Thứ Bảy, 1 tháng 7, 2017

JULY 02, 2017 : THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 97

One day Elisha came to Shunem,
where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. 
Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine.
So she said to her husband, "I know that Elisha is a holy man of God.
Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof
and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp,
so that when he comes to us he can stay there."
Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight.

Later Elisha asked, "Can something be done for her?"
His servant Gehazi answered, "Yes!
She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years."
Elisha said, "Call her."
When the woman had been called and stood at the door,
Elisha promised, "This time next year
you will be fondling a baby son."

Responsorial PsalmPS 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever,
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever;"
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Reading 2ROM 6:3-4, 8-11
Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus
were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into 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.

If, then, we have died with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him.
We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more;
death no longer has power over him.
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.

Alleluia1 PT 2:9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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."


13th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle A

Note: Where a Scripture text is underlined in the body of this discussion, it is recommended that the reader look up and read that passage.

1st Reading - 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a

Second Kings deals mainly with the wars between Judah and Israel and the attacks on them from outside. The situation became even more critical when the Assyrians invaded, first in the 9th century B.C. and more vigorously in the 8th. Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), fell in 721, and later Judah became an Assyrian vassal.

After the assumption of Elijah on Mount Carmel (2 Kings 2:11) Elisha the prophet takes over the role of promoting the covenant.

Our reading today is the second of a complex of ten stories about Elisha. These stories alternate between the prophet’s dealings with his own people and his interactions with Gentiles. Each of the stories evidences such hallmarks of “legend” as the tendency to avoid naming characters (other than Elisha himself) and the intention of evoking wonderment at the hero’s powers. I am inclined to believe that the stories are not Alegends@ in the sense that they are not real, but in fact are true depictions of events in Elisha’s life. After all, he was a prophet of God Most High and what he did in God’s name would in fact evoke wonderment in the eyes of those who came in contact with him. I am reminded of a statement in Peter Kreeft’s book The God Who Loves You: “Prophets are like fingers, not faces. We are not meant to look at them but to the reality to which they point.”

8 One day Elisha came to Shunem,

Shunem is located about 30 miles northeast of Samaria.

where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. 9 So she said to her husband, “I know that he is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, 10 let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.” 11 Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. 14 Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?” “Yes!” Gehazi answered. “She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.”

It was regarded as failure if no son was produced to inherit the estate. Gehazi, a name which means “valley of vision,” was Elilsha’s servant.

15 “Call her,” said Elisha. When she had been called, and stood at the door, 16 Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”

Although our reading doesn’t mention it, she doubted Elisha but by the same time the following year she had a son.

2nd Reading - Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

Last week in our second reading we discussed three ages: Adam to Moses which is the natural period represented by the fallen, unhappy family; Moses to Christ which is the legal period in which one nation is the example; and from Christ onward which is the period of international blessing where all nations are blessed and freed from the Law through the grace of Christ.

From Adam to Moses, the source of “death” was Adam’s sin. Human beings did, of course, commit evil, but they were not charged with it (sin is not taken into account where there is no Law). From Moses to Christ, the Law was added and human sin was understood as a transgression of it so now, in addition to Adam’s sin, individual transgressions are also taken into account because the Law existed. In the third period, that of Christ, there is freedom from the Law through the grace of Christ. This third period is described more fully beginning in Romans 10:4. In our reading today, Saint Paul describes the new life, the life in Christ, which we receive in baptism. To better understand the context, we will begin to read in Romans 5:20 and proceed through 6:14 but confine our study to the reading itself.

20 The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. 6:1 What then shall we say? Shall we persist in sin that grace may abound? Of course not! 2 How can we who died to sin yet live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

Roman Christians, instructed in the apostolic catechesis, should be well aware of the effects of baptism. The rite of Christian initiation does not merely identify the Christian with the dying Christ who has won victory over sin, but introduces him into the very act by which that victory was won.

“Paul says this so that we might know that once we have been baptized we should no longer sin, since when we are baptized we die with Christ. This is what it means to be baptized into His death. For there all our sins die, so that, renewed by the death we have cast off, we might be seen to rise as those who have been born again to new life, so that just as Christ died to sin and rose again, so through baptism we might also have the hope of resurrection. Therefore, baptism is the death of sin so that a new birth might follow, which, although the body remains, nevertheless renews us in our soul and buries all our old evil deeds.” [The Ambrosiaster (between A.D. 366-384), Commentaries on Thirteen Pauline Epistles Romans 6:3]

4    We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death,

The baptismal rite represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; the convert experiences this by descending into the baptismal pool, being submerged, and emerging to a new life which is symbolized by the white garment.

so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,

The efficiency of the resurrection is ascribed to the Father who gives life to the dead (Romans 4:17).

we too might live in newness of life.

