Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Tim – Fr. Pete Iorio
June 27, 2020 – 5:00 PM

Audio Recording

The Gospel is a collection of sayings in Matthew whereas in the other Gospels, they appear as different teachings for the missionary service of the apostles. To be a disciple of Jesus requires commitment to persevere and it will also cost you.

Some scholars say that Jesus did not say: whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me because he had not taken up his own cross during the Passion and they would not understand. This was, however, a common phrase of the earliest Christians who understood after Christ’s death and resurrection. They knew that he carried his cross to Calvary and out of tremendous love, died on the cross. So any act of self-sacrifice out of love for neighbor or any discomfort I make out of love for neighbor is taking up my cross.

The common theme of today’s readings is the work God gives us to do to as the followers of Jesus: to love God and our brothers and sisters through hospitality, generosity, commitment and charity. If you are just coming to church to pray and to get something out of it for yourself, you are not fully a disciple of Jesus the Christ who demands that we recognize that in serving other people, we serve and love God.

The first reading gives a human example of how this hospitality and generosity is lived out. A woman of influence had no children and her husband was getting on in age. She always gave Elisha the prophet generous hospitality. She does not do it with a motivation to gain something, but merely to give what comes from within her… a generous love. God looks on this generosity and makes a beautiful promise through the prophet: She will have a baby boy next year.

Jesus uses the example of giving a thirsty child a drink of cold water. The motivation is for giving is because that is who I am… I am a disciple of Jesus who commanded me to be generous.

One very important gesture of generosity that is needed from all of us right now is something that is somewhat controversial – to wear our masks when we are in public. I have heard the great American attitude: I can do what I want. I am not afraid of getting sick. The bishop mandated wearing masks in church and I don’t have to obey him. Is this the attitude of Christ? Not as I read the Gospel. I wear a mask not to protect myself, according to health experts, but to protect others. Therefore, it is an act of generous love toward neighbor to wear our masks. I do not like to wear a mask any more than you do. I do so in order to love my neighbor, to be a good example to you, and to be in solidarity with you. I wear it during the consecration because I have seen in bright church lights spray coming from my mouth when I speak. I do not want to possibly infect the hosts that you will receive. When I changed my attitude, not making it all about me and my rights and my discomfort, but instead, make it about generosity and love for my neighbor, it all changes for me. Also, in the context of taking up our crosses, to offer up our discomfort for our neighbor by wearing our masks, we are valuing the teaching of following after the example of our Lord. And I might add that it is important to wear the masks correctly covering your mouth and your nose.

How you give is how you receive.

Eleven times in the New Testament, Jesus either assumes or receives the hospitality of others for his daily care and lodging. How else do you think he survived? Furthermore, hospitality is assumed by Jesus in the sending forth of the apostles (“He who receives you, receives me,” Matthew 10:40). And the early Church would never have made it, had it not “practiced hospitality” as Paul mandated in Romans 12. Traveling missionaries stayed in homes … conducted worship in homes … served the Sacrament in homes … and took up collections for those engaged in the work of the Gospel in homes. In the first two centuries of the Church’s existence, any talk about “the house of God” literally meant a house … somebody’s house … where the people of God gathered and where the servants of God bunked (while passing through).

Granted our times are changed from the times of Jesus and the early Church, but the Christian teaching of love of neighbor is always essential. We can be creative in how we apply it. All comes with an attitude and a mindset of Christ.