Sunday, June 28
My Friends, here is my homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 28.
“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me…”
In the Gospel today, we are reminded of the demands of the Gospel, the demands of Jesus…Let’s not fool ourselves, Jesus is demanding…very demanding.
We must constantly strive to put Jesus first in our lives, making his priorities our priorities as we interact with family, friends, and the world in which we find ourselves.
Simply put, this is hard work…it is demanding, challenging, and it will cost us in time, talent, and treasure…the Gospel is demanding…Jesus is demanding.
This past week, on June 24, we celebrated a Feast in honor of John the Baptist. John was the forerunner of Jesus, and was called to prepare His way.
After Jesus began preaching and teaching, John knew that his mission to prepare people for Jesus was coming to an end and Scripture contains his powerful statement. He said, “Now I must decrease and He must increase!”
The Scriptures present a harsh message today. And our challenge is the same as was John the Baptist’s…as Disciples of Jesus, as we make our journey of faith, as we move along in life, “We must decrease, and Jesus must increase.”
And so the question is: “Are we more committed to Jesus and the Gospel today, than we were last year, last month, last week, yesterday?”
Will there be more Gospel priority in our lives tomorrow than there is today?
“I must decrease. Jesus must increase!”
But in the harshness of the message in the Scriptures today, we also receive a message of simplicity and of hope that can best be contained in the word: hospitality.
In the first reading today, the woman, who remains nameless, offers the Prophet Elisha a place to rest, relax, and be fed…why?
Because, she says, “He is a holy man…”
This woman offers hospitality to Elisha, and she is rewarded for her gift of hospitality with a promise that brings new life, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
In the Gospel today, we hear the same message: when hospitality is offered, there is a reward, there is the promise and the fulfillment of new life, new hope, and new beginnings…
Taking up our cross every day and following in the footsteps of Jesus always includes offering hospitality, and when that hospitality is offered in the name of Jesus, there will be a reward, there will be the gifts of new life, new hope, and new beginnings extended to us and to the world around us.
We need to be mindful, though, that the gift of hospitality, the gift of openness, of being open, is not only directed to people, but it is also directed to the life-situations in which we find ourselves.
The challenge is to be open to and accepting, not only of positive situations in our lives, but more importantly, of negative situations and events that happen to us…
This weekend we pray in a special way for all of our graduates.
Let’s use the lack of Graduation Ceremonies due to the present pandemic as an example.
None of our graduates are having the kind of graduation celebrations for which they hoped.
Taking up our cross and walking in the footsteps of Jesus, means to accept what “one was not given,” to make the most of the situation that one would preferred not to have, and to accept the challenge not to grow bitter, but to grow better.
In a real sense, this is offering hospitality to that situation! And in offering that hospitality, we are promised, in the future, that there will be new life, new and joyous celebrations marking the various events of one’s life…
In offering hospitality to the various negative situations in our lives, whatever they may be, means taking up our cross and walking in the footsteps of Jesus, becoming, not bitter people, but better people.
We apply the spirit of hospitality in a special way to the pandemic; we embrace it, work to contain it, and allowing all the negative effects to make us not bitter people but better people.
We apply the spirit of hospitality in a special way to the racial tensions that we are all feeling in these days…we open ourselves to thought, prayer, study, reflection and conversation with others, and we will allow all the negative effects to make us not a bitter people, but a better people, not a bitter, divisive society, but a better, united society.
Will the Eucharist we celebrate and share today make a difference in our lives?
May our response be “yes!”
May we allow the Eucharist that we celebrate today to strengthen us to take up our cross and walk in the footsteps of Jesus…
May we allow the Eucharist we celebrate today strengthen us to offer hospitality to all people and to all situations in our lives…
May we allow the Eucharist we celebrate today strengthen us to become better people, not bitter people…
May we allow the Eucharist we celebrate today strengthen us to let ourselves decrease and allow Jesus to increase within us…
As we accept these demands and challenges, we are given a promise of new life as was the woman in the First Reading today:
“This time next year you will be fondling a baby son!”