Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus has just been given a great complement and he responds to it kind of brusquely, or at least it seems that way.  Earlier in this eleventh chapter of Luke, Jesus has taught the disciples to pray, teaching them what has become known as the Lord’s prayer.  Then there is the discourse on the need for persistence in prayer that we heard on Thursday.  Then a teaching on demons.  And now this.  From this point on in the chapter, Jesus will turn up the heat on the people’s prayer life.  Nothing less is effective.  Nothing else is acceptable.

And so we hear the same invitation: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”  We have been taught how to pray.  We have been given tools in Scripture and in the Church.  So the question is, have we observed that teaching?  Has our prayer become persistent?  Is it the life blood of our relationships with God and others?  Does prayer sustain us in bad times and give us joy in good times?

Observing the word of God takes many forms.  Most likely, we think of the service we are called upon to help bring about a Godly kingdom on earth.  And that is important, make no mistake about it.  But that same word calls us to a vital relationship with our God, a relationship that raises the bar for all of our other relationships.  That relationship with God can be a blessing to us and to our world.  But we can only get there by prayer.  We have to make time for the one who always makes time for us.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

We’ve all heard this gospel parable about the sower and the seeds dozens of times. We know, then, that the seeds are the Word of God: not just some words, but Word with a capital “W,” which is Jesus himself, God’s eternal Word, spoken to bring life to a world dead in sin.  We know that the seeds are that presence of Christ which fall on hearts that are variously rocky, or thorny, or rich and fertile.  We’ve heard the parable, with Jesus’ own explanation, as well as homilies about it, so many times.

But what got me wondering as I read the parable in preparation for this morning’s Mass, was why – why are we hearing this parable now?  The liturgical cycle usually conforms to the calendar, more or less, and so why this parable about sowing seeds now, right on the verge of autumn? Nobody in their right mind sows seeds this late in the year, certainly not in our climate!

But God does.  He sows the Word among us all the time: every day and every moment.  It’s not just once for the season, and if the seeds don’t grow, then try again next year maybe.  He is constantly sowing the seeds in us, urging us to make of our hearts rich, fertile soil for the Kingdom.  And we do that by enriching the soil through reception of the Sacraments, participating at Mass, enlivening our prayer life, being open to the Word.

The Sower is out sowing the seeds of his Eternal Word all the time.  Let’s give him fertile ground, that we can yield a rich harvest.

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

The Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

There’s a little Christian Science church in the town where I grew up, on Main Street, just north of the downtown area.  They don’t anymore, but they used to list their upcoming sermon topic, followed by the line “All are welcome.”  Imagine my surprise when one day, the topic was going to be eternal punishment.  So the sign read: “Eternal Punishment.  All are welcome.”  Yeah, I had to drive around the block to make sure I read that right!

But that sign came to mind this week as I was reflecting on the readings for today.  There is a strong theme of welcoming, of hospitality, in today’s Liturgy of the Word.  But it’s not just a matter of saying to someone who’s new, “Hey, how are you?  Welcome here!”  The hospitality that we’re being called to in the readings today is a welcome of the Word of God.  And that sounds much easier than it actually is, so hang on to that, because we will come back to it.

In our first reading from the second book of Kings, Elisha the prophet is extended hospitality by the Shunemite woman.  Beginning by giving him food, eventually she builds a little room on the roof of her house so that Elisha could stay there whenever he was travelling through town.  We don’t know if she was a believer or not, but she recognizes that Elisha is a holy man and uses her influence and means to see that his prophetic ministry could flourish.

In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of those who would welcome the apostles as they went about their preaching mission.  “Whoever receives you receives me,” he tells them.  When someone accepts the messenger – and, importantly, the message that he or she brings – one receives the giver of the message.  This is the basis of our Catholic teaching that Christ is present in the word of God proclaimed in church.

The true prophet, of which Elisha was one, always brings the Word of God.  The Shunemite woman reacted to the Word of God by making it welcome, in the person of Elisha.  She is a model for us of the hospitality and welcome of the Word that we are asked to consider this day.  So we too have to feed the Word and make a home for the Word.  We can feed the Word by exposing ourselves to the Scriptures in prayer and reflection.  I had a professor in seminary who used to beg us to read the Bible every day – even just a few verses.  He would say, “Then, brothers, when you close your eyes in death, you will open them in heaven and recognize where you are!”  When we feed the Word, we are able to grow in our faith and the Word will bring life to our souls.

