Let us Lectio: Preparing an Acceptable Offering
The Memorial of St. Junipero Serra, July 1, 2020
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the First Reading for July 1, 2020, Memorial of St. Junipero Serra (Amos 5:14-15, 21-24)
Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim!
Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.
I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,
I take no pleasure in your solemnities;
Your cereal offerings I will not accept,
nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.
Away with your noisy songs!
I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.
But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water,
and goodness like an unfailing stream.
“Seek good and not evil, that you may live.” (Amos 5:14)
We are all beckoned to abandon our selfish ways. We are all called to accept the fullness of the Gospel which includes both justice and love inseparably united. But this process of conversion usually does not happen instantly. The fact of the matter is that true conversion takes time, true evangelization takes time. We see this basic principle facilitated in the process of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the parish. This is why individuals are gradually admitted phase-by-phase toward the sacraments of initiation and into the community of Christ.
The fact that this process takes time is true for individuals, no less than for communities and cultures. With this in mind, Spanish Catholic missionaries embarked to an American landscape that was uncultivated with the seed of the Gospel and in need of workers in the field. Their task was to present the fullness of the Gospel with charity and justice, and to help forge a culture and a people who would impart the same truth of Christ to their children. In doing so, Spanish missions have left a beautiful mark on our landscape and our nation — and in their time, they were bastions of refuge in a harsh land.
Saint Junipero Serra is recognized as a founding father of California and an exemplary model of selflessly evangelizing to indigenous people. Within the walls of his mission communities he provided these people with a decent standard of living and protection in order to promote and develop their sense of human dignity. Outside of his mission communities, he engaged in politics in order to defend their human rights in what became in California a “Bill of Rights” for native Americans, a people who were unofficially considered as subhuman.
His fatherly and sacrificial love for them won the heart of these people for Christ — so much so that even when both Mexican and American governments would transfer these missions to fully secular institutions, the local reverence toward God and His Church continued to flourish.
This was always the goal of missions. To plant and foster the growth of God's love in an area so that it could eventually thrive as a sustainable Christian community, or rather as a sustainable Christian faith rooted in community. But to accomplish this goal took the tireless efforts of missionaries such as St. Junipero in order to produce a harvest. Thus, with the fruit of his labor, he was able to present a worthy offering back to God. May God help us to do the same.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is a regular contributor to the North Texas Catholic.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.