Baptism brings about an identification of the Christian with the glorified Christ, enabling him or her to live actually with the life of Christ Himself; a new creation is involved.

5    For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. 7 For a dead person has been absolved from sin. 8 If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

The new life of the Christian is not the object of sensible perception or immediate consciousness; it is perceived only with the eyes of faith.

9    We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

The resurrection of Christ has brought the Christian into the age of glory, freed from the wages of death and sin. Christ was raised from the dead not merely to publicize His good news or to confirm His messianic character, but to introduce human beings into a new mode of life and give them a new principle of vital activity, the Holy Spirit.

“Paul is saying that if Christ had died for sinners two or three times, there would be no danger in going back to our old sinful ways. But as He only died once, we who have been buried and risen again with him will not die to sin again. There will be no second baptism, no second death of Christ. Therefore we must be careful to stay alive.” [Diodore of Tarsus (ca. A.D. 373), Pauline Commentary From the Greek Church]

10    As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God.

His death was a unique event, never to be repeated. Through it He entered into His glory where time has no dominion. He is continually offering Himself to the Father in our behalf (Revelation 5:6) so that all generations are freed.

11    Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as (being) dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

The Christian was united with Christ at baptism and must now live the life of Christ because sin causes a rupture in that union.

12    Therefore, sin must not reign over your mortal bodies so that you obey their desires. 13 And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin as weapons for wickedness, but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life and the parts of your bodies to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin is not to have any power over you, since you are not under the law but under grace.

Gospel - Matthew 10:37-42

Two weeks ago we heard Jesus commission the twelve apostles and last week we heard some of His instructions to them. This week we hear the conclusion of His instructions.

37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,

Luke 14:26 says “hate” father and mother; these words here soften that understanding for us. Luke actually says the same thing as Matthew. Aramaic had no other way of saying “love less” than “hate” and one writing from that perspective would use those words. The word of God in fact leads to these divisions mentioned here. It can lead, even within families, to those who embrace the faith being regarded an enemies by relatives who resist the word of truth. These words do not set up any opposition between the first and fourth commandments; they simply indicate the order of priorities.

and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.

This is the first time Matthew uses the word “cross.” Other allusions to the passion are found in this gospel before Matthew predicts it openly. Crucifixion was a method of execution of Oriental origin which the Romans adopted and perfected for rebels and slaves. Roman law prohibited its use on a Roman citizen. The use of the cross as a Christian symbol makes it difficult for the reader to grasp the harshness of this saying when it was initially uttered. The personal renunciation implied will go far beyond renunciation of one’s family.

39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.

This explains the nature of the apostolic office using the legal principle governing a Jewish emissary: “A man’s agent is like himself.” It deepens the religious basis of the apostolate by deriving it ultimately from God the Father Himself.

 41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward,

A prophet’s mission is not essentially one of announcing future events; his main role is that of communicating the word of God as he monitors the status of the covenant relationship of the people with God. Prophets were mistreated on earth but rewarded in heaven for their loyalty to God.

and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.

The very fact of generously receiving God’s friends will gain one the reward that they obtain.

42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

Even those who give a glass of cold water – an alms, or any other small service – will receive a reward because he has shown generosity to our Lord Himself (Matthew 25:40).

St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Picayune, MS http://www.scborromeo.org



