We have received the 2018 Bishop Richard Pates Mission Grant of $1,500 for our Living Waters Campaign. The grant is sponsored by DISC (Diocesan Information Systems Conference), to which the Archdiocese of Milwaukee belongs. I am pleased we can give further assistance to our sisters and brothers in Tanzania!
I looked at the readings for this weekend a week ago Friday as my plane took off from MKE. As I read Jesus’ instructions to His disciples for what to take on their journey, I reflected on what I had packed for my journey. Not bad: my many years of flying to various countries as a member of the Salvatorian General Council made me a very efficient packer (no pun intended: go Green Bay!!). Then I reflected on what I had in my closets and in my room. Certainly a lot more than the two suitcases of belongings that I brought back with me from Rome 5 years ago. How do I collect so much stuff? WHY do I collect so much stuff?
Jesus’ instructions to His disciples on what they should take for their missionary journey (and to us today as His disciples) had two purposes: to keep them from being burdened down by too much stuff and to make sure that they were interdependent with those to whom they were bringing the Good News (in other words, they just didn’t bring something, they needed support).
It’s not news to note that we live in an individualistic and consumeristic society. We are urged to take care of ourselves, to store up so that we don’t have to be dependent on others. And even more than that, we can be addicted to “things”: close to 15% of American households rent storage units for excess things. I read an article called “Only in America…” that contained this: …only in America are garages filled with junk while a $30,000 car sits outside in the weather.
How do we reconcile this with the Gospel call to simplicity? It is a delicate balance: we need to be responsible and yet we need to trust in God. We need to take care of our own and yet we need to help others. I think it comes down to our underlying attitude or goal: are we attempting to go it alone and make sure we are as comfortable as possible? Or do we basically put ourselves in God’s hands and then try to use our abilities and resources in the best possible way to fulfill our own responsibilities as well as to help others?
I invite us this week to reflect on our underlying attitude toward the “things” in our lives, what we are taking on our missionary journey in life: how much is it about me and mine and how much is about trusting in God and using resources to help others? How much extra “stuff” do I have or buy? How can I better live the Gospel call to simplicity and sharing?
Reminder: beginning with September 16, the Sunday after the Grass Mass, the second Mass on Sundays will be celebrated at 10:30, instead of 10:15.
After the 8 am Mass on Monday, July 16, I will leave for retreat, returning Friday evening. I will be back in the office on Saturday, July 21. I will remember you in my prayers and ask you to accompany me in prayer. Thank you.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS