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Youth Ministry Resources - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 10:37-42 - The demands and rewards of discipleship - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

On first reading of this passage the words of Jesus may seem rather harsh. It is worth remembering that Matthew's community was experiencing persecution and many members were being subjected to division in their families where mother or brother may have chosen to remain Jewish and have refused to accept the teachings of Jesus. Faced with division in this most fundamental relationship, the family, Jesus is making his claim for absolute allegiance from his disciples.

Jesus is aware that this is a difficult choice but Jesus is also aware of the importance of the message he brings from the Father. Jesus has been working to bring the Basileia or Reign of God into the reality of the disciples lives and there is urgency to his mission. Jesus is instructing his disciples so that they can do their part to bring forth God's Kingdom.

When we hear that "anyone who finds their lives will lose it" it is worth reflecting on what this can mean and perhaps it points to the self-centredness or myopia of so much of our world where individualism and self satisfaction become the goal of a person's life. When we lose this myopia, we can see other people and other needs and as disciples we would then respond to their needs because they are children of God.

Along with these demands, there are rewards and there are echoes of the Great Judgement (25:31-46) in the rewards Jesus speaks of when insists that "anyone who welcomes you, welcomes me…and the one who sent me." This message is very relevant to each of us today because too frequently we can forget that when we are dealing with the person next to us we are dealing with God. If we kept this at the forefront of our minds our actions would be most carefully considered.

Maybe we could start with something as simple as a God loves you sticker on our car which should limit our horn blowing or abuse at the driver who is obviously thinking about something else and instead of a blast they get and smile and a wave - it would mean the end of 'road rage.' Perhaps a kind comment to the person who queue jumps instead of 'death stares' and vague 3rd person comments that let that queue jumper know how annoyed you are. Perhaps a kind 'thank you' or empowering statement to the young person who serves you may help them get through a difficult day. These are only little things that any of us can do perhaps you can think of some bigger challenges in your relationships that deserve having God at their centre.

Cate Mapstone

Year C: Luke 9:51-62 - 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus is on his journey to Jerusalem with his disciples. Jesus knows what is ahead of him in Jerusalem and so uses this time of the journey as a time of teaching. When his messengers were rejected by the Samaritan villagers, the disciples wanted to "call fire down from heaven" in other words, cause violence against these people. Jesus "turned and rebuked them" two strong, firm responses to reject violence. Some people find violence, through word or action, to be a most acceptable response to rejection. Bullying in the workplace, or family, is not uncommon. Jesus is teaching another way of handling relationships, even if these relationships are fleeting. Jesus is teaching a particular 'mindset' a life-giving response, rather than a response that leads to hatred, sin and a deterioration of relationship.

We then hear of three people who are thinking of following Jesus, of becoming a disciple. The responses made by Jesus are interesting and could appear hard hearted or dismissive of the priorities in the lives of different people. Jesus uses strong language and even sounds uncaring. It is important to understand the literary style employed by the evangelist. These words are not meant to be taken literally. It is more important that we look for the meaning and reasoning behind the words. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is passionate in his teaching of the Reign of God, or Kingdom of Heaven. We frequently hear of Jesus speaking to the disciples or crowds who followed him explaining what the Kingdom of God is like. This is the reason for his preaching, and his mission to bring about this Kingdom. This is why Jesus uses firm language. The first priority in our lives must be God's presence. The urgency of total commitment to bringing about the Reign of God comes through Jesus' words.

The demands of our discipleship can be quite difficult. We are meant to be people of peace, this is God's gift to us. That means that in our dealings with people we seek peaceful solutions. Each day, our priority must be God - that means that we seek to spend time in prayer, that we contribute to building up the Kingdom of God, that we think carefully about what we say, that we choose live-giving activities, and that we live fully as a child of God.

Cate Mapstone

Youth Ministry Resources 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time