Thoughts on the Readings for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A) 2017

For this Sunday’s readings, click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.  https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/070217.cfm 

Many years ago when I was in college, one of the books I had to read for a class was “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.   In the book Bonhoeffer argued that in many ways Christianity had become secularized, accommodating the demands of following Jesus to the requirements of society. In doing this, he argued, the Gospel had been cheapened, and following Christ had become easy and without pain.  And while following Christ doesn’t mean that our lives will be full of difficulty and pain, Bonhoeffer argued that there will be times when being a disciple asks something of us that we may not want to do.   There is a cost to discipleship.    

I thought of Bonhoeffer’s book when I read our Gospel for this Sunday.   In the opening lines of that Gospel Jesus is clear that being his disciple means loving him above all, and then taking up our cross and following him.   Jesus is also clear in the second half of today’s Gospel, that while following him may involve some pain or difficulty, we will also be rewarded.  Jesus does not promise, though, that the reward will occur in this life.    

Our first reading for this Sunday is taken from the second Book of Kings.   We are told that whenever Elisha came to the town of Shunem, a woman of that town offered him hospitality. Because of her kindness and hospitality Elisha asked his servant, Gehazi if he could do something for her.  His servant told him that she had no son, and her husband was getting on in years.   Elisha then promised the woman: “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”   

For our second reading this Sunday we continue to read from the letter of Saint Paul to the Romans. In the section we read today Paul reminds us:  “Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? ………. so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. When have you experienced a “cost” in following Christ?
  2. Like the Shunemite woman, it would be nice if we were rewarded in this life for our good acts. Unfortunately, most often that is not the case.    What helps you believe that we will see the reward of our goodness in the life to come?  
  3. What does it mean to live in the “newness” of Christ’s life?  
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