Encounter the Word 13th Sunday OT 2023 (2023)


Join the Jesuit Institute South Africa as we Encounter the Word on the 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2023.

• First Reading 2 Kings 4:8-11,14-16
• Psalm 89:2-3,16-19
• Second Reading Romans 6:3-4,8-11
• Acclamation 1 Peter 2:9
• Gospel Matthew 10:37-42

Homily beginning 06.50

You can listen to this homily at


Welcome to Encounter the Word.

We at the Jesuit Institute offer this reflection every Sunday on the Liturgy of the word, where we try to make sure that our reflection on God's word helps us live God's word in our daily lives.

And so.

Let's pray, together., Lord God,! We give you thanks that we can gather as a community to reflect upon your word, and how your word invites us to respond at this moment in our lives, and the life of our community, and our society.

Help us, through our listening, to deepen our ability to hear what you want of us, so that we might live this word in practical ways in the days that are to come.


Ask this: in the name of Jesus, the Lord.

A reading from the second Book of Kings.

One day, Elisha went on to Shunem, where a wealthy woman lived, who urged him to eat some food.


Whenever he passed that way, he would turn in there to eat.


And she said to her husband, “Behold, now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God.

Who is continually passing our way.

Let us make a small roof chamber with walls, and put there for him a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp, so that whenever he comes to us, he can go in there.” One day he came there, and he turned into the chamber and rested there.


He said to Gehazi his servant, “What is to be done for her?” Gehazi answered, “Well.

She has no son, and her husband is old.” He said, “Call, her.” And.

When he had called her.

She stood in the doorway.


He said, “At this season.

When the time comes, round, you shall embrace a son.” The word of the Lord.

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.


You are the glory of their strength; by your favour.

It is that our might is exalted.


The Lord is our shield;.

He is the Holy One of Israel, the king.

A reading from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans., Brothers and sisters: All of us, who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.

We were buried, therefore, with him by baptism into death, so that, as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


If we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.


We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die.

Again; death no longer has dominion over him.

The death.

He died.

He died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives.

He lives to God.


You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The, word of the Lord.


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.


The Lord be with you.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew., Jesus instructed the twelve as follows: “Anyone, who prefers father or mother to me is not worthy of me;.

Anyone who prefers son or daughter to me is not worthy of me;.

Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.

Anyone who finds his life will lose it.

Anyone who loses his life, for my sake, will find it.

Anyone, who welcomes you welcomes me, and those who welcome me.

Welcome the one who sent me.

Anyone, who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet, will have a prophet’s reward, and anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man- will have a holy man’s reward.


Anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones, because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly.

He will most certainly not lose his reward.” The Gospel of the Lord.

‘Anyone, who prefers father or mother to me, is not worthy of me’.

Some of these phrases that we hear in the Gospel are so well-worn in our minds that we forget just how breathtaking they actually are and how powerful they must have sounded to those hearing them for the first time.

I mean.

If someone were to say such a thing to us today, - ‘Anyone, who prefers father or mother to me, is not worthy of me’-.

We would accuse that person of being at best very arrogant and at worst a cult leader.


We might say that the person has a ‘god complex’.

Well, when we listen carefully to what Jesus is saying.

The question must arise, ‘Who else, but God has the right to make such claims on a human being?’ In fact.

These claims of Jesus speak volumes about who he is.

Not only does he challenge us to put our nearest and dearest blood relatives into second place after him, but he also says that we should prefer him to life itself.


He adds this extraordinary claim that if we do this, we will receive our lives, back.


You would think that most people would run a mile from such demands, such challenges, but the amazing thing is that, starting with his first followers, and down the centuries.

Whole armies of people have taken him.

Seriously, believed him and ‘signed up’.

They have striven to put him first.

They have prioritized him and his way, a way that includes the way of the cross.


Why have they done this? St Ignatius of Loyola (the, founder of my own outfit – the Jesuits) uses a metaphor to help us understand.

It’s, a military metaphor,? Perhaps not so fashionable these days, but he had been a soldier and he was a man of his time.

That time could be called ‘post-Crusades’ and for some it included a nostalgia for the crusading era, when charismatic European kings, like Richard, the Lionheart called soldiers to the cross to go out and fight for Christian control of the Holy Land and of the pilgrim routes to Jerusalem.

And so, Ignatius suggests that we should muse upon an ideal crusader-leader, a man who summons brave and generous soldiers to his standard and puts them in his campaign.


This leader makes a rousing speech, but he warns his potential followers that this campaign will not be a walk in the park.

Those who accept his invitation will have to eat the meagre military rations that he eats, suffer the privations and the heat and cold that he will suffer; in other words, share his spartan and dangerous life.

This is the ‘cost of discipleship’.


If they enlist and persevere, they will share in the ultimate glory of his victory.

So, Ignatius’ point here is that if it is possible for an earthly leader to command such love and loyalty, how much more will Jesus, God made human for us, be able to draw us into his company and into his service.

How? Much more should we desire to be one of his friends, sharing his life, doing the things that he does – preaching the Good News to the poor, healing the sick, comforting, the afflicted and bringing aid to the needy.

How? Much more should we want to be within the circle of his love and feel so incredibly privileged and grateful to have received this call., This, humble sense of being blessed would fill us with enthusiasm and energy for his mission.


This challenge of the Lord to put him before family, has traditionally been seen in the Church as an invitation to religious life or to the priesthood.

And after all, St Ignatius himself eventually found his way into both of them.


Is it possible to remain, committed to one’s family and still be a close and faithful follower of the Lord? Yes, of course.


Here it is important to remind ourselves that.

Those who followed Jesus did not all leave their homes and their families and places.

Of employment.

Most did not.

For example, Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, along with his, sisters, Martha and Mary are clearly householders.

And Jesus seems to stay with them from time to time.

He doesn’t ask them to leave their home, as far as we know.


Yet, who can doubt their total commitment to him? The lifestyle of most members of the Church more closely resembles that of Martha, Mary and Lazarus than that of Peter, James? And John.? There? Is a very moving article by a convert? That I read? Recently.? He? Was agnostic, married to a Catholic.? And? He describes how, when he witnessed his two young daughters, being baptized, he felt a great and unexpected desire to be baptized.

Also, and this experience led him to faith, a faith which he continues to live out in his family and in his professional life.

Most of us live in family groups and are relatively stable.

We serve the Lord at home and at work, rather than on the road.

That Jesus loved his stay-at-home followers, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and that they were graced to love him and serve him in return, is a great consolation to those who seek him in the midst of family and professional life, finding him and loving him and putting him at the center of our lives precisely through love of our family members and the wider community.

Let's join in praying together: Our, Father, [who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.] Deliver us, Lord.

We pray, from every evil; and graciously grant peace in our days.


By the help of your mercy.

We may be always free from sin and safe from all distress, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.


Let’s pray, friends.


We give you thanks that we could encounter your word, that we could reflect upon your word.

And help us now to deepen our reflections as we try to live out the invitation that you have for each one of us, and in so doing become your faithful, disciples.


Ask this through Christ, our Lord.

The Lord, be with you.

May almighty God bless, you, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Thank you for joining us and we hope to have you reflecting with us again.

Next week.

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