Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

“Christ Carrying His Cross” by El Greco 1580's




(Note: On the US Calendar, this Sunday was superseded in ’08, ’11 and'14 by Solemnities of higher rank)

Readings and Commentary:[3]

FIRST READING

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."
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Commentary on 2 Kgs 4:8-11, 14-16a

The passage implies the itinerant nature of Elisha who travels about providing prophetic guidance to the people from his base at Mount Carmel (2 Kings 2:25).  The woman of the story shows deference to Elsha, recognizing his status as being sent by God.  In return, Elisha repays her generosity seeking God’s help in providing her material support in the form of a son.

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RESPONSORIAL PSALM

R. (2a) Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever,
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your
faithfulness.
For you have said, "My kindness is established forever";
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and to the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
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Commentary on Ps 89:2-3, 16-17,18-19

Psalm 89 is a communal lament.  The first strophe recalls God’s faithfulness expressed In his unbreakable covenant with King David.  The focus next moves to the people of God –“…in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.” The righteous are upheld by the Lord.  The passage concludes reiterating God’s promised help and protection.

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SECOND READING

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.
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Commentary on Rom 6:3-4, 8-11

This reading from Romans reminds the Christian that all who have been joined to Christ in Baptism are also joined to his death. Without inevitable death of the body there is no resurrection and St. Paul teaches that, since Christ came so his followers could be absolved from sin, the great promise is that those baptized in the faith will rise with him, free from all sin.

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GOSPEL

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."
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Commentary on Mt 10:37-42

This passage from St. Matthew’s Gospel parallels Mark 8:34-35 and Luke 9:24-25 (also Cf. Luke 14:26-27; 17:33) in directing the Christian disciple to place their faith above all else, including family.  The author softens the language used in St. Luke’s Gospel from “hate” to “love less”; indicating the kind of divisions that may occur when the Gospel of Christ is proclaimed in families.  The disciple is enjoined to “take up his cross” in the sense that the Christian discipline requires the follower to take positions in society which are frequently unpopular and will cause discrimination and persecution.

In the second section of this passage St. Matthew reminds the faithful of their own obligation to support others in the Christian community – especially the “little ones” – the Apostles, who depend upon the support of the community to continue their work.

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Reflection:

The message provided in sacred scripture is clear; God requires his faithful to place Him first in their lives.  In all things – following God’s Law, revealed fully in Christ’s teachings must be foremost in the hearts and minds of his children.

This idea is made abundantly clear in the Gospel of St. Matthew where the Lord tells his followers what is required of them.  They are to reject the way of the secular world, even when this conflicts with what is expected by family.  They are to accept, gratefully, the persecution and discrimination they will receive because of their choice to follow Christ’s way.  By implication (“…whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”} this persecution is to be expected; opposition by those who would have us choose the easier way is guaranteed.  St. Paul takes up the same theme in his letter to the Romans when he tells us: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”

But here the Apostle reminds us of the great reward we are given in Christ’s adoption.  In our Baptism, we die to sin and are restored to perfect grace in the new Adam.  We are give the strength to challenge the evil one who works tirelessly against us.  And in the story of the woman from 2 Kings who befriends Elisha, we see that God will reward us for our steadfast faith in support of his earthly mission.

We are challenged by sacred scripture today.  We are challenged to continue to place God’s will above our own in all we do.  We are challenged to accept our cross, the pain and hardship we will endure in this life for the sake of the Gospel.  Our prayer is to the Holy Spirit, that the indwelling strength given in our baptism may sustain us and keep us strong in the faith.

Pax


[2] The picture is “Christ Carrying His Cross” by El Greco, 1580’s
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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