The last time I was able to travel to Italy was over 5 years ago (and after over a year of basically not going anywhere, it feels even longer than that) But truth be told, I’m not a big fan of traveling. I still have a pretty bad fear of flying, which while I’m getting better at. I am nowhere near as anxious or panicked as I was over 10 years ago when I flew for the first time in over 18 years. But on top of that, having A.D.D. and I can overthink things it becomes stressful even traveling. Especially when it comes to packing.
Thanks so much for stopping by to read this, my homily for 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME- July 11, 2021, for sharing it on your social media posts and your feedback and comments! For the audio version you can get them at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE. Thanks again… I hope you and yours experience all of God’s blessings today and always! In Christ – Father Jim
That last trip to Italy – I was going away for 10 days and you would’ve thought I was moving residences. First I was going through the prescriptions I’m on – make sure I had all of those for my trip. Then I thought “I should bring some of the over-the-counter stuff I take – Advil, Zantac” Then as I’m looking in my medicine cabinet I started thinking what about Pepto Bismol (just in case) or Tums… I don’t use them often – but what if? Then it was toothpaste, soap (because of course they don’t have those things in Italy?) shampoo (for the ever-decreasing head of hair) deodorant. Then it was packing clothes, how many shirts, pants, socks… how many shoes, flip-flops? Books – I was going to be in Assisi, so I wanted to bring a favorite “Bonaventure’s Life of Francis” – something for the plane. Oh, that’s right, for the plane, I need my iPad (as well as my iPhone, with chargers, and wires; headphones) Then every time I went to the store and was walking near the travel/trial size section I started adding more things like Tide-detergent packets, bounty “wrinkle release” sprays, etc. well, you get the idea.
I most certainly did not pack “light” for the journey. While some of the things were necessary – like I’m sure my fellow travelers were happy I included my deodorant – truth be told as I was unpacking things on my return, (after re-packing them in Italy) I noticed that there was a bulk of stuff, that I never used once. The book I thought would be so essential to my visit to Assisi, I had left in the hotel room and never once cracked it open. And just looking at all of these things I realize how they helped weigh me down, slow me down, distract me, attach me to certain fears or worries that I carry.
This is why today’s Gospel is really an important one outside the historical context of this event. Here Jesus is sending the twelve on their first evangelization journey — going out to share the Good News, to cast out demons, to speak to each and every heart and soul they come into contact with that God is madly in love, personally cares, is particularly interested in each and every one of us. And as they do that, He tells them to travel light. Focus on the journey, the mission that He has entrusted them with, and not with things that attach them to what they are leaving behind, not to worry about their possessions or things like status & power. Take nothing with you. If you’re like me (who finds himself dragging this massive suitcase around JFK, Rome, and Assisi and then back again) you can romanticize the gospel and simply see it as a lesson Jesus was teaching his first followers about austerity and his trying to prepare them to be wow-ed as they went on mission and experienced how God took care of them each step.
But it’s much more than that. At the heart of this Gospel, Jesus is saying Just go; just trust me… – my words, my invitation to follow me more than anything else in the world.
That’s harder to do than learning to pack lightly: To trust Him. To trust He has a plan. To trust He is with us. To trust He wants what’s best for us. To trust that it’s going to work out (even when our rational minds argue with us it can’t or it won’t) To trust that our security isn’t tied to what we possess and cling onto.
In inviting us to be His followers, Jesus wants us to simply and solely possess and cling to Him
Because what I found in my suitcase can be a good life metaphor too. What things are we holding onto in our hearts and minds in our life journeys? What things do we carry with us that weigh us down, slow us down, distract and diminish us? The anger, the resentments, the disappointments. The jealousies, rivalries, anxieties, and all the other “ies” that we keep schlepping along as we go to work, go to school, interact (or don’t) with relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
Jesus asks us to unload them and trust in Him alone in supplying us with what we need to carry with us place to place, day to day; making room for the possessions of God that He wants us to carry and lavishly share: His love, His forgiveness, His mercy, His generosity, His hope. In the end – the real end – when our journeys are at an end – we’ll find those are the only things we needed, the only things that truly mattered.