15th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Is 1:10-17
Hear the word of the LORD, princes of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, people of Gomorrah! What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure. When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you? Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me. New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies, octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear. Your new moons and festivals I detest; they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Gospel: Mt 10:34—11:1
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household. “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 his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple– amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.
TRUE DISCIPLE OF CHRIST: In the first reading, God minces no words to warn the people of Sodom and Gomorrah to repent and turn away from their sinful nature. It was to purify themselves and turn to the Lord. The invitatory psalm underlines this when we respond, “to the upright I shall saw the saving power of God”. Justice, mercy, and uprightness are values that needs to be held high in our lives. God is merciful and just in his ways and yet he reminds us that his judgements are true and just (cf. Psalm 19:9). The Gospel reading is inviting us to be a true disciple of Christ. Renounce everything, carry one’s cross and follow him. It is not easy but possible. There are many who have walked this path and let us strive to imitate Christ our master.
Prayer: Lord, strengthen us in our resolve to carry our daily cross and to follow you.
JUSTICE BEFORE SACRIFICE: God does not relish fat offerings and the smell of the incense but rather desires purity of heart and justice to the poor. God says through Isaiah, “Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” First justice, then prayers and sacrifice. Jesus brings peace, yet those set in worldly and selfish ways disregard it and fight the gospel attempting to destroy the Church. Thus Jesus says he came to bring not peace but the sword! Let us remember that it is not the disciples who took up the swords; they are rather the target of attack. Will Jesus find us worthy of him at the face of persecutions? Jesus is very concerned about the sufferings that the disciples will have to undergo that he promises rich rewards for those who protect and do any favour to the disciples, even as little as offering a cup of water.
OUR FIRST PRIORITY: The purpose of God has always been to do His will on earth as it is in heaven by expanding His Kingdom and that is why even after the death of Joseph He continues to multiply the children of Israel amidst suffering. In the Gospel Jesus sets priorities concerning his mission. Here, he not only forewarns His disciples about the collateral effect of his word even in families but also insists that to follow him implies loving him more than any other, and loving Him till the cross. He invites us to a whole-hearted dedication to His cause. As Christians, Jesus calls us to be witness of His Kingdom here on earth. This will be achieved not by hating our other priorities but by loving them less and making His agenda our priority.