Limited Baggage Policy

BY FR. BRIAN ZUMBRUM, OSFS

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time | July 7, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons

So over the past week, I journeyed along the Camino de Compestela in Spain, an ancient pilgrimage towards the relics of St. James that requires one to walk for about 100 kilometers.

Now, we are all well aware of my utter lack of athletic ability.

And heaven knows I didn’t actually train for this.

So suddenly, here I am faced with the reality of walking about 60 miles over 5 days.

So Day 1, I am ready to go with a loaded backpack full of all of these items that seemed so important at the time.

And about 2 hours in, I am seriously questioning my judgement.

Why am I choosing to carry all this weight on my back? It is taking enough effort to puil my own body up one hill and down another.

And so with each stop over the next five days, I found myself shedding weight, little by little.

That extra bottle of sunscreen.

That book I just finished.

That block of cheese that we promised each other we would eat at some point.

Gone.

And let me tell you, I didn’t miss any of it.

For I discovered that I had everything I needed, particularly in the two brothers that I shared the journey with.

Now, there is a saying that the Camino is simply a metaphor for life and its journey.

And it seems that on this point, Jesus would be in complete agreement on the limited baggage policy of the Camino.

For in the Gospel, Jesus gives some pretty clear directions about what needs to be dropped before the disciples continue on their journey,

No money bag.

No sack.

No sandals.

I used to view these directions as foolish.

What if they need to barter for a night’s stay somewhere?

What if the road gets rough?

Where are they going to store some excess food for the long trails?

But after my own experience on the Camino, I now see these directions in a new light.

For maybe Jesus wasn’t being foolish. Maybe he just knew that the disciples would always be tempted to rely solely on their own resources if given the chance, not trusting in the other who was there companion on the journey, not trusting in the God who had called them to the journey.

Maybe Jesus realized just how limiting baggage could be for anyone on the journey of discipleship.

The truth is my friends, we all have a lot of baggage that we have accumulated along the way.

For some of us, it is the physical stuff that has utterly consumed our lives.

The rooms and drawers and cabinets so full of things that it gives us anxiety to even think of cleaning them out or decluttering them.

The accounts and credit cards and loan repayments that keep us up at night.

But for the majority of us, the baggage isn’t physical, but emotional and spiritual.

It is the carefully cultivated grudges that we cling to. The hurts we’ve suffered that we never intend to forget. The unforgivable insults that were directed our way. The choices people made that we’ve decided are beyond the pale.

It is the doors we found in our lives that were locked. The dreams that were never realized. The yeses we never got to say. The regrets that we still ruminate over.

It is the insecurities that consume us. The entitlements and privilege that we deny we possess. The endless quest for control, for power, for success, for safety, for affirmation.

It is the fear that we tremble before. It is the grief that rocks our core.

But today, we are given the gentle reminder to let it go. All of it.

For we too have everything we need.

Just look around. Our sisters and brothers are beside us. We do not walk the journey alone.

So no matter how long the journey. No matter how inhospitable the path or the welcome. No matter how fruitless the harvest. No matter how large the cross.

Rejoice. For our names too are written in heaven, all children of the one who is with us every step of the way.

May God be Praised.

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