From feeding the Word, we then have to build a little room for it, on the roof of our spiritual houses.  It’s instructive that Elisha’s room was build on the roof, because then the Word of God was over everything in the Shunemite woman’s life.  The Word of God was the head of her house and the guiding principle of her family life.  When we build that room, figuratively in our own lives, it must take top precedence for us too.  Jesus makes that a commandment in today’s Gospel.

And so we feed the Word and give it a home in our lives, and then it becomes the guiding principle of our own lives, as it should be.  But here’s the thing about that, and maybe this is why so many people don’t want to do this.  Because there is a cost to welcoming the Word of God.  Remember that the prophets were not always as welcome as Elisha was in the Shunemite woman’s house.  The prophets were often berated, ridiculed, even imprisoned, beaten and murdered, because the Word of God isn’t always welcome.  Jesus says in the Gospel reading today, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.”  We have to be clear about the fact that we fully expect that reward to be in heaven, because it’s tough to be a prophet in the world, in any age.

Because the Word of God calls us to live a certain way.  The Word of God wants us to be open to change, the Word of God actually usually demands that we change.  The Word of God wants us to be Christ to others, because Christ is the Word of God.  And so we must be forgiving of those who harm us, loving to those who test us, reaching out to those who need us (even when it’s inconvenient, or they’re not the people we want to be around), welcoming of those who are different than us.  Welcoming the Word of God means that we have to take up our cross and follow our Lord, meaning that there will be death involved and we might have to give up a whole lot.

In today’s world, the Word of God calls us to be Christ in the midst of a pandemic and a time of social unrest.  We have to be people who stand for what is right and not just wait for the whole racial thing to “blow over.”  We have to demand that our society gets this right once and for all, so that no one will ever be marginalized because of their race, not ever again.  And we have to be people who, in the midst of a pandemic that is demanding a lot of us, give as much as we are called to.  We have to wear our masks out in public because we could be protecting someone else.  We have to social distance when it’s hard to do that, because we have to stop the spread.

We may have to die to what we think is important, die to our own self-interests and desires, die to what makes us feel comfortable.  That’s what giving up one’s family meant in Jesus’ day: being cast out of the family was a form of death.  So not loving mother and father and son or daughter more than Christ meant dying to life in this world.  And dying to life in this world is exactly what welcoming the Word of God will cost us.  That’s the message of the Gospel today.

But giving up our lives will not be without its reward.  The Shunemite woman was rewarded with a child, even though her husband was advanced in years.  Jesus says the same.  Giving the Word of God even just a cup of water to nourish it and let it grow will be rewarded in ways we cannot even imagine.

So welcoming the Word of God will definitely cost us something, but it will also change everything.  Are you willing to embrace the cost and build a home in your life for the Word of God?

Categories
Homilies Jesus Christ Ordinary Time

The Third Sunday of Ordinary Time: Sunday of the Word of God

Today’s Readings
Pope Francis’s “motu proprio” APERUIT ILLIS, instituting the Sunday of the Word of God

About fifteen years ago now, my home parish put on a production of the musical Godspell, and somehow I found myself part of the cast.  If you’ve ever seen the musical, you know that it is based on the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel that we are reading during this current Church year.  I remember the first song of the musical was kind of strange to me at the time.  It’s called “Tower of Babel” and the lyrics are a hodge-podge of lots of philosophies and philosophers throughout time.  I didn’t get, at the time, the significance of the song, but I do now.  “Tower of Babel” represents the various schools of thought about God, over time.  It shows how philosophy at its worst has been an attempt to figure out God by going over God’s head, by leaving God out of the picture completely.

The song ends abruptly and goes right into the second song of the musical, “Prepare Ye,” of which the major lyric is “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”  The message that we can take from that is that the useless, and in some ways sinful, babbling of the pagan philosophers was once and for all settled by Jesus Christ.  If we want to know the meaning of life, if we want to know who God is, we have only to look to Jesus.  That’s true of most things in life.

