13th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2nd July, 2017

Liturgical Reflection

2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16; Rom 6:3-4,8-11; Mat 10:37-42.

 

The theme of today’s readings is God rejoices in our generosity.

The last sentence in the Gospel extract from Matthew gives us the key – God blesses those who give to others. Whoever gives even a cup of water to a thirsty ‘little one’, will be rewarded by God.

In the book of Kings, we get a practical example of generosity being rewarded. An unnamed wealthy Shunemite woman offered hospitality to the prophet Elisha. It is worth reading the section 2 Kings 4: 12-14 to get the full picture. She did not want a reward. Elisha asked his servant Gehazi what could be done for her. Gehazi just pointed out that she and her husband were without a son. Elisha (on God’s behalf) then promised that a son would be theirs. Gift given, gift received.

Matthew’s gospel sounds somewhat harsh in his comments about loving Jesus/God more than family members. However, his version is toned down, compared with the similar account in Mark.

What is the context? Matthew was writing for a community, mainly of Jewish Christians. Family conflicts about religion were real and serious. In traditional societies, living a different faith from parents and other relatives usually meant ostracism. This is sometimes hard for Australians of Anglo-Celtic descent to understand today. It rings true for those who come from Pacific Islands cultures or modern Middle Eastern ones.

What does ‘loving God more than...’ mean for us? For early Christians, the prospect of ‘taking up a cross’ was horrible. Have we tamed the gospel precepts? Losing our lives for the sake of God is easy to say. What is means is different and puzzling.

What matters is not whether our kindness is received or appreciated. Giving generously of our time, listening and small actions helping others, are signs that we are part of the Mystery who is God.

Giving ‘even a cup of water’ to those who are ‘little in the eyes of others’ matters to God – because it is then that we are loving them consciously with God’s own love. Losing one’s life literally in martyrdom is not the destiny for most of us. Living with our neighbours each day is our calling.

 

 

As we come to face the reality of lives in a changing congregation, a changing church institution, a rapidly changing country and world, whether we are giving water to thirsty grandchildren, or homeless people or the sick, or those across the table sharing a meal with us, or providing water supplies for whole villages and towns, what matters is that we consciously see this as God’s loving others through our human actions.

Rose Mary Kinne