The Gospel reading from the Mass for Sunday of the 13th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 10:37-42.

After charging the Apostles with the mandate to evangelize and warning them of the division, even in families, that being a His disciple will bring, Christ concludes His Missionary Sermon (Matt 10) by further describing the costs and reward of discipleship.

Continuing the warning of the persecutions that come with proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven, Christ describes how His disciples will suffer rejection and alienation by their family members because of the Gospel. The Mediterranean/Jewish culture of the 1st century (and even today) valued family/kin bonds above almost all else. Christ’s emphatic revelation that disciples must be willing to be rejected by family for the sake of the Gospel is startling; He reveals that those who love family members more than Him, including parents and children, are “not worthy of Me.” Christ reveals the shocking truth that men who are not willing to be martyred for Him by being willing to the humiliation and horror of crucifixion (take up the cross) are not worthy of Him; Christ reveals that martyrs will be rewarded with eternal life.

Christ also describes the very real connection and blessings that come from those who receive His disciples; those who receive one of Christ’s disciples also receive Christ and the Father.  Besides receiving the blessing of receiving Christ and the Father, those who take the simple act of accepting and supporting the disciples receive an incredible reward; those who receive can be blessed with the same reward as a prophet or righteous man. Christ reveals that even small acts of kindness to a disciple (giving a disciple a cup of water because He is Christ’s disciple) will result in incredible rewards.

Awed by Jesus ChristDivine King, Christ demands exclusive loyalty to Him as a requirement of discipleship.  Divine Prophet, Christ exhorts disciples to “pick up their cross” in sacrifice and foresees the harsh family divisions that will occur as some reject the Gospel. Divine Judge, Christ has high expectations of sacrifice for those He calls worthy and who will rewarded with eternal life.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Some modern men have promoted a false “Christianity” in which Jesus Christ as a non-judgmental “I’m o.k. You’re o.k.” kind of god. Christ condemns sin. Christ demands exclusive commitment to Himself, even if it means losing one’s family. Reflect on the tough, uncompromising Christ who brings a sword, judges and gives both rewards and punishments.

2) Given Christ’s high expectations of the sacrifice of His disciples (a willingness to be crucified!), it is pathetic to see so many Catholic failure to prepare (Confession, fasting, dress) or attend the obligatory Sunday Mass. Renew your understanding of the call to Carry One’s Cross (CCC 1435, 1460, 1816, 2015, 2029, 2427) and pray for Christ to help you sacrifice for His sake.

3) Being a Catholic priest is difficult: Catholicism is ridiculed as being “out of step” with the new morality, priests are stigmatized due to the priest sex abuse scandals, many priests lack fraternity due to the drop in vocations. Like Christ commands men to support the Apostles, so too must men support His priests today. Review the role of the Catholic priesthood (CCC 1548-1553, 1562-1568) and make a commitment to befriend and support priests.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity

Virtue of the Day – Charity

Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner