The 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time at St Mark the Evangelist Church in Norman, OK
June 30, 2002
2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 + Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 + Matthew 10:37-42
It is Matthew’s community that speaks to us today – a community that has already chosen to follow Jesus Christ. They know the demands of that life style, and they know where it leads. Their story can and ought to be our story. These are a people who are not just followers of Jesus. They are a community growing more deeply into his life and have centered their identity upon the risen Lord. They know who they are because of what they have experienced in response to that Word not just because of where they hang out and whose company they keep.
The Word of God is their focus and the source of their identity. By that Word, they understand and interpret what happens to them. That Word is still among us, and just as it did with the community of Matthew, it has an impact upon us. It calls into question our perceptions and judgments. It checks our awareness. It intrudes upon and examines public policy, and it demands change in human behavior, ideas, and ethics. What Matthew’s community says to us today concerns our relationship to the one we call “Lord.” When we proclaim his words here it is not out of nostalgia, but our first and best way of coming to a deeper understanding of what it means to live in faith and be disciples. We proclaim these words of Jesus, not just to remember him, but to be drawn more deeply into his transforming presence.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of his promise to send the Holy Spirit has changed us from simple disciples who follow Jesus around through life into prophetic participants in his work and mission, and that is exactly what Matthew’s tenth chapter is all about. It is about defining the mission of a prophetic church.
Pay attention to how Matthew articulates this mission.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet….
Whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man…..
Whoever give a cup of cold water to a little one because they are little…..
We must find within ourselves the quality of the prophet before we can welcome the prophet.
We must be righteous before we can welcome the righteous.
We must be little in order to welcome the little ones.
We have to know what this is before we can really be one with the prophets, the righteous, and the little ones.
The hospitality this Gospel proposes begins within ourselves. It is the prophet who best welcomes the prophetic, the righteous who best welcomes the righteous, and the little ones who best welcome the least among us.
Prophetic is what we are as God’s people and disciples of Jesus Christ.
By God’s own command the privilege and responsibility of the prophet is, according to Jeremiah, “to root up and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant.” The prophet speaks in every season of human life giving comfort in sadness, courage in anxiety, affirmation in success, warning where virtue is lacking, and challenge where improvement is needed.
The people Jesus would have for prophets of the Kingdom of God are experts in humanity, people who know the depth of the human heart, who can share the joys and hopes, agony and distress of their companions in this life, and at the same time are people who have fallen in love with God. Prophetic people reveal God’s purpose. If God’s purpose is to love, prophetic people love. If God’s purpose is to forgive, prophetic people forgive. If God’s purpose is to welcome all made in God’s image into the Kingdom of God, prophetic people make it so in their own lives, in their own homes, in their own hearts.