That’s what is happening in today’s Liturgy of the Word too.  The people in the first reading and in the Gospel have found themselves in darkness.  Zebulun and Naphtali have been degraded.  They have been punished for their sinfulness, the sin being that they thought they didn’t need God.  They thought they could get by on their own cleverness, making alliances with people who believed in strange gods and worshiped idols.  So now they find themselves in a tower of Babel, occupied by the people with whom they tried to ally themselves.  Today’s first reading tells them that this subjection – well deserved as it certainly was – is coming to an end.  The people who have dwelt in darkness are about to see a great light.

The same is true in another sense for Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee in today’s Gospel.  These men have been fishermen all their lives.  Reading the Gospels and seeing how infrequently they catch anything unless Jesus helps them, we might wonder how successful they were at their craft.  But the point is that fishing is all they’ve ever known.  These are not learned men, nor are they known for their charisma or ability to lead people.  But these are the men who Jesus calls as apostles.  One wonders if they had any previous about Jesus, because on seeing him and hearing him and recognizing the Light of the World, they drop everything, turn their backs on the people and work they have always known, and follow Jesus, whose future they absolutely could never have imagined.

All of this is good news for us. Because we too dwell in darkness at times, don’t we? We can turn on the news and see reports of men and women dying in war, crime and violence in our communities, corruption in government, and maybe worst of all right now, sniping between political candidates!  Then there is the rampant disrespect for life through the horrific sin of abortion, as well as euthanasia, hunger and homelessness, racism and hatred, and so much more.  Add to that the darkness in our own lives: illness of a family member or death of a loved one, difficulty in relating to family members, and even our own sinfulness.  Sometimes it doesn’t take much imagination to know that our world is a very dark place indeed.

But the Liturgy today speaks to us the truth that into all of this darkness, the Light of Christ has dawned and illumined that darkness in ways that forever change our world and forever change us.  One of the Communion antiphons for today’s Liturgy speaks of that change.  Quoting Jesus in the Gospel of John, it says this:

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will not walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life.  

There is an antidote available for the darkness in our world and in our hearts, and that antidote is Jesus Christ.  The limits that are part and parcel of our human existence are no match for the light that is God’s glory manifested in Christ.  This is what we mean by the Epiphany, and we continue to live in the light of the Epiphany in these opening days of Ordinary Time.  Now that Jesus Christ has come into the world, nothing on earth can obscure the vision of God’s glory that we see in our Savior.

Pope Francis has made this particular Sunday each year a celebration of the Word of God.  He means for us to spend time opening the Scriptures and finding the manifold riches that are there.  That’s what our Mass is always about.  Read carefully through the order of Mass and you’ll find scripture in every part of it.  Not just in the Liturgy of the Word – that’s a given, but in each and every one of the prayers of Mass.  Catholic worship isn’t something someone made up, it is literally a celebration of the Word of God from beginning to end.  And that makes sense, when you think about it: if we are called to “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord,” as one of the dismissal formulas invites us, we can do that with confidence because we have just been fed on the Gospel in every part of our Mass.

The Mass, too, is an Epiphany celebration at every point of the liturgical year.  Because when we’re attentive to the Word of God and the prayer of the Mass, we can’t possibly miss Jesus present among us.  So Pope Francis on this Sunday of the Word of God encourages us to devote ourselves to God’s word: to join a Bible study – we have that here at Saint Mary’s, to help others break open the word by leading that part of the RCIA, to teaching the scriptures to children in our school and religious education programs, to proclaiming the Word at Mass.  Do any one of those things, sisters and brothers, and I guarantee you’ll grow in your knowledge of scripture.  And, turning a famous saying of Saint Jerome around to the positive, knowledge of scripture is knowledge of Christ.

Jesus came to be good news for us.  He is the Word of God incarnate among us, not just two thousand years ago, but even now if we would give ourselves over to loving the scriptures.  So for those of us who feel like every day is a struggle of some sort, and who wonder if this life really means anything, the Good news is that Jesus has come to give meaning to our struggles and to walk with us as we go through them. For those of us who are called to ministries for which we might feel unqualified – as catechists, Eucharistic Ministers, Lectors, RCIA team members, small group leaders or retreat leaders – we can look to the Apostles and see that those fishermen were transformed from the darkness of their limited life to the light of what they were able to accomplish in Christ Jesus. Wherever we feel darkness in our lives, the Good News for us is that Christ’s Epiphany – his manifestation into our world and into our lives – has overcome all that.

