Saint Vincent Archabbey
13 Ordinary Time
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
Matthew 10: 37-42
In chapter ten of his gospel, Matthew explains how Jesus extends the mission he received from the Father to his disciples. They will encounter the same hostility he has encountered, and they must be aware of the high cost as well as the rewards of discipleship.
In this Sunday's gospel passage taken from the tenth chapter, Jesus tells us that his presence entails a crisis of ultimate choice and loyalty: father, mother, son, daughter or Jesus; discipleship without personal inconvenience or discipleship even if it means the cross; ultimate loyalty to one's own self and to one's own will or to Jesus.
Jesus then affirms and further illustrates the sacramental principle that underlies his entire mission to the world:
"Whoever receives you [a disciple] receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” One may receive a prophet, an eminent person, or just an ordinary member of the church ("one of these little ones”).
Jesus in sharing our created humanity experienced what it means to receive at every moment the gift of life from God, our creator. Throughout his life, even to the moment of his death, he realized that only in giving himself totally to God in love is ultimate joy possible. The strongest and most pervasive temptation for every creature is to reject the truth of the first and great commandment: "I, the Lord, am your God . . . You shall not have other gods besides me” (Ex 20: 2-3). "Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart. . . " (Dt 6:5).
Because Jesus is Emmanuel ("God is with us”), to give or to refuse him one's ultimate love is to accept or to reject the first and great commandment. To give one's ultimate love to any created being, even the most precious -- father, mother, son, daughter, self -- is to "have another god besides me.” Idolatry is to mistake the gift for the giver, to love the creature in preference to the creator.
Today Jesus extends his presence and his mission through his disciples, again entailing a crisis of decision. Perhaps it is not so difficult to understand in faith that one receives Christ in receiving those disciples who, by virtue of their office as bishops, are successors of the twelve. This Sunday's gospel passage, however, also speaks of a disciple who is "one of these little ones” and is in need of a cup of cold water. Like Christ himself such a disciple may not be received as one sent by God. Jesus thereby alerts us to the profound implications of hospitality, even to the least of our brothers and sisters whom he sends as disciples into our lives.
Hospitality to a fellow human being—even giving a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty—is inseparable from receiving Christ and the one who sends him to us.
Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Modern
Gospel: Matthew 11: 25-30
The Gospel passage this week comes at an end of a chapter in which Jesus is facing increased opposition from the people of Israel. He reproaches the various towns in which he had preached, ministered, and performed miracles, that resulted with little conversion or repentance of the people there. Jesus turns his disappointment and anger into prayer. This is a lesson for all of us in what to do with the difficult situations that trouble us.
Jesus turns to his Father with praise and thanksgiving, acknowledging his Father and the importance of trusting in the will of the Father. Very often we might act impulsively to difficult situations without taking the time to turning over the Father in prayer for guidance. This could include calling upon the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially Wisdom and Understanding needed in our particular situation. The lesson for us is to follow this example of Jesus by turning to the Father and surrendering to his will.
Jesus teaches us not to keep the Father’s presence to ourselves. The unity of Jesus with the Father is a perfect unity; "No one knows the Father except the Son….." While our unity is not perfect, it is a unity that strengthens and consoles us. Jesus moves from praise and thanksgiving to his father to the invitation to us. He calls us to bring all that is wearing us down to him and he will help us. He uses the image of a yoke that calls us to picture two farm animals with the wooden yoke across their necks so that together they can pull a heavy load. We are to picture ourselves and Jesus with a yoke connecting us so that we can carry the burdens of life, not alone, but with Jesus. Jesus does this for us out of meekness and humility, so that we might find rest. How beautiful it is when we are that connected, in unity with the Lord, so as to experience that rest! It’s a rest that calms us, renews us, and energizes us.
Finally, the invitation to come to Jesus with our burdens is not only for us, it is for all. On our part we can extend this invitation to others through prayer and words. In this Gospel we learn that it is the Father’s will that has hidden the teachings of Jesus from the wise and clever, yet revealed them to the childlike. The religious leaders who were considered the ones with knowledge, were the ones who rejected Jesus. Meanwhile it is the fishermen, the tax collectors and sinners who were receiving Jesus and turning to him. In order to accept God’s word, one must be open to it and receive it with humility and a type of innocence found in a child. One might not expect to find this innocence in the tax collectors and sinners, but the way that they responded to Jesus, repented and followed him is proof that what we sometimes assume about the spiritual life a person can be wrong. We don’t know why someone is living a life that we might see as sinful, and we also don’t know what is happening in their soul. Sometimes there is a receptivity to the Lord that we don’t see, while in fact in the midst of all the things they seem to be doing wrong, there is a childlike faith that when touched by God’s presence turns them to him. This opens within us the ability to see the work of God in ways we do not expect to. With this comes a peace and calmness in the midst of frustrations and even anger.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.