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Homily (Reflection) for the Thirteenth Sunday of the Year (A) (28th June, 2020) on the Gospel

2Kg 4:8-11.14-16;
Ps 88:2-3.16-19 (R.v.2);
Rom 6:3-4.8-11;
Matt 10:37-42.

During the persecutions of Septimius Severus, the Roman Emperor, five catechumens were arrested. Perpetua and Felicity [her slave] were among that unfortunate lot. While under arrest they were baptized. Perpetua’s father besought her to apostatize, because she was his favourite child. He pleaded with her even in the forum before the people to renounce her religion. The appeal fell on deaf ears.
During her time in prison, her father came to visit her. He was still a pagan. He carried Perpetua’s tiny infant in his arms. He pleaded with her to renounce the Christian faith. But even the love she had for her father and her baby was not strong enough to make her renounce her faith.
Saint Perpetua suffered martyrdom in 203 A.D. by being thrown to the raging lions in the Roman Empire’s persecution of the Church.[1]
Topic: Loving Jesus above all.
Jesus cautions in today’s gospel,
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 the cross and follow me is not worthy of me (Matt 10:37-38).
These are the requirements of being Jesus’ disciple. And in a parallel passage, they are worded in stronger words and are more encompassing, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26).
Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24; cf. Lk 16:13). Again, Jesus warned, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62).
Being a Christian is much more than belonging to a church. It is a call to discipleship. However, lots of things distract us from devoting ourselves fully to this call. Saint Paul correctly questions,
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom 8:35-37).
Saint Paul made an important declaration as a disciple,
Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ (Phil 3:8).
We ourselves ought to make this same declaration sincerely. Remember the words of Jesus, “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven” (Matt 10:32-33). And finally, “He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels” (Rev 3:5).
Bible Reading: Rom 8:18-39; Phil 3:2 – 4:1.
Thought for today: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:35)

Let us pray: Jesus I love you.
        All I have is yours.
                      Yours I am.
        Yours I want to be.
                      Do with me whatever you want – Amen.

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[1] Sagayanathan, A., (2009). Launching pad: Stories for Sunday homilies, year A,B&C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, pp. 90-91

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