Homilette for Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Memorial of St. Pio of Pietrecina, priest

(Ezra 9:5-9; Luke 9:1-6)

Once, a group of Peace Corps trainees were left individually in villages outside the training center in their host country. The volunteers were provided only with carfare back to the center. When they regrouped that evening, most of them had tales to tell of gracious hospitality. In almost every case villagers invited them into their homes for dinner, and a few even drove their newly acquainted friends back to the center.

In today’s gospel, Jesus’ apostles are sent out in a roughly similar way. They, however, are not to bring anything with them “just in case.” Rather, they are to trust completely in Providence working through the villagers they encounter. Of course, the Twelve will rescue the people from demons, cure their diseases, and proclaim to them the good news of God’s kingdom, but these blessings are not meant as ways to finagle hospitality or even to reward it. Rather, they are to demonstrate God’s favor upon those who have humbly awaited His coming.

The dependency of the apostles upon Providence awakens our consciences like bugle reveille. Today our society, including most church workers, strives to avert risks. The credit card has long served as a way never to be caught without money. With cellular telephones in emergencies help is always a few pushed buttons away. Insurance protects against almost every kind of loss. Although these privileges are defended as prudential, they leave us with the question: What does it mean today to trust in Providence if we always and everywhere avoid risk?