13th SUNDAY A
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today’s celebration calls us to rejoice in Christ who comes to us through his messengers. When we receive his messengers, it is Christ himself who comes to us and through Him we receive and welcome the Father. We can only do this if we learn to welcome others in His name.
First reading (2 Kings 4: 8-11, 14-16)
In this passage is a story about the Prophet Elisha and the woman of Shunem whose hospitality to Prophet Elisha was rewarded. This story is a good lesson on how even the little help given to an envoy of God, is not done in vain. The story encourages the virtue of hospitality among the people especially towards God’s messengers. The miraculous gift of a son is a sign that God the giver of life is present in the work and preaching of his prophet. On the other hand, the welcome given to the man of God is an expression of the recognition of God in his ministry and of faith. It shows an openness to the prophet’s mission and word.
Second Reading (Romans 6:3-4.6-11)
Paul had earlier insisted in the preceding chapter that the free gift of grace in Christ Jesus far outweighs the ravages of sin. Here he says, “All of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death…” By the death of Christ he says we have been freed from the tyranny of sin. He does not by this deny the continuance of sin in the believer. He describes our Christian baptism as a death with Christ. Since the death of Christ was not the end, we also rise with him to new life. Baptismal death therefore leads to a new life and a conformity with Christ.
Gospel (Matthew 10: 37-42)
Today’s words of Jesus applies to two sets of followers: The Apostles who were being sent and also those to whom they have been sent. In chapter ten of his gospel, Matthew explains the mission of the twelve. This first mission will be restricted to Israel. “Do not go into the Gentile territory and do not enter a Samaritan Town. Go instead to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.”(vv. 5-6) The restrictive nature (of this mission) at this stage, is to help prepare them for the larger mission which will extend to the ends of the world. The message is clear, “Go and proclaim the message: The kingdom of heaven is near.” (v.7)
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that true discipleship may bring a crisis of choice and loyalty. “He who loves father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me, is not worthy of me.” Jesus is demanding the first place in our lives. It’s a discipleship of absolute loyalty. But he also promised his disciples if they give up anything for his sake, they will have it back a hundred fold with eternal life. Having to do things in a manner pleasing to Jesus and not the way the world dictates, no matter the relationship that exists between the person and you, the Lord must be first. It is a followership that comes with some inconveniences. We can learn from the life of Jesus, he told Mary and Joseph, when they found him in the Temple, “Did you not know I must be about my Father’s affairs?” When the Mother and the brethren came looking for him, he replied, “Who are my Mother and brethren? Those who are listening and doing the will of God.” A powerful reminder that family ties, as important as they are, must only complement our belonging to the people of God and not stand in its way.
Jesus was very clear when he says, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Pope John Paul II says, “Man can only truly find himself when he makes a sincere gift of himself to others.” This is the mission of all, to become the sacrifice for others. The more we give, the more we receive in return and the better we get at giving. As St Francis puts it, “It is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Jesus also assured them: “He who receives you, receives me and he who receives me, receives him who sent me.” To receive a disciple of Jesus is to welcome his presence and that of the Father. John wrote in his gospel, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home…”(John 14:23) It comes down to our priorities; and Jesus is not saying you must cut yourself off from your family. What he is saying is that if you are forced to choose between your family and your God, then the choice must be for God. The widow in the first reading of today is a clear example, in spite of the inconveniences it must have caused her and she was richly blessed with a son. “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.”
Receiving Christ in the ones he has sent also means listening to the Church and obeying the church. Jesus handed the care of the kingdom to Peter and promised to be with the Church till the end of days.
Let us pray: O Lord, we give ourselves to you today, make us your instruments and through us renew the face of the earth. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen