Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
A friend of mine, Father Walter Woods, is the pastor
of St. Elizabeth Parish in Acton and St. Isidore parish in Stow.
He visits his sister in California every summer for a three-week stay.
When he leaves for Logan to catch his flight,
he carries one, medium size back-pack.
That’s it. No other luggage!
On the other hand, 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 or lap-top.
• And one more travel tip from Jesus:
don’t call ahead to make reservations for a place to stay.
Go door to door until you find a peaceable household - and stay there.
What’s going on here?
Jesus is calling his 72 followers to a real detachment
from things they’re accustomed to, things they rely on
and depend on for creature comfort.
He’s asking them to put those things aside, almost in the extreme,
to help them focus on more important, more vital things,
and chief among those important, vital realities is our responsibility
to live and to share their faith.
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’re all called to let go some things we cling to -
at least some of the time.
Of course, the 72 folks Jesus sent out in pairs
were on a missionary journey.
But every one of us is called to understand our whole lives
as missionary journeys in faith.
No Christian is exempt from the responsibility, the duty
of sharing the faith that’s ours with those we meet along the way.
But we do get distracted and we need, as Jesus says here,
we need to detach ourselves from what holds us back.
• So, how about detaching ourselves from our regular schedules
- not just for vacation, time for ourselves -
but to take time and to make time for others outside vacation time
for serving others, beginning right in our own families?
• How about detaching ourselves from cell phones and computer screens
to be more present to the people around us?
•How about detaching ourselves from our personal desires and interests
to allow us to grow closer to the members of our own families,
better friends to those in our circle,
and more thoughtful neighbors to those who live nearby?
•How about taking some inventory and detaching ourselves
toys and luxuries and extras we don’t really need
and sharing what we save with those who are truly in need?
•How about detaching ourselves from our reticence and reluctance
to share our faith with others, simply and honestly?
• How about detaching ourselves from the notion
that we’re the masters of our own lives
and looking to the Lord to help us chart the path we’re on?
Unlike my friend, Fr. Woods, many of us carry a lot of extra baggage
on our life’s journey.
How can we detach from some of that baggage
and lighten the load?
We worship every week
in the shadow of Christ’s arms outstretched on the Cross,
where he detached himself from everything, sacrificing all
--even his life-- for us.
The first scripture today reminded us of how God, like a mother,
feeds his own as with milk from the breast.
So does the Lord nourish us with the Bread of his Body,
and the milk of his mercy in his precious Blood,
in the sacrament of his table.
May the Eucharist we celebrate and receive
give us courage to let go what is vain and useless,
and so free us for the journey, the mission, the work God has given us.
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