Thirteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year A
June 28, 2020 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
II Kings 4:8-11;14-16A | Psalm 98:2-3;16-19
Romans: 6:3-4;8-11 | Matthew 10:37-42

Do you see Jesus in others?  Do you believe that God has sent messengers to live among us?  Does the Holy Spirit guide you in your daily life?

Some people in our lives may be difficult with whom to interact.   If we look at how Jesus handled such people, He typically asked questions seeking feedback.  By engaging in such a way, Jesus showed us His openness to the other person.

Remember the time when Jesus upset His friends and neighbors in Nazareth?  They were so enraged, they decided to throw Him off a cliff.  But Jesus, seeing that there was no reasoning with these people, simply walked through the crowd, ignoring their rage (as told in Luke 4).

Sometimes, difficult people throw tantrums, speak ill-will of us, or basically treat us in an abusive way (this happens all the time online).  This is a cue to disengage and walk away.

In our first reading today from Kings, the kindness and generosity of the Shunem couple towards Elisha brought them the blessing of their lives:  a baby son.  The meaning of “Elisha” is “God saves” which this reading clearly demonstrates.

With everything that is happening today: the pandemic, the racial injustice, and the protests, how we treat others, particularly anyone different from us, this Shunemite woman’s hospitality and kindness to Elisha is an example of how Jesus wants us to treat one another.  It shows our commitment to love and follow Jesus.

In our second reading from Romans, Paul reminds us of how we became a part of Jesus through our baptism.  Once baptized, we are different people since sin no longer empowers us. We do things to act more like the Shunemite woman in the first reading.

We have been given a grace and duty to love and serve Jesus.  Let us give thanks to God for this precious gift of God’s grace in our lives.  Let us welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, help the poor and needy, be loving, kind, and hospitable and obey God’s covenant.

Some of the greatest leaders in history were or are like Jesus who championed for the rights of others even when it jeopardized their own freedom and sometimes their lives.  Some of my favorites include:

–Mahatma Gandi—the anti-war activist who led India’s independence movement.  Mahatma Gandhi called Jesus “one of the greatest teachers of mankind” and proclaimed, “I like your Christ!” The philosopher Will Durant states of Gandhi, “Not since St. Francis of Assisi has any life known to history been so marked by gentlelness, simplicity, and forgiveness of enemies!” which are also traits of Jesus.

–Martin Luther King, Jr.—the Civil Rights Activist who impacted the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the entire nation with peaceful activism.  On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the 20th century’s greatest champion of justice was assassinated in Memphis, TN.  His dream and his commitment to justice had everything to do with his commitment to Jesus and his “we” included the poor, the working people around the world, and the racially, physically, and socially oppressed people.

–Mother Teresa—who devoted her life to ease suffering in the world.  Saint Teresa understood the character of Jesus was to help your neighbor and give to the poor.  She devoted her entire life doing what Jesus would do.

–Winston Churchill—whose leadership during World War II helped defeat the Nazis.  Many scholars believe that Churchill led from a core belief in divine destiny.  Although Churchill escaped death many times during his life, authors Sandy and Henley point out that “God was intervening through this man in that period of history.”

–Abraham Lincoln—who believed civilization was based on freedom, self-government, and equality for all people.  In the days following Lincoln ‘s death, his mourning compatriots compared him to Jesus and Moses.  Honest Abe as he was known overwhelmed the usual evangelical reticence and they thought his stance during the Civil War showed that God had marked him for sacred service.

–Oprah Winfrey—who overcame the odds to become a powerful leader who empowers women to succeed and educates all of us on social injustice.  Oprah states, “I am a Christian. I wouldn’t be who I am today without my faith.:  Based upon Oprah’s public profession of faith in Jesus, she is saved by the grace of God.

–Nelson Mandela—who was South Africa’s first democratically elected President who was a civil rights leader.  Nelson Mandela lived to be 95 years old.  He served 27 years in prison fighting for the freedom of his people and like Jesus, was willing to die so that everyone would have the opportunity to experience freedom and live as free people.

All of these people, like Jesus, show a sincere sensitivity to the needs of others and have had a positive effect on millions of lives.

Today’s Gospel is about our commitment to Jesus.  When He uses the phrase, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” To advise us that if we choose our earthly life over choosing to truly follow Him, we will lose our soul for eternity.  But those who choose to follow Jesus will have eternal life.

Jesus wants total commitment from anyone who is His disciple.  Those who put their family before Jesus cannot be His disciple.

Jesus even warns His disciples that following Him can cause conflict with our friends and families.  Jesus’ message of “whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.”  Is not often heeded in our modern culture.  Many people are more concerned with their own achievement, self-enrichment, power, or fame.  In fact, many “Catholics” believe that after baptism, they are “done” and the skip going to church and receiving the Sacrament on Sunday because Sunday has now become “Funday”.

The ultimate reward for our total commitment to Jesus is that we will spend eternity in God’s Kingdom with Him.  Jesus wants us to follow Him because He loves us and if we truly love Him, this is our goal.

In the scale of our relationships, Jesus is first.  Not even the closest of family, husband, wife, son or daughter, is more important than our relationship with Jesus.  And Jesus accepts nothing less than our total commitment.  Jesus promised rewards to those who give as little as a drink of water to those in need.

Stewardship is one of the essential lessons we need to learn as a disciple of Jesus.  It has to do with understanding that your life is a gift from God.

Jesus teaches us not to love money and to be content with what we have.  But He also wants us to take care of ourselves and our families financially.  Regardless of your beliefs about tithing, God asks that you give generously.

Although St. Cecilia’s is temporarily closed except virtually, the ongoing expenses of rent, electricity, broadband, and keeping the church office open remain.

So please give in a meaningful way to support our mission of spreading God’s Word and helping others.  You can give online at St.Cecilia.com or you can send a check to St. Cecilia’s at 555 N. Commercial Rd., Suite #1, Palm Springs, CA 92262, or you can contact Fr. David at 760-778-8950 to send a check through Zelle, a free bank transfer system.

Let’s all re-examine our Christian commitment.

In doing this, let’s begin by examining our obligation to attend Sunday Mass.  Are we doing this out of our love of God and the desire to offer praise and to receive the sacrament (sometimes virtually now)?

In order to live our lives fully with the pre-eminence of Jesus, nothing on earth should be more important to us than He is.  Amen.

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