13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As we shall once again be able to meet at Mass soon, welcome to our final set of weekly reflections – at least for now.

If you were asked to quote your favourite saying of Jesus it would be unusual if it came from the Gospel for this Sunday. It begins with one of the most challenging passages in the Gospels so be prepared for a challenging week of reflections!

Sunday / Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday / Friday / Saturday

Sunday

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows:

The words which we hear this week are spoken to the twelve, the faithful followers of Jesus. If we, in our turn, are to be faithful and follow our Lord, they are spoken to us too. CS Lewis (author of ‘The Lion, the Witch and Wardrobe’ and ‘Prince Caspian’) was a devout Christian. He once wrote that following Jesus was like going to the dentist. You might go with one particular problem to be sorted out and you end up having your whole mouth put in order! In other words, there is no room for half measures in the life of the disciple. Jesus states very clearly that there is a cost to discipleship. Our Gospel this week is really all about who or what we put first.

Ponder and Pray: Think back over your life. Has there ever been a time when your faith has made life difficult for you? Has it ever cost you anything?

Pray: for Christians living in situations where having faith is a threat to their lives.

Prayer for the week:
You may like to use the following prayer every day this week:

Grant Lord, that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Monday

(Jesus said) “Anyone who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me. Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me.”

In Jewish law, the father was not merely the head of the house he was also, de facto, the ruler. His demands were law. The mother too had full authority within the household, so she too was to be obeyed. Therefore, what Jesus says here is revolutionary; that loyalty to him must override even that laid down by the Law. Jesus is really urging us to realize that he comes above all else. It is a challenge which asks us to consider how high he is on our list of priorities. How loyal are we?

Ponder and Pray: Take a moment to settle and imagine Jesus coming into the room where you are? How do you react to him? What do you say to him? What does he say to you?

Pray: for those who have hard decisions to make.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Tuesday

(Jesus said) “anyone who does not take up the cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.”

that when we do so we “follow in his footsteps”. In other words, to take up our own cross, whatever it may be, is to walk in the very footprints of Christ. As such it is not only about grinning and bearing it but realizing that in carrying this cross, whatever it is, I am doing something Jesus did. Not only that but there can be undreamt of value in the seemingly destructive carrying of the cross. Jesus shows us this. The destructive cross was in fact the way to new life. Our own crosses are sometimes that too, even if we cannot always see it.

Ponder and pray: You may like to have a crucifix before you. Think about a time when you were forced to carry a cross. What did you learn from the experience? Speak to the Lord about it and ask for strength to be faithful whatever the future holds in store.

Pray: for all those carrying heavy crosses at the moment.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Wednesday

(Jesus said), anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Acquiring things or knowledge or status is, as we know, not the way to a fulfilled life. We can search and find these things but in the process, it is possible to lose sight of what really matters. Some of the greatest saints of the church have hammered home the message that it is not what we acquire but what we get rid of that frees us to receive life in all its richness. St John of the Cross, in particular, urges us to “declutter” not only physical things but ideas as well. The purpose is to free us up for God. There is nothing wrong with having possessions. However, there is always a danger that things possess us rather than we possess things and that can apply to ideas or attitudes as well as material objects. When we are able to say that God alone fulfils our needs and that all we have is his anyway our perspective shifts. We can sit more lightly and our perspective shifts. In this radical decluttering we shall finally manage to lose our life and find it. Something most of us are still journeying towards.

Ponder and pray: How “captured” are you by your possessions or belongings or by treasured ways of thinking? How might God be asking you to declutter?

Pray: for those consumed by the need to possess things, status, or even people.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Thursday

(Jesus said), “Anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me”.

A sincere warm welcome is something which can lighten and gladden our hearts. It’s something we have probably been missing recently as we have been unable to give or receive hugs or warm handshakes. Jesus is not urging us in this verse to be warm welcomers (though I’m sure he would want us to do this). He’s looking at it from the other end. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me. That’s quite a thought. Anyone who welcomes you welcomes the Christ in you. That’s one reason why it is so important to graciously receive as well as give a sincere welcome.

Ponder and pray: Think about a time when you have been welcomed. How good are you at simply receiving the joy that others have in welcoming you? Thank God for the experience

Pray: for those who are depressed or distressed at the lack of contact with family and friends even as lockdown eases.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Friday

(Jesus said), “anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward.”

Yesterday we reflected on “anyone who welcomes you”. Today it is “anyone who welcomes a prophet”. Prophets in the history of Judaism were not people who foretold the future. Prophets were those who forthtold the message of God. The word means a spokesperson. The reward of the messenger is that they knew they had faithfully done what they were called to do. Sometimes what God asked of them was really tough but it was reward enough to have done the job and done it well. Every one of us is baptised into the “priestly, prophetic and kingly” life of Christ. So we are all called to be a spokesperson for the Lord, whether by word or by action or both. Like the great prophets before us, the reward is knowing that we’ve done a good job and knowing it has been done to the best of our ability. A lot of new life came as a result of those messengers of old and the same can be true for us. Something new can come as a result of our faithful living and speaking.

Ponder and pray: think of the people who have been “prophets” for you; those who by word or action have brought you closer to Christ. Pray for them today. Pray that you will welcome those who bring a message from the Lord to you whenever and wherever that may happen.

Pray: for all those who speak out boldly in the name of Christ.

You may like to say the prayer for the week

Saturday

(Jesus said), “anyone who gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple… will not lose his reward.”

Remember that Jesus is addressing these words to his closest disciples, so he is stressing to them that anyone who gives hospitality to even the “little,” or least important, disciple simply because he or she is in the family of followers of Jesus will be rewarded. Underlying this phrase is a warning about the danger of status. Jesus is not advocating doing this act of kindness only for those within the group. He is simply here reminding his closest friends that status within the family is to be avoided. Whether hospitality is offered to an elderly lonely person whose name no one in the congregation can remember or an archbishop is immaterial. What matters is the spirit with which it is done. Hospitality is one of the virtues which has suffered as a result of lockdown. We have not been able to open our homes or share a meal with friends for months. Yet we all know that there is a great reward in offering hospitality. Often when we offer it we receive far more than we give.

Ponder and pray: We read a lot about Jesus going to dinner parties and meals. When you eat today remember to thank God for your food and also pray for your friends with whom you would normally share hospitality

Pray: for all those who work in the hospitality industry as they reopen this week.

You may like to say the prayer for the week
 
 

 

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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