Relationships are hard. And I don’t mean merely romantic relationships, I mean any human relationship, any substantial connection between two individuals… for as much as we are drawn to them and find life and excitement in them… it takes effort to keep make a relationship good and meaningful, and more effort to keep it that way. I’m willing to bet that in school you had at least one classmate that you never got to know or that you never figured out how to like. I’m sure with your friends, even with your closest friend, you have had some disagreements or some things that you choose to ignore. You have probably thought some mean things about a person you work with or the person you work for. If you have a spouse I probably don’t even need to explain to you how hard a relationship can be even with the love of your life, because in my experience the strongest marriages have heard the words “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”, spoken in complete sincerity and fullness of heart, more times than the couple can count. Real human relationship, where you know and are known by another living person standing in front of you, are hard.
They are also beautiful, and are what God insists we have.
In this Gospel Jesus sends out his Apostles in pairs, two by two. They are told to take nothing to sustain their journey: no food, no sack, no money. They have nothing to depend on. All they have… is each other, and the hospitality of those they meet. Human relationships. Human relationship are what would sustain the Apostles on their mission, and what would determine if the towns and homes they visited found healing and peace by their welcome, or judgment by their coldness. And even taking a larger step back in looking at the Scriptures, God has always designed for us to be in relationship with one another: he made Eve to accompany Adam, he made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants, he made his Chosen People and rescued them from slavery and gave them a Promised Land… and Christ himself gathered disciples around him, chose the Twelve, and established a community that we call the Church. God seems to think that human relationships are important to us and to Him, and if we are being honest He has put a longing to have meaningful relationships in all of our hearts.
So I invite you this week as you pray with this Gospel to look at the relationships in your life. For just a moment set aside all the other things that make up your identity of who you are. Forget about your possessions, forget about your past, forget about the other worries of life for just a moment… and think about the relationships you have. Think about the people that you are close to and like the Apostles walk with on this journey of life. Can you support them better? Can you take one more step with them? Think about the people that you aren’t close to but you meet along the way. Do you need to be more friendly and more open to those people that come and go in life?
Because as I said at the start, relationships are hard. They require effort and energy and attention. But God seems to be telling us today that relationships are the things that matter most in this life, the only real thing that we will take with us to the life that is to come.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.