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Costs and Rewards of Discipleship

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A (02/06/2023)

(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)

Fr. Samuel Oddh

“..and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).

Leading our lives as Christian disciples brings with it unique challenges and demands as well as its rewards and blessings.  For instance, why am I obliged as a Christian to share my goods, talents, gifts, money, and resources with others especially those less fortunate than myself?  Should I be compassionate, tolerant, and understanding toward myself and others who err and are flawed for our sinfulness and failings?  Should I put up with hardships while making sacrifices to accommodate others and be kind to the needy?

In our first reading from the second Book of Kings, a woman of Shunem shows hospitality to the prophet Elisha; she welcomed him into her home and with her husband built a room and furnished it for him.  She did this because she recognized Elisha as a man of God, because of her faith and devotion to God.  The man of God rewards the childless couple with the promise of a newborn son in a year’s time in gratitude for their generosity.

In the second reading from the letter to the Romans, Paul highlights the special nature of Christian discipleship as a covenant with God through baptism into Christ Jesus.  Baptism empowers us to answer the call to be as generous as Jesus both in our losses and our victories, in our giving and receiving, in our dying to sin and selfishness, and in our rising to the new life of love and unselfish self-giving.  Baptized Christians are called “to walk in newness of life”.

In today’s gospel passage, Jesus tells us we cannot receive his blessings unless we are willing to place the relationship with him as more important and more precious than all our other relationships and values.  Not even the relationship with our beloved family members can come before our relationship with Christ.  As Christians, we must be prepared to make sacrifices that make it possible to show the kindness and goodness of God to the less privileged and the needy.  We are to prefer this to pursuing selfish goals and ambitions.  In today’s gospel reading Jesus also stresses the importance of hospitality in the life of the Christian disciple.  To welcome another person in the name of Jesus is as good as welcoming Christ Jesus himself.  Any guest that comes to us ought to receive a welcome from us as if they were Christ Jesus himself.  If this is done unselfishly, we shall not loose the rewards and blessings that have been promised to us.  Today we pray that God will make us a sign of his love to others.  May we reach out to others and be a welcoming presence to them.  Amen.

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