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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 (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 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)