Meditation: "He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me"
Who or what takes first place in your life - in your daily thoughts, cares, and concerns? God has put us first in his thought, care, and concern for our well-being and future. God loved us first and our love for him is a response to his exceeding kindness and mercy towards us. Even while we were hopelessly adrift through our own sinful pride, rebellion and unbelief, he choose to give us his own beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down his life for our sake - to set us free from slavery to sin, Satan, and death. 
Proof of God's unfailing love for us
There is no greater proof of God's love for us than the free-will offering of his Son who shed his blood for us on the cross. His death broke the curse of guilt and condemnation, and won for us pardon and adoption as beloved sons and daughters of God our Father. Through the victory of his cross and resurrection, the Lord Jesus offers us abundant new life through the gift and power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. 
The love of God comes first
The Holy Spirit reveals to us the love of the eternal Father and the eternal Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who come to make their home with us and to unite us in a bond of peace and friendship. That is why the Lord Jesus commanded his disciples to give him their undivided loyalty and love above all else. We owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has done for us. The Lord Jesus  gives us the assurance and promise that he will raise up our mortal bodies to be like his so that we may fully share in his resurrection for all eternity. 
God has no equal - that is why we owe the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our undivided loyalty, trust, and obedience. Jesus challenges his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for the Lord Jesus who calls us to follow him. Jesus insists that his disciples give him the loyalty which is due to God, a loyalty which is higher than spouse or kin. It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies, if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do. 
God's compelling love knows no rival
The love of God compels us to choose who or what will be first in our lives. To place any relationship or anything else above God is a form of idolatry. We can allow many different things to take control of our lives and possess us - such as greed and lust for power, possessions, and wealth. But only God's love can set us free to love as he loves - with mercy, kindness, goodness, patience, perseverance, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The first and great commandment is to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). If we pursue the love of God and put his kingdom first in our lives, then he will give us everything we need to sustain us now and in the future as well. Who is the Lord and Master of you life?
True love overflows in kindness and mercy towards others
True love for God compels us to express charity (merciful deeds of kindness and goodness) towards our neighbors who are also loved by God because he created each of them them in his image and likeness. Mother Theresa of Calcutta once told a marvelous story about a destitute family who had nothing to eat for days. When news of their impoverished condition came to the Missionary Sisters of Charity, Mother Theresa personally went to their home and brought them some food supplies. The mother of the family immediately divided the food in half and carried it off. When she returned, Mother Theresa asked her, “Where did you go?” She gave the simple answer, “To my neighbors, they are hungry also!” Mother Theresa said, “I was not surprised that she gave - poor people are really very generous. I was surprised that she knew they were hungry. As a rule, when we are suffering, we are so focused on ourselves, we have no time for others.”
Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to the people of Christ will not lose its reward (Matthew 10:42). Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Jesus sets before us the one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is union with God - uniting our heart, mind, and will with his heart and will for our lives. The reward of a life given over to God and obeying his voice is God himself - the source of true peace and joy that lasts forever. Does the love of Jesus Christ compel you to put God first in all you do (2 Corinthians 5:14)?
“Lord, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has conceived the things you have prepared for those who love you. Set us ablaze with the fire of the Holy Spirit, that we may love you in and above all things and so receive the rewards you have promised us through Christ our Lord.” (from A Christian’s Prayer Book)
Daily Quote from the early church fathersA well-ordered love, by John Chrysostom (347-407 AD)
"See how great is the impairment to those who have an exaggerated love for their own life. And how great is the blessing to those who are ready to give up their lives for a well-ordered love! So he bids his disciples to be willing to give up parents, children, natural relationships, kinships, the world and even their own lives. How onerous are these injunctions! But then he immediately sets forth the greater blessings of rightly ordered love. Thus these instructions, Jesus says, are so far from harming that they in fact are of greatest benefit. It is their opposites that injure. He then counsels them, as he so often does, in accord with the very desires that they already possess. Why should you be willing to give up your life? Only because you love it inordinately. So for the very reason of loving it ordinately, you will scorn loving it inordinately, and so it will be to your advantage to the highest degree. You will then in the truest sense love your life. Jesus does not reason in this way only in the case of the love of parents or children. He teaches the same with regard to your very life, which is nearest to you of all." (excerpt from THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 35.2)

THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
SUNDAY, JULY 2, MATTHEW 10:37-42

(2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a; Psalm 89; Romans 6:3-4, 8-11) 

KEY VERSE: "Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me" (v 38).
TO KNOW: Jesus preached a message of total renunciation for the sake of the kingdom. Nothing or no one must deter them from their dedication to Christ and his mission. Jesus knew that not everyone would accept the gospel his followers proclaimed. Even members of their families might be their adversaries. Those who wished to follow in Jesus' footsteps must be willing to put the gospel before all else, even their own lives. If they chose this difficult path they could be sure that they would share Jesus' destiny of persecution and suffering. Those who refused to "take up the cross" and follow him were "not worthy" of being his disciples (Mt 10:38). Like the prophets of old they must be prepared to suffer for speaking God's word. Jesus’ disciples were Christian "prophets" who spoke God's saving message. Whoever offered hospitality to these messengers of God received Jesus himself, and God who sent him, and they would be rewarded for their kindness.
TO LOVE: Lord Jesus, help me to be a loyal disciple as I share the gospel with others.
TO SERVE: Do I offer assistance to those who are dedicated to the proclamation of the gospel.​


