Hi everyone - here’s my homily for the 14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - JULY 4, 2010 (Readings can be found at http://www.usccb.org/nab/070410.shtml ) Thanks as always for reading and your feedback. HAPPY 4th of JULY! GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! Fr. Jim
One thing that I really hate to do is shopping. Any shopping - food, car, clothing, stuff for the Newman Center... I just hate it. I don’t know the reason for it - maybe being a single man who doesn’t make a great deal of money, has something to do with it. But it’s really something I rush through to get done as quickly as possible, which when I’m just buying stuff for myself isn’t a big deal. For most of my family and friends it kind of explains a lot when it comes to Birthdays or Christmas. Because when I have to find a gift for someone, it becomes really difficult. Those of you who like to shop, you walk around stores or check out different websites and come up with a lot of different ideas, compare prices at other places to get the best bargain. For me, I’ll know someone’s birthday is approaching, put - “get them a gift” on a to-do list and then end up at a store getting something last minute asking for a “gift receipt” so they can return it.
Well a few years ago, I thought of the perfect gift for one of my God-children for Christmas. I knew they were really into some cartoon character - I can’t even remember which one it was at this point: Sponge Bob, Barn Yard Animals or Dora - these kids tastes are much more fickle than mine where consistently I have been and continue to be a Snoopy fan, but I digress. Well Sponge Bob or Barnyard Animals or Dora there was this new toy that had come out, which was going to be one of the “most popular toys” of the season according to Matt Laurer on the Today Show. I checked with the parents, and Santa wasn’t getting it - none of their other relatives were getting it. So I set out to find it. I went to three or four stores the last week before Christmas - (REALLY great idea by the way – Note the sarcasm) No luck. Fuming from the insanity of traffic jams, frigid temperatures, really into the season shoppers... I went home, searched online, finally found this thing, paid full price for the gift with the added expedited shipping costs probably doubled the cost, which really drove me crazy. But it was all going to be worth it. Christmas day when my godkid opened that gift, it would all be worth it.
I got to their house later Christmas afternoon. There was a maze of gifts already opened and spread out about the house. Looking around, I figured there was no competition here, that mine would become the favorite of the lot (remember, Matt Laurer had told me, this was one of the “most popular toys of the season”) They opened it and looked at it. You have to love the honesty of kids - instantly I could tell they weren’t impressed “Thank You Father Jim” as they put it down and went back to one of the much lesser quality, non-Matt Laurer endorsed gifts.
I felt jipped. What was up with that? I mean, I wanted to be the hero of Christmas to this kid and all I got was the parent-insisted requirement of saying “thank you???”
\ Its amazing to me that I can’t even remember what the particular gift was - but that whole scene is cemented in my head. Not so much as a hurtful memory (I’ve picked up the shattered pieces of my life and moved on by this point) But as a lesson in terms of expectations, especially in terms of sharing a gift. The kid didn’t intend to hurt my feelings (or deflate my ego for that matter) - they just weren’t impressed with the gift, were probably tired from getting up early for Santa, had been over-stimulated and over-killed with everything else, they couldn’t really appreciate the gift I was giving them. But that didn’t change my intentions or the love that I had for them which was my motivation for giving a gift in the first place. Ultimately I had let my expectations get out of whack.
Jesus seems to be trying to keep the expectations of the 72 disciples about to go out on mission for Him in check. He’s sending them to share a special gift - the good news of great joy to all of humanity that “the kingdom of God is at hand” for them. With membership in that Kingdom, the deepest hungers, the longings of their souls will be met, fulfilled, exceeding their wildest imaginations. These 72 disciples know that - they’ve seen it and experienced it themselves. That there’s power in Jesus’ name. That people will experience healing because of Jesus’ name. That miracles will occur because of Jesus’ name.
Who wouldn’t want to experience that? Who wouldn’t want to be on board with that?
Yet, Jesus is careful to add as a part of the lesson today before he sends them out that sometimes the disciples will be rejected. Sometimes people won’t care what is being offered to them. Sometimes they won’t want the gift that is lovingly being shared. And they are to shake those experiences off as they shake that dust from their sandals. Jesus is trying to protect his beloved disciples not to be discouraged when the gift of faith that their offering isn’t received as they expected it to be.
There’s a reason I think I was drawn to that lesson. For many of us, we’ve experienced that discouragement personally at times. Maybe we’ve tried to talk about our faith to a friend who seems disinterested. Maybe we’ve tried to be a witness to Christ in our workplaces and it seems no one cares or we’re mocked for it. Maybe we’ve tried to help a relative see the importance, the relevance that Jesus has in our lives with the hope they’ll want that as well – only to be let down when they seem completely unmoved.
If we let that discouragement take root, we can lose that urgency, that missionary call that every one of us (EVERY ONE OF US) has been given in Baptism to keep bearing witness, to keep preaching the name of Jesus, to keep inviting others to want to be a part of that Kingdom.
For you and I though, the motivation for us should be about one thing alone - and that is our relationship with Jesus Christ personally. May His love for us, His personal interest in us be our motivation as we realize how His love for us constantly exceeds our expectations.
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern