Bulletin: July 2, 2017
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Which should we do? Turn our backs on our loved ones, or offer hospitality to all who come to us as Christ? Today we are told to do both, and yet there is no inherent contradiction here. Following Christ might mean that we need to be aware both that Christ comes first in our lives, and that losing our life for Christ’s sake means to find it. We also are reminded that when we were baptized, we died with Christ, to sin and to the pull of the world, and live with him in a new life. No contradiction, no necessary confusion. Just grace and hope.
DYING AND RISING
The words of Saint Paul hit us smack in the face: “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3). This epistle is one of the choices to be read at Catholic funerals. It generally comes as something of a shock to the listeners. But the reading goes on to offer great comfort to us as Christians. “[w]e have died with Christ . . . we shall also live with him . . . raised from the dead, [Christ] dies no more . . . [Christ] lives for God . . . you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”
One of the ways we live in God is to extend God’s hospitality to all. As an old Irish rune says, “Often goes the Christ in the stranger’s guise.”
The woman of Shunem offered hospitality to the prophet Elisha in the form of dinner and a place to stay. He rewarded her hospitality with the promise of a son. Christ explains to us just what hospitality means: “Whoever receives you receives me” and shall not lack for a reward. As theologian Paul Wadell teaches, when we offer hospitality, we not only offer food and drink, or a place to stay, or other kindness, we offer ourselves; we offer our attention to a stranger’s story, wherein we learn another person’s perspective, and in doing so we listen to God’s story.
In warning us that “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me . . .” and also, “Whoever finds [their] life will lose it, and whoever loses [their] life for my sake will find it” Jesus proposes that we cultivate detachment from things that we now consider primary in our lives. Christ loves us and wants us to put him first before other commitments or desires. Our hospitality to strangers puts Christ before ourselves in just this way.
Today’s Readings: 2 Kgs 4:8–11, 14–16a; Ps 89:2–3, 16–19; Rom 6:3–4, 8–11; Mt 10:37–42