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Homilies/Reflections

THE DECISIVE “ANYONE” OF JESUS: STRUGGLES THAT WE IGNORE. A reflection for 13th Sunday of the Ordinary Time, Year A.
By Fr. Modestus Mgbaramuko
Sun, 28 Jun 2020

Readings: 1Kgs 4: 8-11, 14-16; Rm 6:3-4, 8-11; Mat 10: 37-42.

    Have you noticed that our readings, especially the Gospel readings, have now steadily returned to the Gospel of Matthew? You recall how we began doing Matthew in advent, and six weeks after the Christmas season, we broke off at the seventh Sunday of Ordinary time to celebrate the great season of Lent. But now, we are fully back. Henceforward, every Sunday will not only bring us some beautiful Bible lessons for life, but our main lessons will come from the Gospel of Matthew.

 Today, like last Sunday, we are reading the last few verses of Matthew’s Gospel, chapter ten. The Gospel is named after the evangelist Matthew for he was a Jew writing for fellow Jews, and profoundly using their Jewish tradition.  As Christians, we know this Gospel well, because as Church, we have read and used this Gospel more than any other community or society in time. We, therefore, know that Matthew presents Jesus as the “Emmanuel” or “Messiah” – Savior and Redeemer in the ancient traditions of Moses. In fact, for this Gospel, Jesus is the new Moses leading the new Israel to God’s eternal kingdom. In Matthew, Jesus tells us what Moses had told Israel, namely, to accept the love and guidance of God as our father. To hear God’s saving word, trust God, and above all, not just work to discover God’s will on earth but do it.

  We are returning to those explicit statements of Jesus echoed last Sunday. We are dwelling on them because, again, as Israelites see themselves as disciples of Moses, Jesus sees us as his disciples, and thus, reminds us of true discipleship today. In a way, Jesus reads the “riot act” or tells us of the authentic struggles that we should be doing. Some of us have been pretending about this. We have been preoccupied with false battles while leaving untouched the real enemy within. Today, among those unambiguous declarations of Jesus to his disciples, nay to us, we hear the decisive “anyone” of Jesus. Let me be clear here, the “anyone” of Christ is explicit in the sense that it refers to “whoever,” maybe the person in the community. It is utterly decisive in the truth that Jesus says he is not inside that pretense. The Greek adjectival phrase used here is οκ στιν μου ξιος or “is not worthy of me.” To this refrain, the “anyone” or the “whoever” of Jesus has a nine times repetition in Matt 10:37-42.

  Are you a man or woman of rank like the Shunemite widow of the first reading? Are we right to claim baptism into the death of Jesus by which we rose to the newness of life at Easter, which Paul talks about in the second reading? Did you say we are dead to sin and alive to righteousness in Jesus? Then we must begin now to do the struggle that counts. The battle should be against all careless or godless attitudes. We should overcome our self-pride, win over our ruthless feats of anger, hatred, and bitterness against ourselves. Let us outshine one another on how to love. Let us give our food or the milk of our kindness to the fellow think is the strange one. These are the actions, attitudes, and behaviors that are worthy of Jesus. Thus, the opposite of these positive behaviors come back to us – that is, to you and me because they are not worthy of Christ! Jesus himself makes the declaration: they are not worthy of me!

  Everything is either taken in or thrown away, depending on whether they are, or are not worthy of Jesus. Do not do those disservices and claim that you do them for Jesus. For example, never draw your unchristian sword of hatred, malice, vengeance, etc., and then claim the name of the Prince of peace for it. Jesus did not allow the use of the sword to Peter (Mt 26:51). All through his teaching, Jesus preferred timely reconciliation to disagreements, and he never permitted fight back even against those who claim to be his enemies (Jn 18:36). These actions are not worthy of Jesus because his kingdom is not of this world. Jesus never permits selfish divisions, which only destroy his mmbers and the faith-community.

     So, let us face it: anyone who prefers any flesh and blood ties, including those of the family to Jesus, is not worthy of him. Anyone who does not accept the cross of inconvenience, or walk in the footsteps of personal sacrifice for the sake of God, is not worthy of Jesus. Whoever claims to welcome the truth of faith but finds it too challenging to reconsider advice of prophets as servants of God, is not worthy of Christ. Anyone who would not let go; would not forgive, or take back brother or sister in the Lord is not worthy of Christ. And anyone who will not share their cup of mercy or their water of goodwill with fellow Christians, knowing that this is something done to Christ or for Christ, will hardly get any reward.

 

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