There’s a theme that goes through today’s readings. The Shunamite woman received Elisha into her home. When she received Elisha, she received the Word of God. This is a special grace. We need God’s Grace to receive His Word and then receive it in our hearts. When we receive the grace of baptism, we receive the newness of life. We have died to sin and now we live with Christ. How do we live with Christ? The Gospel tells us how to live with Christ. Whoever receives you receives Jesus. And whoever receives Jesus receives the one who sent Jesus, God.
Jesus goes one step further. If you receive a prophet, you receive the reward of a prophet. If you receive a righteous person, you will receive the reward of a righteous person. Now, whenever it looks like we can get something for nothing in the Bible, be careful! At first it seems that receiving the reward of a prophet or reward from a righteous person would be a good thing. Even in the Beatitudes we hear: “Blessed are the persecuted for doing what is right, for of them is the kingdom of heaven.” This also sounds pretty good. There’s only one problem. We know that throughout the Bible, those who were prophets and those who were righteous ended the same way: dead. The prophets became prophets because what they said would happen came to fruition. And they paid the final price for that. The righteous people who told the truth were persecuted and insulted because of their faith. They ended up the same way: dead. Are we ready to receive Jesus in this same way?
We often think that giving is a kind of virtue. Remember the phrase: “Is it better to give than to receive”? Well, receiving is also a virtue. Do you receive gifts virtuously? Do you keep your eyes down, get a little embarrassed, and stutter a thank you when you’re given a gift? What do you do if you get a gift you don’t want? Do you ask for the sales receipt so you can return it later? Jesus asks us to receive His gift every day. Really? When I was in high school, we had many visitors from an organization called The Peace Corps. They were looking for young people who would come to foreign countries to educate and work with people in a particular country . I know of two brothers who were considering doing just that and registered with the Peace Corps. One brother wanted to go to Laos, near Vietnam. And he asked his brother to join him. Because they were both Catholics, he thought this would be a great way to evangelize people, along with his brother. His brother said no. He wanted to go somewhere quieter or even just stay in the United States. The first brother was surprised and asked why he wanted to stay in the United States. His brother said, “I believe in God, I believe in Jesus, and I love the church. I’m not ready to die for Jesus.”
The gift that Jesus asks you to receive is the cross. Jesus says: “Whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” How will you receive this gift? Are you going to be shy? Will you be embarrassed? Would you say no to Jesus? To receive the final gift that Jesus offers us, we must be prepared to deny ourselves, even give up our lives, so that we may receive gracefully the gift of eternal life that Jesus wants to give us. We may not want the cross, but it’s a gift we can’t refuse. We have to accept that. Jesus gives us the cross to prepare us to receive the gift of eternal life with Him. Jesus also tells us that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. Jesus is willing to carry the cross with us. If we receive the cross He gives us, He will give us Himself to help carry the burden. We can trust in Him.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
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I want to thank all of you who have gone on line and have set up your donations through electronic transfers. It is safer as actual cash does not transfer hands, but is done electronically. Also, it protects our money counters from having to handle money or other paper products. And for some of you who send your donations, it saves a stamp and envelope. But for all of this I thank all of you who continue to support us.