|Trust and Obey |
|God is great. God is good. And God, in his fatherly love, has a plan for our lives that will work out for our benefit and salvation. All we have to do is trust and obey.|
Blessed Junipero Serra
In 1776, when the American Revolution was beginning in the east, another part of the future United States was being born in California. That year a gray-robed Franciscan founded Mission San Juan Capistrano, now famous for its annually returning swallows. San Juan was the seventh of nine missions established under the direction of this indomitable Spaniard.
Born on Spain's island of Mallorca, Serra entered the Franciscan Order, taking the name of St. Francis' childlike companion, Brother Juniper. Until he was 35, he spent most of his time in the classroom—first as a student of theology and then as a professor. He also became famous for his preaching. Suddenly he gave it all up and followed the yearning that had begun years before when he heard about the missionary work of St. Francis Solanus in South America. Junipero's desire was to convert native peoples in the New World.
Arriving by ship at Vera Cruz, Mexico, he and a companion walked the 250 miles to Mexico City. On the way Junipero's left leg became infected by an insect bite and would remain a cross—sometimes life-threatening—for the rest of his life. For 18 years he worked in central Mexico and in the Baja Peninsula. He became president of the missions there.
Enter politics: the threat of a Russian invasion south from Alaska. Charles III of Spain ordered an expedition to beat Russia to the territory. So the last two conquistadors—one military, one spiritual—began their quest. José de Galvez persuaded Junipero to set out with him for present-day Monterey, California. The first mission founded after the 900-mile journey north was San Diego (1769). That year a shortage of food almost canceled the expedition. Vowing to stay with the local people, Junipero and another friar began a novena in preparation for St. Joseph's day, March 19, the scheduled day of departure. On that day, the relief ship arrived.
Other missions followed: Monterey/Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luís Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782). Twelve more were founded after Serra's death.
Junipero made the long trip to Mexico City to settle great differences with the military commander. He arrived at the point of death. The outcome was substantially what Junipero sought: the famous "Regulation" protecting the Indians and the missions. It was the basis for the first significant legislation in California, a "Bill of Rights" for Native Americans.
Because the Native Americans were living a nonhuman life from the Spanish point of view, the friars were made their legal guardians. The Native Americans were kept at the mission after Baptism lest they be corrupted in their former haunts—a move that has brought cries of "injustice" from some moderns.
Junipero's missionary life was a long battle with cold and hunger, with unsympathetic military commanders and even with danger of death from non-Christian native peoples. Through it all his unquenchable zeal was fed by prayer each night, often from midnight till dawn. He baptized over 6,000 people and confirmed 5,000. His travels would have circled the globe. He brought the Native Americans not only the gift of faith but also a decent standard of living. He won their love, as witnessed especially by their grief at his death. He is buried at Mission San Carlo Borromeo, Carmel, and was beatified in 1988.
During his homily at Serra's beatification, Saint John Paul II said: "Relying on the divine power of the message he proclaimed, Father Serra led the native peoples to Christ. He was well aware of their heroic virtues—as exemplified in the life of St. Kateri Tekakwitha [July 14]—and he sought to further their authentic human development on the basis of their new-found faith as persons created and redeemed by God. He also had to admonish the powerful, in the spirit of our second reading from James, not to abuse and exploit the poor and the weak."
Daily Prayer - 2015-07-01
My soul longs for your presence, Lord.
When I turn my thoughts to You,
I find peace and contentment.
Lord, may I never take the gift
of freedom for granted. You gave
me the great blessing of freedom of
spirit. Fill my spirit with Your peace and
How do I find myself today?
Where am I with God? With others?
Do I have something to be grateful for? Then I give thanks.
Is there something I am sorry for? Then I ask forgiveness.
The Word of God
Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Isaac grew, and on the day of the child's weaning
Abraham held a great feast.
Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian
had borne to Abraham
playing with her son Isaac;
so she demanded of Abraham:
"Drive out that slave and her son!
No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance
with my son Isaac!"
Abraham was greatly distressed,
especially on account of his son Ishmael.
But God said to Abraham: "Do not be distressed about the boy
or about your slave woman.
