The Sunday Gospel
Fr Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.
Today’s Gospel, Matthew 10:37-42, is part of the instruction given by Jesus to his apostles as he prepared them to carry on his mission after his departure. He told his followers that it would be costly at times. Sometimes great personal sacrifices would have to be made.
One might be called to leave family comforts. He compared it to taking up your cross to follow him. He spoke of losing your life in order to find its real meaning and value. That means breaking out of the shell of self-centeredness. Pope Francis often warns of the temptation to have a privatised prayer life which is insensitive to the needs of others. So Heavenly-minded that one is no Earthly good!
We live in the computer age when people have become very me-centred. Programmes of self-development are very helpful but for many people this focus on self has done nothing to improve their awareness of others. Writing about forms of Indian meditation, one writer said that 5,000 years of meditation did not plough a single field. For Mother Teresa of Calcutta her Christ-centred meditation was the source of her service to the poor.
For the past three months we have lived under restrictions designed to control the spread of Covid 19. It has been very difficult for many people. But there is something good in everything and much of the old culture of neighbourliness has been revived.
Some people really missed visiting their church and especially not being able to receive the Lord in Holy Communion. While nothing compares with the Blessed Eucharist, yet the Lord can be received and welcomed in other ways. Although people may not realise it, they are communing with the Lord when they perform works of charity. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, that you do unto me.” In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.”
Volunteers of all ages have stepped out with great generosity and creativity. Volunteers act out of goodness of heart. They do not seek a reward. But the less they seek, the greater the reward the Lord has in store for them. Even a cup of cold water will get its reward. Give the cup of time to people… time to listen, to pay attention, to give thanks or affirmation. As Pope Francis put it: “I am a mission on this earth; that is the reason why I am here in this world.” This is how St Teresa of Avila described the mission of every Christian:
Christ has no body now but yours: no hands, no feet but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses the world.
Silvester O’Flynn has recently published a book Gospel Reflections and Prayers (Columba Books)