13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)26th June 2011 Gospel: Matthew 10:37-42
Jesus said to his apostles: “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.
Anyone who does not take his cross and
follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.
Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward.
If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.”
Homily It is a common experience that at any graduate school there are some professors who students do not approach for thesis direction. The complaint is that they are too demanding. On the other hand some wise students, too few in numbers, seek out these professors because they know that with them they will produce a great work.Excellence in any sphere of life demands pushing oneself to the limits. This principle applies even to our Christian living.In the Gospel passage presented to us for our meditation this week, we find Jesus being extremely demanding with his disciples:
“Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.”I believe that now, as then, one of the great temptations of the age is the temptation to mediocrity. We are all inclined to do the sufficient to get by. What the common human experience teaches us though is that those who only do the sufficient to get by, end up on the wrong end of the scale. Those who gain the prize are those who aim at excellence. Many of us fall to that temptation in our Christian lives. A great spiritual writer once remarked that many Christians have domesticated the Gospel. We have taken the sting out of it and we have watered down its demands. We preach a Gospel of mediocrity. So often we hear people saying “God does not want us to go to extremes”Jesus however went to the extremes of love. An extreme of love for the Father and for us that landed him on the cross and he asks us to follow him; “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.”Throughout the ages however, there have been people, from very simple people to kings and queens, who have followed Jesus in aiming at excellence in Christian living. We can think of Damian of Molokai who spent his life as a missionary among the lepers of Molokai, finally dying like one of them, we can think of Teresa of the child Jesus, who never left her convent but spent her short life doing her simple household duties like sweeping and ironing, but doing them very well out of love for her community, we can think of
Theresa of Calcutta, loving the broken image of Christ in those dying on the streets of Calcutta, and we can think of Mons. Romero of El Salvador, who in his love for the downtrodden of his land, accepted death rather than be silent before the atrocities committed against them. All of these show us that it is possible to live Christian life aiming at excellence. We thank God for these witnesses and we celebrate them.The Gospel also calls us however to evaluate our lives in the light of this teaching. Have we accepted a domesticated Gospel which does not challenge us to excellence? I do believe that the response to this question has implications not only for us but indeed for the entire church. Let us pray then for a Church and for Church leaders who challenge us to excellence not simply by words but by the example of their lives.
Let us teach those in our care that it is not saying “Lord, Lord” which will get us into heaven but a life lived striving for excellence in love. PrayerAll powerful and ever-loving Father, in the midst of this world in which we concentrate so much on the self, your Son Jesus by his teaching and by the example of his life calls us to excel in love. Help us your disciples to follow his example so that the world may believe in the truth of his
message. We ask this through the intercession of Mary our Mother and Jesus your Son. Amen