Sunday, July 3, 2016
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9
Using Jerusalem as a metaphor in this week's Scripture, Isaiah presents God as a mother providing her children with comfort, nourishment and nurture, and proclaims that "the Lord's power shall be known to his servants."
Confidence in God's power and care are indeed essential to Jesus' disciples, we see in today's Gospel, when he sends them forth to pave his way in "every town and place he intended to visit."
This passage offers us valuable instruction in the ways and means of evangelizing. Warning his disciples that they will face opposition "as lambs among wolves," Jesus also tells them to be free of material comforts and rely instead on the hospitality of whatever community they visit.
Stay as long as you are accepted, he says, and respond by ministering to the people there. Further, he directed, pray for others to join the effort.
A present-day disciple I know, Adele, followed this very formula when she and two fellow women religious ventured forth from New Jersey to minister to migrant farmworkers in the American South. Welcomed by a community in Virginia, she stayed for more than 30 years.
In visiting the migrant camps, Adele and her colleagues discovered the workers, Haitian immigrants, were underpaid and living in squalid conditions. When they explained the situation to the pastor of the nearby church, he brought the men to live in his rectory temporarily while parishioners helped them find stable jobs in town.
The parish lent additional support while the men transitioned to independent housing and also gave the nuns part-time staff positions, which covered their living expenses.
Over the years, Adele's ministry increased. She prayed for more laborers, and the harvest has indeed been abundant.
As the Haitians and the community embraced each other, local parishioners became interested in the families they'd left behind and in the country whose dire conditions had forced them to flee. A new mission to serve the impoverished people of Haiti was born and spread throughout the diocese with more than 40 parishes partnered, spiritually and materially, with communities in Haiti.
Follow the instructions: While we are sent forth by Christ, we mustn't underestimate the call also to welcome, empower and join those who come among us to spread the Gospel.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.