HOMILY


Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Mt. 10: 37-42


There was a man from the Monfort Co., a large Colorado meat packer, who was coming back from a food show in Chicago with a group of his fellow salespeople. They arrived at the airport late due to traffic, so this forced them to run through security and down the long concourse, briefcases in hand, coats and scarves streaming out behind them. As they went down the concourse one of them knocked over a small table of apples that was set up on the side of the concourse.

When they got to the plane they gave their boarding passes to the flight attendant at the door and scurried on the plane. All but one man; he had stopped, turned around and went back to the place where they had overturned the apples and there found a young blind girl trying find all her apples on the floor. He told her he was sorry for overturning her table and proceeded to pick up all the apples that were still saleable and set them on the table. He gave the girl a 20 dollar bill for the trouble they had caused and said goodbye. As he left to find another flight to get him home, because he knew he had missed the flight on which he was booked. As he turned to walk away the girl said, in all simplicity, "Are you Jesus?" He turned slowly toward her and said, "No, but He sent me to help you."

What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? — Christ gives us work to do if we want to follow him: work of hospitality, generosity, commitment and charity. In our first reading we see an illustration of this. The barren woman offers respect and hospitality to the prophet Elisha only because she recognizes him as a holy man. The woman is rewarded by God with the greatest of all of His gifts — a child.

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…" These words sound a bit extreme since family is dear to most of us and strongly defended by the Church. But sometimes we lose sight of what family really means. My friends, my younger brother, who lived in Chicago, one day was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. My immediate response was to go to his side. My brother told me not to come right away, he said that I had important work to do for the Lord. He told me he would call me when he knew I should come and pray with him. My own brother reminded me that we belong to a larger, greater family, that all of those baptized into Christ are also my brothers and sisters and we have responsibilities to them also. There are times when we have to give more love and compassion to the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, social outcasts, the unemployed, and the poor than to our own blood relatives.

Materialism and consumerism dominate our lives and turn our homes and neighborhoods into isolated fortresses with gated communities, intruder alarms and surveillance cameras. We are immersed in a society of competition, political power, social influence, and rampant evil. If we give in to these temptations or fail to recognize them for what they are, we are "finding our lives." But Jesus wants us to lose our life by not living for ourselves alone. We lose ourselves in caring for others.

St. Mother Theresa used to say the gospel is written on your fingers. Holding up her fingers she would say, "You – did – it – to – me." Then she would add, "At the end of your life, your five fingers will either excuse you or accuse you of doing it unto one of the least of these."

q JOSEPH MEILINGER 2020