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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday 13th in Ordinary Time

1st Reading (Gen 18:16-33): Abraham and the men who had visited him by the Terebinth of Mamre set out from there and looked down toward Sodom. Abraham was walking with them, to see them on their way. The Lord reflected: «Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, now that he is to become a great and populous nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may carry into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him». Then the Lord said: «The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out». While the two men walked on farther toward Sodom, the Lord remained standing before Abraham.

Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said: «Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty? Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city; would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to make the innocent die with the guilty, so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike! Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?». The Lord replied, «If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake». Abraham spoke up again: «See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty innocent people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?». He answered, «I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there». But Abraham persisted, saying, «What if only forty are found there?». He replied, «I will forbear doing it for the sake of forty».

Then Abraham said, «Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?». He replied, «I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there». Still Abraham went on, «Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?». He answered, «I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty». But he still persisted: «Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time. What if there are at least ten there?». He replied, «For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it». The Lord departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned home.
Responsorial Psalm: 102
R/. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the Lord, o my soul; and all my being, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, o my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

He pardons all your iniquities, he heals all your ills. He redeems your life from destruction, he crowns you with kindness and compassion.

Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. He will not always chide, nor does he keep his wrath forever.

Not according to our sins does he deal with us, nor does he requite us according to our crimes. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
Versicle before the Gospel (Ps 94:8): Alleluia. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 8,18-22): When Jesus saw the crowd press around him, Jesus gave orders to cross to the other shore. A teacher of the Law approached him and said, «Master, I will follow you wherever you go». Jesus said to him, «Foxes have holes and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head». Another disciple said to him, «Lord, let me go and bury my father first». But Jesus answered him, «Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead».

«Follow me»

Fr, Jordi PASCUAL i Bancells (Salt, Girona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel presents us —through two personages— a quality the good disciple of Jesus must have: to dispense with all material goods. Before, however, St. Matthew's text points out to a detail I would not like to overlook: «When Jesus saw the crowd press around him...» (Mt 8:18). Crowds gather around the Lord to listen to his words, to be healed of their material and spiritual sicknesses; they are seeking their salvation and a breath of eternal Life amidst a world in conflict.

As at that time, something similar happens in today's world: more or less consciously, we, all, need God's help, to satiate our heart with true spiritual goods, such as a better knowledge of Jesus Christ and a life of friendship and love for Him. Otherwise, we risk tumbling into the trap that fills out our heart with other “gods” giving no meaning to our lives: mobile phones, Internet, tourist holidays to the Bahamas, a frantic work to make more money, a better car than your neighbour or a gym where to excel with the best figure of them all... Right now, this is what is happening to many of us.

In sharp contrast, though, John Paul II's outcry to the youth, full of force and confidence, resounds: «It is possible to be both modern and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ». It is needed, for this, as the Lord says, our breaking away with what may link us to a much materialized way of life that serves no purpose other than closing the doors to the Holy Spirit.

«The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head (...) Follow me» (Mt 8:22), says today's Gospel. And St. Gregory the Great reminds us: «Let temporal things be used, while keeping eternal realities in our desire; let earthly things be utilized for our trek, while desiring the eternal ones for the end of our journey». This is a good criterion to examine whether we are properly following Jesus.