Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - How Much?
A question regularly asked by all of us in our every day dealings. Our theme today centres around the possible cost of Christian discipleship. And Christ tells us that the answer is - as much as it takes!

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16: The Sunnanite woman shared with the Prophet all that she had. Elisha acknowledged this generosity by assuring her that her desire to be a mother would be fulfilled.

Romans 6: 3-11: The Apostle teaches that, in a manner of speaking, Christian discipleship means death, just as Christ died and was buried; however, the reward of eternal life more than balances the price that we are asked to pay.

Matthew 10: 37-42: To be a disciple of Christ comes at a cost. It involves putting Him first even if that costs one€™s life; in addition, it demands recognition of the poor.

Introduction: In his early instructions to the disciples, Christ told them that their first concern had to be to the lost sheep of Israel [Mat 10:6] "go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Today's Gospel tells how He broadens that instruction. Now His message is to be given to "anyone". [Mat 10:40] "Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me". The only limitation, then, will be that created by people themselves. Racial and national concerns are not to be a factor in Christian discipleship. This being the case, there is room for serious thought on our attitudes to the current vexatious problem of " illegal" migration and the manner in which it is being handled.

Point 1: The passage from the gospel, which we have just listened to, is carefully structured. Firstly, Jesus tells of three ways in which "anyone" can reject Christian discipleship [Mat 10:37 - 38] Anyone who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. This instruction is then balanced out with three ways in which "anyone" will be able to show "himself" or "herself" as a disciple of Christ - [Mat 10:40-42] "Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Anyone who welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and anyone who welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and anyone who gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."

Point 2: Jesus does not mince words - He is to be the focal point of a person's life. To make this clear, He chooses family ties as an example of the price an individual may have to pay to follow Him. Traditionally, family loyalties have the highest priority in all cultures - "blood is thicker than water" so we are told. But, not even the bonds that bind families are to be allowed to come before one's attachment to Christ. This does not mean that family loyalties are to be in any way lessened in importance in Christian thinking. For the most part, Jesus' command "to love one another" must be lived in the home. There are, however, instances in which the choice is not always as simple as some people present it. Sons and daughters in their choice of vocation or marriage partners, even employment are forced to choose between what they want and what their parents want; between what they are attracted to and what the dictates of a conscience trained and formed to a particular pattern ask. Fortunately, it is not often that people are confronted with this black and white situation of choice. With Christ, He is utterly honest in His demand; it must be conscience that dictates- " whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me". But, He is equally emphatic in His assurance that God is never outstripped in generosity -[Mat 10:42] I tell you, none of these will lose their reward."

Conclusion: Having made known the possibility of division that His presence could cause, Christ then goes on to outline the positive signs of Christian discipleship and its rewards. By welcoming, by allowing other people, with all their needs, to come into our lives , even by such a small gesture as a cup of water, is to welcome Christ into our lives. In other words, today's liturgy is telling us that the way we deal with others is the measure of God's presence in our lives. Experience tells us that generous relationships are rewarding in themselves; add to that Christ's assurance that such relationships carry a guarantee of eternal reward, and the price does not come too high.

Scriptural reference: Do not, therefore, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. [Heb 10:35]