June 28th, 2020: Homily- Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A story about a catechist who asked students in her confirmation class; which part of the Liturgy or Mass was the most important part. One participant said: “The dismissal rite is the most important part of the Mass.”

“Why did you say that?” asked the catechist. Then he said: “The purpose of the Eucharist is to nourish us with the Word of God and with the Body and Blood of Christ so that we may go forth to bear witness to the Lord and to bring the Kingdom of God into existence.

The participant continued: “The Eucharist does not end with the dismissal rite. In a sense, it begins with it. We must go forth and proclaim to the world what the disciples did. We must proclaim that Jesus is raised from the dead. We must proclaim that Jesus lives on.

Today’s gospel Jesus gives His disciples a kind of teaching on mission or ministry. In the first part of the gospel, He said: “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 me is not worthy of me. ” (vv. 37-38)

The words we have just heard come from a discourse of our Lord to His Apostles when he send them out to preach for the first time. One of the admonitions He gave them explains the first reading about the prophet Elisha.

The Lord praises those who receive a prophet precisely because he is a prophet. The woman in that story about Elisha did that; she wanted her husband to prepare a room for Elisha just because he was a prophet, because he spoke in the Lord’s name, because he spoke the Word of God. That’s an important point for us, too: we should have, or try to acquire, a similar reverence for that word; we should be ready to hear and respect the Word of God.

As we heard, Christ tells them that He, the Lord, deserves more love and more attention than even their parents. It’s not that Jesus does not favor love and reverence for our parents here on earth; it’s simply that He, being our Creator and Redeemer, deserves even more devotion. It’s a matter of priorities: Christ surpasses our parents in His importance in our lives. And these words and this thought are not only for the disciples in Jesus’ time; they also apply to all His disciples throughout the ages, even to you and me and to all of us.

Jesus also speaks of carrying our cross. He has taught this on many occasions. We always associate cross as suffering, hardships, trials in life. But in reality, life here on earth is not free of trials and difficulties. Trials are part of life. Jesus Himself suffered a great deal and we should make ourselves like Him, accepting the trials that come to us. Being a Christian, involves accepting the trials, and even extending our hands and sacrifice towards everything that goes with following Christ. All the Saints have done this; indeed, the majority of them have practiced very painful penances and austerities in imitation of Christ. Their thought was: “Jesus suffered for me and for my salvation; hence I want to suffer with Christ.” The ordinary difficulties of life were not enough for them;they wanted to do more in order to be like Christ. Take a look on our present life, try to value this time, now that we are experiencing this hardships and trials brought about by this pandemic.

But the Lord assures us here that even little, insignificant things have value in His eyes. He said that even a cup of cold water given in His name would not be without its reward. Maybe we think we’re not capable of doing great things for Christ like those brilliant scholars and teachers of the church or the holiness of saints or the courage of martyrs. But we can try to do smaller things, ordinary things, things that to us don’t seem to mean much, knowing that even such things can have great value in our Lord’s judgment. A great patron of such actions is St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower: she offered the Lord the ordinary things of daily life, but she did these things day after day, week after week, in the best way she could… something that’s easy to say and relate, but tremendously difficult to do. But every person, no matter how unimportant he considers himself, can try to do this ordinary daily kindness, reverence, and works of charity day after day… saying to himself, “at least today I’ll try to do that.”…. and maybe he can do it another day, too!!

In the end, this Act of kindness and hospitality to those in need, to strangers and to those whom we call friends is the easiest way to get a glimpse of Christ. No simpler method of practicing the presence of God can be found than to serve others with welcome hospitality. Thus these simple acts of kindness both make others feel better and also afford us the basic possibility of the religious experience of God.

The reality is, we are always with people, they are near and around us. That’s why don’t bother looking at the sun. It hurts your eyes. Take a look at the people around you. The Son of God is there waiting to be cared for. He won’t hurt your eyes rather quite the opposite. He will warm your heart.

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