Fr Vincent's reflections on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lord Jesus, you are my best friend. Help me to remain always in love with You first.
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13th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2020
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, who through the grace of adoption
chose us to be children of light,
grant, we pray,
that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error
but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
As before, if you don’t have your Bible with you, please pause this video to retrieve your Bible so you can follow along. The Gospel today is Matthew 10:37-42.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew:
Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple —
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
If I ask: Do you love Jesus? You would quickly give the only possible answer: “YES!” No one would seriously answer, “I choose darkness over light.” Yet so many choices are not so obvious.
When it comes to “love,” we feel love for different people and different things, even with different intensities. It is normal to say, “I love you,” to more than one person. I love my sister; I love my brother-in-law; I love each of my friends; I still love my parents, even though they are deceased; I even love myself, sometimes! I enjoy prayer; I enjoy reading; I enjoy sleeping; I enjoy eating, maybe a little too much! I understand that loving one person does not stop me from loving another, and enjoying one activity does not prevent me from taking part in another. Life has a variety of loves and pleasures which we seem to be able to blend most of the time.
But, in today’s Gospel, Jesus presents us with a radical choice: If we don’t love Jesus more than everyone and everything else, then we don’t love him enough! Wow! I remember that play-ground dilemma in third grade, where 3 of us were trying to decide who was best friends to whom. Even at 8 years old, we were stuck by the fact that you cannot have two best friends! So, who was first and who would be second? Don’t make me choose!
Jesus today seems to want us to choose. And choose me must! But it is right to face this dilemma of faith, because it is more serious than 3 little boys on a playground. It is too easy for us to say: “I love Jesus, but right now I choose this over Jesus because I will get back to Jesus later.” We did that as 8 year olds: when Dave & Pete were together without Vincent, they would be best friends. When Vince & Dave were together without Peter, they would be best friends. All of a sudden, we could no longer do things as three – someone had to be left out if the others would have a best friend. And we can end up doing the same thing to Jesus – he’s only my best friend when I pay attention to him. So, if I want to spend time on the internet, that becomes my best friend of the moment until I decide to give Jesus attention.
What happens, even as adults, is we choose this person or that activity, as if we cannot choose Jesus / Faith at the same time. Thus, my Christianity is weakened by paying attention to someone or something else and leaving Jesus out of the moment. It’s like I hear more often than I care to count, “we were on vacation, so we didn’t go to church,” as if Faith and vacation cannot co-exist! Or, “I was too tired after cleaning up from the party to make it to Mass,” as if Mass was just one thing too much to add into the weekend! The words of Jesus rightly stings: “whoever loves ... anyone/anything ... more than me is not worthy of me.”
We truly need to learn to put Jesus first. Plan the Mass you are going to attend before planning the weekend trip. Know that the expectations of Faith are more important than the pleasures of the moment. Putting Jesus first means that who He is to me influences every decision I make. I never want to get back with him later or leave him out of any activity. I don’t want anything to weaken that connection and relationship. When we put Jesus after some other person or thing, he truly loses that “best friend” status. And I can tell you, when Dave & Pete left Vince out, Vince felt like no friend at all!
We sacrifice much for our best friend, for the person we truly love, so that they know how important they are to us. What have I sacrificed for love of Jesus? How have I given of myself for the sake of Jesus and my Faith to prove that He is truly first in my life?
Let us pray,
Lord Jesus, you are my best friend. Help me to remain always in love with You first. May you send your Spirit upon us that we never have to choose who is first in my life, because you are first for me.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.