13th Sunday in Ordinary Time A20
What we hear in today’s Gospel comes at the end of a section in Matthew in which Jesus is preparing the 12 for their 1st missionary journey. He seems to be asking them, “Are you ready for this?” They are not going on an adventure or a sales trip. It would be different: they going out on their own to share what they believed was really good news. Were they convinced enough and dedicated enough to do that? Jesus is being frank with them, telling them that they would experience both welcome and rejection. Jesus is demanding them to make him 1st in their lives. Nothing, no relationship nor any desire, even life itself, can be more important than what they are about to do.
Today is another reminder that Christianity is more than an once a week event or is only centered on prayer. It’s a call to action, and there’s a price you must pay: you must pick up your cross and follow him. The cross is a most important part of discipleship, not merely a historical event that happened to our Master alone.
I have a very wise friend who told me not to seek crosses; they will find you! That friend’s advice is certainly true in these past months when we have dealing with COVID-19. It caused many of us to work or study from home, necessitating more time with our families which at times was a blessing and at other times a bit of a curse. For others of us, it brought about isolation and loneliness. For all of us, it started feelings of worry about social distancing, masks, gloves and suspicion of others when we had to go out for groceries and resignation, frustration, or even anger about the “new normal” we are made to accept.
How do we handle the cross that has been thrust upon us? Maybe the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta can be of some help. She wrote:
- People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
- If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
- If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
- If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
- What you spend years creating, other could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
- If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
- The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
- Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
- In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.