13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A ON JUNE 28, 2020 (R. 1: 2Kings 4: 8- 11, 14- 16a; Psalm 89: 2- 3, 16- 17, 18- 19; R. 2: Romans 6: 3- 4, 8- 11; Gospel: Matthew 10: 37- 42)
– REVD FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
…OTHERS GO BY GIVING
There was a shoemaker who had his shop at the gate of a seminary. Every year he would make a special pair of shoes and present to one of the graduating seminarians with a special request that the seminarian might put on the pair of shoes while celebrating his First Mass. Someone asked him the reason for his kind gesture. He explained that when he was a little boy, he desired to go to the seminary to become a priest. Unfortunately for him, his parents could not afford his school fees after his first year in High School. He then dropped out of school and began to learn how to make shoes. Even though he was out of school, he continued to desire the priesthood. When it dawned on him that age was no longer on his side, he began to make shoes for would-be priests. Then he would say to himself, “Even though I am not a priest, I am fulfilled because many priests are celebrating Masses and preaching while standing in my shoes.”
Today’s Gospel concludes Christ’s missionary discourse, part of which we read last Sunday. While preparing his apostles for the mission ahead, Jesus was very sincere in giving them the full picture of what they were going to encounter. He gave them both sides of the coin, the bitter and the sweet. On the one hand, there would be rejection and persecution; on the other hand, there would be a warm reception and kindness offered to them. He went on to add that great rewards await those who will be behind the hospitality.
It is a very noble thing to be an apostle of Jesus Christ or a prophet of God. Great blessings accompany those who are privileged to be in any of these offices. But not all of us are called to become ministerial priests, deacons, nuns, monks, and lay missionaries. However, God, in His goodness, wants to extend the blessings of these offices to all of us who are open to the blessings these offices bestow. He gave a “short cut” to attain these blessings. If you want to be blessed like a prophet, you don’t necessarily need to become a prophet; offer a helping hand to the prophet, and then you will be blessed like the prophet. He says, “whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones…because the little one is a disciple…will surely not lose his reward.”
The account of Elisha and the woman in the first reading shows us that God rewards those who are charitable to His friends and messengers. She provided meal and shelter for the Man of God, and God rewarded her with the gift of a son after being barren for many years. A sincere examination of conscience might show us that many times, we take more pleasure in finding faults and broadcasting what we see as failures in the servants of God than we do in investing spiritually and materially in their ministries.
St. Therese of Lisieux is the Patroness of Missionaries. What did she do to earn her this great honor? Could it be that she traveled around the world preaching? No! Therese was born in France on January 2, 1873. She was the youngest of nine children. She felt a very strong call to be a nun. She was not allowed because she was too young. She sought her bishop’s intervention, but when that did not work, she went on to personally ask Pope Leo XIII for permission to enter the convent at the unusually young age of 15. Eventually, she was granted admission to the Carmelite convent in Lisieux. As a nun, she wanted so much to leave her convent in France and be sent on mission, specifically to Vietnam, but her poor health became an obstacle. She lived for nine more years and died at the age of 24. Rather than complain and remain bitter, she decided that since she could not go on mission, she would offer her pain as a sacrifice in prayers for the success of those on mission. Since her legs could not go on mission, her prayers and her heart went on mission.
My Dearly Beloved in Christ, what is keeping you from being a missionary? Remember the saying, “Some give to the mission by going; others go to the mission by giving.” Where do you belong?