On the list of things I 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.  But when I have to find a gift for someone, it becomes challenging.  Want to find something that will impress and wow them, having ADD and having way too many ideas coming to mind.

Thanks so much for stopping by to read my homily for the 14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME -July 3, 2022, for sharing it on your social media posts and your feedback and comments…  I’m also grateful for all those who’ve asked for the audio version and share them as well at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE.  May the Lord be glorified in your reading and sharing Sincerely in Christ – Father Jim

Some 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 … Well whichever one it was, Sponge Bob, 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 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 – (a 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, and paid full price for the gift with the added expedited shipping costs probably doubling 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 on 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, the Today Show 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 with “Thank You Father Jim” as they put it down and went back to one of the much lesser quality, non-morning show-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???”

It’s 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 a 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 hunger, and the longings of their souls will be met, and 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. Perhaps 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 entirely 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, and His personal interest in us be our motivation as we realize how His love for us constantly exceeds our expectations.