Sunday reflection by Very Reverend Stephen E. Salocks, Rector of Saint John's Seminary - June 28, 2020
“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.’” (Mt 10:37-39)
Today, the prayers and scriptures on this Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time encourage and challenge us to understand better our identity and mission as disciples of Jesus Christ. We pray to God, who has “chosen us to be children of light,” that with his help we will always “stand in the bright light of [His] truth” (Collect for Mass). We hear the Scriptures that focus on the gifts of light, life, and truth that God wishes to give us. Of course, we are called, first of all, to stay focused on God’s greatest gift to us in His Son, who speaks to disciples of every age about following him, taking up his mission and doing it regardless of the cost.
While Saint Paul reminds us, in the Second Reading about the way we are united through Baptism with Christ in his death and resurrection, it is Jesus himself who spells out the implications. In the Gospel of Matthew today, we hear the conclusion of Jesus’ missionary discourse. At first, these precepts seem harsh, but Jesus is not rejecting the commandment to love and honor our parents, and he is not rejecting the need to love and care for one’s spouse or children. He is reminding us that following him requires complete trust, sacrifice, and abandonment to His will. Christ must come before all else in our lives if we truly want to be his disciples. Commitment to his mission of reconciliation and peace means putting everything into perspective and setting aside whatever distracts us from his call.
Jesus assures us that, if we are serious about eternal rewards, versus those of this world, the journey of discipleship will not always be easy. Yes, following can often be easy, but there are also those times when we are faced with the cross – whatever that burden or trial might be. Our Lord himself knew this and gave us his example to follow. Although we may not be called to actual crucifixion, we will always need to recall Jesus’ example when dealing with life’s challenges.
now, we ask ourselves, what is the next step to take in following Jesus’
example? It could be as simple as a small gesture of hospitality. Mission and
hospitality go hand in hand. Consider ways that you might offer that “cup of cold
water” to the little or needy one (Gospel) or the example of the Shunammite
woman’s kind invitation in today’s first reading. The current environment in
our country is filled with challenges. Whether people have been personally
affected by the pandemic, experienced great injustice, or suffered economic
hardship, we want to continue to keep Jesus’ example at the
forefront. Whether or not we have personally endured the sting of
prejudice, we want to remember that we are all sons and daughters of the one true
God and that we are called to treat others as we want to be treated – with the
great love and care that God has shown us in Christ.