One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. So she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.” Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?” His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.” Elisha said, “Call her.” When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
SECOND READING Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
GOSPEL Matthew 10:37-42
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. Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple-amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
“What is my relationship with my family of origin? How do I relate to my parents, my sisters, my brothers and to my extended family? How do I relate to friends? How do I relate to those in authority over me?” These are the challenges from the readings this week.
We begin with the first reading, from the Second Book of Kings. This is such a wonderful reading! We see the concern of the Prophet for this woman who has no son. The Prophet, like many religious leaders, is able to benefit from the love and care of those who are relatively well off. Now it is a question of how to thank such people. Most of us would not thinking of promising a baby! On the other hand, the Prophets have more resources than we do! We also know that later, when this baby is a young man, he dies unexpectedly and the woman turns again to the Prophet. The gifts of Prophets and of God Himself are not always without suffering!
The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans. Here we find a strong theology for ourselves. If we have died in Christ, then we must embrace that death so that we can live in Christ. We must become dead to sin. That is so easy to say or to state, yet the reality implies for us and for all who seek the Lord that we must enter the spiritual combat and remain in combat all the days of our lives. The life of Jesus is a wonderful gift and yet always comes with the condition of death to sin in ourselves. We are invited to embrace the struggle against sin each day so that we can live more and more in the Lord.
The Gospel, today from Saint Matthew, brings the first two readings together. We must love God more than anything or anyone. We must love Christ more than our parents, our sisters, our brothers, our children—more than anyone. This statement never implies not loving our parents, sisters, brothers, children, etc., but simply tells us that God is more important.
If we are looking for our own life, we shall lose that life. It we are seeking the life of Jesus, we shall have our own life. It is only in giving up our lives that we are given life. This is one of the great challenges of following Jesus. The more we deny ourselves, the more life of Jesus we have. Again the strong reminder: when we deny ourselves, we are doing this out of love and not out of any other motive. If we judge others, then we condemn ourselves. If we seek simply what the Lord asks of us today and every day, we are blessed—over and over and over.
May we seek the face of the Lord and respond to His love! May we accept the gifts of the Lord and know that in those gifts there is also hardship. May we die to ourselves in the very best way, but loving God first and always.
Your brother in the Lord,