Reflections

THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, JUNE 28, 2020

VOCATION AND MISSION OF AN APOSTLE
1. It Is Me You Welcome
2. Come in, Feel at Home

Greeting (cf. Second Reading)
Consider yourselves dead to sin
but alive in Christ Jesus.
May Jesus, the Lord of life,
be always with you. R/ And also with you.

Introduction
1. It Is Me You Welcome
Are we aware that when we receive strangers we receive the Lord himself? We have Jesus’ own words for this. In the stranger God visits us. This applies not only to us in our families, but also in our Church communities. How do we welcome “outsiders” in our churches, and people who have moved from other parishes? Do we welcome the Lord in them? Remember how the Lord welcomes us here. The Shunammite woman in the first reading can testify.

2. Come in, Feel At Home
Unless you are an exception to the rule, most people feel very happy when they are made to feel welcome, especially in homes and communities where they are new. In our times, certainly in urban settings, the sense of hospitality is disappearing at a very alarming rate. Terrible individualisation (atomisation) of humanity. Christians in their communities, even in their own parish churches, are becoming strangers to one another. Let us listen to Jesus in this Eucharist how he expects us to welcome one another as he welcomes us.

Penitential Act
The Lord welcomes even with joy
those estranged from him through sin.
Let us accept his pardon with gratitude
and learn from him to forgive others.

(pause)

Lord Jesus, we welcome you
when we welcome those who speak in your name:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Jesus Christ, we give a cool drink to you
when we quench the thirst of a disciple of yours:
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, we welcome you
when we receive the least of our brothers and sisters:
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Have mercy on us, Lord,
and heal in us the wounds of sin.
Lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.

Opening Prayer
Let us pray God to make us welcome people,
as he is hospitable to us

(pause)

Our kind and caring God,
your Son Jesus welcomes us in your house,
speaks to us his message of hope
and nourishes us with his own body.
Let him dispose us to welcome in his name
those he sends to us, known or unknown,
who ask for justice and love,
for integrity or a mere glass of water.
Make us an open and hospitable Church,
that one day you may welcome us with joy
in your eternal home.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

First Reading: The Woman Urged the Man of God to Stay
With a great and gratuitous sense of hospitality, the woman from Shunem offered shelter and food to the prophet Elisha. As she was childless, God rewarded her with a son.

1 Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
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.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
R. (2a) For ever 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.

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.

You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and the Holy One of Israel, our king. R.

Second Reading: Dead to Sin and Alive in Christ
In baptism we have encountered Christ. From then on we journey with him from death to sin to new life in him.

2 Reading: Rom 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.

Alleluia 1 Peter 2:19
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation;
announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Whoever Welcomes You is Hospitable to Me
Jesus briefs his apostles on their vocation and mission. They must follow Christ and be ready to sacrifice themselves for him. Those who are hospitable to them or to anyone are hospitable to God.

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.”

Commentary
Freedom through Detachment
The poet William Blake (1758-1829) said:

He who binds himself to a joy,
Doth the winged life destroy,
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.

