Wednesday, July 5, 2017

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

God takes care of his own.  What does that mean?  Put another way, those who love God and show love to others will not be denied their eternal reward.  Our readings this week show us not only what God expects of us as followers, but what rewards could come our way by showing our love to him and one another…


2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
Matthew 10:37-42

Our first reading comes from the 2nd Book of Kings.  The prophet Elisha (student of the great prophet Elijah) has been traveling, so when he enters the town of Shunem, a woman of influence urges him to dine with her.  This eventually became a regular thing, so the woman askes her husband to arrange a small room for him in which he can stay when he comes to town.  Elisha is so moved by this gesture that he feels he must do something for the woman.  Seeing that she had no children, he promises that this time next year she will have a baby son.  Now on the surface this seems like a grand gift for such a small gesture, but what we need to remember is that this is a time of great turmoil in Israel, and Elisha is not exactly welcome in the court of Israel.  The town of Shunem is some 60 miles north of Jerusalem, well enough away from trouble, but not so far as to realize that the entire region has been struggling with war and drought.  The woman’s offer to accommodate him is significant and shows a certain love that the prophet feels needs to be rewarded in kind.  That love is also expressed in our Psalm when we sing, “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Our Gospel from Matthew takes this idea of reward even further.  Picking up shortly where we left off last week, Jesus is teaching  the Apostles about what it takes to follow him and gain eternal life.  On the surface, what Jesus says seems rather harsh… that we must love him more than our own parents, our own children.  But we need to realize that Jesus is trying to redirect our attention to those things that are more important… not that family isn’t important, but that our love of God and our kindness and love to others much be our primary calling… for it is from this love that all other love flow, ensuring our eternal reward.

Our Second reading continues our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans.  Here Paul gives us the deeper meaning of Baptism by reminding us that when we are baptized, we are following Christ through death, resurrection, and redemption.  We die to our old selves, and are reborn free from sin.  To some the act of Baptism my seem symbolic, especially to the Roman community to which he is teaching, so Paul wants them to know that it is much more… that through our baptism we follow Jesus from death to new life.

Final thoughts:
What does God want of us?  It’s a fairly common question, particularly when we are faced with troubled times.  Our readings for this week remind us.  God wants us to love him and love one another.  Above all else.  Above our parents.  Above our on children.  Above all our worldly possessions and position.  What we forget, however, is that if we put God first, if we put love of others first, everything else falls into place.  There is nothing new here in our readings this week… God has been trying to teach us this from the beginning.  Thankfully, however, we have Jesus as our advocate, to forgive us when we falter, and to constantly remind us least we stray.  It is so easy to get distracted, which is why reminders like what we have this week are so important.

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