Sunday 2 July 2017

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Week I Psalter.
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16. Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19. Romans 6:3-4, 8-11. Matthew 10:37-42.
Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord — Psalm 88(89):2-3, 16-19.
‘Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’
For the first disciples, losing one’s life for one’s faith was a real proposition. In the reading from Romans, Paul reminds his Christian followers that they must think of themselves as being baptised into Jesus’ death. But in that death, Christians can find a ‘newness of life’.
Few of us today face that fear of being killed for our faith. But in the Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if we fail to follow Jesus because we’re too fearful of what others will do to us, we’re not fully living our lives in Christ.

ST. OTTO, BISHOP

On July 2, the Church celebrates the life and work of St. Otto. He was born in 1060 in Swabia, and died on June 30, 1139. He was the Bishop of Bamberg, an indefatigable evengelizer, and the apostle of the Pomeranians.
He was born of noble rank and ordained a priest sometime before the age of 30. He joined the service of Emperor Henry IV in  1090 and became his chancellor in 1101. He served Henry IV and his successor, Henry V, loyally, but he disaproved of the latter’s disgraceful treatment of Pope Paschal.
Otto was consecrated a bishop on May 13, 1106, and set to work founding new monasteries, reforming existing ones, building schools and churches, and completing the construction of the cathedral.  He lived a poor and simple life, and was called the “Father of the monks” for the concern he showed toward religious orders.
In 1122 Otto was commissioned by the Polish Duke Boleslaw III to convert Pomerania to Christianity, and he set about this mission in 1124. He traveled across Pomerania twice, and won over the people with his holiness, quiet generosity, and gentle, inspiring sermons.
The conversion of Pomerania was his greatest apostolic work. He baptized over 22,000 people and established 11 churches. Many miracles were attributed to him throughout his two journeys, and many more after his death.


LECTIO DIVINA: 13TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (A)
Lectio Divina: 
 Sunday, July 2, 2017

Renouncing all to follow Jesus
"No one who prefers father or mother to me
is worthy of me!"
Matthew 10:37-42
1. Opening prayer
Lord Jesus, send your Spirit to help us to read the Scriptures with the same mind that you read them to the disciples on the way to Emmaus. In the light of the Word, written in the Bible, you helped them to discover the presence of God in the disturbing events of your sentence and death. Thus, the cross that seemed to be the end of all hope became for them the source of life and of resurrection.
Create in us silence so that we may listen to your voice in Creation and in the Scriptures, in events and in people, above all in the poor and suffering. May your word guide us so that we too, like the two disciples from Emmaus, may experience the force of your resurrection and witness to others that you are alive in our midst as source of fraternity, justice and peace. We ask this of you, Jesus, son of Mary, who revealed to us the Father and sent us your Spirit. Amen.
2. Reading
b) A division of the text to help with the reading:
Matthew 10:37: Love of Jesus must be above love of father and mother and children
Matthew 10:38: The cross is part of the following of Jesus
Matthew 10:39: To know how to lose one’s life so as to keep it
Matthew 10:40-41: Jesus identifies himself with the missionary and the disciple
Matthew 10:42: The least deed done to one of the least is rewarded
b) A key to the reading:
In the 13th Sunday of ordinary time, we meditate on the last section of the Discourse on Mission (Mt 10:1-42). This discourse contains words and counsels of Jesus, teaching us to carry out the mission of proclaiming the Good News of God. Jesus does not deceive, and points out clearly the difficulties that this mission implies. As we read this text, it is good to pay attention to what follows: “What is Jesus’ basic demand of those who go on mission?”
c) Text:
37 'No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me. No one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me. 38 Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 'Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 'Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet's reward; and anyone who welcomes an upright person because he is upright will have the reward of an upright person. 42 'If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then in truth I tell you, he will most certainly not go without his reward.'
3. A moment of prayerful silence
so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.
4. Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What part of the text touched you most? Why?
b) What recommendations does this text hold for us? What is its basic demand? 
c) Jesus says: "No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me” – How must we understand this statement?
d) What does the text tell us about the mission we must undertake as disciples of Jesus?

