Sunday, July 19, 2015

Trust God to Provide - Homily 15th Sunday 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.      Mark 6:7-8

If Jesus were giving his instructions today to his disciples, instructions like take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in your belts. Do you think he would include our smart phones on the list? How many of us could imagine setting out for even one day taking nothing with us: No food - no purse - or wallet - no change of clothes - no phone - no money – no check book or credit cards. Can you imagine it? Can you imagine the trust those disciples had that God would provide. It was incredible! They left Jesus that day taking nothing with them.

Could we set out for just one day taking nothing with us? Not me! 

What do you think the point was? 

You have to believe he was telling them, and he is telling us - "Don’t let possessions so clutter your life that they get in the way of doing what is really important to God - sharing your faith with others."

Every once in a while you see an example of someone who seems to have their priorities right. For some odd reason this message made me think of Manute Bol. Now you have to be a serious sports fan to remember Manute Bol. Manute was a Sudanese immigrant who just happened to be 7 feet 7 inches tall. Manute was recruited to play professional basketball in the United States in the 80s.

Manute weighed just a little over 200 pounds which made him both the tallest and thinnest player in the NBA. He was quite a sight. If you ever saw him play with the Washington Bullets you know he really wasn’t a great player. But as it turns out he was a great human being; and a missionary in the spirit of the disciples, in the spirit of today’s reading. The reason he came to mind today is because Manute was a Christian and he believed his life was a gift from God. And, like the apostles, he allowed Jesus to lead him, to send him out, in the service of others. He once told an interviewer: “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.”

In many ways, Manute’s trust in God and sense he had a mission in the world embodies the message Jesus gave to the disciples that day. Manute gave away his entire NBA fortune to Sudanese charities and trusted that God would provide for his needs. While most pro athletes go broke on cars, jewelry and groupies; Manute Bol went broke building hospitals. I think that was Jesus’ point. I think Manute “got it.” He trusted God to provide, and then spent his life sharing what he had with others. He simply trusted that God would make it work. Like the apostles, and like Manute, we are all called to be missionaries in some way.

Some years ago, a number of young Christians were attending an international summer camp. They came from many nations around the world. One project assigned them was to come up with effective ways to preach the Gospel in our modern world. After the young people talked about using television, radio, the Internet and rock concerts an African girl said something that touched the heart of everyone. She said: When Christians in my country think a pagan village is ready for Christianity they don’t send books or missionaries. They send a good Christian family. And the example of the family converts the village.

I think that’s what the Gospel is saying today. Have such radical trust in God - in me - that it changes the people you come in contact with. Like this young African woman’s example God wants us in our homes, in our work places and in our communities to preach the Gospel by living a life that trusts God will provide what we need. The way we can be missionaries to our world is by our presence and by our example more than by our words.

The poet Edgar Guest had it right when he said years ago:
          It is all in vain to preach the truth, 
          To the eager ears of trusting youth.
          Fine words may grace the advice you give,
          But youth will learn from the way you live.

Saying we are called to evangelize and be a missionary scares us a bit. But it shouldn’t. We are all called to evangelize, to share our faith with others; we are all called to missionary work in our homes and families, our social groups, at work and in our neighborhoods. Not necessarily with words so much as with our actions, with our example, with the way we display our trust in God to provide.

St. Francis Assisi once said: "Preach the Gospel and sometimes use words."

Our call as disciples in our modern world is to be like the African family who by their example converts the village. Today’s Gospel message is all about trusting God and then showing our faith to others by the way we live. At the end of Mass we say: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” 

Let’s vow today to be that family, that person, that converts our village by our example.

1 comment:

David Roemer said...

Reasons to Believe in Jesus

Reasons to believe Jesus is alive in a new life with God can be found in quotes from two prominent atheists and a biology textbook.

Thus the passion of man is the reverse of that of Christ, for man loses himself as man in order that God may be born. But the idea of God is contradictory and we lose ourselves in vain. Man is a useless passion. (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness: A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, New York: Washington Square Press, p. 784)

Among the traditional candidates for comprehensive understanding of the relation of mind to the physical world, I believe the weight of evidence favors some from of neutral monism over the traditional alternatives of materialism, idealism, and dualism. (Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, location 69 of 1831)

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we’ll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes’ concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776 )

Sartre speaks of the "passion of man," not the passion of Christians. He is acknowledging that all religions east and west believe there is a transcendental reality and that perfect fulfillment comes from being united with this reality after we die. He then defines this passion with a reference to Christian doctrine which means he is acknowledging the historical reasons for believing in Jesus. He does not deny God exists. He is only saying the concept of God is contradictory. He then admits that since life ends in the grave, it has no meaning.

From the title of the book, you can see that Nagel understands that humans are embodied sprits and that the humans soul is spiritual. He says, however, that dualism and idealism are "traditional" alternatives to materialism. Dualism and idealism are just bright ideas from Descartes and Berkeley. The traditional alternative to materialism is monism. According to Thomas Aquinas unity is the transcendental property of being. Campbell does not even grasp the concept of monism. The only theories he grasps are dualism and materialism.

If all atheists were like Sartre, it would be an obstacle to faith. An important reason to believe in Jesus is that practically all atheists are like Nagel and Campbell, not like Sartre.

by David Roemer