Born at Petra, Island of Majorca (Spanish Island in the Mediterranean), 24 November, 1713; died at Monterey, California, 28 August, 1784.
On 14 September, 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order with whom he would receive a degree of Doctor of Theology from the Lullian University at Palma ( Also located in the Mediterranean), where he also occupied the chair of philosophy until he joined the missionary college of San Fernando, Mexico (1749). At his own request he was assigned to the Sierra Gorda Indian Missions (in central Mexico). He served there for nine years, part of the time as superior, learned the language of the Pame Indians, and translated the catechism into their language (oh good...so the Jesuits weren't the only ones to practice inculturation!!).He became famous as a most fervent and effective preacher of missions.
In 1767 he was appointed superior of a band of fifteen Franciscans for the Indian Missions of Baja California. On the 14th of May, he established the Mission San Fernando de Velicatá, Lower California. He arrived at San Diego on 1 July, and on 16 July founded the first of the famous twenty-one California missions which accomplished the conversions of all the natives on the coast . Those established by Father Serra or during his administration were San Carlos (3 June, 1770); San Antonio (14 July, 1771. It's the only one in this list that is no longer a Church)); San Gabriel (8 September, 1771); San Luis Obispo (1 September, 1772); San Francisco de Asis (8 October, 1776); San Juan Capistrano (1 Nov. 1776); Santa Clara (12 January, 1777); San Buenaventura (31 March, 1782).His executive abilities has been especially noted by non-Catholic writers. The esteem in which his memory is held by all classes in California may be gathered from the fact that Mrs. Stanford, not a Catholic, had a granite monument erected to him at Monterey. A bronze statute of heroic size represents him as the apostolic preacher in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. In 1884 the Legislature of California passed a concurrent resolution making 29 August of that year, the centennial of Father Serra's burial, a legal holiday. It's a comfort to read that last part, because during his lifetime, there were many problems with his ministry from the governor of the region, even court cases that challenged his work and zeal.
I seem to be having problems with formatting today. If anyone has ideas how I can re-align the following text, do share your wisdom. In the meantime, let's put up with the ugly un centered text.
If you glance at the Gospel of the day you may think 'um dude, you put exactly the same text as Sunday in! We've had the same Gospel 2 days in a row." Uh dude...not the same Gospel, because Sunday was Luke and Yesterday was Matthew, but definitely the same Gospel story with similar text. So good observation if you picked that up! Perhaps in honor of Blessed Junipero, the readings reflect the freedom (there's that big word again!) one needs to let the Lord do great things in us so that we may do great things for the Lord, and the hardship that comes with obtaining that freedom.But to discuss a slightly different theme, we could talk about the great Trust in God this story -both the Gospel story and the Blessed Junipero story- reflect. Trusting God, is another expression of tremendous freedom after all, and it's something we need to do if we're going to commit ourselves completely to this kind of life.
Another thing we need for a radical life of following Jesus, is a courageous prayer, and Abraham demonstrates that perfectly in Monday's readings with his conversation / prayer with God. Pope Francis picked up on it in his morning homily. It fascinated him how much tenacity Abraham has. He's almost 'haggling' with God, or negotiating with him. But as Francis points out, it's also an expression of Abraham's courageous prayer. Abraham (through this prayer) 'tries to convince the Lord, with the Lord's own virtues...(Abraham) knew what he was asking for was impossible, but he also knew it was right" This sounds a little surreal, but it's a reflection of how well he knew God, and how intimate his relationship to God was. What's fascinating to me is that as 'tenacious' as Abraham is in his prayer, we also get an expression of that tenacity in God, through the Psalm. But the word used is not tenacious, but steadfast.
Today's Psalm (which Francis asks everyone to pray with for 5 minutes everyday!) would be striking for anyone who firmly believes that there are 2 pictures of God in the Bible: The Old Testament God, who is vengeful and destructive, and the God Jesus speaks of, who forgives those who repent and change their ways. This picture is a naive one to begin with, Psalm 103 affirms how naive this is:
"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities"
This is a powerful reminder that God loves us above everything else, and that no amount of sin on our part will erase that love. Maybe this helps us understands a little better why Jesus is so radical with his words. He's almost saying to us " I have seen the goodness of the Lord, and my life can never be the same. I want to return to him as much as he's given to us." But of course, he's not quite saying that, since he's not only seen the goodness of the lord..he IS that goodness. He understands the heart of God with all his mind, body and soul. Consequently, he can not live a quiet peaceful life of adoration as many of us do.He needs to dedicate every ounce of his being to union with God. It's a model we can never fully live up to...but that should not deter anyone of us from trying!
Blessings on your Tuesday!
Psalms 103: 1 - 4, 8 - 11
1Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!2Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,8The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.9He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever.10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities.11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;