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God is good, all the time

by davesandel on July 1st, 2022

Friday, July 1, 2022

Memorial of Saint Junipero Serra, priest

(click here to listen to or read today’s scriptures)

God is good, all the time

In 1776 the Americans signed their Declaration of Independence, struggling to come to terms with the arrogance of their English landlords. Also in 1776, Brother Juniper founded Mission San Juan Capistrano in California.

The sparrows return every year to his mission. We celebrate our independence, and the sparrows celebrate theirs.

Twenty or so years earlier Brother Juniper and a friend sailed from Spain to Mexico and then walked 250 miles to Mexico City. In 1769 he was persuaded by the last great conquistadore to travel 900 miles with him on the first leg of a trip to Alaska ordered by King Charles III of Spain. Juniper stopped in California, and there the missionary founded San Diego, his first California mission. In the years before and after 1776 he founded missions at Monterey, Carmel, San Antonio, San Gabriel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, San Buenaventura, and San Francisco.

San Francisco! Not yet a golden gate, but a godly one. After Brother Juniper’s death twelve more missions were founded by the Franciscans. Junipero Serra built and built and built. He insisted, against the resistance of the military and the business interests around him, on a bill of rights for native Americans in California. He baptized 6000 people and confirmed 5000 more.

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! You who buy the lowly man for silver and the poor man for a pair of sandals.

In a position of power it is so easy to take advantage. Matthew the tax collector, those hypocrites Isaiah was talking to … the rest of us. Speaking to frustrated Pharisees looking through the windows of Matthew’s house, Jesus said simply, “Those who are well do not need a physician; it’s the sick who need doctoring, and also the sinners who need healing from the inside out.” He continued:

Go and learn the meaning of the words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Because I did NOT come to call the righteous, but sinners.

 But he had no harsh words for the sufferers. He certainly loved everyone, and he knew everyone eventually comes into their own suffering. Perhaps they come into a fortune first, but always there is also the suffering. So he invited them to come.

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

This should be on everyone’s favorite promise list. It should go near the top. We are safe in the arms of Jesus.

I have read that Brother Juniper suffered an insect bite on his way to Mexico City, which infected his foot and left it weak and in pain for the rest of his life. That didn’t seem to stop him, although I am fairly certain that sometimes at night he cried out to God.

As did Paul. As did Jesus.

If it is possible, remove this pain from me.

Do you think God was not crying with Brother Juniper, and with Paul, and with Jesus? How could he not be? And is he not also crying with you? Weeping? Sobbing, as he holds you in his arms?

(Amos 8, Psalm 119, Matthew 11, Matthew 9)

(posted at


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