A HOMILY FOR THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 7/2/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum. Peace and goodness to you this day!
As red-blooded Americans, we love to be rewarded. As we get ready to celebrate the Fourth of July, I started thinking about all the rewards that we’ve had in our lives. Those of us who are a little older, Okay, a lot older, will remember S&H Green Stamps. From the 1930’s until the end of the 1980’s, the Sperry & Hutchinson Co. operated a rewards program, where merchants gave out loyalty stamps for purchases, and they you could accumulate the stamps and buy products in their catalog. At one point in the 1960’s, the S&H Green Stamp rewards catalog was the most popular publication in the United States.
Then, of course, there are the rewards that we get in cereal boxes, when we buy a particular kind of cereal. Every kid who has grown up in America in the last seventy-five years, knows about the reward, the toy, the secret decoder ring, rub-on tattoo, or other treasure that comes in your cereal box. All you have to do is buy the box of cereal, and the reward is yours! Or you might have to send three or four box tops in the get your reward. Then you always had to wait “four to six weeks” for delivery. Remember when “four to six weeks” seemed like an eternity?
And people know about rewards for finding a lost dog, or finding a lost wallet, or finding a lost phone. When I was a Senior in high school, I lost my wallet at the movies. A nice lady found it and called me up and said that she had my wallet. So I went over to pick it up. Now, my wallet had a whole ten dollars in it when I lost it. So when I went over to pick it up, my Dad made me give the lady the ten dollars as a reward for finding it for me. What good is finding your wallet, if you have to give all your money as the reward? It didn’t make sense to me then. But it was the last time that I lost my wallet. And we do love to be rewarded! It one of the things that makes this country great!
We come to Mass today, and all three of our readings are talking about rewards. You do something good, and you get something good!
In our First Reading from the Second Book of Kings, Elisha, the prophet, rewards the woman at Shunem, with the promise of a child, something the woman very much wants. She is rewarded for her goodness and hospitality.
In our Second Reading, Paul is talking about the reward of being baptized into Christ, namely that by our baptisms, we have died with Christ. The reward is that, like Christ, death no longer has power over us. We are dead to sin, and living for God forever in Christ Jesus. Now that’s a reward!
Then in our Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus Himself reminds us to take up our cross and follow Him. He says that whoever welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward. And whoever receives a righteous man, because he is righteous man, will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to someone to drink, because he is a disciple, will not lose their reward. This Gospel is promising us great rewards, just for supporting those who are doing God’s work. God has an incredible plan to save all of us. Our reward in Heaven will be great. We have much to look forward to! And we still have much work to do, before we reach that reward.
Why all this talk today about rewards? Our God wants us to be clear why we are doing, what we are doing. God is asking us to live our lives well, to do the right thing, to be truthful, and just, and kind and merciful. And He is reminding us that if we do live that way, that He will reward our every effort with His kind of goodness, that lasts forever! He has a heck of a reward planned for all of us. Let us put our Faith and trust in His goodness and in His promise.
We will want to follow Him in good times and in bad times. Let us pick up our cross then, be it big or little or in between, and let us follow Him, as we make our way through this world, and home to Heaven!
+ May God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!