READINGS AND REFLECTION
13th Sunday Ordinary Time | 27 June 2020
2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16 – This is a holy man of God; let him rest here
ONE day as Elisha was on his way to Shunem, a woman of rank who lived there pressed him to stay and eat there. After this he always broke his journey for a meal when he passed that way. She said to her husband, ‘Look, I am sure the man who is constantly passing our way must be a holy man of God. Let us build him a small room on the roof, and put him a bed in it, and a table and chair and lamp; whenever he comes to us he can rest there.’ One day when he came, he retired to the upper room and lay down. He said to his servant Gehazi, ‘Call our Shunammitess. Tell her this: “Look, you have gone to all this trouble for us, what can we do for you? Is there anything you would like said for you to the king or to the commander of the army?”’ But she replied, ‘I live with my own people about me.’ ‘What can be done for her then?’ he asked. Gehazi answered, ‘Well, she has no son and her husband is old.’ Elisha said, ‘Call her.’ The servant called her and she stood at the door. This time next year,’ he said ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’
Romans 6:3-4,8-11 – When we were baptised we went into the tomb with Christ, so that we too might live a new life
WHEN we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death; in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him: Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more. When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God; and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Matthew 10:37-42 – Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it
JESUS instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
‘Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
‘Anyone who welcomes a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
‘If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’
ON THIS 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we who want grow as followers of the Lord are brought up real close to face the reality of what it means to be true disciples, what it means to join Christ in His Paschal Mystery, His Passion and Death.
If our Master had told us that to be His disciples, we need to love God above all people and all things, we probably would have been left undisturbed. Today, however, Jesus is saying the same about loving God, but telling it differently, in the context of comparing our actual affections and love. In this true-to-life way, He jolts us out of our comfort and forces us to see how true is our discipleship. Do we really love Him, love Him infinitely more that even those we naturally and instinctively love most dearly? “Anyone who prefers FATHER or MOTHER to me … SON or DAUGHTER to me is NOT WORTHY OF ME”. The Gospel of St. Luke puts the same demand even more fiercely: “If any man comes to me without HATING his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too… he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk 14:26).
Let’s be perfectly honest. Many find this demand of Jesus (that He is to be preferred and loved infinitely more than others, hating everyone else by comparison including our dearest) not just unsettling but even offensive. Jesus seems so selfish as to demand by far the biggest chunk of our love! Surely, we know that Jesus is the most unselfish person who ever lived. Surely, we know He is not teaching us to hate our closest neighbours. Why are we objecting? But, if we have even a slight feeling of abhorrence when we hear these words of His, we need to stop, and seriously examine ourselves. Something has been drastically misunderstood, misplaced, in our being and becoming Christians! What we mean is this: Do we love Jesus only a bit like we love our father, mother, husband, wife, children, girlfriend, boyfriend, and best friend??? Kids may think and do that, not adult Christians.
We cannot possibly misunderstand the Master. Loving Him, He says, must be greater than loving even our own life itself. He puts it plainly: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” In St. Luke, it’s even more brief and shockingly clear: “If any man comes to me without HATING… his own life too… he cannot be my disciple.”
‘Wasting’ our life for Jesus’ sake
Our love for the Master has to grow to a level where we choose happily to sacrifice our own life itself for Him. The value and meaning of life for the Christian then, is to lose, spend, and “waste” his life for the sake of Jesus, not in finding life by attending to ourselves in self-centeredness and selfishness. To lose our life for His sake is true life. St. Paul puts it well: “To live is Christ”!!! We have become Christians since baptism. In case we think baptism is just to have some water poured over our head, the same St. Paul sees it graphically as actually dying and going into the tomb with Christ, if we are to rise with Him.
Jesus does not sound forbidding all the time. He puts the question of discipleship also in a positive way today. And so positively, to impress us of the unspeakable value of the true disciple, He says “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me”. So great is the true disciple, that when we welcome one, we welcome God Himself!!! Anyone who welcomes a prophet, a holy man, even an insignificant but true follower of Jesus, just be giving him a drink of cold water, will deserve the same reward of the prophet, the holy man, the disciple himself. The great reward of supporting a man of God is fully illustrated in the story of the prophet Elisha in the first reading. The woman at Shunem cared for Elisha for no other reason except that Elisha was a man of God. The reward given her is disproportionately greater: she was given a son she couldn’t have.
Perhaps a small step we all can take to grow as disciples is this: to first appreciate and support even in little ways those we recognize are sincere disciples, giving them little cups of cold water. And as we consistently and sincerely appreciate and support them, we will eventually grow to be who and what we truly appreciate and admire.