[Reflection On The Word] Homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
2Kings 4:8-11, 14-16/ Psalm 89/ Romans 6:3-4, 8-11/ Matthew 10:-37-42
Theme: The Greater the Sacrifice, the Greater the Blessings.
“Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord” is the Responsorial Psalm for today’s Mass. God’s goodness will continue to be celebrated in season and out of season. It is this same goodness of God that has made us his adopted children whom he has called out of darkness into his wonderful light. The joy of any prophet is to be accepted by the people he is sent to.
This is what Elisha experienced in Shunem (First Reading). Baptism enables us to participate in the Paschal Mystery (Passion, Death, and Resurrection) of Jesus Christ (Second Reading). Jesus, re-emphasizes the cost of discipleship and reiterates the benefits of being a prophet (Gospel).
Unlike the first reading of last Sunday in which the prophet Jeremiah felt rejected by his own people and for that matter felt his ministry had been a failure, Elisha in today’s reading seems to enjoy hospitality, favor and success in his ministry. Hospitality is the theme that runs through the reading.
Hospitality is rewarding. The Shunamite woman sees something good in Elisha and convinces her husband to make their experience of Elisha a permanent one. Indeed she receives a prophet’s reward of a promised child for welcoming the prophet Elisha and anticipated his needs. The reward is not just a future reality but a present reality as well. Perhaps, it is the same reward Abraham and his wife, Sarah enjoyed when they were hospitable to strangers who later turned out to be angels.
Again, the theme of hospitality is reiterated in the gospel of today. Unlike in the first reading in which Elisha visited a non- Israelite making hospitality something that the Shunamite family were not obliged to render him, Jesus sends his disciples to their own kin. Naturally, we should be hospitable to our own but because the role of the prophet more importantly is to correct the ills, follies and foibles of society, he is rejected and persecuted by his own people on account fact that the life of the prophet has become a reproach to them. We must learn to have a listening ear to correction otherwise we miss the opportunity to be blessed.
It is because the disciple who is sent on a mission has no beauty or attraction is the very reason why his message is rejected by his people. Therefore, Jesus reiterates the cost of discipleship. There is no sacrifice greater than the sacrifice we make for God’s kingdom. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessing. The reason why blessings await the prophet or disciple who faithfully and diligently carries out his mission is the fact that he gives up everything including family ties for the sake of the mission. Therefore, when we welcome the disciple and the message he bears, we become beneficiaries of God’s blessings too.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes” (CCC 2015).
Anyone who unites himself with Christ had to endure suffering but suffering is just for a moment. However, the peace and joy of the beatitudes are the fruits of long suffering and they endure forever. This is what St. Paul calls our attention to in the second reading. St. Paul says: “Brothers and sisters, are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were buried with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4). By virtue of our baptism, we are configured with Christ; an intrinsic relationship has been established between us and Christ such that we must necessarily feel what he feels and vice versa.
The motivation for denying ourselves and taking up our various cross and daily following the Lord is because of this configuration with Christ. No matter the challenges we face, there is nothing compared to the peace and the joy of the beatitudes that awaits us. Thus we carry in our bodies the suffering and death of Christ but in that suffering lies the peace of our soul. This is what St. Paul reiterates again:“As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.” (v.10-11).
In sum, we pray for the spirit of discernment to be able to recognize the true prophets of our time like the Shunamite woman did. By virtue of our baptism, we are also prophets. We pray for the grace of endurance and long suffering in fulfilling our prophetic duties in season and out of season bearing in mind that the one who called us is faithful. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the blessing.
Source: Rev. Fr. Aaron Agorsor
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