‘Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it’
Thirteenth Sunday of the Year A
In this reading Jesus challenges all of us to put no other person before our faith in him. And we hear that how we treat others in this life, particularly the ‘little ones’, will bring us close to Jesus and to the one who sent him. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
37 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. 38 Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. 39 Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and those who welcome me welcome the one who sent me.
41 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.
42 If anyone gives so much 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.’
These are the concluding words of the Missionary Discourse of Jesus, the second of his major speeches in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus challenges the disciples, and us too, to put no other person before our faith in him. For Christians there are new family ties, which, though not undermining our love of those dear to us, give us a broader perspective and a considerable challenge.
The cross is mentioned for the first time in Matthew’s gospel, not the cross of Jesus, but the difficult burden that each one must bear in imitation of him. We are called to give our lives as Christ himself will give his life.
But the embrace of missionary discipleship offers us new joys. Those who offer a welcome to the disciples of Christ forge a relationship with Jesus, and with ‘the one who sent him’. Friendships are transformed and offer us a wider and everlasting scope. How we treat others in this life, particularly the ‘little ones’, will bring us close to Jesus and to the one who sent him.
The first reading tells us how the prophet Elisha, centuries before Christ, received generous hospitality from a woman of Shunem. Her kindness is rewarded in an extraordinary way.
Do I place my faith in Jesus first in my life and relationships?
Am I willing to embrace my cross, whatever form it may take?
We pray for those who make great sacrifices in their service of the gospel.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy