me that through our faithfulness
and our sharing our faith experience
and through the grace of God,
the harvest might be more and more abundant
as others come home to join us again in prayer.



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