Heed the demands of Sarah, no matter what she is asking of you;
for it is through Isaac that descendants shall bear your name.
As for the son of the slave woman,
I will make a great nation of him also,
since he too is your offspring."
Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water
and gave them to Hagar.
Then, placing the child on her back, he sent her away.
As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba,
the water in the skin was used up.
So she put the child down under a shrub,
and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away;
for she said to herself, "Let me not watch to see the child die."
As she sat opposite Ishmael, he began to cry.
God heard the boy's cry,
and God's messenger called to Hagar from heaven:
"What is the matter, Hagar?
Don't be afraid; God has heard the boy's cry in this plight of his.
Arise, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand;
for I will make of him a great nation."
Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water.
She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.
God was with the boy as he grew up.
R. (7a) The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Come, children, hear me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life,
and takes delight in prosperous days?
R. The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth
that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,
two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.
They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.
They cried out, "What have you to do with us, Son of God?
Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?"
Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.
The demons pleaded with him,
"If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine."
And he said to them, "Go then!"
They came out and entered the swine,
and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea
where they drowned.
The swineherds ran away,
and when they came to the town they reported everything,
including what had happened to the demoniacs.
Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,
and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.
Some thoughts on today's scripture
- The mission of Jesus transcends all boundaries. He is not afraid to go to the other side, the land of the Gentiles - where the Jews would not normally go. There he encounters the forces of evil in the form of the demoniacs and quells them. However the people failed to see the power of God at work in Jesus and earnestly ask him to leave.
- Lord, with you close by my side, I have nothing to fear from the forces of darkness in the world. You deliver me from all evil and do everything to ensure that goodness triumphs. Help me to trust in your divine power in my life and be attentive to the ways you communicate your message of light.
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the Word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Meditation: Matthew 8:28-34
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Blessed Junípero Serra, Priest (Optional Memorial)
They begged him to leave their district. (Matthew 8:34)
When a brutal conflict ends, people dance in the streets, celebrate with parades, and initiate other spontaneous demonstrations of joy and relief. So why weren't the Gadarenes dancing for joy and begging Jesus to stay to work more miracles for them? After all, he had freed them from the men terrorizing the area. He had delivered those men from the grip of demons. But it was what happened to the pigs that scared them. This was just too strange for them, so the people begged Jesus to leave.
Ask yourself, "What if I ask Jesus to heal some area in my life, but he asks me to abandon a sinful habit first?" Or "What if something strange happens at a healing Mass when Father anoints me with oil? What does God's power feel like, anyway? What if I pass out?"
It's possible that something unexpected will happen when Jesus shows up. Remember, his power is out of our control. The same power that casts out demons may move us out of our comfort zones at times, but there is one thing we can all rely on: God is on our side! He created each of us out of love, and he loves us always, without reservation.
The idea of God's power can seem scary. But if you ever feel unsure about inviting him into an area in your life, remind yourself of what you already know about him. He is merciful. He is unrelenting towards sin, but overflowing in kindness and grace. He detests wrongdoing, but he delights in you. Sit quietly with him today, and ask him to show you who he is and how he sees you. As you do, you'll find joy and hope dispelling whatever fear you may have.
"Jesus, I want you to work in my life, but sometimes I'm afraid of what that will feel like. Let the reassurance of your love for me overflow so that I can trust in you."
