Below is my homily for the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. It was given to Ss. Cosmas & Damian Parish in Punxsutawney, PA on Sunday, July 2, 2017, at the 8:00 AM parish mass.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew
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, Amen I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
The Gospel of the Lord
A catechist was teaching her five and six-year old children about the Ten Commandments. After she finished explaining to them the commandment to ‘Honor thy father and thy mother,’ she asked, ‘How about your brothers and sisters? What is the commandment that teaches you how to treat them?’ Quickly, one little boy quipped, ‘Thou shall not kill!’
God commands us to honor our Father and Mother, and yet he says to us in today’s Gospel that “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.” It seems to be a dichotomy in our understanding of what God wants. On one hand, he tells us to love our parents, yet if we love them more than Jesus, we are not worthy of Jesus.
And right there is the key: more than Jesus.
We can love or honor or adore nothing more than Jesus. Yet that seems unfair. We love our parents and our children and our family, whether or not our family is biological. Yet we are called to love God more.
This is what our baptism calls us to: to love God more than anything. He has given us our life, he has given us our family, he has given us everything. If it wasn’t for God, we would have nothing, be nothing. And so we are called to love God above everything else.
Once we come to love God more than any of the riches of this world, we are to move forward in our call at baptism: we are to become heralds of this message: to love God above all else. That’s when we truly become disciples.
Jesus says to us again in today’s gospel that: “Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”
This can only happen once we receive Jesus into our hearts, into our daily lives. We must become disciples who intentionally focus on Jesus. We must become intentional disciples. We must intend to spread the Gospel message everywhere we go. There’s the old adage: “Proclaim the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” That is exactly what we are to do. We are to proclaim His message of love to all we meet. And if our message goes on a deaf ear? We do not give up. We continue to love those who hate us and persecute us. We continue to move forward, continue proclaiming Jesus in all that we do, everywhere we go.
And when I say everywhere, I mean everywhere: the grocery store, work, family gatherings, school, everywhere. Our world is filled with busy-ness. In this busy-ness, we often forget to show our faith in Jesus Christ. And so, we must intentionally make this decision every day to follow God. We must make that conscious effort every day to show to the world who we are, and that is Catholic Christians. We must be willing to stand up for our faith, and we must do so with love, never hate. We must nevr be selfish with our knowledge of the truth. We must stand up for Jesus Christ, for we all know that without Jesus, we would have nothing.
So let us take some time today and every day to see where we can be a herald of the Good News, an intentional disciple of the Lord. Take an opportunity to see where exactly in our lives we have failed to show Jesus to others, have failed to show unconditional love to others, and make a mental note of it, not beating ourselves up over it, but rather remembering it so that we can do better next time.