13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Fr. Francis)
Why did God make you?” The answer we memorized was: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”
On this thirteenth Sunday, the church exhorts us to welcome Christ in others. This is especially, through the messengers of God among us. She equally encourages us to be sensitive to the need of one another in order to make a positive difference in their lives.
In the first reading of this Sunday, the generosity of the Shunem couple towards Elisha brought them the blessing and joy of their life. There is much to be learnt from this reading. They were sensitive to the plight and immediate need of the man of God. Little did they know that this was the beginning of their blessing. Hence, through this act of generosity, hospitality and sensitivity, everything turned around for their good. Their desire of the ages was fulfilled.
On the other hand, Elisha was equally concerned and sensitive to the needs of this Shunem couple. So, rather than over burden them with more request or exploit their generosity, he prayed for them, and blessed them through his prophetic ministry. Thus, his presence was indeed a blessing to this house, rather than a burden. It suffices to note that the name of Elisa means: “God saves.” This is exactly, what his action affirmed.
In the second reading, Paul recounts how Christ offered us new life through our baptism. He came and offered himself as a ransom, not for his own sake. Rather, for the sake of our salvation. By accepting him through our baptism, we have become one with him in death and in life. Also, by welcoming Christ, we have received a share in his glorious life and are no longer slaves to sin and death. This same Christ lives in others. So, we must equally welcome him in others, including, in the least of our brethren.
In today’s gospel, Christ spoke clearly to us on the need to welcome others for His sake. This is especially, those who bear the good news of salvation. Through generosity and hospitality, like the Shunem family in our first reading, we could attract God’s blessings to our home and family. Through these, our lives and fortunes could be transformed as well. Cups of cold water may be translated into a letter, a phone-call, a smile, a word of appreciation. They cost little but how the world today is crying out for cups of cold water! Christ is often wounded and struggling in my neighbor.
Unfortunately, these days, we take a lot of things for granted. Some of us are so indifferent to others and their needs. This includes, indifference to the presence of the “genuine messengers” of God among us. This could be due to the fact that, our society is flooded with many self-proclaimed and false men of God. That is, to the extent that one could hardly differentiate between a genuine and a false preacher.
It could also be that, we have become so used to one another, and of course, to men of God, that they have become so ordinary to us. Most importantly and sadly though, it could be that, “some so-called men of God,” as well as the people of God, have lost the sense of the sacred.
Let us be conscious of God’s light, God’s grace in our lives. Let us always try to welcome the stranger, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, to help the poor, to be hospitable, to be loving, to be kind. Because these are the ways we show our allegiance to Jesus. These are the ways we show our love. These are the deeds that make our love real.
Finally, it is important to ask ourselves these important questions. Do we still value the presence of others? Are we sensitive to their needs? Is our presence a source of blessing to the people we meet or that meet us? Does it really make any difference, or is it an added burden to their life? What good do I bring to the life of others?
Fr. A. Francis HGN