2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16a; Ps 89:2-3, 16-19 Romans 6:3-4, 8-11; Matthew 10:37-42
There are several themes one could draw from today’s readings. Matthew’s Jesus can sound rather harsh in the early section about parents, children and life in the world. Jesus is moving from the physical to the spiritual world of his new kingdom. It has different rewards.
Jesus is setting up principles for those in leadership in his new spiritual kingdom. Images of Jesus’ own life of carrying his cross and following his Father’s plan. The apostles and disciples Jesus called out to follow him, left family, businesses and the world behind to follow him.
When Jesus called me
When I left college, parents and inheriting the family lumber and construction business as the eldest son, it was not easy. Jesus was inviting me to follow a different path. The idea of priesthood was planted about 5th grade by the stories of saints and church history the Ursuline sisters taught us. Once in the seminary it took some years to really adjust to a new life away from family and friends with weekend dances and ball games.
The years have had many travels and joys with disappointments and purifications carrying various crosses. Jesus wanted to set new priorities for my life and he still is adjusting things. Change is not over until we leave earth hopefully to meet Jesus and go to our eternal reward in heaven.
Jesus rewards disciples — and their companions
The first and gospel readings hint at the rewards that disciples (close followers and students of Jesus) will receive. These are major and minor leaders. Along with them are some generous companions who assist and provide for the disciples. These companions are like the wife and husband who provided the prophet Elisha with food and lodging when he was in their town. Jesus says these people will receive the same reward as the prophet.
The same is true of welcoming disciples. “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s rewards, whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man, will receive a righteous man’s reward.” My Franciscan Province administers two universities. The friars do not do all the work and teaching. There are hundreds of laypersons that work with us to bring Christian values to our students. All of these, if faithful, will receive with us the same reward.
He rewards us now and forever
I find it comforting when Jesus says: Whoever receives you receives me (Jesus), and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me (his Father). It is difficult at times to follow Jesus and carry our own cross behind Jesus. His grace is with us and our reward will be great in heavenly glory. Let us not be afraid to get closer to Jesus each day in prayer and work. There will be rewards here but the eternal reward cannot be understood or described on earth.
Let us continue to pray for the various “hot spots” and things in the world that are not of Jesus and his kingdom. We pray in the first stanza of the Pentecost Sequence, “Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from Your clear celestial home, Shed a ray of light divine!” Holy Spirit, we need Your light in our minds. The Holy Spirit was given to us at our baptism and continues to guide us if we pray and are quiet enough to hear and see him working. Have a blessed week following Jesus. Also have a safe and wonderful July 4th.
+ Fr. Bob Hilz
(© 2017 Fr. Bob Hilz, TOR)