Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
 Luke 9: 51-62

For the past couple of weeks ever since we started reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel, we have been discussing the requirements for discipleship, the criteria for truly being a follower of Jesus. We remarked that the Sermon on the Mount is the nitty-gritty of discipleship. We began by reading the Beatitudes, then the antitheses, and various admonitions that shape the disciples agenda and behavior.

Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke’s Gospel is also about discipleship. Jesus’ mission in Galilee is now finished and he is headed for Jerusalem where he will suffer his passion and death upon the cross. On the way he passes through some Samaritan villages during which time he met the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus was still the Teacher even as he made his way to Jerusalem. There were many along the way who had not heard the Sermon on the Mount and to teach them these important things Jesus continues to teach the requirements of discipleship.

This teaching continues in this Gospel for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time with three different situations narrated toward the end of today’s Gospel. Jesus meets three different individuals and teaches us something at each meeting.

To the first person who said he would follow Jesus wherever he went, we might say through hell and high water, Jesus taught that our personal comforts will have to be secondary to our response to discipleship. It is not going to be all about me and it is not going to be an easy venture. Life following Jesus will not be the proverbial peaches and cream.

To the second person, Jesus has nothing against him burying his dead, but he does have something against our lousy, insignificant excuses for postponing our service to the Gospel and others. Following Jesus is a major commitment and must be the first of our priorities. Other things, important as they may be, are going to have to wait and be put on the back burner for a while.

And, finally, Jesus teaches that following him is a now situation. Let’s not waste time procrastinating with other kinds of obligations. Let’s get started on what we promised we would do. Let’s not set the works of the Lord on that back burner where we will lose track of them.

Jesus, thank you for continuing to remind us of what true discipleship to you demands. We are a flighty, distracted people, busy about many things. Help us keep our noses to the proverbial grindstone.

Fr. Howard

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 
June 28, Memorial of St. Iranaeus

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Iranaeus, one of the very early Fathers of the Church. The Fathers of the Church are a number of early Church Bishops, scholars and Saints who laid the foundation for Christian Theology and kept various errors from infiltrating the message of Jesus.

Iranaeus was probably born sometime around the year 125 and became a disciple of another early Father, St. Polycarp. Iranaeus is most remembered for his writings against the Gnostic heresy that was threatening the early Church. Gnosticism was an early heresy that maintained that matter is evil and that our emancipation from this evil comes from some esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth. St. Iranaeus pretty well eliminated it. Iranaeus died around the year 202.

St. Iranaeus, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 
June 29, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

We are all very familiar with Saints Peter and Paul, whose Solemnity we celebrate today. They are the “Babe Ruths” of Christianity. We all admire them for their great spiritual strength and leadership and at the same time we see just how human they were. Both of them erred and both of them were very holy men worthy of being followed by us. Both were writers. Paul wrote ten Letters which are part of the Scriptures. Peter wrote two. Paul started out using his energies to suppress the flock of Jesus, but ended up being converted to it himself and becoming known as the Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul traveled all over the then-known world spreading the Good News of Jesus.

Peter was bold and rash and yet he was one of the greatest lovers of Jesus. He swore up and down he would follow Jesus anywhere at any time. In fact, it was his great love that led him to follow Jesus into the courtyard during his passion which occasioned his triple denial of Jesus when questioned by the servant girl. Both Peter and Paul went to Rome and both died there, Paul by being beheaded at Tre Fontane and Peter by being crucified upside down. Both were stalwarts of the early Church and greatly responsible for its growth and success.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 8: 28-34

The 8th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel comes to an end with today’s story, a rather strange story to say the least. Jesus now crosses the Lake to the other side, regarded by Matthew as Gentile territory, and goes to Gadara some five miles from the sea. Demons and death and tombs signify the forces of evil and open up the point of this particular Gospel story.

The people of Gadara have not accepted Jesus’ ways and are regarded as being in darkness. The point of this Gospel is that Jesus’ power extends over all the forces of evil. Apparently, from the conclusion of this Gospel, no conversion of these people was forthcoming. On the contrary, they were confused and begged Jesus to leave their territory. They were a marginal people, to say the least.

There are many people in this world today who are marginal, not sure which way to turn. They are good people, but in their ignorance they fail to give Jesus’ way a fair shake. Let us pray that the tide will shift and they too may enter the flock of the Good Shepherd.

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 
 Mt. 9: 1-8

In today’s Gospel story Jesus heals the paralytic and tells him to pick up his stretcher and go home. This is the same miracle narrated in the other Gospels where the paralytic’s friends take the roof off the place where Jesus is teaching the crowd and lower the paralytic into the presence of Jesus. This miracle is clearly the result of the faith of the friends of the paralytic and not necessarily of the paralytic himself. These friends believed if they could get their friend into the presence of Jesus, Jesus would heal him.

The faith we have is not only for ourselves and our own benefit but also to help others to meet Jesus, to discover that he is the way, the truth and the life. Others will follow where our faith leads them if our faith is strong enough to enable us to lead. Let us pray that we may show others how beneficial it is for our own happiness and peace and all-round wellness to believe and hope in Jesus in order that they may see the results in their own lives and do the same.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 
 Mt. 9: 9-13

The call of Matthew to discipleship in today’s Gospel is positively amazing. Jesus comes along, sees Matthew the tax collector sitting at the customs post and said two words to him: “Follow me.” And Matthew immediately left everything and followed Jesus. I find this astonishing. If I were sitting in a chair on the front lawn and someone came to me and said “Follow me,” my response would undoubtedly be: “And just who are you? Why should I follow you?”

This story leads me to believe that Matthew had already heard of the wonderful things this Jesus was doing and he was just waiting for the opportunity to follow him and turn his crooked life around. And turn it around he did! Matthew became one of the Twelve, and his name is attached to the first Gospel in the Scriptures.

What have I heard of Jesus the Christ that causes me to follow him?

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time 
July 3, Feast of St. Thomas

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Thomas, a Jew and one of the Twelve Apostles. Thomas is perhaps best known for his unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen the Risen Lord after his resurrection from the dead, and because of this he has come to be called “doubting Thomas.” Eight days later Jesus appeared to the Twelve again and this time Thomas received the proof he had demanded. Convinced that Jesus had truly risen from the dead, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God.”

After Pentecost, Thomas was sent to evangelize the Parthians, Medes, and Persians and eventually went as far as India on the Malabar Coast. This area of India to this day still has a large native community that call themselves “Christians of St. Thomas.” Thomas shed his blood for Christ by being martyred at a place called Calamine. His feast day is July 3 and for some reason, unknown to me, he is the patron saint of architects.

St. Thomas, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

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