WHAT HAVE WE SACRIFICED IN FOLLOWING CHRIST?
First Reading: 2 Kings 4:8-11,13-16
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 88(89):2-3,16-19
Second Reading: Romans 6:3-4,8-11
Gospel Reading: Matthew 10:37-42
The readings of this Sunday present several themes. In general, the three readings present to us some aspects of discipleship. Discipleship is costly. The Scripture is very clear; to be a disciple in the real sense of the term means that a person must pay a price.
Today’s Sunday gospel reading presents a catechesis on discipleship, with two steps. In the first step, Jesus defines the disciple’s path: the disciple must be able to make Jesus his fundamental choice and follow his teacher on the path of love and dying to oneself. In the second step, Jesus promises a reward to those who generously and lovingly welcome the missionary-disciples of the “Kingdom.” This second step reflects itself in the first reading. The first reading describes the generous hospitality that Elisha finds in the home of a Shunammite woman. The woman does not limit herself to offering Elisha a meal, whenever he passed through Shunem on his journey to and fro Mount Carmel; but in a hospitable gesture, built him a small room and furnished it accordingly. This was because she recognized that Elisha was a holy man of God, through whom God acts in the world. Helping Elisha, the woman shows her adherence to God, expressing her willingness to collaborate with God in the project of salvation that God has for the world. In response to the woman’s generosity, Elisha blesses her by prophesying the birth of a son. The reward has a special value, given the almost impossibility of having children that weighs on the couple, due to the advanced age of the husband. History seeks to teach that collaborating with God in carrying out the plan of salvation that He has for men is a source of life and blessing. God does not fail to reward all those who collaborate with him. This, indeed, is a way of following Jesus on the path of love as faithful disciples through baptism. As a result, the second reading recalls that the Christian is someone who, through Baptism, identified himself with Jesus and following Him on the path of love and permanently renouncing sin.
Dear friends in Christ, what really have we sacrificed in following Christ? Apparently, following Jesus is not an easy task; as stated earlier, it involves a cost – a life of total surrender and preference of Jesus and a loving gesture towards our neighbour. It is a radical path, which often demands sacrifices. When it comes to choosing between Jesus and other values, what should the Christian’s option be? Moreover, choosing Jesus and following Him to the cross is not a path of failure and death, but a path of life. In fact, when a man is very concerned with protecting his human security schemes and closes in on his selfishness and self-sufficiency, he ends up losing his real life; but when a man accepts to live in obedience to God’s plans and to make his life a gift of love for his brothers and sisters, he finds life definitively. This is what Jesus means in verse 39: “Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.” Therefore, following Jesus requires dying to oneself for the glory of God and the good of others. It also entails recognizing Jesus in the lives of those who preach the Good News to us. Apparently, there are people who are called by God to leave their lands, families, cultural and social points of reference, etc., in order to dedicate their lives to the proclamation of the Gospel. They are not super-men and women, but men and women like any other, with the same needs for affection, support, solidarity, understanding. It is our responsibility to help them, not only with material means but also with understanding, solidarity, love, hospitality, prayers, etc. This loving gesture will never go unrewarded.
May the good Lord continually grant us the grace to remain true and faithful missionary-disciples so as not to lose focus of Him nor prize our self-interest above our Christian calling. Amen
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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