Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
THE PARADOX OF LOVE
The Jewish Scriptures have wonderful stories about the great prophets Elijah and his disciple and successor, Elisha.
In today’s first reading, this passage from the Second Book of Kings, we have the charming story of Elisha wanting to offer some sign of gratitude to his benefactor, a woman of Shunem, a village in the Jezreel Valley in Galilee. She provided a guest room for the prophet in her home and Elisha was moved by her generosity.
Elisha checks with his assistant Gehazi and learns that the woman and her husband are elderly and have no children. What is his gift? A promise:
“This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”
This wonderful, unexpected gift is an answer to prayer, the deep yearning of their hearts for a child to share their life and love.
This story picks up
the focus on the gift of life
that runs through the readings for this Sunday. For several Sundays now, the second reading has been drawn from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and here we have a key passage.
the deepest meaning of baptism is that we are drawn into the very death and resurrection of Jesus.
We are buried with him ‒ in the sense that the power of sin in our life is defeated ‒ and we rise with Christ so that “we too might live in newness of life.” “Death,” Paul declares, “no longer has power over Christ.” We share in that abundant life: “Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus’ instructions to his disciples in the Gospel selection from Matthew also affirm this focus on life in a paradoxical saying. He says, “Whoever finds their life, will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
What does he mean that we find our life in losing it? In his wonderful exhortation
The Joy of the Gospel
, Pope Francis captures the meaning of Jesus’ words this way: “Love grows by being given away. It weakens in the midst of comfort and isolation.”
How true this is! By its very nature, love means opening our arms and our hearts to others, reverencing them and being attentive to their needs. This, in effect, is
losing our lives.
We know from experience that generously loving another person is the key to authentic human living. Those who lavish their attention only on themselves and their own needs and pleasures usually turn out to be stunted human beings.
I believe it is salutary that this motif of new life found in the readings for today comes to us at such an unusual time. In many places, there has been a cautious transition going on from “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” to our “new normal.” And here in San Antonio and Texas, as well as in a growing number of states, we are returning to certain strictures to keep each other healthy and to lower the curve of infection.
One columnist I read has suggested that the phrase should be “physical distancing" rather than “social distancing." This seems to be the spirit of our Christian faith.Jesus embodied God’s generous, life-giving love for us, and we are called to do the same.
Even in difficult circumstances in fact, and I would say
in difficult circumstances, we are called to reach out beyond ourselves in a spirit of generous love. In doing so, we discover
our true, God-given selves, bestowed in baptism.
Author Dawna Markova has written a beautiful poem, "I Will Not Die an Unlived Life."
I have added a few words of interpretation, flowing from today's Scriptures, in italics.
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me more free, more loving,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes
a flame, a torch, a promise
I choose to risk my life, rather than to hold on to it,
to live so that what came to me
as a gift
and has grown in me by God’s grace,
born in and confirmed in the Spirit,
will be given and shared for others.
Fr. Anthony Schueller, SSS, Pastor
(With special thanks to Fr. Donald Senior, CP, and Dawna Markova)
St. Joseph's Church Downtown is open
with the usual schedule
of weekday and weekend Masses, sacraments, and ministry. Because of increased coronavirus cases locally, the practice of social distancing, hand-sanitizing, and the use of a face mask during church services are observed during church services, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
video of Sunday Mass from St. Joseph's
is posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page starting this weekend. We thank the Strelchun Family and John Francis for filming and editing the video so beautifully. Visit the St. Joseph Media (Downtown) page on YouTube. Mass for each Sunday and major feasts will be recorded.
Congratulations to the 21 teens and adults who received the Sacrament of Confirmation last Wednesday and Saturday.
May Christ's light, holiness, and goodness shine forth in you!
St. Joseph's former pastor, Fr. Mario Marzocchi, SSS, passed away peacefully early Friday evening at Regina Health Center in Richfield, Ohio, where he was in hospice care for cancer.
The Funeral Mass with be celebrated at St. Paschal Baylon Church in Highland Heights, Ohio, adjacent to the Provicialate of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament, on Thursday morning, July 2, at 10:30 EDT (9:30 CDT)
You can access it at
or our parish website (
At St. Joseph's, Memorial Masses will take place the weekend of August 1-2, the anniversary of the death of St. Peter Julian Eymard, our Founder and the Apostle of the Eucharist, and his feast day in the Church's Universal Calendar. Look for details!
In a spirit of caring for each other in these difficult days,
we encourage you to support efforts to feed our neighbors in need via Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and local food banks.
Thank you for supporting St. Joseph
through our parish website (
) or Give Central (
Anthony Schueller SSS
on Sunday, June 28 at 5:14PM