July 2, 2023: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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 lost 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.”
I find gospels like this one difficult to read! There is really no equivocation in Jesus’ speech here. No “strive” just the imperative; do it! Love me more than all others. Pick up the cross. Love your way in the world. Jesus calls his followers to learn a love that surpasses anything they have ever known or encountered before. It is the love our Creator has for us. It is difficult.
We are being asked to transform our live into a new way of living and loving. And the only way we can do that is to let the Holy Spirit work in us. Jesus tells his followers, and us if we are listening, how to accomplish this; to receive others as Christ, to do all things as done for Christ. We are to embody Christ in the world. And we will receive unexpected blessings in return.
The second part of the reading gives me space to breathe. This is the blueprint, how to live in a way that promotes this deep love that is being asked of us. When it all seems just a little bit impossible, we do well to remember that grace is in the desire. We will never love God perfectly, but our hope lies in the effort and God’s gracious acceptance of whatever we can offer.
Let’s think this week about the small things we can do in Jesus’ name. Perhaps we cannot give a cup of cold water to someone but can we be more careful about how we use water? Bring your desire to God in prayer and be amazed when opportunities, those small things, open up everywhere around you!