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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Amos 2:6-10.13-16): Thus says the Lord: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way. Son and father go to the same prostitute, profaning my holy name. Upon garments taken in pledge they recline beside any altar; and the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their god. Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorites before them, who were as tall as the cedars, and as strong as the oak trees. I destroyed their fruit above, and their roots beneath. It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and who led you through the desert for forty years, to occupy the land of the Amorites.

Beware, I will crush you into the ground as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves. Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong man shall not retain his strength; the warrior shall not save his life, nor the bowman stand his ground; the swift of foot shall not escape, nor the horseman save his life. And the most stouthearted of warriors shall flee naked on that day, says the Lord.
Responsorial Psalm: 49
R/. Remember this, you who never think of God.
«Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind you?».

«When you see a thief, you keep pace with him, and with adulterers you throw in your lot. To your mouth you give free rein for evil, you harness your tongue to deceit».

«You sit speaking against your brother; against your mother's son you spread rumors. When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it? Or do you think that I am like yourself? I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes».

«Consider this, you who forget God, lest I rend you and there be no one to rescue you. He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me; and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God».
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 a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other shore. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

"Follow me"

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

Today, the Gospel presents us —through two characters— a quality the good disciple of Jesus must have: a detachment from material goods. Before that St. Matthew's Gospel points out to a detail I would not like to overlook: “When Jesus saw a crowd 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, all of us 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 filling out our heart with other “gods” that cannot give meaning to our live: mobile phones, Internet, tourist holidays, a frantic work schedule to make more money, a car better than the neighbor’s or a gym to excel as the best figure of them all... This is what is happening to many people right now.

In sharp contrast, though, St. John Paul II's outcry to the youth resounded full of force and confidence: «It is possible to be both modern and profoundly faithful to Jesus Christ». For this we need to do as the Lord, 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 rest his head (...) Follow me” (Mt 8:22), says today's Gospel. And St. Gregory the Great reminds us: “We make use of temporal things, but our hearts are set on what is eternal. Temporal goods help us on our way, but our desire must be for those eternal realities which are our goal.” This is a good guideline to examine whether we are properly following Jesus.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “We are put in mind to have the temporal things in use, but eternal things in desire ; let us make use of earthly things for the journey, and wish the eternal things for the end of the day.” (Saint Gregory the Great)

  • “From gospel times to our own day, Christ's founding will has continued to be at work, the will expressed in that very beautiful and holy invitation addressed to so many souls: ‘Follow me!’" (Saint John Paul II)

  • “The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the Church.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nº 899)