As the Psalmist sings for us today, the Lord truly is our light and our salvation.

Categories
Christmas Homilies

The Nativity of the Lord: Mass During the Day

Today’s readings

All during Advent, we have been yearning for the light.  Advent reminds us that the world can sometimes be a very dark place, that war and terrorism and crime and disease and sin and death can really give us a beating, that very often we experience life much differently than God intended us to, and that all of this darkness has kept us from union with our God.  But Advent also has reminded us that it’s not supposed to be that way, and that God has always intervened for love of the people he has created.  And so in Advent, we came to see that God promises salvation for the people that are his own, and that he would do everything to make that promised salvation unfold for us.

The Old Testament unfolds for us the many ways that God has intervened in history to save his people.  He placed man and woman in the Garden of Eden, safe from all harm, should they choose to accept it (which, of course, they did not!).  He brought eight people through the deluge of the great flood on Noah’s Ark.  He promised Abraham his descendents would be as numerous as the stars of the sky.  He led his people out of slavery in Egypt, through the desert and into the Promised Land, protecting them and guiding them through the hand of Moses all along the way.  His love for his people, his desire that they be one with him, and his efforts to save them from their own folly have been abundant all through human history.  But as numerous as his efforts have been, so have humankind’s failures to follow him been numerous as well.

Which brings us to the event we celebrate today.  Let’s be clear: this is not some last-ditch effort before he throws up his hands and leaves us to our own devices.  This is the saving event, par excellence.  This is the way to salvation that has always been intended and has been promised through the ages, from the very days of the creation of the world, when the Word, as Saint John tells us today, was with God, and with God, was the Word through which everything in heaven and on earth came to be.

This awesome event is the Incarnation: Jesus, the Word through which all were created, comes to be one of the created ones.  This is the primordial mystery of our faith: without the Incarnation, there could be no cross, no resurrection, no ascension, no salvation.  None of the savings events of the Old Testament could be as efficacious as the Incarnation and the Paschal Mystery: in fact, those previous acts of salvation led up to the salvation we have in Christ Jesus, and paved the way for that saving act.  In today’s feast, the great light of Christ has taken hold of the darkness this world brings to us and shatters it forever, shining great light into every corner of our dark world, and our sometimes very dark lives as well.

This gift of the Incarnation is the best Christmas present we will receive – it is the best gift of any kind that we will ever receive, because in the Incarnation we have what’s necessary for us to be saved.  This is so important a mystery and so great a gift, that at the words of the Incarnation in the Creed today, we are instructed to genuflect, not just bow.  So we will genuflect when we say the words, “by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man.”  And we genuflect because we remember with great gratitude that if the Word didn’t become flesh, if he wasn’t born of the Virgin Mary, if he didn’t become one like us, if he didn’t pay the price for our sins, we would never have salvation, or hope of life with God.  Praise God for this great gift today!

And so as we continue our prayer today, we offer God the darkness in our lives: our sins, our frustrations, our disappointments, our pain, our grief – and we hold up all of this to the great Light that is God’s Word, the one who became one like us, who pitched his tent among us, and who dwells with us now.  We pray that the Light of the world would banish our darkness, and help us to see the way to God from wherever it is that we find ourselves on the spiritual path today.  We celebrate that today and every day, Jesus Christ is the Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Categories
Homilies Lent

Thursday of the Third Week of Lent

Today’s readings

This week, the Scriptures have been warning us not to avoid the truth.  Today is no exception.  Today we see that the way we tend to avoid truth is often through obfuscation, trying to confuse the facts.  It’s a case of “the best defense is a good offense,” where we attack the truth wherever we see it addressing our lives and our mistakes.

The prophet Jeremiah takes the nation of Israel to task for this in today’s first reading.  These are a people who have heard the truth over and over.   God has not stopped sending prophets to preach the word.  But the Israelites would not listen.  They preferred to live in the world, and to attach themselves to the nations and their worship of idols and pagan gods.  They had been warned constantly that this was going to be the source of their demise, but they tuned it out.  They “stiffened their necks,” Jeremiah says, and now faithfulness has disappeared and there is no word of truth in anything they say: a scathing indictment of the people God had chosen as his own.

