Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick and sandals, Jesus tells the twelve. No food, no sack, no money, not even a second tunic. What is unspoken is that in surrendering the comfort of their own self-reliance, the twelve have to take the risk to rely totally on God’s providence through the generosity and mercy of those they encounter on their journey. Perhaps it is this total reliance on God and on others that paradoxically unleashes the Holy Spirit’s power to spread the Good News through these twelve and to bring about healing to many people. Mutual reciprocity. Trinity relational theology.
St. Ignatius of Loyola also wanted to experience radical reliance on God during his early conversion when he lived as a beggar in the streets for several years. While most images of Ignatius depict him writing in a scholarly context, a rare statue of Ignatius as a pilgrim beggar on the plaza of Dolores Mission Church in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles shows him with a walking stick and an empty hand outstretched to God and to the world. This statue was commissioned to honor the men who have traveled through and slept in the church, having been welcomed by Guadalupe Homeless Project. Looking at Ignatius’ outstretched empty hand, I see that with less to carry, his hand is open to receive, his heart is open to encounter. Disordered attachments are released and the soul is open to healing and to the new movement of the Holy Spirit.
St. Phoebe is another pilgrim traveler who relies on God’s grace to fulfill her mission. St. Paul writes a letter, and entrusts it to Phoebe, a deacon, to travel from her faith community in Cenchreae to Rome to lay the groundwork for Paul’s future visit (Romans 16:1-2). In this way Paul and Phoebe collaborate together to nurture and grow emerging early Christian faith communities—for nothing is impossible with God.
In our times, how we are invited to better care for our common home and for each other by becoming a little less self-reliant and accumulating fewer things and becoming a little more trusting in the Holy Spirit and in one another? We might find that delight awaits as we witness the Holy Spirit working through each one of us in ways that surprise us and deepen our belonging and connectedness.
Ellie Hidalgo co-directs Discerning Deacons, a new project to contribute to the Catholic Church’s discernment about admitting women to the diaconate and creating a more synodal, listening, participatory Church. Previously, she served as pastoral associate at Dolores Mission Church and School in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles, CA. Ellie received her master’s in pastoral theology from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.