Tìm Kiếm

3 tháng 7, 2017

Homily for Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A (July 2, 2017)

Most Expected Reward for Serving God
(See Mt 10:37-42)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

We are living in a society that is oriented by market economy.  On the one hand, all kind of relationships are based on an interest exchange principle, as the Romans put it: “Do ut des”, meaning “I give you something so that you will give me something back.”  On the other, it becomes harder and harder to find someone who serves people just for free whether or not they openly claim so.

That mentality of interest trading has entered the Christian community and deeply affected their worship of God.  Do we do our best in serving God and neighbor just for free?  Do we do everything necessary in keeping God’s Commandments and the Church’s disciplines without expecting something back?

It is better for us to find the right answer to the abovementioned questions by just listening to the prayer said by churchgoers either orally or mentally.  Are they not doing selling and buying, bargaining and trading with the Almighty and Most Holy God?  Are they not trying to deceiving the All-knowing God with their empty promises?  Are they not shamelessly forcing the All-powerful to pay them back for what they claim having done for Him? 

The disciples of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior once bluntly asked Him the same question:   
We have given up everything and followed you.  What there will be for us?”[1]    

You can guess how sad and painful and even hurt our Lord felt hearing such business-oriented friends of His speak.

Forgiving and patient enough, however, Christ our Lord told them:

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.”

That means that to those only looking for an exchange of interest in the service of God a reward will be given, a reward worthy of what they want to take in return. 

Merciful and loving God indeed, Christ our Lord encourages His disciples to go further and higher than doing trade of interest in their worship of God.  He tells them:  

Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age when the Son of Man is seated on His throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.”[2] 

Carefully pondering the Lord’s teaching, we find out that the core of the reward which will be given does not consist of different forms of material comfort but only and mainly of eternal life.

More carefully and thoughtfully reflect on what Christ on another occasion said to His listeners:

Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”[3]

We should in the worship of God and service of people look for nothing other than the Lord God Himself.

Saint Thomas Aquinas during his meditation saw Jesus the Crucified Lord appear to him and say: “Thomas, you have done good job in my service.  What reward do you wish me to grant you?”  Without a second thought the saint replied: “O Lord, I want nothing else but you.”     

In fearless expressions of love and confidence, a woman believer prayed:

“O my Lord, if I worship you from fear of Hell, burn me in Hell.  If I worship you from hope of Paradise, bar me from its gates. 

But if I worship you for yourself alone, grant me then the beauty of your Face.”[4]  

[1] Mt 19:27.
[2] Mt 19:28-29.
[3] Lk 10:20.
[4] By Rabi’a, translated by Jane Hirshfield, from Women In Praise of the Sacred (New York: Harper Collins, 1994).

Fr. Francis Nguyen, O.P.