2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a; Psalm 89:2-3, 16-19; Romans 6:3-4, 8-11; Matthew 10:37-42
First Reading: Prophets are more often running for their lives than receiving a warm welcome, but this reading from 2 Kings gives us an example of the latter situation. A widow in Shunem welcome Elisha warmly and even provides him with his own room so that he can feel at home whenever he wishes to visit. Her hospitality is rewarded: the prophet tells her that she will soon have the son she has long wished for.
Psalm 89: Today’s psalm is the song of people who know and rejoice in the faithfulness of God. The psalm, which speaks of God’s praise echoing through the generations, is a joyful response to the good news at the end of the First Reading – the birth of a child.
Second Reading: We continue our reading of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans with a key passage about Baptism which is also read at the Easter Vigil. Baptism is nothing less than death and life. Through Baptism, we die with Christ, and share in the power of his Resurrection from the dead. We are not the same anymore: and we need to live like the new, redeemed people that we are.
Gospel: In today’s Gospel, Jesus warns his Apostles what to expect before he sends them out to proclaim the Gospel.
Reflection: We tend to be pretty fickle people! Always jumping from one “shiny new coin” to another – allowing it to be the center of our attention. When we look at our prayer lives, it can be no different. Our thoughts wander; we begin to think about what we forgot to buy at the grocery but need to make dinner; why the youngsters aren’t home yet; the harsh words we exchanged with someone; how exhausted we are. Our behaviors and choices can wander, too. We are serious about following Jesus’ commandment of love, but find ourselves slipping when we choose to fritter away time on another “shiny new coin.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus clearly states that he is to be above everyone and everything in our lives – even family. But this does not mean that we ignore others.
Jesus calls us to form a good habit of thinking about others as we think about him and ourselves. He is not asking us to neglect ourselves, but to become as generous in our self-giving as he is.
On our own this would be nigh impossible. We have his assurance that in giving we find life, in giving we find the reward of the righteous, in giving we find him. Every act of self-giving is really an act of receiving! The “reward” we receive is strengthened relationships, being drawn to Jesus so we wander less, the satisfaction of knowing we have lightened another’s burden, the abiding Presence of Jesus himself and the fullness of Life he offers to those who are faithful.
Jesus also says that whoever receives his followers receives him. The Shunemite woman (of the first reading) acted as Jesus urges in the gospel. She opened her home – her self – in hospitality to Elisha the prophet of God who visited her. In giving to Elisha, she received new life – the promise of a son.
Receiving a gift always implies a giver. Giving and receiving is relational. When Jesus is the center of our lives, our giving and receiving is not only about ourselves and others, but about Jesus himself.
Question for reflection: What is keeping me from having Jesus at the center and focus of my discipleship?
Copyright © 2017, Scott W. Eakins. All Rights Reserved.