Reflection for Sunday, June 30, 2002: 13th week in Ordinary Time.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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Rewards and rewarding are not concepts which fit easily the image we humans have of an infinitely loving God. Prizes go to the winner and the winners are crowned because of their great efforts of physical or intellectual powers.||There are wonderful pictures of wives welcoming home their heroic husbands from the terrors of war. You may have seen runners crossing the finish line after a demanding marathon run and being gathered into the arms of friends and fellow finishers. Welcoming has a dual reward; for the welcomed and the welcomer.|In today's First Reading, we hear just a wonderful story of the welcomer receiving a blessing for her reverence and care. Elisha is a holy man and a childless woman, who still trusts the Holy One, though being barren was seen as kind of a curse, still hoped. Each year the prophet would pass her house and apparently, she kept the light on for him in welcome.|One time upon leaving, Elisha asked his servant Gehazi what might be done for her having been so kind and receptive. He told Elisha that she had no son, and now you already know the rest of the story.|We are sure that the woman fondling her son within the following year loved that boy and the God Who sent him. The Gospel needs a good listening to, because Jesus, finishing His talk to His Apostles before they head out, is saying some difficult things about parental and family love. We hear the word "worthy" mentioned several times during this reading. Worthy is similar to winning or receiving a prize. If I had a son or daughter, I would feel greater love for that gift than I would have loving feelings for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all together and our Blessed Mother as well. I remember the love I felt for my first girlfriend in high school and how shocked I was when I realized that I loved her more than my two parents who had loved me through my first sixteen years. That was quite a conflict, but needless to say, I did not stop dating her nor obeying my mom and dad.|The heart is not where we love God, nor the head either. We love God by taking a position towards all created gifts, as gifts. We take a position towards everything else which only makes sense if there is a loving Giver Who does not reward us, but "wards" us, guards, cares for and is more than any parents ever loved.|Picking up our life as a gift, reverencing all the ways this God gives and takes, caring for all in a welcoming way, this is how love is shown, but first loving God means letting God love us, give to us, not as rewards or prizes, but as ways to be welcomed more deeply.|Jesus loves His Disciples and is sending them out to be received, welcomed and in that way they will know even more deeply the love that goes with them. They in turn will bless those who are in turn open to their blessings. They are the new prophets and in our days these prophets continue to knock, enter, pass by, and ask for welcome. We are not rewarded nor do we win God's love by doing this or that. We are made ready to receive God's love, by our being receptive to the "prophetic moments" of each day which Jesus calls our "daily cross." Loving God is so different from loving anything else that as I had to learn to love properly as a teenager, which was very different from loving family, so we learn slowly how to love God by allowing God to be welcomed and made pregnant in the births of our days.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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