During the first week of July some priests move to new assignments. With irony, one of them noted, “Jesus told his disciples to take no money bag, no sack, no sandals, (Lk 10:4) and here I am arriving at my new parish with a U-Haul!”
Not so much to defend my brother priest, but those radical demands of Jesus do not mean he despised material goods. He attended enough fiestas that his enemies accused him of being “a glutton and a drunkard.” (Mt 11:19; Lk 7:34) The U-Haul's main content was books, something Jesus respected. When he came to the synagogue, he asked for the Isaiah scroll and, in other ways, evidenced a profound study of the Hebrew Bible. (Lk 4:16) In sending his disciples with nothing except their cloaks, he was not idealizing poverty. Rather, he was making a specific point: As the source of all we possess and all we are, he alone will equip us with what matters most - a vision (the Kingdom), the power to heal and protection from evil spirits.
The problem with possessions is they can blind us to what has real value. What's more, when we don't have the source and goal in sight, even the material goods lose their savor. Here in the United States we have so many things we do not appreciate them. This week we celebrate the 225th birthday of our country. We have problems, lots of them, but at the same time even the poorest members of our society have advantages and opportunities other people envy.
Consider the situation in Peru. On June 23 they suffered an 8.1 magnitude earthquake. The damage stretched from the coast, hit by a tidal wave, all the way to remote mountain areas where many dwellings were destroyed. The day after the quake I talked with a woman here. She said, “Father, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself because I have to go in for an operation. Then I read about the people in Peru and realized my problems are pretty small.”
In relation to others we have so much, including medical care. This past week, the Mary Bloom Center has been assisting earthquake victims in a small mountain town. Five dollars provides food for a family for a day, ten dollars a blanket. To rebuild homes, in addition to adobe blocks, which are quite inexpensive, they need tin roofing sheets, boards and nails, which cost about a hundred dollars per home.
I am grateful for the donations from Holy Family parishioners. Particularly touching, a young mom, pregnant with her fourth child, wrote a check for $100. She said, “My husband and I have our financial problems, but nothing like what people are experiencing down in Peru.” I am convinced God will reward such faith and generosity.
Jesus told his disciples to go out with just a tunic to remind us that all we have comes from him – and that he himself will give us daily what we most need.
From Archives (14th Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Bulletin (Results of Collection for Earthquake Victims, Ordination of Armando Perez)
Pictures from 2001 Halibut Fishing Trip
Judge Forces Bartell's to Include Contraception in Health Plan (June 13, 2001)
Catholic Relief Service Report on Earthquake
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
My bulletin column
St. Mary of the Valley Album
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