THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
JULY 2, 2017
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
Announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 10:37-42
Jesus said to his apostles: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple – Amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
The Gospel of the Lord
A REFLECTION by Monsignor J. T. Marino
Since God created us, He alone is our fulfillment and the fulfillment of all our desires. Saint Augustine taught that the strongest human force is desire: Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.
In fact, Saint Augustine stressed that prayer and action is authentically Christian only when it is desire for God above all things. In a true sense, he is merely stressing what Jesus taught in answer to the lawyer who asked him which of the commandments was the greatest. Jesus quoted the Law by stressing: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37).
In theory, God’s First Commandment seems easy to fulfill. Many of us envision the commandment to apply only to the worship of strange gods like pagan idols. Very few of us see that the command also includes any time when we take any of creation including loved-ones or loved-things and make them into gods that demand our full attention: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me! We are expected to love our parents, siblings and children, and be willing to sacrifice for them. However, even they are not more important than God. One’s primary relationship with God is more important and above all other relationships.
Here is where Saint Augustine’s insights into human desire prove helpful. Saint Augustine teaches that if we place God as our first and greatest desire then all other human desires, including all other relationships will find their appropriate place in our lives. When we love God first, we in turn can love all others in the most proper and fulfilling way. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and friends are to be loved in and through God. In this way, and only in this way, will we desire for them what is most beneficial for them – life in God now and forever. Our love for our loved ones must be directed toward their eternal salvation, or our love is inadequate and insufficient.
By the time the orally transmitted Gospel according to Saint Matthew was being preserved in written form (around 85 AD) Jewish coverts to Christianity were experiencing significant persecution. Because synagogues were expelling them from their congregations, they were no longer considered Jews by the Jewish or Roman authorities. Judaism was permitted under Roman law, but once Jews converted to Christianity they were considered members of an illegal religion and therefore subject to persecution by Roman authorities.
In turn, converts received extreme pressure from their family members and community ties. To be a disciple of Christ is risky business. Even in our time, so-called friends will expel us from their groups; family members will pressure us because we will not compromise our loyalty to Christ and his teachings. The Gospel encourages disciples to embrace the Cross of Jesus regardless of the personal cost. The Gospel assures all disciples that as we grasp the Cross Jesus in turn embraces us, and we become one with him. Therefore: Whoever receives you receives me… And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple – Amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.
O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen (Collect – Opening Prayer of Mass on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time).
Encountering the Divine Physician, Jesus Christ
Healing of the Paralytic (Luke 5: 17-26)
Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat. See our website for details: MalvernRetreat.com