5. For those who wish to go deeper into the topic
a) The context of our text in the Gospel of Matthew:
The Gospel of Matthew organizes the words and actions of Jesus around five great discourses: (i) Matthew 5 to 7: The Discourse of the Mountain describes the gateway to the Kingdom. (ii) Matthew 10: the Discourse on the Mission describes the way those who follow Jesus must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom and the difficulties involved. (iii) Matthew 13: the Discourse of the Parables, by means of parallels taken from daily life, Jesus reveals the presence of the Kingdom in people’s lives. (iv) Matthew 18: the Discourse on Community describes how Christians ought to live together in such a way that the community becomes a revelation of the Kingdom. (v) Matthew 24 and 25: the Eschatological Discourse describes the future coming of the Kingdom of God. Through this literary device, Matthew imitates the five books of the Pentateuch, and thus presents the Good News of the Kingdom as the New Law of God. 
In the Discourse on the Mission (Mt 10:1-42), the Evangelist puts together words and recommendations of Jesus that shed light on the difficult situation of the Judeo-Christians towards the second half of the first century. He wants to encourage them not to lose heart in spite of the many and grave difficulties they have to face in proclaiming the Good News to the brothers and sisters of their race. It is indeed at this time, the 80’s, that the Jews are recovering from the disaster of the destruction of Jerusalem which took place in the 70’s, and are beginning to reorganize themselves in the regions of Syria and Galilee. A tension is growing between the “Synagogue” and the “Ecclesia”. This tension, source of much suffering and persecution, forms the background to the Discourse on the Mission and, thus, to the Gospel of the 13th Sunday of ordinary time.
b) A commentary on the text:
Matthew 10:37: Love of Jesus must be greater than love of parents and children
Jesus says: “No one who prefers father or mother to me is worthy of me; no one who prefers son or daughter to me is worthy of me”. We find this same statement in the Gospel of Luke with even greater force: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26). Does Jesus then want to disintegrate family life? This cannot be so, because elsewhere he insists on the observance of the fourth commandment which binds us to love father and mother (Mk 7:8-13; 10:17-19). He himself obeyed his parents (Lk 2:51). These seem to be contradictory statements. One thing is certain: Jesus does not contradict himself. We shall give an interpretation to show that the two statements are both true and not mutually exclusive.
Matthew 10:38: The cross is part of following Jesus
Jesus says: “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me”. In Mark’s Gospel Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after me. let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me!” (Mk 8:34). In those days, the cross was the death sentence imposed by the Roman Empire for thieves and the marginalized. To take up one’s cross and follow Jesus was equivalent to accepting being marginalized by the unjust system of the Empire. Jesus’ cross is the consequence of the free commitment taken on to reveal the Good News that God is Father and that, therefore, all are to be accepted and treated as brothers and sisters. Because of this revolutionary proclamation, Jesus was persecuted and was not afraid to give up his life. Greater love than this no man has, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Matthew 10:39: To know how to lose one’s life so as to keep it
This manner of speaking was quite common among the early Christians because it expressed what they were living through. For instance, for Paul to be faithful to Jesus and obtain life, he had to lose everything he had, career, the respect of his people, and suffer persecution. The same happened to many Christians. Christians were persecuted for being Christian. Paul says: “I am crucified with Christ”. “I wish to experience his cross and his death, so that I may also experience his resurrection.” “I am crucified to the world and the world to me”. This is the paradox of the Gospel: The last is first, the one who loses wins, the one who gives all keeps all, the one who dies lives. The one who has the courage to lose life obtains it. This is a logic that is quite different from the neo-liberal system that rules the world today.
Matthew 10:40-41: Jesus identifies himself with the missionary and the disciple
For the missionary and the disciple, it is very important to know that he/she will never be alone. If she/he remains faithful to her/his mission, she/he will have the certainty that Jesus identifies himself with her/him, and through Jesus the Father will reveal himself to those to whom the missionary and disciple proclaim the Good News. And so, just as Jesus reflected the face of the Father, so also the disciple must or should be a mirror where people can glimpse something of the love of Jesus.
Matthew 10:42: The least deed done for the little ones, reveals the presence of the Father
In order to change the world and human relationships, the political decisions of powerful persons are not enough, nor are the decrees of Councils and of bishops. What is needed is a change in the lives of people, in interpersonal and community relationships otherwise nothing will change. That is why Jesus puts so much importance on small acts of sharing: a glass of water given to a poor person!
