Catholic Sunday Mass celebrated by Fr James Ralston O.M.I., recorded at the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Durban, South Africa.
ENTRANCE ANTIPHON: All peoples, clap your hands. Cry to God with shouts of joy
FIRST READING: 2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalm 89.
RESPONSE: I will sing forever of your mercies, O Lord.
I will sing forever of your mercies, O Lord; through all ages my mouth will proclaim your fidelity. I have declared your mercy is established forever; your fidelity stands firm as the heavens. ℟
How blessed the people who know your praise, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice their joyful acclaim. ℟
For you are the glory of their strength; by your favour it is that our might is exalted. Behold, the Lord is our shield; he is the Holy One of Israel, our king. ℟
SECOND READING: Romans 6:3-4, 8-11.
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Alleluia, alleluia. You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation; declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Alleluia.
GOSPEL: Matthew 10:37-42.
SERMON: Fr James Ralston O.M.I
Sunday 13 A
To be faithful to Christ is an undertaking which is bound up with the cross: it implies absolute detachment for his sake, but with him, it leads to the rediscovery of everything.
Devotion to Jesus demands a love that is both exclusive and heroic, a love to which God alone has a right, on the part of the disciple. By it they are led to sever whatever ties would hinder them from leaving all to follow Christ on his way to the cross, beginning with what is dearest: family ties. The strong love of a father, the tenderness of a mother, the friendship of brothers and sisters, all so good and understandable may not be preferred to Christ: he is to be our first and only preference. This does not mean that he wants us to be utterly heartless, hard as stone, but to be a disciple demands this unique relationship with the master.
Jesus bestows a love that transforms those who give themselves entirely to him, a love that builds up new contacts with the entire human race. Because a missionary is an extension of the presence and the action of the Messiah, he or she can be sure of a favourable welcome. No matter how lowly or seemingly unimportant they may seem in the world’s view, it the presence of Christ which they bring. This role will only be fulfilled in the measure that the missionary offers himself or herself before Christ, to serve him, who is proclaimed and to whom all is referred.
Looking at the opening phrases of today’s Gospel, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”, and so on. These words should not be taken too literally. Jesus is not saying to us that we should despise or hate people, and by so doing become his followers. What we are being asked to do is to transcend our natural human frailty in clinging to what is familiar and comfortable for us. The family terminology is used because it is generally the closest and dearest to each one of us. Our home and our family are “the most important aspects of our lives.” Other sources of comfort could very easily be brought in here. We could mention certain possessions or occupations that make us feel at ease, that we would not normally think of leaving for anything; our favourite motor car or motor bike, our television programmes, gambling, food and drink. The list is endless. These are the type of things that are not to take preference to Christ: these are the hindrances to our becoming true disciples and missionaries.
This Sunday falls between two great feasts; that of the birth of John the Baptist and that of Saints Peter and Paul. Are you able to see the connection of these three celebrations? John was called by Jesus from the womb. We recall how Scripture tells us that the baby leapt in the womb of Elizabeth when she heard the greeting of the mother of the Saviour. He left everything that could have become a hindrance or obstacle to his mission, went into the wilderness and lived a life that was focused solely on making a way clear for the Saviour, the Messiah: preparing the people for his coming. He was the herald of the Lord’s anointed.
Peter and Paul, each of them in their own different ways, left all they had known and made them feel safe, to follow Christ. The stories of both of these men and their initial journeys as followers of Christ are well known to us. The decision could not have been easy for either of them, because they knew pretty well what they were letting themselves in for.
So! Where are the little or not so little obstacles in our lives that prevent us from being the true Christians we are called to be. It is the duty of each and every Christian to bear witness to Christ in our daily lives. In our speech and actions; at home and in the work place; on the sport’s field or in the supermarket. We are to be heralds of the Lord, missionaries, moving away from what would naturally make us feel comfortable, towards a situation that would challenge our moral fibre. It is the actions of our Christian lives that will be the loudest profession of faith to the world at large, and it is this type of disciple who transcends all comfort zones.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Respond positively when the Lord says to you, “My child, give me your heart.” When we do, then there is no obstacle, no hurdle between you and the Lord. There is nothing more important than he.
COMMUNION ANTIPHON: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all within me, his holy name.