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This Week's Homily - July 7, 2019

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By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

Why did Jesus send the 72 disciples?  In the Gospel of John, Chapter 20, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you,” then breaths on them and says, receive the Holy Spirit.”  Like the 72, we are sent by Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit to announce the reign of God.  What does this mean?  Where God is acknowledged as King there is love, joy, peace, abundance, and harmony.  It is sin that disrupted the plan of God; it was the radical love and obedience of the Son that restored the Reign of God on earth.  This is why we are reconciled to God by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is why we come to adoration because Jesus is our way, our truth, and our Life.


We are sent, then, in the name of Jesus to proclaim that in Him we are reconciled to God and the Reign of God is present and powerful.  There was a time when we thought that only priests, sisters, and brothers as missionaries but now we realize that all are missionaries by virtue of their baptism and confirmation.  Like Jesus, we are given the Holy Spirit to empower our ministry:

The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me – to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.


Thus, in the Spirit, we reveal the mercy of God to those in need.  We know the Corporal Works of Mercy: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, to visit the sick and the prisoner. We also know the Spiritual Works of Mercy: counseling, instructing, admonishing, comforting, forgiving, and bearing wrongs.  As my friend and mentor, Pat Millus, says, these are things we do every day – to feed and clothe our children and sit with friends when they are sick; to counsel, instruct, admonish and comfort our family and community members.


When St. Francis of Assisi was called by God to rebuild His church, Francis embraced the call to Gospel simplicity and obedience.  Francis also embraced the Spiritual Works of Mercy when he preached to the people and counseled his brothers in community.  Francis was slow, however, to extend mercy towards lepers because he was disgusted by their disfigurement and wounds.  One day, however,  Francis encountered a leper on the road.  Moved with compassion, Francis embraced the man.  Thereafter, Francis and his community tended to the local leper colony, feeding them and dressing their wounds.  Sometimes, we, too, feel reluctant and awkward to approach someone who is sick, or dying, or grieving.  Yet, it is not what we say or do that matters – it is our presence and our caring that conveys the mercy of God.


Thus, some are called to reveal the mercy of God in foreign lands such as Mission St. James.  All are called to acts of mercy in their own homes, parishes, and civil communities.  In this week when we celebrate U.S. Independence, we recall the words of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”  The 72 in the Gospel represent us who are called and sent.  Keep in mind the dismissal in the Latin Mass: “Ite missa est – Go, you are sent.”

By Deacon Jim Hinnerschitz

It is wonderful to be back with the St James Parish family.  As many of you know, my wife Tami and I were part of the diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, Siena and Florence. This was the first time across the Atlantic Ocean for Tami and I and the experiences we had during the 8-day pilgrimage will be remembered forever.  All 67 pilgrims from our diocese attended Mass each day and I served at Mass alongside Bishop Guglielmone twice in Rome and once with Father David in Siena.  I also had time to sit in the congregation the other 5 days and reflect on the awesome God that we have and give thanks for all the grace He has bestowed on me and my family.

The historical and cultural aspect of the trip was enough to WOW me.  But where I found the most peace and comfort was at Mass each day; St Peters Basilica and Vatican City; exploring the many cathedrals and basilicas; and most importantly deepening my understanding of the lives of all the saints – especially St Sebastian, Saints Francis and Claire of Assisi, and St Catherine of Siena.  I also enjoyed the time for quiet reflection and to thank God for all he has done for us.  We rose very early in the morning and went to bed late at night after recounting our awesome day with our fellow pilgrims.  It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.  It was an incredible spiritual experience.

