13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a
Psalm 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 6:3-4, 8-11
The Fourth Commandment tells us to “honor our father and mother” but today Jesus says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
Are these two in conflict? Absolutely not. Jesus does not tell us that we shouldn’t love our mother or father. He says we should not love them “more than” him. Remember, elsewhere Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love our neighbor. We are to love all but God should be first.
Jesus goes on say, “Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” What does it mean to lose our life?
We have busy lives. Work or school can be a full-time effort. Every retirees can have a lot of commitments with grandchildren or their generous volunteering. There can also be sports, music, and plays, or whatever your (or your children or grandchildren’s) favorite activities are. Just caring for little children or elderly parents can take a lot of time.
These things can be important and at least some of them should be important. Some of them help us to have happy lives but are they what we are created for? They are part of life but are they our whole life?
The life we are created for is life with God. Spending time with the people we love can help us understand God’s love for us. For instance, being a parent and struggling with a disobedient child might help us reflect on our own relationship with God as his child.
God gives us gifts like the gift of music. God wants us to use our gifts to help others be happy and to know God.
Baptism marks a beginning of life with God but the Sacrament of Baptism is not an end. Through Baptism we are forever marked as a child of God but being baptized does not guarantee our salvation.
In this precious sacrament, we are “baptized into Christ Jesus…baptized into his death…in newness of life.” In his death on the Cross Jesus took away the sin of the world so that we might have newness of life.
We must put God at the center of our lives if we truly want to live with him in eternity. This means God must be our greatest priority. This is not easy. We have to work to be able to food on the table. We have to take care of the children. God wants to do these things but to do them with his love.
Sometimes coming to Church for Sunday Mass can just seem like one more thing on an already busy schedule. It can be easy to think that missing one Sunday isn’t a big deal. Then one Sunday becomes two and….
Bishop Matano spoke in his pastoral letter for the Year of the Eucharist about the importance of Sunday Mass. The rules about coming to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day have not changed (we do recognize sickness and significant snow as reasons not to make it). The Third Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy remains.
We need to realize that the Third Commandment is not for God’s benefit but for our benefit. We need what the Mass offers us.
Here someone is probably thinking but I don’t feel like I get anything out of Mass. The Mass is never meant to be a magic potion that instantly makes us feel good. Celebrating Mass is about praising God. In the way we pray at Mass, we pray not for ourselves as individuals but for all of the God’s people. Yet, in hearing God’s Word and receiving the Eucharist, we cultivate and nourish our own ongoing relationship with God.
Who do we normally have our closest relationships with? Is it not the people we interact with often and engage in conversation?
Every week at Mass we hear God’s Word. In Ordinary Time, the gospel is read in sequence (so is the second reading). Missing weeks sometimes breaks up the flow of the readings or leaves us without critical components to understand the gospel as a whole.
Of course, the Eucharist is offered to us as the Bread of Life each week. It truly is the Body and Blood of Jesus. We may not always appreciate this to gain the full value.
We also might not always understand what goes on at Mass to appreciate it. That’s why Bishop Matano has called for this Year of the Eucharist, to help us understand and appreciate what we celebrate. That’s what we are going to work on this year.