Homily for the thirteenth Sunday in the year

Year A  -  Mt. 10:37-42


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus said to his disciples:  «He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;  and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.

"«He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.  He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.»"



Homily:


"Jesus said to his disciples:  «He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.»"

As we have seen on the past two Sundays, Jesus gives precise instructions to his disciples concerning their apostolate and their mission.  Today, we read the end of the tenth chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel:  Jesus gives his disciples the key to all Christian spirituality, which is to seek and to remain always in the just mean between "too much" and "not enough", by avoiding any excess, either on one hand or on the other.

Jesus doesn't say that he who loves his father is not worthy of Him, but rather that he who loves his father more than Him is not worthy of Him.  God, in Jesus, doesn't ask us to love him exclusively:  he doesn't ask us to abstain from loving that which is not God, which is everything that the Lord has created in his Love.  For everything God has created is good, as it is written in the book of Genesis, right after the account of creation:  "God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (Gn. 1:31)

So, we may love - and, indeed, we naturally love - all that God has created in his Love.  But it is necessary that our love be temperate:  neither too strong, nor too weak.  Only a supernatural, or spiritual, view of realities can help us to act accordingly:  it is necessary for our vision to be that of faith in order for our love of creatures to remain in a just mean.  For faith is properly the virtue by which we may attain God through the intermediary of creatures, which are then fully dominated and subordinated by the very fact that faith puts us in contact with the Creator.

"«He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.»"

If there is a creature we love the most, it is surely ourselves:  and this is normal.  But it is necessary, in this case more than in any other, that we remain in the just mean.  He who does not take enough care of himself, he who does not love himself sufficiently, will very quickly succumb to all kinds of disorders:  he may suffer from nervous depression, or enter into a suicidal state.  And he who takes too good care of himself, he who loves himself too much, will come very close to renouncing his own faith and abandoning his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ:  "He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  He who finds his life will lose it."  But with a deeply lived faith, nourished by daily prayer and especially by the Eucharist, it is possible to remain in the just mean:  loving oneself sufficiently, but not too much.  He who does so will live in a communion of love with his God, in Jesus Christ, and he will be one with his Lord.

"«He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me.»"

It is precisely this union of love between God, in Jesus Christ, and the disciple which is expressed by these words of the Lord:  "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me."  If we love ourselves neither too much, nor too little, if we remain in a just mean with respect to our love for any creature, including ourselves, then it is as if we become transparent, and it is no longer we who are received by the other, but rather Christ, who is in us through faith and love:  "He who receives you receives me."  It is first and foremost the faith of Christ’s disciples which allows other men and women, those who do not yet know God, to receive the gift of faith and the grace of conversion.  Jesus declared this himself, when he prayed to his Father in the following manner:  "That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me." (John 17:21)

"«He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.  And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.»"

A cup of cold water is nothing, but it can transform the world if we make use of it for the love of God and of our neighbor, in whom we see the Lord Jesus!  A cup of cold water is nothing, but faith can transform it into a treasure of grace and strength which even allows mountains to be moved!  A little bread, a little wine, these are nothing; but, in accordance with the faith we received from the Apostles, they allow us - thanks to the ministry of the priest, who has received the sacrament of Holy Orders - to participate in the Work of God in Jesus Christ:  the Salvation of the world and the Renewal of all of Creation!  May this grace be granted to us today through Mary!