Genesis 21:5, 8-20
Psalm 34:7-8, 10-13
Today's 5minutos (allow me to translate for you):
"The presence of 'evil adversaries', secret, incomprehensible,to these "demoniacs" was the personfication of evil (it was the devil) that was made present in the storms, in the sicknesses, etc. But even though we do not blame the devil, they continue to be mysterious forces which man does not know how to react to and feels crushed. Jesus presents Himself like that one who enters the complex of our human situations, in which he not only encounters our personal weakness, but an ensemble of cosmic forces, superhuman, in which one finds themselves submerged in and seem indecipherable, but at the time the Lord comes, to tell us over everything, He is there. 'What do you want with us Son of God?' said the "furious demons"; let us see how Jesus accepts even the "rejection" of these people, that minimalization that is a rejection, for it is a form of dialogue. These men lived, forced by their situation, into the cemetaries, and so, far from town (the people), and with the dead. Jesus faces this this apparent desperate situation, returning these men back to their community. Could it be that we can get "possessed" by sin, that we yell the same to the Lord that wants to liberate us: "What do you want with me Son of God? Leave me in "peace" with my sins, my vices, my comforts, my injustices, my complaints, my selfishness, my "ideas", and even my prayer that asks you to come guide my life, but knowing that I will never let you have in your hands the "steering wheel" of my life. "
Such is the prayer that comes to us. Sarah wanted to get rid of Hagar, after she was "used" and abused. Isn't that how normal sin is? After it is said and done, we want to get rid of our faults in others? Humility is a precious commodity in the Kingdom of God. It is precious because it is rare. It is precious because it is valuable to God. We try to pay God, well some people do, with this favor and that, and helping out like this and like that, and what He really wants? Well, we can't even say sorry for that. We discussed this in RCIA last night. What can we possibly give to God if everything is His already? I said "it's like as if my child came up to me and gave me my own guitar as if it were coming from the child...I'd rather have obedience...or even honesty if they done something wrong....it's like if they stole something and they told me, it would please me much more because then I could rectify the situation with everybody and the child and me could grow together (such is confession)." Alas, Abraham sent Hagar off on her way, to die in the wilderness, away from their community. And the Lord our God has mercy when we apparently...can not. Humility is a precious commodity in the realms of Heaven on earth, as we bind with how we live. The secret here, Abraham had prayed, and had to obey to send off his first born son into the wilderness to die. Much like that of how God would send His only Son to die for us in this wild world we live in.
The Psalms pray on: "The Lord hears the cry of the poor" and "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." The Lord heard the baby cry all the way to Heaven...the heaven on earth, this unity we have with Him as we live...even a baby's cry is a prayer. Do you think God didn't hear you cry the other day? You are His baby. Do you think He has left you to hang and die? Well, surely He did not leave His Son on the cross...He Was the Son on the cross, that means one thing...HIs mercy and love are inseparable. You can not take your heart out of your body and continue living, you can not continue without a soul, such are His love and mercy towards His children, and His dear ones are called to Him.
Our Lord comes by way of the mountain, some accounts say round about. Coming close to the cemetary, where dead people are, two thousand demons come at him with one voice "what do you want Son of God". Without words, Jesus says this "I want to save you my child"...you see, He hears what we do not, His baby crying and dying. Such is the story of those yelling at me in front of abortion clinics, the place of the dying and the dead, "what are you doing out here? Stop judging me (condemning)" they would yell. "I come for souls" I said one time. I come to pray for salvation of lives. Nowadays people are coming at Christians with the same yells only if you approach them about homosexuality "what do you want from us! Stop judging!" as if to say "get away from me!". Who hears the cries now? Jesus sensed the rejection, but did not go away, mercy can not, so long as we live and breathe on this earth. I reject your sin, but not you. I reject the possessions you have, but not you. I rebuke the devil that is in your heart, but not you. This passionate love will be the way. The legions of demons pleaded to God to be delivered into pigs. God didn't have to listen to them, yet, still His creation, the devil, He allows to be. Now listen. The devil is bad when allowed. That is why the saying says "never give the devil a ride, for it will want to drive". This is why our focus is to be Holy. These men were as good as dead, outcasts of the community, trash at best. Who is the trash in your life today? I remember a man said he knew a child molester and he went up to his face and threatened to beat him severely if he so even came close to one of his kids. Was this an act of charity or mercy towards this demon-possessed child of God? Who defends the weak? Jesus does. The people we send to cemetaries is what is in us. The most bitter tears at funerals are of those that never said I love you or lived it out daily, no chance to make amends...but through Christ there is. For Him, there are no dead people as we see. The only ones that are dead are in hell, and this is a spiritual death that torments. Tormented by not having the love of the community, and this means Heaven. Yet, the community drove God away. He was affecting their peace and their finances. What is affecting your peace today? Let's consider the importantance of encountering God in our lives. He saves, He delivers.
He delivers LOVE
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