Memorial of Blessed Junipero Serra

Bringing the Gospel to the world is a great challenge. Blessed Junipero, Father of the California Missions, labored for decades in the New World, fighting a battle on at least two fronts: bringing the Christian order to unbaptized pagans, and at the same time, fighting battles within the Spanish Christian community to have it live up to its baptismal commitment. Pope Francis is scheduled to canonize him later this year, in Philadelphia.

The phrase “new evangelization” has been much used in recent times, and of course, it has meaning as the Gospel has to be re-discovered and re-embraced in every generation. The Gospel can also be rejected in every generation, as it is by many today. Sometimes, alas, it is rejected because of the unworthiness of the minister of the Gospel. But most often, it is simply rejected because of human sinfulness. There is no lack of human egotists in the world who place themselves at the center of all reality, and then judge, and reject, everyone and everything – the Church perhaps above all.

The worth of knowing and loving Jesus the Lord, and of receiving His gift of eternal life, is a value greater than everything – it is the supreme value. Bl. Junipero, who left everything and travelled to the ends of the earth for the Gospel, knew this, and poured out his life with total generosity so that others might be saved from the selfishness and cruelty of this sinful world and our fallen condition. Let us ask his intercession and follow his example as we labor among the contemporary pagans.

July 1st, 2015