Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (28 June 2020)

Kings 4:8-11, 14-16; Rom 6:3-4, 8-11; Matt 10:37-42

This week we are invited to reflect on the nature of our relationship with God, who wants a deep and abiding relationship with us. Such is His devotion to His creation that He took the Cross for the sake of our salvation. It is unsurprising then that He asks us to come to Him with an intensity that reveals an appreciation of this truth.

In the first reading, Elisha, a prophet of God comes across a woman who gives generously with no expectation of any reward. She extends hospitality to Elisha for no reason other than that she is able to and he is in need. In this, she foreshadows the life of the early apostles, who we are told in Acts 2:45, “would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need”. The woman offered Elisha food, drink and shelter and eventually set aside a room in her home for him convinced that he must be a holy man of God. Throughout this she asked nothing in return; and one day Elisha thought to himself that he should do something for her. God directs Elisha through his servant, Gehazi, to promise her the one thing she could not get through her own efforts – a son. As Jesus tells us in Matt 6:4 that God who sees every act of sincere and loving charity will reward this.

Such love and charity springs forth from a deep love for God, which is expressed in the love of those He places in our way. In the second reading, St Paul explains the key to such love for God. It is to be found in understanding Christ’s love for us. His love is immense and infinite so much so that not even the torture of the Cross could keep Him from dying for our sake so that we might live. Paul tells us that we are baptised in His death – in other words, we are made righteous not through anything we could possibly do but rather through the death that He endured; and he tells us that in the same way we are raised to new life in His resurrection. If we understand how deep God’s love for us is, then we will want to live our life for Him, in Him and with Him. This raises us to new life and a new way of living – where we reject sin and choose love. And we love God when we love the people He places in our lives.

In the Gospel, Jesus instructs the twelve about the love commitment God wants from us. Just as God has loved us infinitely, He asks of us to love Him above all else; to place Him before every human relationship. And this love of God extends not only to God Himself but to all those who come in His name, for His purposes and to advance His Kingdom. This, of course is what the woman in the first reading did. She welcomed Elisha and extended the hospitality she offered him because she was convinced that he was a holy man of God. In this action she transformed the idea of loving God into a tangible active love of God and His Creation.

Faith is an action much more than it is an idea. The central aspect of that action is to love God. The readings this week encourage us to journey deeper in our effort to love God by first thinking about His immense love for us and then choosing to love Him intensely in a way that manifests in our relationships with those we encounter.

Some points for reflection as you read the passages:

  1. How have your acts of charity been different from or similar to the woman’s?
  2. What do you think it means to be baptized in the death of the Lord? Why is it important to have devotion to the Passion and the Cross of Jesus?
  3. What do you understand from Jesus’ command to carry the cross and follow in His footsteps? Is the emphasis on suffering? Or on love even to the point of suffering? How are you being called to love Him in an authentic way?