I would like to share the following reflection on today’s scripture readings: “Let’s call to mind the last time we experienced something that wore us out to our very core: body, mind and soul. Perhaps it was the experience of a life-threatening illness. Maybe it was the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Perhaps it is simply the daily grind of day-to-day life. In these times of bone-tiredness, to whom or to what do we turn for comfort for the rest we so badly need? The warmth of a plush soft blanket as we collapse onto the couch or bed, the embrace of a spouse or parent, the comforting words of a well-worn copy of our favorite book—these are just a few things to which we might turn amid a trying and tiring time.  Our pilgrimage to Rome had a similar effect on our physical bodies as we collapsed each night into sleep.  But the next day we were ready to go and it was God’s inspiration and our community of pilgrims that led us through each day.
 It is this type of comfort being offered to the people of Israel in our first reading. Indeed, though they have long suffered, finally, God offers to, “spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,” carrying them in her arms and holding them lovingly in her lap. God is portrayed as a nurturing and comforting mother, who is creating for the people of Israel a new home which is plentiful and where all can, “flourish like grass.” While the image of God as a parent is a common analogy, the image of God as mother might not be as familiar. Nevertheless, given the role of the mother in childbirth, it is an extremely fitting one for the new creation being described. The creation of the prosperity described is not possible without the generosity and commitment of God. Thus, we are invited to take advantage of the rest, of the comfort and nurturing we are offered; the way a child does not hesitate to reach out for their mother in the midst of painful, difficult or exhausting experiences.

Certainly, the nurturing of God, especially in times of difficulty, is a valuable and important reminder. However, it is the pairing of this first reading with the themes of the New Testament readings that is most interesting. That is, this elaborate description of the ways in which God cares, comforts and nurses us as God’s own child is contrasted with a unique invitation to actively participate in God’s kingdom. While this theme can be understood from Paul’s letter when he emphasizes that all that matters is a new creation; it is more clearly outlined in today’s gospel.
Take note that this is technically ‘Round Two’ of Jesus sending followers on mission. The Twelve have been sent previously, however, these additional 72 receive instruction that is nearly the same as their predecessors: leave everything behind, and, allow yourself to be welcomed into the homes and communities of those who are different. That these 72 receive similar instruction is significant, as it reminds us that we are all called to spread the Good News. Regardless of how much individual power we feel we have, at the end of the day, we are all called to build the Kingdom through the spreading of the Gospel message. Not only this, Jesus’ instruction makes it clear that the building of the Kingdom has nothing to do with yielding power over people, but rather, has everything to do with the power of community.

The fact that they are to go out in pairs indicates just how important a role community plays in the kingdom of God. Certainly, they could have covered more ground travelling independently, but two people represent community far better than one individually. How they are instructed to behave indicates how important community is to the Gospel message. Jesus explains that he is sending them “like lambs”. When they enter a potential host’s home they are to extend first thing a welcome of peace. It does not matter who they are, what their history is, or where they are from: we are to extend our peace to others like lambs. In return, they are to accept the hospitality they receive and share generously with one another. In other words, not only should they embark on their journey in a spirit of peace and gentleness, they must also embark in a spirit of profound trust in the hospitality of the others and, therefore, the hospitality of God. They are not to bring anything with them, but instead, are to rely on what is offered to them.

Reliance such as this indicates a tremendous amount of trust – both that God will provide and that their hosts will treat them well. The disciples are to remain in the homes where they are received and share in the life that they have entered – eating what is set before them and generally participating in the life of the household. After these other criteria have been met, then the disciples are instructed to cure those who are ill – use their power – and to explain it by declaring, “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” Only once their relationship with their host has been established are they to demonstrate what the Kingdom of God might look like. Rather than announcing their arrival and purpose from the outset, they are to remain humble, meek and dependent on their community. In short, in a spirit of enrichment, the 72 offer us an example of how to propose a new way of living without imposing that way of living as a mandate. With the gentleness of a lamb and the trust of a child, the disciples let their lives speak to the glory of God and the Good News of the Gospel.

Without a doubt, to let our life speak in this way is oftentimes trying. It requires patience, time, and an attention to relationship building that is not always highly valued—especially in our fast-paced, modern day world.

Jesus knew well the heaviness of what He was asking of the 72 in the gospel we hear today. Therefore, he reminds them upon their return that their “names are written in heaven,” in the same way that Jerusalem is reminded in the first reading that, “The Lord’s power shall be known to his servants.” Likewise, we go out into the world to invite others into the building of the kingdom of God through the building of relationships, and, in the midst of what can be trying, difficult, exhausting work, we know also that God invites us to rest, play and take comfort in His goodness the way a child rests peacefully in the arms of their mother or father.” - The Catholic Health Assoc. of the United States

I came across the following saying while in Rome and would like to share it with each of you – “Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday”.  (Repeat)
Let’s all try to worry less about what happened yesterday and what tomorrow might bring; let’s enjoy today and live in peace and community with each other.

    By Deacon Tim Papa

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