|Early summer mornings are my favorite days of the year. Sitting on my deck, in my suburban neighborhood, there always seems to be a few magical moments when all “human” noise is absent. No garage doors opening/closing, no one is calling their dog, and no lawnmowers break the silence. In these few minutes, I become more aware of God’s creation. Like the birds, stopping by our feeder. They perch on the edge of the tray, look at me as if wondering if I pose a threat. A Pink Lady butterfly visits the flowers. This space is my home, my refuge. This gift is a place where I feel a deep connection with God, especially in the silence.
The question rises slowly within my consciousness. I ignore it. It persists. “What if this is the last time I will be in this space?” I push back, “No. I do not want to leave, not yet.” Today’s readings offer two stories related to leaving and venturing into unknown and even hostile territory. The wisdom within the stories is timeless.
In the first reading, Israel (Jacob), out of desperation brought on by famine, was ready to leave the land that God had promised him. Before venturing into Egypt, he stopped at Beer-sheba. It was in this place, years before, that Jacob, while dreaming heard God promise him and his descendants “the land on which you lie (GN 28:13).” Jacob returned to Beer-sheba, seeking God’s approval before leaving. God reassured Jacob by telling him He would accompany Jacob to Egypt. God also renewed His promise by telling Jacob his descendants would return to the land. I wonder how Jacob felt in that moment of revelation? What did he do on the last morning in Beer-sheba? Did Jacob feel sad when stepping into the morning air, knowing this was the last time? Did he experience profound consolation because God would accompany him? Based on his actions, Jacob had faith in God’s love and trusted God would bring his prodigy back home.
This Gospel reading follows the commissioning of the twelve to go forth, spreading God’s message of salvation. Jesus is preparing them for what to expect during their post-resurrection ministry. Jesus assured them if they were handed over to the authorities, they would have what they needed. God’s Spirit would speak through them. He also warned that the message they proclaimed would not bring peace but rather stir divisions within families (MT.10:21). What thoughts might the Apostles have had upon hearing this message? Was the excitement of their commissioning overshadowed by concerns for their future? They had previously left home to follow Jesus, but had they expected the journey to take such a difficult path? Did the Apostles contemplate the possibility of never seeing family and friends (home) again? Like God’s promise to Jacob, Jesus’ message included reassurances. God would be with them in their ministry and, in the end, those that remained faithful would see Jesus again (MT 10:42).
How do these readings help me answer my question? These texts offer reassurance that God accompanies me, no matter where I go. My home is a gift from God, but it is only temporary. Ignatius counsels that a gift should not become a distraction to my relationship with God. Said another way, to be a disciple of Christ, I should use every blessing (gift) to help further the realization of God’s Kingdom. If my home is a distraction, then I should let it go. Even if what I own is not a distraction, eventually I will leave this place. I will either go to another temporary (earthly) home or my permanent home with God. I have faith that God will accompany me on the journey and is already waiting to welcome me into my next space. I only need to have faith, use my gifts to be a disciple of Christ and, “Trust in the Lord and do good (Ps 37:3).”