Life is a journey not a destination. If we hold on to anything and are unwilling to let it go we cannot move on in life. There is only one thing that is more destructive than binding oneself to a joy and that is binding oneself to a sorrow. Yet this is something that often happens. Everyone knows that the feasting day will pass. They let go of it and look forward to the next. But we seem to cling more to our sorrows and let them stunt our forward growth. Indeed, it is grinding unto death
A young woman was telling me how she longed for her family who were far away on an island. I asked her to pause for a while and let the memories of her childhood float to the surface. Her first memory was of being terrified when her father came home drunk and beat her mother. Her second memory was of a time when she as a little child went to the city with her mother. She became fascinated by some dolls in the store and while looking at them, became detached from her mother. Her mother came back to find her, picked her up angrily, took her home and stripped her naked and whipped her. These were her memories and yet she was incapacitated by her longing for her family!
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that we must detach ourselves from our families if we are to follow him. “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me.” He also says, “anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” I think that this is the key to understanding what he says.
The child in the womb is one with its mother. Even after its birth it is not conscious for a long time of being a distinct entity. If the child is to mature it must distinguish itself from its mother and develop its own personality. As it develops it needs less control and more freedom. Very often parents see their children as extensions of themselves and are reluctant to give them the freedom necessary to be able to love them back. The relationship can be compared to two hands intertwined and tightly clasping each other. To pull them apart is extremely painful.
When parents allow their children the freedom to detach from them, the relationship could be expressed in the image of two hands meeting palm to palm. The meeting is total but there are no adhesions and there is no excruciating pain in separation. It is only in this situation that there can be true love. It is only when children are allowed to detach from their parents that they can decide to love them. This is love. What is imposed can never be love.
In the Gospel Jesus urges us to detach from all things and especially from our families. Having detached from them we will be free to love them and they will be free to love us. When later our paths in life call us to separation this can be done with mutual approval and without too much pain.
Prayer should be leading us to this spirit of detachment from past joys and sorrows, so that we can be free to respond to God’s call in the present time. Unfortunately much of our prayer is asking for joys or the avoidance of sorrows. Meditation is a way of prayer in which one is present without any effort to control. As one focuses attention on the prayer word, past sorrows and joys tend to arise. The secret is not to grasp them or to get involved in them. Let them go and experience the freedom of the fullness of life that Jesus promised to those who leave all to follow him.

Intercessions
God has placed people along our way. Let us pray to our Father who welcomes us in Christ that we may always encounter other people as persons whom he loves and wants us to love. Let us say:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.

– For the Church that it may preach the Gospel without compromise and yet be sensitive to the aspirations and the needs of our time and see them in the light of Christ, let us pray:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.
– For those in the Church who bear the burden of authority, that they may be open to all without favoritism and make everyone co-responsible for the whole People of God, let us pray:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.
– For our missionaries, that they may welcome the cultural values of the people to whom they are sent and be open to their mentality, let us pray:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.
– For those who live on the edge of society, for loners and strangers, the poor and old people, or the sick and the misunderstood, that they may encounter warmhearted people who understand and welcome them, let us pray:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.
– For this and all other Christian communities, that we may not tolerate among us any form of prejudice or discrimination but open our hearts and doors to one another, Let us pray:
R/ Listen to your people, Lord.

Lord our God, help us to welcome one another, that you may welcome us and stay with us for ever. R/ Amen.

Prayer Over the Gifts
Lord our God, loving Father,
your Son Jesus Christ invites us
to share his table and to be his guests.
As he is hospitable to us now,
may we learn from him
to be hospitable to people
with discretion and generosity.
Make us thankful
when the guest cannot repay us
for the good we have done,
for this is how you accept us
in Jesus Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
However, we come, the Lord Jesus invites us to join him in his offering to the Father. With him, let us give thanks and praise to God.

Introduction to the Lord’s Prayer
One with Christ our Lord through baptism,
we pray with him to our Father in heaven. R/ Our Father…

Prayer for Peace
Lord Jesus Christ,
as the grains of wheat once scattered
have been gathered to become one bread,
you bring us together in your Church
notwithstanding our faults.
Look not on our sins
but give to all who will eat your body
to remain in peace and unity
with you and one another,
that the world may know
that you save those who err
and that you are our Lord for ever. R/ Amen.

Invitation to Communion
This is Jesus the Lord
who invites us to his table.
Happy are we to accept his invitation
to be his guests. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…

Prayer after Communion
Our God and Father,
today we have been the guests of your Son;
he wants to stay among people
in human form—through us.
Help us to be to those around us
his helping hand,
his smile of welcome,
his voice of encouragement and pardon,
the face of his love.
May this be his way and ours
of leading people to you, our God.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Blessing
In this Eucharist
the Lord Jesus has been hospitable to us.
He has spoken to us from heart to heart
and has given us the food and drink of himself.
He has told us to welcome people
in his name
and to treat them as we would treat him.
In his name, then,
may we accept and receive one another.
May almighty God bless you:
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Go and accept one another in the Lord’s name. R/ Thanks be to God.

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