Some of the Jews are giving Jesus the same treatment in today’s Gospel.  Seeing him drive out a demon, they are filled with jealousy and an enormous sense of inadequacy.  These are religious leaders; they had the special care of driving away demons from the people.  But they couldn’t:  maybe their lukewarm faith made them ineffective in this ministry.  So on seeing Jesus competent at what was their special care, they cast a hand-grenade of rhetoric at him and reason that only a demon could cast out demons like he did.

We will likely hear the word of truth today.  Maybe it will come from these Scriptures, or maybe later in our prayerful moments.  Perhaps it will be spoken by a child or a coworker or a relative or a friend.  However the truth is given to us, it is up to us to take it in and take it to heart.  Or will we too be like the Jews and the Israelites and stiffen our necks?  No, the Psalmist tells us, we can’t be that way.  “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

Tuesday of the Twenty-fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

Today’s Gospel reminds me of a sound bite for the evening news. Taken out of context, Jesus is denying his family. And not only that, but Jesus now has “brothers,” so what happened to the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary? Sound bites cause nothing but trouble because you don’t have the context to know what’s really being said. These sound bites take a whole lot of explanation, and the ones we have in today’s Gospel are certainly no exception.

First of all, let’s tackle the idea of Jesus having brothers. Many ideas surround that issue and have developed over time, as I am sure you can appreciate. One idea says that St. Joseph was an older man, and had sons by a previous wife, now dead. These would be Jesus’ half-brothers. Another idea comes from the fact that the Greek word translated “brothers” here is general enough that it might also refer to cousins or some other close kindred. So the brothers here would be close family members, not necessarily brothers. In either case, the Church affirms the perpetual virginity of Mary and this Gospel is making a different point.

The second sound bite is that Jesus seems to turn away from his mother and his relatives and claims that his family is those who hear the word of God and act on it. Well, Jesus certainly wasn’t turning away from his beloved mother or any of his close relatives. We know for a fact that Mary was the first of the disciples. Jesus seems to be more widening his family relationships than restricting them to just those related by blood. Which is good news for all of us who are now included in that family. Giving ourselves to the Word of God, hearing it and living it, we are mother and brother and sister to Christ. Praise God!

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

We’ve all heard this gospel parable about the sower and the seeds dozens of times. We know, then, that the seeds are the Word of God: not just some words, but Word with a capital “W,” which is Jesus himself, God’s eternal Word, spoken to bring life to a world dead in sin. We know that the seeds are that presence of Christ which fall on hearts that are variously rocky, or thorny, or rich and fertile. We’ve heard the parable, with Jesus’ own explanation, as well as homilies about it, so many times.

But what got me wondering as I read the parable in preparation for this morning’s Mass, was why – why are we hearing this parable now? The liturgical cycle usually conforms to the calendar, more or less, and so why this parable about sowing seeds now, on this day of the autumnal equinox, of all days? Nobody in their right mind sows seeds in autumn!

But God does. He sows the Word among us all the time: every day and every moment. It’s not just once for the season, and if the seeds don’t grow, then try again next year maybe. He is constantly sowing the seeds in us, urging us to make of our hearts rich, fertile soil for the Kingdom. And we do that by enriching the soil through reception of the Sacraments, participating at Mass, enlivening our prayer life, being open to the Word.

The Sower is out sowing the seeds of his Eternal Word all the time. Let’s give him fertile ground, that we can yield a rich harvest.

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time Uncategorized

Monday of the Twenty-fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

I love the little line in the gospel reading that says, “Take care, then, how you hear.”  It almost seems like a throw-away line, but really, I believe, it’s an essential instruction from Jesus.  We disciples are to take care how we hear.  Not what we hear, although that’s probably part of it, but how we hear.

So how do we hear the words of the gospel?  Do we hear them as something that seems nice but doesn’t really affect us?  Do those words fly over our heads or go in one ear and out the other?  Do we hear them at Mass, and then live however it is we want, leave the same way we came, ignoring what we’ve just heard?

Or, do we really hear the Word of the Lord?  Does the gospel get into our head and our heart and stir things up?  Do the words of Jesus get our blood flowing and our imaginations racing?  Does hearing the gospel make us long for a better place, a more peaceful kingdom, a just society?

