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Daily Homily: He That Offers Praise As a Sacrifice Glorifies Me

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

By Fr. Jason Mitchell LC

ROME, June 29, 2014 (Zenit.org) -

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Amos 2:6-10, 13-16

Psalm 50:16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23

Matthew 8:18-22

Elijah and Elisha prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They opposed the worship of Ba'al and sought to bring Israel to uphold the covenant with the Lord. Amos also prophesied in Israel in the year 762 BC, during the reign of Jeroboam II and forty years before the Assyrian invasion and fall of the North. What Amos first communicates are eight judgments against the kingdoms (1:3-2:16). The first seven kingdoms are either vassals or allies of Israel.

While the other kingdoms are accused of breaches of treaty, war crimes, violence, the accusation against Judah concerns offenses against God. At the same time, the judgment against Israel is the goal of the entire series (2:6-16). Israel has exploited the poor and the weak; they sold debtors into slavery; the courts of Israel are corrupt; they have fallen into sexual sins and idolatry. In contrast to the sins of Israel, God has cared for the people, delivering them from Egypt, giving them the gift of land, raising up prophets and Nazirites.

Finally, the punishment is announced: "those who crushed the poor into the dust of the earth (2:7) will themselves be crushed into the ground (2:13). [...] the swift will be unable to run, the strong become weak, the mighty cannot save even themselves, and so on" (T. Leclerc, Introduction to the Prophets, Paulist Press, 131).

The Psalm reflects Israel's infidelity to the covenant. The people profess the covenant with their lips, but, in their hearts, hate the discipline of God's law and word. Those, however, who truly praise God, who offer praise as a sacrifice are the ones who give God glory. In turn, God shows them the path that leads to salvation.

The Gospel reveals that following Jesus Christ is the path of salvation. One of the scribes wants to follow Jesus, but probably doesn't realize all that this entails. He thinks of Jesus as another teacher and does not grasp that Jesus is more than a teacher. The path of Jesus leads to the Cross, it entails renunciation. "True discipleship entails a radical change in lifestyle. With an austere itinerant ministry, a disciple may not even have a place to rest his head" (C. Mitch and E. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Baker Academic, 130).

Following Jesus is also more radical than following one of the prophets like Elijah, who allowed Elisha to say goodbye to his parents. Our response to Christ cannot be delayed. "That only the high priest and a group of consecrated Jews known as Nazirites were exempt from the obligation to bury their parents (Lev 21:11; Num 6:6-7) indicates the extraordinary importance of Christ's call to discipleship. He summons his followers to be set apart in a radical way to serve in God's kingdom" (C. Mitch and E. Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Baker Academic, 130).

In brief, the Liturgy of the Word is a call to examine our lives and see how we are treating the less fortunate in our communities and a call call to follow Jesus more radically and promptly. These calls are dimensions of the praise and glory we give God through our response to his grace.

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Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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