c) A deepening: To love father and mother, to hate father and mother!
One of the things that Jesus insists on for those who wish to follow him is that of leaving behind father, mother, wife, children, sisters, house, land, to leave everything for love of Him and his Gospel (Lk 18: 29; Mt 19:29; Mk 10:29). He even commands us “to hate father, mother, wife, children, sisters, brothers. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciples” (cf Lk 14:28). These demands are not just for some but for all those who wish to follow him (Lk 14:25-26.33). How can we understand these statements that seem to dismantle and break up all family ties? We cannot imagine Jesus demanding of all men and women in Galilee to leave their families, lands, villages to follow him. In fact, this did not happen except for a small group of followers. So what is the meaning of these demands?
If we place the demand to leave one’s family within the social context of the period, we can see another meaning, much more fundamental and practical. The invasion of Palestine in 64 B.C. and the imposition of the tribute by Herod (35 to 3 B.C.) and his son Herod Antipas (3 B.C. to 37 A.D.), a policy in favor of the Roman government, brought progressive impoverishment and growing unemployment. Through Herod’s policy, supported by the Roman Empire, the Hellenic ideology permeated daily life, thus bringing with it growing individualism. All this caused the larger family, the clan and the community to disintegrate. Thus the small family began to feel bound to turn in on itself and not able to practice the law. Besides, the practice of ritual purity caused people to despise and exclude those persons and families that lived in legal impurity. The economic, social, political and religious context made it possible for families to turn in on themselves and weaken the clan. Preoccupation with family problems stopped people from uniting in community. It stopped the clan from realizing the aim for which it was created, that is, to offer real and adequate protection for families and persons, to preserve identity, to defend land, to prevent exclusion and to welcome the excluded and the poor, and thus to reveal the face of God. Now, for the Kingdom to reveal itself again in the sharing, it was necessary to break the vicious circle. People had to overcome the strict limits of the small family to open themselves to the larger family and the Community. This is the context that forms the background to the words proclaimed by Jesus.
Jesus himself gives an example. When his family tries to claim him, he reacts and says, “Who are my mother and my brethren?” And looking around he says: “Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever does the will God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mk 3:33-35). He stretched the family. He created community. The people he attracted and called were the poor and the excluded (Lk 4:18; Mt 11:25). He asked the same thing of those who wished to follow him. The excluded and marginalized must be welcomed again into the sharing and thus feel welcomed by God (cf Lk 14:12-14). This was the way to achieve the end of the Law that said: “There should be no one of you in need” (Dt 15:4).
Jesus tries to change the process of disintegration of the clan, of the community. Like the great prophets of the past, he seeks to consolidate community life in the villages of Galilee. He takes up again the deep meaning of the clan, of the family, of the community as an expression of the incarnation of the love of God in the love of neighbour. That is why he asks of those who wish to be his disciples to leave father, mother, wife, brother, sister, house, all! They have to lose their life in order to possess it! He is the guarantor of this: “Amen I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the Gospel’s sake, who shall not receive now in the present time a hundredfold as much, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands – along with persecutions, and in the age to come life everlasting” (MK 10:29-30). Truly, those who have the courage to break the closed circle of their family, will find again, in the clan, in the community, a hundredfold whatever they have left: brother, sister, mother, child, land! Jesus does that which people expected in messianic times: to lead back the hearts of parents to their children, and the hearts of children to their parents, to rebuild the clan, reweave the social pattern.
6. Psalm 19,7-14
The Law of Yahweh is perfect
The Law of Yahweh is perfect, 
refreshment to the soul; 
the decree of Yahweh is trustworthy, 
wisdom for the simple.
The precepts of Yahweh are honest, 
joy for the heart; 
the commandment of Yahweh is pure, 
light for the eyes.
The fear of Yahweh is pure, 
lasting for ever; 
the judgements of Yahweh are true, 
upright, every one,
more desirable than gold, 
even than the finest gold; 
his words are sweeter than honey, 
that drips from the comb.
Thus your servant is formed by them; 
observing them brings great reward.
But who can detect his own failings? 
Wash away my hidden faults.
And from pride preserve your servant, 
never let it be my master. 
So shall I be above reproach, 
free from grave sin.
May the words of my mouth always find favour, 
and the whispering of my heart, in your presence, 
Yahweh, my rock, my redeemer.
7. Final Prayer
Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.