We believe that the Word proclaimed is the actual presence of Christ.  We are not just hearing words about Jesus, we are hearing Jesus, we are experiencing the presence of God right here, right now, among us.  If we open the door of our ears and our hearts, we might just find God doing something amazing in us and through us.

Take care, then, how you hear.

Categories
Homilies Ordinary Time

The Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s readings

There’s a little Christian Science church in the town where I grew up, on Main Street, just north of the downtown area.  They don’t anymore, but they used to list their upcoming sermon topic, followed by the line “All are welcome.”  Imagine my surprise when one day, the topic was going to be eternal punishment.  So the sign read: “Eternal Punishment.  All are welcome.”  Yeah, I had to drive around the block to make sure I read that right!

But that sign came to mind this week as I was preparing the readings for today.  There is a strong theme of welcoming, of hospitality, in today’s Liturgy of the Word.  But it’s not just a matter of saying to someone who’s new, “Hey, how are you?  Welcome here!”  The hospitality that we’re being called to in the readings today is a welcome of the Word of God.  And that sounds much easier than it actually is, so hang on to that, because we will come back to it.

In our first reading from the second book of Kings, Elisha the prophet is extended hospitality by the Shunemite woman.  Beginning by giving him food, eventually she builds a little room on the roof of her house so that Elisha could stay there whenever he was travelling through town.  We don’t know if she was a believer or not, but she recognizes that Elisha is a holy man and uses her influence and means to see that his prophetic ministry could flourish.

The true prophet, of which Elisha was one, always brings the Word of God.  The Shunemite woman reacted to the Word of God by making it welcome, in the person of Elisha.  She is a model for us of the hospitality and welcome of the Word that we are asked to consider this day.  So we too have to feed the Word and make a home for the Word.  We can feed the Word by exposing ourselves to the Scriptures in prayer and reflection.  I had a professor in seminary who used to beg us to read the Bible every day – even just a few verses.  He would say, “Then, brothers, when you close your eyes in death, you will open them in heaven and recognize where you are!”  When we feed the Word, we are able to grow in our faith and the Word will bring life to our souls.

From feeding the Word, we then have to build a little room for it, on the roof of our spiritual houses.  It’s instructive that Elisha’s room was build on the roof, because then the Word of God was over everything in the Shunemite woman’s life.  The Word of God was the head of her house and the guiding principle of her family life.  When we build that room, figuratively in our own lives, it must take top precedence for us too.  Jesus makes that a commandment in today’s Gospel.

And so we feed the Word and give it a home in our lives, and then it becomes the guiding principle of our own lives, as it should be.  But here’s the thing about that, and maybe this is why so many people don’t want to do this.  Because there is a cost to welcoming the Word of God.  Remember that the prophets were not always as welcome as Elisha was in the Shunemite woman’s house.  The prophets were often berated, ridiculed, even imprisoned, beaten and murdered, because the Word of God isn’t always welcome.

Because the Word of God calls us to live a certain way.  The Word of God wants us to be open to change, the Word of God actually usually demands that we change.  The Word of God wants us to be Christ to others, because Christ is the Word of God.  And so we must be forgiving of those who harm us, loving to those who test us, reaching out to those who need us (even when it’s inconvenient, or they’re not the people we want to be around), welcoming of those who are different than us.  Welcoming the Word of God means that we have to take up our cross and follow our Lord, meaning that there will be death involved and we might have to give up a whole lot.

We may have to die to what we think is important, die to our own self-interests, die to what makes us feel comfortable.  That’s what giving up one’s family meant in Jesus’ day: being cast out of the family was a form of death.  So not loving mother and father and son or daughter more than Christ meant dying to life in this world.  And dying to life in this world is exactly what welcoming the Word of God will cost us.

But giving up our lives will not be without its reward.  The Shunemite woman was rewarded with a child, even though her husband was advanced in years.  Jesus says the same.  Giving the Word of God even just a cup of water to nourish it and let it grow will be rewarded in ways we cannot even imagine.

So welcoming the Word of God will definitely cost us something, but it will also change everything.  Are you willing to embrace the cost and build a home in your life for the Word of God?