Saturday, July 1, 2017

2017/07/02 - Disciples for Dinner

Before Mass:
We are continuing our walk thru Matt chapter 10 – picking up where we left off last week.  Jesus continues his instructions to the Disciples and he’s trying to get them to sign on the dotted line to be His disciple…and he has some strong words for them:
"Whoever loves father or mother … (or) …son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

What’s He talking about?  We’ll touch on that in the homily.
The common theme between the first reading and the Gospel today seems to be “how do we treat our prophets and disciples”.   The first reading shows Elisha the prophet being welcomed into the home of a couple in Shunem.  They didn’t have to be hospitable… the guy could have gone to an Inn to get food and lodging.  So why invite him to stay?

Then Jesus also talks about hospitality in the Gospel, and this time He seems to be encouraging US to treat his disciples with hospitality.  So listen for that theme – and you might ask yourself – what have I done for God’s prophets?

Picture this Gospel as a Disciple Boot Camp – where these potential disciples are trained hard, instructed about how to be disciples, and you might say, the men are separated from the boys.  Jesus sees several issues which they will face and here he addresses a couple of them:
"Whoever loves father or mother … (or) …son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

Is Jesus saying we should not Love our families?  No – I think he’s just overhearing the excuses being made in the crowd and he’s addressing it. Everybody had their excuses – some had families and jobs and some had to take care of aging parents.  I can just hear it – well – the 10 commandments tell us to honor our father and mother, so I need to stay here and take care of them.  If I don’t I’m breaking God’s law!

Do you see what’s wrong with that argument?  Yes – honor your parents is one of the 10 – BUT – it’s number 5.  What’s number 1?  There is one God and you shall love Him alone.  Is the order really important?  Jesus thinks so – he said the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength.  That’s the GREATEST law – which means everything else takes at best second-place.  Our PRIORITY is to love God.  When we put anyTHING or anyONE in front of him, our priorities are messed up.

If Fr Eugene had used that excuse – “well , I need to stay at home and take care of Mom and the farm”, he wouldn’t be the disciple he is!  He would not be here today!  That’s a scary thought, because it seems to me he is right where God needs him to be.

Then Jesus said something perhaps even more perplexing:
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

We could read that literally and say that we all have to become Martyrs to please God…. But I don’t think that’s the message for us today.  See – Jesus is still talking to these potential disciples, and trying to convince them to sign on the dotted line – trying to get them off of the fence.  Either you ARE my Disciple or you’re not.. which is it?
Again, using Fr. Eugene as the example, he didn’t give us his life physically – but in every other way, he did – he left his entire life, lifestyle, and livelihood – all his friends and family – everything he was comfortable with – when he left for the seminary to become a Priest.

This is a perfect example for every one of us.  We are ALL called to be disciples – Jesus wants US to sign on the bottom line.  But in order to REALLY be a disciple, we gotta be all in.  Either we ARE His disciple, or we are not..which is it?  We have to surrender everything in our life at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to use us as He sees fit.  Everything?  Yes – Everything.

Jesus, I give you my time, my abilities, my money, my family, my job, my sex life, my property, my relationships… everything…where do I sign? 

That’s our first challenge for today – but there’s a second challenge:  How do we treat the Disciples of Jesus?  Our media and movies like to make Christians look like bumbling, backwoods, stupid folk – or like inflexible, dogmatic, self-righteous, secretly-evil people.  Do we treat Disciples like that?  Do we support them, or call them Jesus Freaks and stay away from them?

I think that’s why Jesus raised the issue today – to encourage US-   Like the woman in the first reading, to seek out the Men and Women of God and take care of them. 

What’s in it for us when we do that:  God WANTS to reward those who take care of his prophets.  Notice –t he Shunemite lady didn’t ask for a baby – but she was blessed.
Jesus says “he who receives a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward”.  What is that reward?  Think about what would happen, for example, if you invited Fr. Eugene over for supper every month or two… what would happen to your home?  First, you might notice anything in your house which you’d be embarrassed to have lying around when Father comes over – and you might just realize you’re embarrassed about it at all – and get rid of it.  Second – the conversation around the dinner table will be different than you normally experience – and your kids will get to see and hear you talking to Father about Church matters, and they’ll realize this is important.  Third – your kids will get to know Father as a person – not just a Man of God – but a Man’s man… his love of sports, his humor,  - and he’ll get to talk to them one on one – which makes THEM feel important… and just maybe light the initial spark to consider a religious life.  (I remember as a kid we’d have priests out to the house all the time – and I wonder if that’s part of why I felt called to ministry)

Perhaps one of the reasons we have less men seeking the priesthood and women seeking to be nuns is because we’ve gotten away from inviting our local Prophet into our home?!   In short – a righteous man’s reward is simply the reward of having a righteous man in your midst!  Our parish is a better place because of his presence… just imagine bringing that home… it can change your life and make your whole family more righteous.  Also, notice what Jesus said – "Whoever receives you receives me” – so when we invite Father over, we are inviting Jesus himself into our home!

Finally – our hospitality is directed to more than just Father.  Every one of sitting here are called to be Disciples – and to reach out to everyone else.  Think about your own actions:  how can I reach out to fellow disciples better?  How can I help our Parish to be more welcoming?  How can I personally be more welcoming? 

We get a lot of visitors here – just like Elisha the prophet – passing through our town.  What is Jesus calling you and me to do to welcome them?

In summary, let me repeat our challenges today:  First – sign on the dotted line – either I’m all in as a disciple, or I’m not really a disciple.  Second – go out of our way to take care of God’s servants.

When we put discipleship ahead of everything else, the rewards will be out of this world.

1 comment:

  1. Glad I took time to read this Mike. Loved hearing your perspective of these readings. It will make it all the more interesting to hear the interpretation we get in the morning at our Parish.