reflections, updates and homilies from Deacon Mike Talbot inspired by the following words from my ordination: Receive the Gospel of Christ whose herald you have become. Believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach...
Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope JohnPaul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.
No White Flags! Around these parts we are very familiar with this saying because it's associated with Steve Gleason and his foundation that fights ALS. Gleason, the former Saints star who will always be remembered for that blocked punt when the Dome was reopened after Katrina, wanted a saying that represented no excuses, never give up, never surrender while demonstrating determination.
Excuses - we all make them, in fact we make them all the time. The great basketball coach, John Wooten, from UCLA fame, said this about excuses: never make excuses; your friends don't need them and your foes will never believe them.
Still we make excuses.
As people of faith, when it comes to following Jesus with determination, there are no excuses.
Today's Gospel gives us two distinct images the first being that of Jesus. We see Jesus determined and resolute, on his way to Jerusalem. He is also obedient to the will of His Father. Jerusalem of course is where he will return to fulfill his sacred mission that includes death and resurrection. No excuses, Jesus is determined to return to Jerusalem; and by the way, we will go through Samaria. Now Jesus knows that Samaritans don't like Jews and Jews don't really like Samaritans still he is determined to go forward. In Samaria he was not welcomed and probably endured prejudice and judgement, as evidenced by the reaction of James and John. Yet Jesus knows this pales in comparison to the reception he will ultimately receive in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Jesus knows that he will endure betrayal, abandonment, physical torture, suffering and death on a cross. Still, Jesus is determined, no excuses, no white flags.
Now the other image in today's Gospel are those who either say they will follow Jesus or invited by Jesus to follow him. Jesus surely wants followers but what he really wants is disciples. The life of a disciple is one that Jesus himself models for us; a life with no excuses. Jesus may say to be my disciple your physical well being could be less than that of foxes and birds. Jesus may say to be my disciple the urgency of the Gospel is more demanding than even burying parents. Jesus may say to be my disciple is immediate and urgent and there may be no time for good-byes. Jesus sure knew how to make a point; after all burying others is a corporal work of mercy and obeying parents is a commandment. Jesus makes the point that there is no room or time to make excuses.
If we claim to be a disciple of Jesus will we truly follow Him come what may? Will we affirm our calling first received at our Baptism or will we add excuses to our years? And if we indeed claim to follow Christ will we follow His Bride, the Holy Catholic Church and all she teaches? Now I have made my fair share of excuses but I have heard plenty in my years as a Deacon. Does it really matter if we just live together, we don't believe in marriage? Does it really matter if we baptize the baby; let them make up there own decision when older? I'm spiritual but not religious; does it matter if I go to Mass or not? I don't like confession because I can just talk to God and don't need a Priest. Why should I help that homeless guy, he will probably drink it all anyway? And now, in an ever increasing secular and relativistic world, we hear every kind of excuse why abortion is ok, why it isn't even a baby, all kinds of marriage is ok, even between same-sex partners, it's my business concerning birth control and I could go one.
Yet despite these excuses God always offers hope and mercy. Any one, despite their excuses, can repent and return to the teachings of Jesus and His Church. These times call for deeper prayer, deeper spiritual reflection, fasting, abstinence, and even spiritual reparation for these harmful excuses. These times call for disciples, for no excuses, for no white flags.
So we go forward today from here with hope and encouragement that all can and will return to God and be resolutely determined to be a disciple. Let us be further encouraged with these words; a poem by Annie Johnson Flint:
God gives more grace when the burdens grow greater; God sends more strength when the labors increase. To added affliction He adds His mercy; to multiplied trials He multiplies peace. His love has no limit, His grace has no measure; His power has no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, God gives and gives an gives again.
Pope sees Kim-Trump meeting as example of "culture of encounter"
Pope Francis sends greetings to protagonists of an historic meeting on the Korean Peninsula
By Christopher Wells
“In these last few hours, we have seen in Korea a good example of the ‘culture of encounter’,” Pope Francis said after the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday.
The Holy Father was referring to the meeting that took place between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and U.S. President Donald Trump earlier in the day. The encounter took place in the “DMZ”, the “demilitarized zone” between North and South Korea. After shaking hands, President Trump crossed briefly into North Korea, becoming the first sitting U.S. President to do so. The two leaders then had an hour-long conversation in a building known as “Freedom House,” on the South Korean side of the border. The President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, also was present for a short period of time.
A prayer for peace
Pope Francis sent his greetings to the “protagonists” of the meeting, with the prayer “that such a significant gesture might constitute a further step along the path of peace, not only on that [Korean] peninsula, but for the whole world.”
In a previous meeting that took place last year in Singapore, Trump and Kim committed to the “denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula, without going into specific details. A summit earlier this year broke down without making progress, but both nations have now agreed to set up teams to resume talks.
Pope Francis: Itinerancy, promptness, decisiveness keys to Gospel proclamation
Following Jesus means no looking back. At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis says that being a disciple of the Master means being prompt, decisive, and always on the move.
By Christopher Wells
In his reflection at the Sunday Angelus, Pope Francis pointed out three figures Christ meets in the Gospel, which “highlight what is required of those who desire to follow Jesus.”
The first figure is generous, and promises to follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus responds that the Son of Man “has nowhere to rest His head,” but is always on the move. The Church, similarly, is called to always be in motion. “Our mission cannot be static, but is itinerant,” the Pope said. The Church, he explained, is called to go along all the paths of the world in order to arrive “at the human and existential peripheries.”
When another would-be disciple asks permission to bury his father, Jesus replies with the “deliberately provocative” words, “Let the dead bury their dead.” With this reply, the Pope said, Jesus “intends to affirm the primacy of following” the Lord, and of “the proclamation of the Gospel.” This, he said, requires promptness and full availability.
Finally, the Pope takes up Jesus’ response to a third person, who desired to say goodbye to his relatives before following the Lord. Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plough and looks back… is fit for the kingdom of God.” With this answer, the Pope said, “Jesus excludes regrets and looking back, but requires the virtue of decisiveness.”
These three “conditions” of discipleship are not meant to be a series of “noes”. Instead, they are meant to emphasize “the principle objective: becoming a disciple of Christ.” This, the Pope said, is a “free and deliberate choice, made out of love, to reciprocate the inestimable grace of God, and not made as a way to promote oneself.” Jesus, he continued, “wants us to be passionate about Himself, and about the Gospel” – and passionate in a way that results in concrete actions of love toward our most needy brothers and sisters.
At the conclusion of the Angelus, the Holy Father noted the meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and offered a prayer that their encounter might be one more step along the path of peace – not only for Korea, but for the whole world.
He also wished workers a restful summer, and offered prayers for those who are suffering most from the summer heat, especially the sick, the elderly, and those who work outdoors.