This year is the 250th anniversary of St Junipero Serra’s founding of the nine missions up and down the California coast. Originally from Spain, this Franciscan monk traveled to Mexico to minister to souls and bring Christ to others. During his missionary work he contracted a bite on the leg from some sort of insect. It worsened and became chronically ulcerated, causing him great pain and affecting his ability to walk. It didn’t stop him from walking 900 miles up the California coast to confront the Spanish military leaders seeking protection of the Native American people who were not seen as humans by the Spanish soldiers. He did in fact, help establish the first significant bit of California legislation to protect the missions and Native Americans. We chose to examine the fortitude and endurance of St Serra in light of his anniversary, and use it as a model for ourselves this coming week, along with the upcoming Sunday gospel.
An Epidemic of Annoyance
In our current culture, there is a lot of talk of annoyance (I have addressed this before, and I know of what I speak being a recovering “peevist” myself.) I have written of this before, but annoyance seems to me to be a social epidemic. There are certain things that contribute to feeling annoyed, but at the base it is being irritated by something smaller or of less significance, while surpassing the blessings at hand. We wouldn’t use the word annoyed if we have a serious problem like a basic need not being met.
A person who is living on the streets or going without food doesn’t have the luxury of being annoyed but rather vexed or strained. For the most part (in my exploration of the feeling of annoyance) is a feeling we encounter when our needs are met and we are searching for the next thing to satisfy ourselves. Synonyms for annoyed include miffed and bothered, which are also telling of the lack of distress in the idea of it all. You could absolutely say that the mosquito bite on my leg is an annoyance, but if I have bigger ideals it’s not going to get undeserved attention in the scheme of things. Saint Junipero certainly is an example of someone who did not permit annoyance in his life, or rather did not let it distract him from his mission–to be exact, twenty-one missions that he went on to establish on the whole of his ministry. Whatever kind of “bother” he had did not stop him from hobbling for 900 miles to confront the military leaders responsible for the harsh treatment of Native Americans.
The word annoyed is thrown around like a emblem of choice in a culture where we thing we create our own truth. There is only one truth that comes from Love itself, which is God and we don’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, in this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus chooses to send out the apostles two by two, not alone. We marveled over “God’s math” together in our reflection of this gospel. In “God’s math” we see that that working together brings exponential results:
8 Five of you will put a hundred of your foes to flight, and a hundred of you will put to flight ten thousand, till your enemies fall before your sword.
Gospel for Sunday July 11, 2021; Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Gospel Lights from the Group
Shake the dust…Jesus instructs the twelve to “shake the dust” off their feet in testimony to those who don’t welcome or listen to them. They didn’t dwell on those who wouldn’t receive their message of salvation. If they had stayed ruminating on the past they couldn’t have gone on to bring many hearts to Christ. We must remember the importance of every soul, even if there is only one person who shows up to hear the message, it is one valuable soul in which a seed is planted. We never know where that small seed may lead.
Two by Two…Jesus sends the twelve out two by two, like Noah gathering the animals for the ark. The significance of doing things together is how God intended us to be. What would the world be like if we could procreate on our own? How segmented and sad this would be. As we have felt the affects of isolation over the past year and a half, we can feel the beautiful design God has for us to need another and work together.
Brene Brown shared a study done on women in another culture who met to wash their clothes together at the river and did so as a community. As part of the study, the women were given washing devices to aid in their work and make it unnecessary for them to gather at the river. They found in the study that the women became very depressed as a result of the loss of their community time. God instructs us to love Him and love one another as the greatest commandment for a reason. The second part of the great commandment is essential to our Christian lives.
Sandals…Why are sandals mentioned here? In light of the words “authority” and “shake the dust” it makes us consider that the sandals are the way the Lord instructs the sense of “girding” the foundation and path for the apostles. He wants them to walk the path of God’s authority as it is laid out in his instructions. In our youth morning offering prayer we pray “Lord Jesus, I give you my feet to walk your path.” We do this intentionally asking the Lord to guide our steps each day–that they be in His divine authority. God doesn’t want us to remain stuck in the things that didn’t go our way in life. Those situations can bind us from doing the great mission He has laid before us. We must shed the annoyance of not having things our way, and realize that annoyance is a luxury when my focus is distracted to things of less importance.
Virtue: Fortitude, Diligence, Patience
How we will act: When we sense annoyance in our hearts we will stop what we are doing to reject that feeling and say a prayer of thanksgiving in its place.
How we pray: The Novena to St Junipero Serra