13th Sunday, O T, Year A – 17
2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a; Rom 6:3-4, 8-11; Mt 10:37-42
A farmer, who went to a big city to see the sights, asked the hotel’s clerk about the time of meals. “Breakfast is served from 7 to 11, dinner from 12 to 3, and supper from 6 to 8” explained the clerk. “Look here,” inquired the farmer in surprise, “when am I going to get time to see the city?”
The common theme of today’s readings is the work God gives us to do as the followers of Jesus: to love God and our brothers and sisters through hospitality, generosity, commitment and charity. The readings also remind us of the sacrifice demanded of Jesus’ disciples and the suffering they will endure for their Faith when they bear witness to him.
In our first reading, we see, in Elijah’s welcome by a childless woman who lived in Shunem, a radical illustration of all four works. The woman recognized the holiness of Elisha.
She showed him reverence and hospitality by inviting him to dine with her and her husband and by setting aside and furnishing an upper room of her house for the prophet to occupy whenever he should come to town.
In grateful response, Elisha promised her, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.” The promise was fulfilled by God.
The second reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Romans, reminds the Roman Christians, and us, that by Baptism we have been baptized into Jesus’ death, buried with him, and now look forward to resurrection with him (Rom 6:5).
Today’s Gospel lesson concludes Jesus’ great “missionary discourse” in which he instructs his twelve disciples on the cost and the reward of the commitment required of a disciple.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me….” These words may sound a bit extreme, since family comes first for most of us.
1) What Jesus means is that all loyalties must give place to loyalty to God. The wants of any person or any group of people (e.g. a family), cannot be met by trampling on or denying the rights and needs of others.
If members of one’s family act unjustly, one must, in conscience, separate oneself from them. In other words, one cannot condone immoral practices even by members of one’s family. Jesus clearly is not attacking family life.
He is giving a warning to his disciples of the conflicts and misunderstandings they will experience through their living out the word and thus becoming prophets, proclaiming God’s Will and living presence among His people through their own lives.
2) These words of Jesus can have another meaning. All those who become followers of Jesus belong to a new family. It is a family where every single person, including relatives, friends and even strangers are truly my brothers and sisters.
We become part of a larger family to whom we also have responsibilities.
Jesus means that there will be times when we will have to give more love and compassion to the hungry, the sick, those in prison, the social outcasts, the unemployed or the unemployable, the handicapped, and the lonely than to the members of our own family.
In other words, Jesus is not speaking against the family, but rather reminding us that we are part of a larger family of our fellow Christians.
The readings in today’s Mass are about what’s first in our lives, or what should be first, namely our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship we can have in our lives.
Our relationship with God is the most important thing we can lose in our lives. God offers Himself to us, we respond. If we don’t respond, we’re telling God that His offer has no value for us and that His offer doesn’t mean anything to us.
Whether or not our immortal souls live in eternal life in heaven depends on our relationship with God here on earth. Our lives are filled with “busy-ness”; there are so many things we need to do and so many things we consider to be important. But what about God? Where is He in our lives?
What sort of attention do we give to God? We need to ask that question from time to time and today’s readings challenge us to do just that not only today, or on Sundays, but each and every day of our lives.
There are two big points to draw from today’s readings; the first being the question of how important God is to us in our lives. The second has to do with God’s messengers. God uses messengers, intermediaries, to relate to us. How important are they to us?
We live in a sort of “do it yourself” world. We like to take care of things all by ourselves. But we really can’t live that way, can we? We all need to depend on others in one way or another.
That’s true when it comes to the way God reaches us. The woman in the first reading and the businesswoman named Lydia paid a lot of attention to God’s messengers. As a result, God reached her and changed her life.
Are we open to God’s messengers in our lives? God cares for you, He loves you, and He wants your attention and love. We all need to make more room for Him in our lives, our hearts, and our thoughts. If we don’t, our souls are in peril.
Summertime is upon us, a time when our busy-ness is not so demanding. It’s a time of recreation and a time during which we can be reflective. What about reading some good books, especially books and things to read that turn our thoughts toward God.
What about some quiet time spent in reflection about God’s presence in our lives? Pick up some spiritual reading now so you can have it over your summertime. Spend some thoughtful, quiet, and reflective time during which you can pay attention to God and what He has to say to you.
Spend some time asking yourself what’s important in your life and how important God is to you in your life. After all, He made you to know Him, love Him and serve Him, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.
What, after all, is your life really all about?