Homily 14th Sunday of Year C: Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 66:10-14c; Ps 66:1-3, 4-7, 16, 20; Gal 6:14-18 and Luke 10:1-12, 17-20(originally at St. Frances Cabrini Church, Coram, NY).
Traveling with God’s Promise of Peace and Prosperity
It is so good to be backed home! This past month, soon after my school work, beginning from May 28th through June 18th, 2013 I led a pilgrimage to Four European countries. We were about 19 pilgrims in number: 4 from Australia, and the rest from different parts of the United States. We went to Fatima in Lisbon/Portugal. Besides visiting and retracing the origins of the 1916/17 apparition narrative of our Lady to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, we went to the birth place St. Anthony of Padua, and celebrated Mass there. In fact, at Fatima, we join at the international rosary, Stations of the Cross. We also visited the Fatima museum and the Cathedral of the Angel of Peace. We had mass there also.
From Fatima we traveled about 5 hours by bus to Salamanca in Spain. There we toured the ancient University of Salamanca and celebrated Mass at their cathedral. From there we drove to Avila, toured the ancient city wall and celebrated another Mass at the Carmelite Monastery, the community where the body of St. Theresa of Avila and most of her manuscripts are kept.
We also journeyed to Loyola where we visited the ancient cathedral and celebrated Mass at the very chapel where St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) was converted.
We drove from there with prayers, rosary and hymns to Lourdes in France. In Lourdes we spent three nights of prayers, Masses, rosary, station of the cross, drinking and fetching water from the miraculous spring from the Grotto where Our Lady of Immaculate Conception appeared to Sister Bernadette of Sibourough. From there we flew to Paris. Toured the city; visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame, drove to Lisieux and learned more about St. Theresa of the Little Flower. From Paris we flew to Rome, had audience with Pope Francis, and toured the cisten chapel, the 4 major basilicas in Rome, Church of St. Susana, and the Catacombs where we all celebrated Masses.
Why I am sharing this story with you is that it was such a joyful, peaceful journey; Prayers and songs on every step of the way. Every member of the group felt blessed. In fact one of us broke down with tears of joy and said, ‘God who am I that you have so much blessed and prospered me.”
There were also those who requested the group to pray for them and for the well-being of their children, and successes in their businesses, projects and other endeavors. It was then done on me more and more that some people can embark on a pilgrimage in thanksgiving to God for what he has done for them; while others used the opportunity to ask God to bless and prosper them. Either way, this becomes truer that what we have or lack and need comes from God, including peace(shalom), security and prosperity, that the children of Israel had longed for. We need peace, we need security, and we need success and prosperity. We pray for them daily.
When the Israelites left Babylon and Persia, and travelled back home to rebuilt their torn Jerusalem they were met with challenges of a deeply divided community between the rich and the poor, injustices, rivalry, power politics, despair, and hopelessness; Something that might still be lingering in our society today.
That first reading (Isaiah 66:10-14c) is the message of hope and God’s generosity: “ Rejoice Jerusalem,…I will spread prosperity over her like a river, and the wealth of the nation like an overflowing torrent…As a mother comfort her child, so will comfort you.”
In traveling or missioning to this same Jerusalem Christ deployed not only the Twelve(Luke 9), but the Seventy Two in today’s Gospel (Luke 10:1-12,17-22). He instructed them what was important for the journey was not a bag of money, sack, shoes, nor power, but rather peace, shalom, God’s mercy, humility and his ultimate love, manifested on the Cross, that St. Paul is proud of in the Second Reading, Galatian 6:14-18 " May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me..." For the 72 what was necessary was invoking the name of Jesus, what he has done for us, what he will continue to do for us.
In those moment we feel lost, hopeless, helpless, or dried up on our Christian pilgrimage let us count ourselves among the 72, the remnant Israel, and pilgrims who rely on God’s promises of peace and prosperity that “ he will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nation like an overflowing torrent.” Finally, if God has blessed us with peace and prosperity, we want to go out there like the 72 and be the bearers of that peace and the conduit of God's prosperity to our neighbors.